I don't hate Sims 3, in fact I played it for over an hour this evening. However I place its features on par with Sims 2, and at this stage it has much less to offer than Sims 2 and all its expansions. My experimentations tonight focussed on trying to breed some hidden traits, and it got me thinking about the potential to improve the trait system. Sims get 5 traits- 2 at birth, 1 each upon transition to child, teen and young adult. There seems to be a sliding scale of how traits are assigned depending on the quality of pregnancy and upbringing:
0- Automatically 2 negative traits such as insane, evil, unlucky or dislikes children.
1- Automatically 1 negative and 1 not very useful trait such as light sleeper or couch potato.
2- Automatically 2 useless traits
3- Automatically one useless one and one positive one
4-Automatically two positive traits.
5- Automatic positive and the option of choosing one.
6- Free choice of both.
This is just based on my experience and perception, it might be more random than this.
I have found I actually prefer purposefully doing a crap job so that traits are assigned as I tend to stick to boring good traits or choose the same fun bad traits like insane or inappropriate. I don't tend to go for boring traits like green thumb, neat, vegetarian or bookworm. Automatic traits forces me to play the game differently.
The thing with the automatic traits for an imperfect upbringing is that the traits do not reflect the particular failings of their childhood. Sims 3 would improve by leaps and bounds in my mind if traits addressed life experiences. Make a child whose parents divorce afraid of commitment or a hopeless romantic. Make a child overlooked because of being one of triplets dislike children. A child who does badly in elementary school might become a loner or a bookworm.
This could be built upon by having traits be assigned at any stage of life. A string of dates might result in gaining 'unflirty'. Working too hard for too many days in a row might make a sim stressed and gain 'hot-headed'. This kind of consequential gameplay was promised back when Sims 2 was in development, when I distinctly remember them using the example that a bad stovefire during childhood would result in a sim being forever fearful of cooking and being in the kitchen (no such gameplay is possible in sims 2, only an immediate aspiration meter penalty for a fire that will wear off as soon as positive life events occur).
I'm hoping this kind of use of the trait system is what was planned all along but as usual EA rushed the release and planned to improve it later in expansion packs.