Virtual Families is the latest addition to the impressive lineup of simulation games from Last Day of Work, makers of the Virtual Villagers series. Virtual Families takes the basic concepts of Virtual Villagers and brings them home — literally. No longer are you concerned with a village of people trying to survive the ravages of the wild. Now it's just a single family in a single house. While the concept may seem over-simplified when compared to Virtual Villagers, you'll find that it's less about simplifying the game and more about concentrating on the details.
You begin by adopting your first virtual person. This is a very important choice to make early on, as the attributes that you settle on will affect how the rest of the game plays out. You can go through any number of different people to adopt. Each has their own physical appearance, profession, salary, likes and dislikes, and opinion on whether or not they want children. This last attribute is of particular importance. Couples who do not both want children can still have children, but you will have to work extra hard to keep them happy. Depending on how you want your virtual family to run, choose wisely.
Once adopted, your person moves into their house. You start immediately showing your person where and how to do certain things. Depending on their profession, show them their work area, be it the computer room, the shop outside, or the kitchen. Place them on the various pieces of litter scattered about the house and show them how to keep the place tidy. If you have played any of the Virtual Villagers games, you'll already understand the mechanics at work here. As your person learns behaviors, you can use one of two paddles to either praise them for an appropriate behavior, or to punish them for an inappropriate behavior.
As the game plays on, you will receive marriage requests from various suitors. Each have their own attributes, professions, and likes and dislikes, and views on children. The important thing here is to find one that is the best match for you little person, although the temptation to go after the one with the big, fat bank account and well-paying career will be hard to resist.
Whether you choose to remain single or to take that marriage proposal, the next thing to think about is growing your family. As a single parent, you may be given the opportunity down the road to adopt a child. As a married couple, you can try to make a baby at any point in the game. Keep in mind that there are factors involved in this process, such as how long it has been since the last pregnancy, the mood of either of the parents, etc. It's not 100% guaranteed to produce offspring, but it usually does. Once a child is born, the mother will have control for the first few months. After that point, the child will be another member of the family, which will require the same behavioral shaping as the parents once did.
There are a number of other things that can and need to be done around the house during the course of the game. You'll notice almost immediately that the floor is in disrepair in sections of the house. There are a number of other problems, as well, such as the leaky watering hose outside, or the garden shed without a door handle. Many of these problems will require the purchase of tools and other items to complete which of course will require funds, so your career of choice is very important. Money is also used to buy house upgrades, such as bathroom fixtures or a new flat-screen TV.
Just like Virtual Villagers, Virtual Families continues to run even when the game isn't open. It is an important aspect of gameplay, since your family will continue to evolve, even when you are not around. As long as they have food your family can survive a couple of days without interaction, but if you're not going to be able to play for a couple of weeks, you may want to go in and pause the game before quitting. You don't want to come back to a house full of skeletons, do you?
Virtual Families 2 is out! Check out our review and walkthrough for Virtual Families 2: Our Dream House!
Children that you have will grow to about 18 years, and then go off to college. When it is time for the current generation to move on, you will be given the option to give the house and all of its assets to one of your kids. At that point, they will move in and the game cycle will start again. Going to the Family Screen will allow you to keep track of multiple generations of people that have lived in the house. How many generations can you create?
Analysis: At first glance, Virtual Families seems like little more than a stripped-down version of The Sims. The limited effect that you have on the environment of the home and the house itself is quite evident. You don't have the option of creating a different living space for your families; you can't even move the furniture to a different part of the room. With the exception of upgrades, there is little you can do the physical house. This allows you the time to focus on the interactions with your little people.
The level of interaction with the virtual people in the game is totally up to you. Unlike The Sims, you do not have to watch your person's every move. Your virtual people will do things like get up in the morning, go to work, and eat without extensive prodding from you, as long as they have the supplies and materials required to complete a task.
I've never been a huge fan of the character designs for the Virtual Village series, and the characters in Virtual Families are almost identical. Something about the way the head gets positioned on the body at times, depending on what the person is focusing on as opposed to where they are walking, or what they are working on, just seems unnatural.
Virtual Families is a natural progression of the Virtual Villagers series, and the results are quite good. While Last Day of Work has already announced a fourth Virtual Villagers game set for release later this year, I hope a sequel to Virtual Families isn't out of the question!
Download the demo Get the full version
Mac OS X:
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Virtual Families - General Information
Here is some general information for Virtual Families. More will be added as needed!
Collectibles can now be gathered by either children or adults.
When you pick up a duplicate collectible, your person will sell it online for extra money.
At the start of the game, only coins and leaves/twigs will show up. Later in the game, bugs start showing up. Finally, late in the game, the pieces of paper show up.
Ongoing Household Chores (done by both adults and children)
Pick up wrappers.
Pick up socks.
Clean away cobwebs.
Take out the garbage.
Clean dirt smudges.
Unlike in the Virtual Villagers games, it won't do any good to drop the adults onto each other over and over to produce a baby.
When the adults try to make a baby, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
After having a baby, the game will tell you if it's too soon to have another.
The youngest child has to be 2 to 4 years old before another baby will come.
Twins start coming in the second generation.
Purchase the Baby Boost medicine to increase the chances of having babies, but use only once as multiple uses will decrease its effectiveness.
A couple can have a maximum of six children.
Drop an adult on the kitchen table to prepare a meal.
Sitting down to a meal adds to the "fed" bar on the details screen, especially for children.
Drop an adult in the laundry room to do laundry.
Varied Items in the Store
Note that varied items restock and refresh every four hours.
Delicious candy - $7
Various candy - $7
DVDs - $15
Energy Drink - $15
Pet (dog, cat, or turtle) - $500
Mega chamomile extract - $15
Encyclopedia - $75
Sunscreen - $12
Profession magazines - $25
Fragrance - $25
Wall repair compound - $40
Perfect bananas - $10
Bottled tropical rain and sunshine - $18
Anti-spam software - $125
Fruit - $7 to $10
Salaries and Earning Money
Say, for example, your person has a salary of $60 per day. When you watch them work and hear the *ching* sound when they earn money, they are actually receiving 1/100 of their salary at that moment. The game doles out the salary over a period of time. You don't get it all at once when a work cycle completes. It accumulates constantly as the game is running as long as your people work on their careers steadily.
When first starting your family, you won't have a lot of money to splurge. But you will have plenty to buy groceries and start on the inexpensive upgrades (gradually). This is a long term game and it can take a couple of generations or more before you can purchase things like the treadmill and pinball machine.
Your people will get raises and promotions which will make it easier to buy more things. Some careers pay more than others, so those little people will naturally have more money to spend.
Please understand that it's not a problem when you see only 60 cents added to your bank balance. Be a little patient and enjoy the game. It's all part of virtual life. :)
Starting the New Generation
When a parent dies, you get a blue screen with instructions on how to start the new generation. The kids don't just come home from college on their own. If you missed the instructions, just go to the family page and click the "New Generation" button at the top of the page. You'll be able to scroll through all the children and choose the one who will continue the family.
Careers and Salaries
We now have an online list of the careers and their ending salaries. More will be added as we gather the information.
Careers and Max Salaries
A special thank you to Pineapple for contributing to this guide!
Posted by: Pam | April 26, 2009 11:51 PM
Virtual Families - Repairs and Household Items
Many of the challenges in the game involve repairs and upgrades to the house. The following is a list of the repairs needed and how to do them. Some are recurring and others are one time only. We'll add to the list as needed.
Drop an adult on the bathroom sink and then drop him/her on the workshop. He/she will get a wrench and fix the sink.
Leaky Water Hose in Back Yard
Purchase the waterproof tape in the store.
Click it on the hose.
Drop an adult on the kitchen sink to get a drink (this will reduce the water pressure).
Drop the adult on the hose to repair it.
Bird Bath in Front Yard
Purchase the fountain pump kit in the store.
Click it on the bird bath.
Drop two adults on the bird bath to install the pump (it's too heavy for just one adult alone).
Holes in the Floor
Purchase floor repair kit in the store (good for only one repair each).
Click it beside one of the holes in the floor.
Drop an adult on the hole to begin repairs.
Note: This is a long-term project and takes awhile to complete.
Once you have repaired the hose in the back, purchase the wall compound from the store.
Drop it near the bucket by the sandbox.
Drop an adult on the wall compound.
He/she will mix the compound with water and carry it to the workshop wall.
Be sure to stay on top of the person because if they stop, the compound will dry up and you'll have to start over again.
It also helps to put more than one person on the wall.
Drop an adult on the toilet and he/she will fix it right away.
Drop an adult on the computer to fix the router.
Repair Door to Shed
Drop an adult on the gold doorknob in the sandbox. He/she will put it on the shed door.
Drop adult on the welcome mat to retrieve the key. He/she will unlock the shed door.
Dryer Lint is on Fire
After getting the shed open, you'll find fire extinguishers inside. Use them on the dryer.
Oven is on Fire
After getting the shed open, you'll find fire extinguishers inside. Use them on the oven.
Water the Flowers
You have to have already repaired the hose and opened the shed for this one.
Drop an adult on the path outside the living room window so he "sees the window boxes." He will fetch a watering can from the shed, fill it at the back hose, and then water the flowers.
If you drop an adult on the right side of the bathroom sink 2 or 3 times, eventually he/she will jump around and clean cobwebs.
Drop an adult on the shower, then drop him/her in the laundry room on top of the bucket that contains the plunger.
Illnesses and the Cures
Your family will get sick from time to time and need to be given medicine. This is only for when they are sick, which will show up in the status box at the bottom of the screen, not for when they are weak or tired. You'll need to figure out what kind of illness they have by picking them up and seeing what is says in the activity box. You'll also hear a sound (coughing, sneezing, hiccupping, groaning) to help identify the illness. You may have to pick them up several times before you see the activity.
Here are the illnesses and the cures:
Get a drink of water either from the kitchen or bathroom sink.
Purchase antitussive syrup in the store.
Purchase throat lozenges in the store.
Purchase antihistamine in the store.
Purchase anti-inflammatory pill in the store.
Purchase peptic syrup in the store.
Purchase cortisone cream in the store.
For persistent illnesses or infection
Purchase penicillin in the store.
For serious illnesses or infections that won't go away
Purchase a doctor consultation in the store. You'll receive an email immediately telling you what the problem is. You may need to purchase Vancomycin in the store for very serious illnesses or infections. Use this only when recommended by the doctor.
Posted by: Pam | April 26, 2009 11:55 PM
Here are some screenshots of Virtual Families that may help everyone locate various things in and around the house. Look for the red circles in the screenshots.
Kitchen Work Area
Office Work Area
Workshop Work Area
Location of Doorknob
Red Ball Location
Posted by: Pam | May 9, 2009 1:13 AM
Virtual Families FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Below is a list of some of the questions that get asked often. If you have a question about something, chances are someone else has had the same question. Please check this list before posting a comment. If you don't find an answer here, ask us in the comment thread and we'll do our best to help!
What can I do to get my people's energy up?
There is an energy drink you can buy in the store, but it's random and is only one dose.
Also note that the problems with low energy have been corrected in an updated version of the game (1.00.05). If you have a previous version, go back to the site where you originally purchased the game and download it again.
How do I get rid of hiccups?
Have your person get a drink of water in the kitchen or in the bathroom.
How do I get my people to chase gophers?
This is something they do on their own. To get the trophy for chasing gophers, praise someone while "playing on the lawn" when there are gopher holes present.
Why isn't the item I need for a repair in the store?
The varied items in the store appear randomly and refresh every four hours in the most current version of the game (1.00.05). If the item you need isn't there, keep checking. It will turn up eventually.
If one of my children goes with the talent scout, will he/she come back?
No, they won't come back until you start the next generation. They'll be available along with the other children to take over the house when the time comes.
Will the children come back after going to college?
No, they don't come back from college. Same as with the talent scout, they will only be available to take over the house after the parents die.
At what age do women stop having babies?
As in Virtual Villagers 2 and 3, females cannot have babies after age 50. Even in their 40s, it's difficult.
How do I pause the game?
Use the space bar.
How high do the career levels go?
Careers top out at level 8 (master).
How do I help my people who are depressed?
They will get better over time. Give them treats like candy and fruit. Make sure there's plenty of food and they are fed. Buy household upgrades. Have them work on their career. Don't use the red hand on them for awhile. Praise them a lot. All of these things will help bring up their mood.
How do I play multiple families?
Click the player name on the menu screen and you will be given the option to start other families.
What happens to the money in the bank when the parents die?
The money will transfer to whichever child takes over for the new generation.
How can I make more money?
The best way is to gather duplicate collectibles. They are automatically sold online when one of your people picks them up. For extra, try dropping two people on the same collectible: pause using the space bar, drop first person, tap space bar twice to unpause and repause, drop second person. If your timing is good, both of them will pick up the collectible and you'll get double the money. Be careful, though, because children will often play train or have a giggle party when you drop them on top of each other!
How do I get my family to prepare a meal?
Drop an adult on the kitchen table.
Can children work once they reach age 14?
They can do adult chores and activities, but they can't work to earn money. Only the parents work on careers for money.
How do I get the next generation to take over?
When the parents die, a blue screen full of instructions will appear. Basically, it tells you that when you are ready for the next generation to take over, go to the family screen and click on the "New Generation" button at the top of the screen. You'll be able to scroll through all of the children of the current parents. Pick the one you want to carry on the family and click "adopt." Now the family will continue with that child.
What happens to the siblings of the child I chose to continue the family?
Nothing happens to them. They remain on the family tree, but they don't reappear in the game and you cannot play them after they have not been chose.
Why won't my store refresh?
There is a bug that prevents the store from refreshing. Press the R key while you are on the store screen to refresh the store and reset the schedule to where it will refresh every 4 hours. This is a one time only fix for the bug. You will not be able to refresh your store on demand.
How do I help my people who are very weak?
Being weak usually comes from being sick. Even after being cured, your people will be weak. Fruit and vitamins from the store helps a great deal. Also, make sure they have plenty of food and are fed. After that, it just takes time for them to get strong again.
How do I find the red ball and what is it for?
The red ball is just something extra the developers threw in. It's not required to solve any of the puzzles, nor can your people interact with it. To find the red ball, move the map to where you can reach the absolute upper and left most corner. Using just the hand cursor, pinch into that upper left corner and pull the red ball out. Note: you can't actually see the ball until you pull it out. Here's a screenshot:
Is there anything I can do to make my family have twins or triplets?
As best we can tell, twins and triplets are completely random. They can happen at any point in the game and are a bit rare, especially triplets. There's nothing that will make them happen or help it along. It's just luck of the draw. One thing to consider, though... Multiples will only happen early in a family because of the six child limit. If there have been no triplets by the time child number 3 is born, there won't be any triplets for that family at all because it would put it over the six child limit. The game doesn't let that happen.
Posted by: Pam | May 9, 2009 1:26 AM