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The Sims 3

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: EA
Developer: EA Maxis
Release Date: June 2, 2009

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'The Sims 3' Developer Interview

by Rainier on Nov. 17, 2008 @ 9:00 a.m. PST

The Sims 3 allows you to immerse your unique Sims in an open living neighborhood right outside their door. The initial feature-set includes the new seamless, open neighborhood, new Create-A-Sim, new realistic personalities and new unlimited customization.

The Sims 3 features a brand new engine that allows you to immerse your unique Sims in an open living neighborhood where they can roam and explore all new surroundings including the beach, mountains and town center. The neighborhood is alive and constantly evolving so what happens to a Sim on one side of the neighborhood could impact your Sims on the other side of town! If your Sims are in the right place at the right time, who knows what might happen? And now for the first time, your Sims have distinctive personalities thanks to a range of all-new personality traits. You have the option to select from dozens of personality traits such as brave, artistic, kleptomaniac, clumsy, paranoid and romantic. Combine up to five traits to create an endless number of truly diverse individuals.

Q: After all these years of creative thinking, Sims Fans have made many interesting Sims, houses and other objects. Will it be possible to transfer Sims from previous version to The Sims 3? And what about other objects like house and furniture designs?

There are so many innovations in The Sims 3 so it's really not possible to transfer items or Sims from previous games. The level of detail in The Sims 3 is so high that any conversion from older games would not be satisfying for players.

Q: Also many Sims fans have gathered a huge pile of CD's with add ons for 2nd version of the game, which will turn into junk once 3rd version comes out. And what add ons will be included in The Sims 3? Can we expect pets, seasons and magic in the initial release? And what of additional extras for previous version we will have to re-purchase for new one?

At the moment, we're only thinking about The Sims 3. We have a huge team devoted to making the best possible game and we're not going to think about anything else until it's perfect.

Q: Also there are many questions about ‘living neighbourhood'. Before Sims 3, player-made families just waited patiently until someone plays them, now it appears to be that they will live on their own. Let's assume that player created two families: "Mary and Bob" and "John Smith". Then he played with "Mary and Bob" for long time, almost forgetting about that other family. It's quite possible that when the player returns to John Smith, he'll find no one there, since he could live his entire life, get old and die, so there will be no opportunity to play with him. Is there any solution already?

There are lots of options in The Sims 3. In the example that you just presented, the families that you don't control will develop along with the household that you are controlling. However, you can switch between families at any time. You can also move families between save files, so you can develop one family to a specific point and then merge them with another save file. Story tellers will do that a lot.

Q: We've already heard that there will be ‘Hand of the God" in the game, that allows to pick up and move Sims and other objects. Also it will be possible to feed and clean Sims with one click of the mouse. Which other simplifications should we expect?

There isn't a feature that works exactly like you describe. However, players can do something that we call "live dragging". In simple terms, you can manipulate some objects directly with your mouse. In the past, The Sims had to clean up everything for themselves. Now you can grab trash and throw it away, or grab an item from the floor and put it in your Sim's inventory.

Q: And what about robots, Aliens, Vampires and others? Will be they available in the initial release or we will have to wait for them to appear in outgoing expansions?

We have some tricks up our sleeve…

Q: Since there will be quite big virtual universe on player's disposal, are there any plans for minigames like car driving? And what about dance simulators, which are so popular on consoles?

There are some really interesting collection games and skills have a lot of rich detail.

Q: Are there any plans of extending Sims' vocabulary, e.g. will their words really mean something? Or they will keep mumbling some meaningless Simmish like before Sims 3?

The Sims always speak simlish. We've tried to teach them the languages of the world but they don't want to listen.

Q: Some years ago The Sims Online was started. But we didn't heard about this project for a while. Are there any plans to include some online components in Sims 3, like chats or minigames where players can use their Sims as avatars?

The Sims 3 players will have unprecedented freedom to customize the look of their game. A player with creative aspirations and no technical training or knowledge can make changes to the look of just about everything in their Sims life, right in the game. We call the technology Create-a-Style. In the past, fans made their creations outside of the game and then shared them on the exchange. We wanted to give the power that our artists have to the players.

The process of getting creations online is easier than ever. The Sims 3 launcher helps you install and manage custom content so that you don't have to hunt around for directories or anything like that.

Finally, The Sims 3 community is completely new and there are some incredible tools, including a web-based video editing tool so that players can make movies from the videos they capture in the game.

Q: What kind of player activity have you planned for The Sims 3?

Sims can do things that they couldn't do before, like ride bikes, work out at the gym, go to the beach, grab a snack at the bistro and more!

Q: What about the game has been upgraded and what is completely new? Also, can you explain a bit about how the new 'boundaries' work? What kind of activity will be opened up for the Sims?

The first thing that people will notice about The Sims 3 is the world around them. If you see it, you can go there. In the past, The Sims players were confined to playing on little levels that we called lots. Now there are now boundaries. The technology is incredible because we can show you the tiniest detail of your home, like the petals on a flower. A few seconds later you can look at the tiniest freckle on a Sim on the other side of town. This all happens in real time. We're in a great place as developers these days: Realism has been achieved...check. We can just focus on style and delivering seamless experiences so that the player can be completely immersed in their story.

Q: How, if at all, has the customizability of The Sims evolved for The Sims 3? How will players be able to integrate this into their Sims experience?

We're going to give the player unprecedented control over the visuals in the game so that they have the same control that our artists have, right in the game. The new Create - A - Sim allows players to make just about any person they can imagine, and there are tools in the game that let you change the look of almost any surface on your Sim or in their home.

Q: Can we expect to see our favorite Sims families return, having grown, as they did between The Sims and The Sims 2?

Yes! You will see many of your favourite things from past games in The Sims 3.

Q: How has player feedback impacted changes you have implemented for The Sims 3?

We're all fans of The Sims, and a lot of our team worked on The Sims and The Sims 2, so player feedback is built into our team. We also spend a lot of time interacting with members of The Sims community around the world. I don't think the game would be what it is without The Sims community. Fans have always wanted more interaction with a community of Sims. If you think about it, The Sims is the most detailed depiction of contemporary life to be presented in a work of fiction, but half of life was missing. In The Sims 3, we'll let you explore the other half of life that happens when you are not at home.

Q: How do the 'new personalities' work?

There are over 70 personality traits that players can choose from. When you choose traits they are represented as a simple word that you might use to describe someone you know so it's easy to understand what they will do in the game. What makes traits so powerful is that they can change the game in profound ways. You'll see different behaviors, interactions, advantages and goals depending on the traits that your Sims display. Just to name a few examples of more extreme traits, you can let your Sims be Insane, Evil, Kleptomaniac, Paranoid, Brave, Hates Kids, Genius and more.

Q: What challenges did you face in the creation of The Sims 3?

Working to tune the AI so that the people who live in your town have lifelike behavior. Over time, all of The Sims in the town grow and develop, and it takes an impressive amount of tuning to make this work just right. I think that people are used to seeing lots of other characters in a game world, but they've never seen a game world where every character is being motivated by unique personality traits and motives like The Sims 3. Another thing we're working on is a feature called Create A Style which allows players to customize just about everything, from clothing to furniture to cars. We want players to be able to change the game like our artists can. The interface is really powerful and we want to make it perfect.

Q: We understand that the game features a continuous neighborhood and no loading times, but there won't be multiple neighborhoods as in The Sims 2. Tell us a bit about this decision. How will it change what different players do with the game once they get it in their hands?

There is one neighborhood, and it is pretty amazing. We've been working exclusively on this one neighborhood, Sunset Valley for the last few years. It's bigger and richer than anything we've made before. We really just wanted to make something that would blow people away, and we wanted to do more with the town than we have in the past.

No two towns will ever be the same after one generation in The Sims 3. As I mentioned, every Sim has complete AI throughout their life, so you'll see people grow up, go to school, fall in love, get married, get jobs, move out, have families, grow old and pass away. It's also possible to change all of the Sims in your town, so you can fill the town with whoever you like…yourself, your friends, characters from your favorite show, favorite band or sports team, anyone you can imagine…you get the point.

Q: We understand that every Sim has a dream that can be fulfilled as part of a lifetime achievement goal. What are some examples of lifetime achievements, and what happens when you reach it? What if you fail?

Just like people, The Sims have wishes. Some of their wishes are really big and we call those Lifetime Wishes. A Lifetime Wish is a really big achievement like becoming a rock star, raising a huge family, getting rich or becoming an astronaut. Along the way to achieving your lifetime wish, you'll fulfill smaller wishes. As you fulfill a Sim's wishes, you earn points that can be used to purchase special Traits and reward objects that are generally hilarious and awesome. There really is no way to fail in the game, but you can make some really funny things happen if you want to cause trouble for your Sims.

Q: How much dedication does it take to reach the pinnacle of your respective career ladder? Are there any shortcuts to the top?

If you play your cards right, you might be able to get to the top of more than one career in a lifetime, but it would take a lot of hard work and your Sim would need the right traits. Workaholic Sims will be happy if they live at the office, so that might be a good way to go. There are definitely some shortcuts, and your Sims will get Opportunities from time to time that give them a boost.

Q: Plenty of open-ended moral choices will pop up in The Sims 3, like giving you the choice to skim off the top of campaign contributions in the political career. Give us some more examples of these moral choices depending on your career. What are the consequences of such decisions?

The game is full of moral choices. Some of them are presented to the player as career Opportunities. I don't want to give too much away on this subject. A lot of the moral choices in the game come from the social simulator, and this is where the game becomes so compelling. A lot of players use the game to explore moral questions in their own lives. It's sort of a "what if" simulator. For example, your Sim can choose to Whoohoo at work, but if they get caught then both Sims run out of the office naked. Now, that could be a lesson you don't want to learn in the real world!

Q: What can you tell us about the community features and sharing options players can use to build and share with their friends and with the larger Sims fanbase?

The Sims 3 players will have unprecedented freedom to customize the look of their game. A player with creative aspirations and no technical training or knowledge can make changes to the look of just about everything in their Sims life, right in the game. We call the technology Create A Style. In the past, fans made their creations outside of the game and then shared them on the exchange. We wanted to give the power that our artists have to the players.

The process of getting creations online is easier than ever. The Sims 3 launcher helps you install and manage custom content so that you don't have to hunt around for directories or anything like that.

Finally, The Sims 3 community is completely new and there are some incredible tools, including a web-based video editing tool so that players can make movies from the videos they capture in the game.

Q: As in The Sims 2, throwing parties is all the rage in The Sims 3. What are the different party types available depending on your career?

There are new party types in The Sims 3, but there are also some pretty cool locations to party with your friends. If you want to call your friends down to the beach and set up an afternoon BBQ, you can do that. Break out your guitar, turn on the radio, call up some friends and chill out. If you're a rising politician, you can throw campaign fundraisers to build up your campaign fund as well.

Q: We're sure The Sims 2 community was very vocal about what it wanted from a sequel. What were the most popular requests that fans made for The Sims 3?

We're all fans of The Sims, and a lot of our team worked on The Sims and The Sims 2, so player feedback is built into our team. We also spend a lot of time interacting with members of The Sims community around the world. I don't think the game would be what it is without The Sims community. Fans have always wanted more interaction with a community of Sims. If you think about it, The Sims is the most detailed depiction of contemporary life to be presented in a work of fiction, but half of life was missing. In The Sims 3, we'll let you explore the other half of life that happens when you are not at home.

Q: As players create their Sims, they will now be able to select five personality traits that will help define their dispositions. How will this new system let players create characters with more-defined personalities...and more importantly, how will it do a better job of letting players re-create the personalities of themselves, their friends, or their favorite celebrities? What are some extreme personalities we'll see in The Sims 3?

There are over 70 personality traits that players can choose from. When you choose traits they are represented as a simple word that you might use to describe someone you know, so it's easy to understand what they will do in the game. What makes traits so powerful is that they can change the game in profound ways. You'll see different behaviors, interactions, advantages and goals depending on the traits that your Sims have. Just to name a few examples of more extreme traits, you can let your Sims be Insane, Evil, Kleptomaniac, Paranoid, Brave, Hates Kids, Genius and more...

Q: Please give us an update on the game. What aspects is the team working on at the moment?

A lot of our time is spent playing and perfecting the open, living neighborhood and all of the gameplay that takes place there. In The Sims 3, we're opening up the other half of life that players have always wanted to explore. What happens when you're not stuck at home? It's been a huge undertaking for us, but we're very happy with the way it's working out.

One example of the work we're doing is the AI behind the people who live in your town. You control a household of Sims, but all of the other Sims in your town live and develop as you play. It takes an impressive amount of tuning to make this work just right. I think that people are used to seeing lots of other characters in a game world, but they've never seen a game world where every character is being motivated by unique personality traits and motives like The Sims 3. Another thing we're working on is a feature called Create A Style which allows players to customize just about everything, from clothing to furniture to cars. We want players to be able to change the game like our artists can. The interface is really powerful and we want to make it perfect.

The Sims 3 is currently scheduled for release in Feb. 20, 2009.


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