The first thing that strikes you within minutes of joining Ravasheen’s Discord server, is the wholesome atmosphere. There is a veritable sense of kindness emanating from the hubbub created by the reams of texts.
Whether it is somebody sharing a cute Sims screenshot, a technical question about the game, a student modder asking for some tips from the master or just a general chitchat, the server feels homely and cosy.
It is in stark contrast to what the toxicity often found on YouTube comment sections. Or the general sense of everyone being on transmit rather than receive which is so prevalent all over the internet.
During these trying times, where few things are certain and kindness nears extinction, it almost feels completely surreal. And yet, Ravasheen says it is something that happened organically, without much interference.
Perhaps it has got something to do with kindness attracting kindness, something she attributes to her mom – the person she says inspires her the most.
“She is the most beautiful woman inside and out! She had four kids by the time she was 22 and raised us with almost nothing. People always tell me how kind I am and that is because of my mom and who she moulded me to be. She always has supported me in my passions and is my biggest cheerleader,” RVSN says.
With a masters degree in electrical engineering and a deep love for interior design, tracing the journey of how Ravasheen’s work has developed over the last few years is fascinating.
Like many creators, RVSN started sharing their creations on The Sims Resource. Early creations were two simple canvasses, some wallpaper and a rug.
That is a long way off the functional bunk beds and planters that speed up the gardening process for Sims by allowing them to purchase and plant seeds straight from the planter itself and the modular furniture that has become a bit of a trademark.
The interest in custom content and modding came in 2018, when she used The Sims as a way to keep in touch with her sister who lived far away.
“She loved playing and I loved building so I would build houses and venues for her to play with. Neither of us knew about CC before then, but once we stumbled on them I spent a week downloading ALL of the CC,” RVSN tells Extra Time.
“I couldn’t find things I wanted, like a sectional couch, so I figured I would try making it. I was immediately hooked and it became my passion.”
When she talks about modding and CC – casually, when questioned or just through answering questions on the Discord server, her positivity is effervescent. And yet, nobody would begrudge Ravasheen if they were a bit grumpy. Like many others, she had a rough ride over the last year and was laid off from her job at the end of 2020.
But where some might see no hope, she saw an opportunity to challenge herself and try and engineer a way to make her passion a career and revive a dream – or an incarnation thereof – which had to be shelved many years ago.
“What first inspired me to go to college was wanting to work for Pixar. Coming from a very low-income family and being a first-generation college student meant I couldn’t afford any of the universities in my area that offered degrees in that field,” explains Ravasheen.
Electrical engineering was the second-best option and she spent the last six years working in that field, until last year. She chose to take a leap of faith, live with the drastic pay cut and dig into her savings to see if the dream of making a living off gaming was realistic.
“My family really pushed me to follow my dreams. I looked at my savings and decided I would give myself six (now four) months to see if I could realistically make a career out of creating mods and custom content,” she says.
Two months in and she is working just as hard – if not harder – than she was at a full-time job, and for far less money.
“I am so lucky, humbled, and blown away by the support of my Patrons and The Sims Resource because they are very literally putting a roof over my head and food on my table. I have taken a massive, massive pay cut but I am so much happier,” RVSN adds.
But happiness does not always pay the bills. Even if it is as infectious as hers – it’s not something to be bottled and sold. So, like many creators, she is always looking for new ways to add value to her community and recently held her first live ever live-stream for Patrons, showcasing some creations that never made the cut and answering questions about how some things work (or don’t).
It is something she hopes to do more of in the near future, including one-on-one sessions for a real hands-on lessons with software like Blender and other design programmes that is useful for things beyond The Sims.
And even for those who are not interested in modding or creating CC, Ravasheen believes there is always something worth learning about the process of how things piece together. Asked about what she wish players knew about the process, the answer is simple: Everything.
“I think it is so fascinating. I have tried explaining CC in a few Youtube videos, but if I only had to choose a few things to tell them, it would be what I explained in my Youtube video here [also embedded below. Ed]. It is only ten minutes long and doesn’t get into any programs or things like that, it just explains the basic fundamentals of what goes into making CC. I made it for players, not just CC creators.”
That desire to help, to share, to teach and to be kind is a recurring theme for Ravasheen, something that she feels is not universally shared.
“I think there can be some toxicity in the community and for lack of a better word, cliquiness. Unwillingness to help others if that makes sense,” she explains when asked what can be done to improve things for CC and mod creators.
“That is why I have really tried to be open and share/help others as much as I can. The Sims 4 Studio forums helped me a lot in the beginning but I don’t have enough time to go there to look and respond to questions, but if any creators ever need help I am happy to do so in any way I can. I have a channel on my Discord dedicated to helping and collaborating with other creators.”
The sense of shared connection was the whole reason RVSN’s modding journey started, so the desire to transfer that is hardly surprising. So, what advice does she have for beginner modders or CC creators?
“Start simple! Do a recolour. Learn the basics of what goes into making CC like how UV mapping works and building a package file. Start with decor items that are not complicated. One of the first things I made was a sectional couch which was so complicated and took me months. It was so overwhelming to learn it all at once. Learn the foundations and work your way up – it is really fun, rewarding, and not that difficult if you take it one step at a time,” Ravasheen enthuses.
Simplicity is something that RVSN still integrates into her modding and CC philosophy, even if that comes with its own set of challenges when creating the slightly more complex mods she prefers to work on these days.
Everyone knows the potential disaster any patch day for The Sims 4 holds for a mods folder and it is something she actively tries to mitigate the risk of.
“For me personally, the biggest challenge is creating simple solutions to solve big problems. A lot of the things I have made can be done much easier with scripts. I really make it a goal to avoid using scripts and make my creations/mods compatible with all the other mods out there. So, finding how to make something work in those limitations is for sure my biggest challenge,” she explains.
Challenges can be rewarding, though, and the rewards for making cool stuff for The Sims are plenty. The RVSN ‘brand’ is now instantly recognisable and while a hallmark of these creations are often their adaptability and allowing players to “DIY” something, it’s the little details and deft touches that really sets them apart.
The punny names – Bidet As It May, Counter Fit Stoves, Knit Happens, Sofa, So Good Sectional, Deja Brew, Up To Snow Good and Absolutely Radishing Planters, to name a few, and taking the time to fill in the descriptions to boot, makes everything RVSN delivers feel like a complete and well-thought-out product. It’s a creative smorgasbord in every way.
“What I love most about creating CC is being able to combine my technical and creative abilities. I also love seeing people use my stuff and making them happy. That is really the best part,” she says.
Making content people enjoy is also quite useful when they can help you pay your bills and it is something RVSN thrives on in the current pursuit of making a living out of it.
“A lot of people say “why hasn’t EA hired you yet” but the thing is, I love having the Sim community as my employers. I love answering to them and making what they ask for. You couldn’t ask for a better boss,” she says.
It helps that RVSN has loved designing stuff since sixth grade.
“I love, love interior design. When I was young, I saved up to get a stencil of Chinese lettering to pattern my walls. In high school, I painted zebra stripes on my closet doors and decked the walls in glittery hot pink. My taste is much more refined now and is reflective of how I make my CC,” she enthuses.
Her love for gaming (and The Sims) started a young age, too.
“I have always loved gaming. I recently found an old binder of mine which I decked out with the word “Game Freak” written in all the wonderful fonts from Word at the time. On the inside was an extensive collection of Got Milk? Ads and also my handwritten instructions for how to beat all the levels of kingdom hearts which I wrote as I played,” she recalls.
“And I started playing Sims 1 when it first came out. We only had one computer in the house so me and my three siblings would take one hour turns playing. Can you imagine?!” [Oh, I can, my best friend and I did exactly the same back in high school. Ed]
Hardly surprising, then, that the original moniker is a Simlish (the made-up language spoken by Sims) word.
“When I first started making CC, I looked up “Simlish dictionary”. Ravasheen is what Sims say when they look in the mirror or at something they like. I always interpreted Ravasheen as a play on the English word “ravishing” which means delightful or entrancing. That is something I always wanted my CC to be,” she explains.
Like Rava’s content, The Sims has grown a lot since those early days of virtual people’s inability to use pool ladders. Having reached the 33-million player mark this year, The Sims 4 is still a growing community and one many people – RVSN included – say have helped them find a sense of belonging.
“This year has been so hard, and this community has filled a major void in my life, given me so much love, and has gotten me through one of the hardest times in my life. I will be forever grateful,” she says.
It’s a shame motherlode doesn’t work in real life, but with her ambition and willingness to extend a helping hand, perhaps RVSN won’t need cheat codes to make her dreams a living reality within the next four months. That would be some way to play with life.
Where to find Ravasheen’s Sims 4 CC and mods
And other places to connect with Rava: