September 22, 2016

Let’s Talk About ‘The Sims’

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Flickr / włodi
Flickr / włodi

So I’ve been an avid player of The Sims since I was about eleven years old. I was in the fifth grade when my dad introduced the game to my siblings and I. He’d tell us about how him and his younger brother used to play TS all the time when they were younger. One particular day, my mom was shopping at Walmart and we happened to see The Sims 2 sitting on one of the shelves as we were strolling through the entertainment section. I urged my mom to buy it, as I was very curious about the game and was eager to play it. Sure enough, she bought it. Once I got a taste of the game, I was sold!Creating a person in a life simulator game? Having an immense amount of customization at your fingertips? Having this person (or “sim”) you created go a course through their life and being able to play with their children? Or having them join any career of your choosing and watch them shoot up the corporate ladder? (Hence their slogan “play with life”) All of this really intrigued me. I couldn’t believe I could do all of these things in a video game.

Creating a person in a life simulator game? Having an immense amount of customization at your fingertips? Having this person (or “sim”) you created go a course through their life and being able to play with their children? Or having them join any career of your choosing and watch them shoot up the corporate ladder? (Hence their slogan “play with life”) All of this really intrigued me. I couldn’t believe I could do all of these things in a video game.

Now here’s where I start complaining (kidding)– discussing my thoughts on the changes made to The Sims since the first installment. Let’s start with the latest.

So we have The Sims 4—“The Sims 2 with a dash of. . .emotions?” Or more emphasis on their emotions, shall I say. The sims of TS2 had a very dry sense of emotional states. You had the option of choosing a sim’s aspiration, which would reflect the types of “wants” or desires they had regarding the type of life they wanted to live. I mean, you were ultimately in control but these aspirations helped your sims develop in a particular direction.

The sims went through the basic emotional states such as happy, angry, scared etc. You couldn’t exactly see the emotion affecting your sims physically unless they had a reaction to something (e.g., crying). Also, you were allowed to choose your sim’s astrological sign, which depicted the type of behavior your sims had or HOW they reacted to scenarios. This feature was removed in TS4. I wasn’t upset about this because it didn’t give players who weren’t interested/didn’t put much emphasis on astrology enough customization as far as personality for their sims. Even TS3 had a pretty dry base as far as emotions and personality.

You could only choose up to five traits from a menu of traits listed. These traits consisted of things like “Likes the cold,” or “night owl.” Which would definitely affect the way your sims approached their lives.

In TS3, there were “mood-lets” in a certain part of the UI (user interface) which told you what they were feeling and why. Clearly, their (the developers) conveying of the emotions was advancing. But it appears they reached the type of level they wanted to be on when they introduced TS4. Now your sims’ personality would be reflected by the types of traits they had—and their traits produced specific emotions. For example, if one of your sims had an “ambitious” trait, they’d start to feel unaccomplished or stuck and get depressed if they haven’t been given a promotion at work or working towards a specific goal.

Additionally, objects could affect the way your sims felt as well. Like a painting: If a painting had a rose on it and your sims happened to view it or be in a room with it hanging on the wall, every time that sim entered the room, they’d start to feel romantic or flirty. Intriguing, right? When the advancement of emotional states was introduced, I honestly thought it would be a recipe for disaster. Especially since they stated your sims could die from being “too humored/humorous,” meaning they could die from laughing too hard! Or they could die from embarrassment (being “too embarrassed”).
For some, they found this addition to the game to be quite entertaining and found it humorous themselves. However, I wasn’t so humored by this addition. I didn’t want my sims to die because they found a joke really funny. However, the developers mentioned these types of scenarios would be hard to come across as it would have to be an immense amount of humor in a situation for your sims to be affected fatally (i.e., you keep having your sim do playful things and joking around with other sims, pranking excessively). Your sim could be feeling “playful,” but having them divulge in more playful activities causes them to become “really playful.”

Am I starting to paint the picture?

Now, quite of few of the fans (i.e., simmers) of TS were fairly disappointed at the release of TS4. This is mainly due to the fact the developers decided to revert back to a more cartoonish-look to their game regarding the physical look of the sims. A lot of people wanted more “realistic-looking” sims, something re-vamped of those from TS3. TS3 had pretty realistic-looking sims, especially with CC (custom content) added.

However, I wasn’t swayed by their regression of the physical look of the sims. I liked it, to say the least. I had more of an issue with the CONTENT reduction when it came to the latest installment. TS4 lacks quite a bit of content when you compare it to the first, second and third installments in this franchise. It’s just so. . . empty? (for a lack of a better word) No matter how much I play TS4, I cannot completely immerse myself into the game too long—not like I could with the other games.

It’s sort of disappointing but I can see why the content was reduced. Content like basic NPC’s were removed (e.g., a carpool picking up your sims for work, a bus picking up your children for school; the nanny babysitting your children while your sims are out of the house, the maid, ordering pizza or Chinese food etc). All of these things add some type of authenticity to the game—they add fullness. Even TS1 had more content than TS4 has now and that’s pretty sad. The developers claimed they reduced the content because they wanted to focus more on gameplay rather than content. That the gameplay would make the game more efficient and less broken (cough, TS3).

And that’s true. TS3 had so many bugs and glitches. Not only that but the game pretty much took a super computer to run well enough for you to play without any lag. That or you had to play with your settings to match the specs of your computer. It was just very difficult to play TS3 unless you had a nicely-priced desktop or laptop. I can only speculate that the franchise reverted back to the cartoon-ish look of the game so more players would be able to play the game; the game happens to run on a different system compared to the other installments.
A lot of simmers regressed towards TS2 because they did not like the newer version of TS3. TS3 was hard to like at first, that is until they started released expansion and stuff packs left and right. TS3 featured an open world-system and there weren’t any loading screens like there were in TS2.

Packs gave the game the life the developers presumed it had at release. They diversified your whole experience in The Sims. Gave your sims new possibilities, new ways to “play with life.” See? I should become a developer, I’m great at this. But TS3 had a ton of content. They even had a “Sims 3 store” for simmers to be able to purchase more content.

Regarding content, one of the major features missing from TS4 are—shall I say it? TODDLERS. So, you have baby, child, teenager, young adult, adult, elder. Something missing from that list? In the first three installments your newborn baby would age up into a toddler after a few days of being born. This wasn’t something so important to me but I can see why some simmers are VERY disappointed over it. Because this feature of the game was removed, the baby goes from newborn to a child in a couple of days after being born.

The basinet essentially shakes and next thing you know—poof, you have a child.

First, I’d like to state that by this feature being removed from the game, it kind of defeats the purpose of this game being a LIFE SIMULATOR game. It doesn’t portray real life as it should—or as it used to be in previous installments. I’m sure we all know newborn babies don’t age straight up into children. Not only has this feature been removed, but the developers have been unreasonably silent on the issue. They have released zilch information on whether toddlers will be added back into the game or not. I mean, this game was released in 2014.

It’s been out for two years and we still haven’t gotten back most of the content that were presented in the base games of the following three installments. On forum for The Sims, the developers try to answer questions the community has for them but always seem to dish out the same canned response(s) regarding future content.

I’m sure the sim gurus want to tell us what’s going on or what they’re working on but can’t due to some legal agreement or binding terms of service. Some of the simmers want to blame Maxis for this issue, some want to blame EA. I’m not sure who is to blame for this. All I know is that I’m unhappy about the “advancements” of this installment of the game. I want to know why features that were provided to be in the base games of the following installments have been removed and I’m having to PAY to have (probably most) of those features back? TC mark

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