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Author Topic: The Sims  (Read 10013 times)
Erik Svedäng

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« on: January 20, 2010, 03:04:55 PM »

I've never really enjoyed The Sims but I think it's worth discussing from a notgame-perspective. It clearly has some of the mass-appeal that games usually miss out on. And even though it has goals they are placed on a story-level (even more in the The Sims 3 I think) so that you can deliberately choose to not fulfill them as part of deciding how the lives of your sims turn out.

So... what do you think? What can be learned from The Sims and what is bad about it?
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 04:29:00 PM »

We've looked into The Sims a little bit during our "Drama Princess" project (about autonomous characters):
http://www.tale-of-tales.com/DramaPrincess/wp/?p=11
http://www.tale-of-tales.com/DramaPrincess/wp/?p=47
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Erik Svedäng

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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2010, 06:13:33 PM »

I think I agree with your criticism of the game. All the game parts made it a chore to play. I really should try the new version to see if they have changed anything to the better (I heard it's a lot less focused on mundane every-day things).

This Drama Princess seems very interesting, will read more about it tonight! I have missed that part of your work completely, have you hidden it on purpose? Otherwise you should make it more obvious from your front page maybe... Smiley

edit: I now see that it's there in the sidebar, just a little less eye-popping than the banners for the games
« Last Edit: January 20, 2010, 06:17:01 PM by Erik Svedäng » Logged
God at play

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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2010, 06:35:11 PM »

Thanks for linking those, that was a very interesting discussion.  Smiley
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2010, 08:33:21 PM »

Drama Princess was a research project with only theory and an engine as its outcome. This engine was used as the basis for the behaviour and control of the characters in The Path. But it needs work... Wink

The Sims 3 is more relaxed in terms of gameplay. I really thought The Sims 2 was the worst of the 3. It really wanted to be a game, kept bothering you with goals and punished you quite severely if you didn't play well. In The Sims 3, you can explore a lot more and you don't have to work so hard to keep your Sims alive.
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axcho

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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2010, 04:24:51 AM »

I hear that Virtual Families took a more casual, less game-y approach to the virtual dollhouse idea, though I've never played it. Might be worth looking at.
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fallen.leaves

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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2010, 11:37:52 PM »

As an ex-avid player and fan of The Sims 2, I believe the game would be much better without the need bars and the time velocity control. I remember that, after spending a whole day playing, by night I was merely struggling to keep the character's needs up in order to go gain some skills - all this in a 3x game speed. You just see things happening before your eyes and don't really care about them. It all comes down to mindless gaming Dx When I bought the seasons expansion pack I used to love racking dry leaves, however my sims's needs wouldn't let me do that for long. I also enjoyed making snowmen in winter, but you can't even finish one of those without before freezing to death. The game has limitations all over. And of course, as has already been mentioned, it's full of materialism, and the characters are devoid of a personality.

Quote
The game is infused with an ideology focussed on household and consumerism. As such it narrows down the scope of life possibilities (...)
I wonder if it is possible to use elements from the sims to make a game/nongame that instead of narrowing down, broadens our scope of life?
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2010, 12:21:28 AM »

Quote
The game is infused with an ideology focussed on household and consumerism. As such it narrows down the scope of life possibilities (...)
I wonder if it is possible to use elements from the sims to make a game/nongame that instead of narrowing down, broadens our scope of life?

Apart from the designers' bias towards goal-based play and consumerist narrative, I think The Sims is running up against the limitations of the technology. To create a system of autonomous characters that interact with each other, you need to simplify the representation. Of course, there's many ways of doing this. I personally feel that Animal Crossing is a lot more successful at presenting characters that feel alive, characters that you care for, a community that you feel part of. It's also a stylized representation, but with a different focus. I think the choices you make as a designer as to where the stylization takes place, will determine the emotional impact of your simulation, and its potential for being meaningful.
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