One of my favorite challenges I've played in TS3 was the Nothing is Free challenge. In that challenge, you start with an empty map with only roads and gradually build up the town using one family line to "build" it. In TS3 this challenge takes advantage of the real estate system, but this will just take a lot of crtl + shift +c "money" cheat.
In a new file, bulldoze all the lots, except in Granite Falls, Selvadorada, Strangerville, and the special lots in Sulani Britechester, Willow Creek, and Windenburg. Starting with the single sim of your choice and buy a 50 x 50 or 64 x 64 tile lot then cheat your money down to 0 or just buy plants and rocks until it's all gone. You're gonna need a lot of money so start earning! Give the lot the "Off the Grid" trait since there isn't any infrastructure around. The rest of the lot traits are up to you, but I'm going to say no Tiny House lot traits and no Tiny House zoning unless you go straight for Tier 3 once you start building.You can be "on the grid" once there's two other households and one lot or rabbit hole unlocked.
1. You can't move people in, get married, or have a baby until you have a house.
2. Kids can't attend school until you've earned it. (suggested mod: Kawaii Staci'sBetter Schools Bundle for online school or Don't Take My Child Away to prevent the game from taking them away when their grades hit F)
3. Can't get a job until it's been earned.
4. Each sim can only unlock one rabbit hole or lot, so if you have one sim unlock the athlete career, they can't buy the gym.
5. You can move people in to help open lots, but you need to build them a house and buy it out of house funds before you can move them out. As in: You can befriend and move in a walk-by and use them to earn school, but you can't just kick them out of the house because you're done with them. You have to build them a house and give them the money for it when they go.
6. San Myshuno, Granite Falls, Selvadorada, Strangerville, and the Universities are all locked until certain conditions are met. I'm open to suggestions on how to do this. I was thinking for San Myshuno that once you've earned the Art Center, a lounge, and a karaoke bar, you can start building apartments and settling people in them.Strangerville: have unlocked the military and secret agent careers. For Selvadorada and Granite Falls, earn a park and unlock San Myshuno? For University, unlock the career fields and pay some money?
7. Don't abuse Generic Lots. You can place a basic shelter on there with basic amenities, but no observatories, rocket launch pads, or anything like that.
How to earn Careers
Astronaut- Master Fitness, Logic, and Rocket Science, deduct $100,000
Athlete- Master Fitness and Charisma, deduct $75,000
Business- Master Logic and Charisma, deduct $50,000
Criminal- Master Mischief, Handiness, and Programming, deduct $25,000 your other start up costs, "fell off the back of a truck"
Culinary- Master Cooking, Gourmet Cooking, Mixology, and Charisma, deduct $30,000
Entertainer- Master Comedy, Charisma, and all 3 instruments deduct $50,000
Style Influencer- Master Writing, Charisma, Painting, and Photography $100,000
Freelancer- Can only be pursued once the business career is unlocked, then master programming, writing, and painting
Painter- This career never made sense to me. Maybe once an Art Center has been unlocked, you can unlock this career by maxing painting and charisma?
Secret Agent- Master Logic, Charisma, and Mischief, deduct $120,000
Tech Guru- Master Programming, Video Gaming, and Charisma, $50,000 due to angel investor
Writer- Master Writing, Charisma, and Logic $30,000 for a small town newspaper
Get to Work
Medicine- Master Logic and be able to buy the lot
Science- Master Logic, Gardening, and Fishing and be able to buy the lot
Law Enforcement- Master Logic and Charisma and be able to buy the lot
City Living: Careers are locked until you have unlocked San Myshuno
Social Media- Master Charisma,Comedy, Mischief, Video Gaming, and Programming
Gardener- Master Gardening, Flower Arranging, and Logic
Conservationist- Master Logic, Charisma, and Fitness
Education- Master Debate, Logic, Charisma, and Writing
Engineering- Master Robotics, Programming, and Handiness
Law- Master Debate, Charisma, and Logic
Military- Master Fitness, Logic, and Charisma
Civil Designer- Master Fabrication, Logic, and Charisma
Actor- Master Acting and Charisma, $150,000 unless criminal has been unlocked first then $75,000, but you have to pay $500 a week in protection money and bribes to law enforcement.
Cats and Dogs
Vet- Master Logic, Charisma, and Vet Skill
TL:DR You earn rabbit holes by mastering the associated skills and then deducting money from your household's funds to pay for it.
How to Unlock Community Lots
Bar- Master Mixology and Cooking and $90,000 from the house's money
Gym- Master Fitness and deduct $85,000 from the house's money
Library- Master Writing and deduct $98,000 from the house's money
Lounge- Master Mixology, Cooking, Comedy or Singing, and a musical instrument. Deduct $95,000 from the household's account
Museum- Master Painting and Handiness, deduct $130,000 from the household's account
Nightclub- Master Mixology, Cooking, and Dancing. Deduct $100,000 from family funds
Park- Master Gardening, Fishing, and Logic then deduct $30,000 from family funds
Pool- Master Fitness, deduct $130,000 from funds.
Get to Work
Retail- Unlock the Business Career, master the associated skill, and own the lot
Restaurant- Unlock the Culinary Career and own the lot
Spa- Max Wellness and Fitness and own the lot
Cafe- Master Mixology and Cooking or Baking and own the lot
Karaoke Bar- Master Mixology and Singing, own the lot
Arts Center- Master all the Arts and own the lot
Beach- unlocked the conservationist career. Pay for lot
Community Space- Master Fabrication, own one of every type of insect farm and gotten them up to "excellent" quality harvests, master gardening, painting, and handiness. Pay for lot.
-If you have the Parenthood Pack, complete the Super Parent Aspiration and master charisma, logic and painting, and pay $30k. You are the pushy parent at the PTA and you have nagged everyone until they've acquiesced and built the school because it's easier than saying no to you.
-If you have Discover University, school is unlocked once the education career is unlocked. Deduct $30k. You are an educator who has decided to start a new school here.
-If you have neither Parenthood nor Discover University, master charisma, painting, and logic then deduct $30k. You manage to convince the town council that it would be better to have the children go to school here than to continue home schooling or attending the county schools.
How to win and lose:
There's no real "win" scenario beyond filling all the lots in the game and created a place that is yours. If your starting sim dies before moving anyone else in or having a baby then you lose.
omg I've hardly even finished reading this and I'm already so excited. the nothing is free challenge was basically a turning point in the sims for me. like I regularly think back on beginning that challenge and REMINISCE lol!! thank you for converting this for ts4. I'm about to abandon my 7 generation legacy for this.
I love that challenge in TS3 as well, I have such detailed excel sheets for it, lol! I felt my computer groan as I typed this up! Please let me know if you have any changes you think would work better or ideas to incorporate. If you've got Discover Uni, Island Living, and/or Eco Life, please let me know if the unlock ideas would work? I was going off the wiki for that. I also don't have Vampires or Mages so I didn't create any rules for them or their worlds. I'd love to hear what your sims get up to!