Aspirations and WantsOne of the most obvious additions to the Sims is the inclusion of the Aspiration systems. Your Sims are no longer slaves to their basest desires, and no longer move through their days seeking only to live in a rut of eating and sleeping--they now have hopes and dreams that they wish to fulfill. While you still have to satisfy the primary needs of your Sims, they will now also strive towards higher goals, based on their overall Aspiration. This works in a similar fashion to the needs system--satisfying your wants will give you a boost to your Aspiration Meter, which will in turn degrade over time.
Your Sim's Aspirations are either preset, in the case of the pregenerated families in Story Mode, or set by the player during character creation, in the case of player-generated Sims. You can choose from one of five different Aspirations for your Sim, which are detailed below. (The Grow Up Aspiration is automatically given to toddler and child Sims; you'll be able to choose from one of the mature Aspirations when the child matures into a teenager.)
Wants work like objectives or tasks; your Sim will have some specific desire in mind, and when he obtains that desire, he'll gain a boost to his Aspiration meter. The easily-performed objectives will give small boosts to the meter, while more involved or long-term Wants will have correspondingly larger rewards. Your Sim's Aspiration will determine what kind of wants that Sim has--a Sim with the Fortune Aspiration, for instance, will have a lot of wants that revolve around making money, gaining promotions at work, and buying expensive items.
The Aspiration meter isn't just a gauge, though; there are specific benefits from having a high ranking in your meter. If you manage to nearly top off your meter, in fact, to where it becomes platinum, you'll notice that your Mood will also become platinum. When this occurs, your Sim is essentially unfazable; her Mood will be considered to be at the maximum number, which means that she'll obey all of your commands, will increase her job performance by a large amount if she goes to work, will use skill-increasing items without fussing, and so on. Individual Needs can still go into failure while the platinum Mood is ongoing, so you'll still need to keep an eye on them.
The next highest Aspiration level is gold. When your Sim has a golden meter, he or she can use the Aspiration reward items without fear of malfunction. (See the end of this chapter for a description of these items and info on how to obtain them.)
When your Sim's Aspiration meter is green, she is feeling merely content with life. You won't gain any special benefits or penalties from being in this state.
It's when your Sim is near the bottom of the meter that things begin to get interesting. The Aspiration meter becomes more of an index of mental health at this point than anything else; your Sims will begin to display increasingly erratic and immature behavior as their meter starts approaching the bottom of the barrel. Toddlers, children, and teens can't actually suffer a nervous breakdown because of a poor Aspiration score; they will, however, start to lash out with increasingly negative behaviors, such as Annoy and Fight, as their score lowers. It's the adult and elder members of your household that you really have to worry about, as they will begin to frequently stop what they're doing to worry and weep over their misfortune. If you let things slide far enough, the Sim will eventually have a manic episode. Their specific behavior will depend on their Aspiration--a Family Sim will start cuddling a sack of flour as if it were a child, for instance--but the end result is the same: you've gone coocoo for Cocoa Nuts. If you can't get some Wants done right away, you might have to get a visit from the Sim Shrink, who'll hopefully coax your Sim back into normal working condition.
Growing UpAll Toddlers and Children possess the Growing Up Aspiration; you don't get to choose or change this. For Toddlers, you're going to want to get the big bonuses from the Wants regarding learning to Walk, Talk, or Potty Trained. While these take a fair amount of time to successfully complete, they will give huge bonuses to the Toddler's Aspiration meter, and will usually do the same for the adult who's doing the teacher, especially if he or she has the Family Aspiration. Most of the rest of the Wants revolve around less time-intensive social interactions with other members of the family, though, so there should always be something you can do.
Children, though, will have a broader array of Wants available to them. As they'll be beginning school, they'll have to start worrying about their grades and learning how to study, and they'll also start to want making friends outside the family. In addition to these, they'll begin obtaining some more mature Wants, such as Skill-building and inviting other Sims over to their house.
FamilyThe Family Aspiration is based around interactions with members of your Sim's family. If your Sim has no family, he or she will attempt to find a mate (Family-oriented Teens will have to settle for Going Steady and lots of social interactions), get married or joined, have children, and start growing a clan. After the children start popping up, you'll need to constantly be interacting with them; the big Wants at this stage are related to teaching them various skills, helping them with their homework, encouraging them to do well in school, and so on. Many of these Wants will also be had by the children, so you'll often gain mutual Aspiration points upon completing them.
In addition to keeping his kids happy, many adult Family-oriented Sims, particularly those with high relationship scores with their significant other, will want to pursue Flirting, Kissing, and other romantic interactions with their partner. If these Wants are mutual (perhaps because your partner is also Family-oriented), you should have an easy way to get quick (albeit small) boosts to your Aspiration meters.