The Sims 4

Terrain Tools Live Stream – The Highlights

Written by BlackGarden

Just in case anyone missed the terrain tools live stream last week, we’ve created a handy highlights reel right here. The videos in this article will auto-loop by default, so just tap or click to start, and tap or click again to stop.

The basic tools

The first tool they showed was the raise terrain tool. SimGuruGhost had a great engineering term to explain what this does.

Next up, the “anti-up”, also known as “down”:

After using those two tools your terrain will probably look a little rough around the edges, so that’s the time to break out the next tool: smooth!

Brush options

Just like the terrain paints, the terrain tools have some brush options. You can pick size and softness, and for the terrain tools you can also pick speed – how fast the terrain will move. If you just want to raise something up just a tiny bit, you can use a low speed for precision, or if you want to make some big changes, you can use a higher speed.

Visual helpers

The new terrain tools come with some great quality of life improvements to help you when it comes to working with uneven terrain. Firstly, the grid that appears when you’re in the terrain tools mode will only show on areas which are completely flat, and where objects that require a flat floor can be placed.

Secondly, on steep slopes which are not routable (that is, Sims can’t walk up/down the slops), you’ll see little height indicators. These height indicators each match exactly one step height, and the flatten terrain tool will “snap” to these heights, so when you flatten terrain you are never going to create a height which cannot be connected by stairs to other parts of your lot.

Building blocks and foundations

Also with this update, you’ll be able to independently adjust the foundation of a specific “block” (basically a separate building) on your lot. You’ll also be able to make foundations far higher than has previously been possible.

When you adjust foundations on separate blocks, the game will highlight other blocks that are at the same height as you drag. This will help you to match up your foundation heights so that you can connect your rooms together.

If you don’t match your foundation heights up, you won’t be able to connect the rooms. The SimGurus were keen to emphasise that they would love to be able to support split level in the future, but they really wanted to give the ability to make split level homes, but in order to get tools out to Simmers faster, they’ve left out this kind of advanced functionality for now. They weren’t confirming that such tools will definitely come, but they just want the community to know that they’re aware that we’d like those tools, and that they will do what they can!

However, you can overlap blocks, as long as there as at least a Sim’s height in between for Sims to walk:

With the wall tool, when you change the height of your “level 1”, it will change the wall height for all “level 1” blocks across your lot, even if the blocks are at different heights:

When you’re working with a lot that isn’t completely flat, you can drag to create rooms as normal. The height of the room will be based on where you start dragging from, and either foundation will be added, or terrain will be cut away to compensate:

Finally, all level 1 blocks have foundation now – it’s just that by default it’s hidden by terrain. But if you lower terrain around an existing block, it will expose that foundation. Similarly, if you raise or lower a block, it will add and remove foundation as needed, and cut away terrain as needed.

A bit of wizardry happens here though – the game will remember the terrain you sculpted with terrain tools separately from the changes it needed to make because you dragged rooms in to it. If you have a room which you dragged into a hill and it cut the hill away, then delete the room again, then as if by magic the hill will return. Fantastic! SimGuruGhost explains a bit about “non-destructive terrain editing:


Basements work really similarly to the above-ground blocks, except that they must always be below the ground:

You can now select basements through the terrain, and remove the top so you can see down into it:

And there are now 4 basement levels:

Pools & Fountains

Pools work similarly to the standard above-ground blocks in that they will create a foundation if needed to support the height of the pool, or cut away terrain as needed.

Fountains, on the other hand, work similarly to the basement – the will “pull the terrain up” around them, rather than adding foundation.

Finally, since you can now simply drag pools up and down, it’s worth noting some important information about how you can make sure your pools are routable:

Accidental Get Famous Spoiler

Greg accidentally showed off a new foundation pattern for Get Famous – this wood panelled foundation looks great!


The question kept popping up in the chat throughout the stream, and the answer to this is “not yet”. Like split levels, it’s something they’d love to do, but right now they wanted to focus on making the terrain manipulation really good, before taking the next step.


Oh … wow Greg loves stairs. As a programmer myself in my day job, I find his enthusiasm for the technical details infectious and very relatable! Honestly this showed throughout the whole stream but especially when he talked about the stairs – you can tell it’s feature he has personally spent a lot of time on! I’d love to see him do more live streams because his passion for his work is clear to see.

So firstly, you can place stairs from terrain to terrain, and the “landing” at the top and bottom must be flat.

You can also sculpt terrain around stairs, essentially “embedding” the stairs in the terrain:

And you’ll be able to make multi-level stairs that go from waaay high up, right down to the terrain.

Did I mention Greg loves stairs? Here he shows a staircase going from terrain height down to on top of a room, and talks a bit about his love for stairs.


There will now be two types of fences – yard fences and block fences. Yard fences are fences which you started on terrain and they will smoothly conform to the terrain. Block fences are fences started on a block, and they will work as the current fences do (adding foundation as needed).

Real lots using terrain tools

Just to show how the stairs work in real lots, the SimGurus then began to show off some lots created with the stairs. In this one, they show how you can use terrain tiles to “flatten” terrain.

Secondly, they showed off a build with a garage at a lower height to the main house (the garage contains scaled up toy cars, cars are not confirmed for the game here!)

The third lot they showed can be seen in the “fences” video above, and here’s the final lot – a big castle on a hill, with a neat sort of “lake” (actually a swimming pool) and a bridge to an island in that lake.

Community questions

Finally, the SimGurus went on to ask community questions for about 20 minutes to end the stream. Here’s how terrain paints work with very steep slopes (for now, at least!)

When it comes to Sims being able to walk, or “route” over your terrain, there are some tips to help you out here:

What about placing shrubs and trees on slopes? We have a bit of freedom there, and moveobjects will give total freedom (though it might not always look right!)

Using the CTRL key to place stairs from “upstairs” downwards, so you don’t need to guess where the top step will land:

Another stair feature Greg was excited to show us was stairs going over a half wall – I can definitely see some of the amazing builders in the community finding creative ways to use this! (Also note the two new half wall heights as Greg says “leaks… so many leaks!” – if you watch the full stream then a few moments later they go back and show that these half walls do exist, but they don’t click on them because “didn’t these crash the game earlier?”)

At the end of the stream the also covered some hot keys that you might not be aware of – for example, did you know, you can adjust the eaves of just one side of a roof individually by holding shift? And there’s an extra “quarter grid” alignment you can use when placing objects you can press F5 to access. This means you can align stuff just slightly off the main grid.

That was it for this stream – the chat bot throughout the stream stated that these tools are due to become available with the release of Get Famous, which is on 16th November. We can’t wait!

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