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SimsPulse

Future of The Sims

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Sorry for the ramble in advance.

The Sims is a Triple A game (meaning it's a big budget game from a major publisher) so I expect more than what EA has been giving us. Sims 4 base game was atrocious with hardly any innovation from The Sims 3. Remember how bare it was? How blindsided we were by the lack of content (i.e. pools and toddlers?) It didn't feel like the next chapter of the franchise and, instead, felt like a step backwards. It didn't even feel like a complete game. And they played up CAS and build mode (the only good revamps of the game) in the marketing. They played up emotions, but those turned out to be lackluster. Sims shuffle through emotions like nobody's business and they hardly effect gameplay so their inclusion is kind of moot. They played up multi-tasking, but our Sims kept playing musical chairs. Sims 4 is objectively a let down. It was designed to be an online game because EA— not the developers— is, best case scenario, out of touch with the fandom or, worst case scenario, greedy and don't care about the product they're pushing. I'm leaning towards the latter with the company's sordid history in mind. That doesn't mean I hate the Sims 4. You can like a game and be critical of it. That's a consumer's responsibility. That's how products improve.

What I like from Sims 4 to carry on into the next iteration:

1.) CAS is flawless. Being able to toggle and mold your sim like clay is impressive. Inclusion has really improved with this generation. New gender options have been made available and all clothes can be worn by anyone regardless of sex. The ability to wear hats with any hairstyle is great and so is the automatic overlapping of certain shoes on pants. The skin tones are good (after some outrage on our part.)

2.) Build mode is also flawless. It combined build and buy mode. It also made building easier and more accessable for casual architects.

3.) While not immediately appreciated, the Club System is pretty good. I remember being like "Get Together is an expansion pack? What is the selling point?" It should be base game so it can be updated with each new skill, activity, etc.

4.) The focus put on individual supernatural lifestates (so far) is impressive such as celebrities, vampires, and werewolves. Vampires are far more in-depth. I wish the same could be said for aliens. Having two customizable different states was genius. The CAS/power UI menu portion of this addition allowed players to really customize their game's vampires whether it be old school Nosferatu or modern day Twilight. I don't think we necessarily need Game Packs to achieve this in-depth specificity though. Expansion packs cost about as much as the base game, but only offer half the content. We as consumers need to think about what we're investing in.

5.) The UI menus in game are a great addition. Specifically for the calendar/holidays, club perks, celebrity, and vampires. More of this. More customization.

6.) I don't mind the art style. I thought going more stylistic was a smart way to accommodate lower-end computers. The franchise has always been whacky and cartoon-y anyways so it didn't seem like a stretch. I wouldn't mind more of that. Hyper-realism would go too far into the uncanny valley. I just don't like how TS4 lost the edginess of the previous games which were known for being spontaneous. They have a T-rating and should be able to get away with a lot more than what they produce.

7.) I love that we can seamlessly travel between worlds. That was needed. But townies need to STAY in their town. I don't want NPC Sulani residents in San Myshuno.

8.) I also like the idea of lot traits. While not immediately recognizable as a step forward, the gurus did break some new and interesting ground with TS4. They're good in theory, bad in execution. I wish they added more spontaneity. They shouldn't just effect emotions which is so shallow. Everything effects emotions in TS4 so it's pretty meh.

Now what I think Sims 5 needs to include and correct:

1.) Height sliders. It's a life simulator and we're approaching the fifth generation still without short and tall Sims. Differences in height between Sims seems like a no-brainer. Even if it's just three different height options to choose from.

2.) Smarter Sims. Plain and simple. They need to be unique. They need to have traits that actually impact their personality and how they interact with their world. They need fears, wants, and an attraction system (we’ll see if Sims 4 Lovestruck adds anything mods haven’t already.) Multi-tasking was a fine addition. They need more idle animations for when they're inactive— I can't emphasize this enough. Idle animations would liven up the world. And idle animations should reflect the combination of personality traits a sim has. They should have more autonomy when on autopilot (within reason or the individual player's discretion.) The emotion system can stay if it is made to be more meaningful. I love the inclusion of different cultures in CAS and the inclusion of expanded gender options. This should be in base at launch. Memories need to make a comeback. Sims should remember if another Sim slighted them. Cheating on a significant other in TS4 has no real consequences. Also Sims couples should hold hands when walking.

3.) Open world. Duh. This is requested by almost the entire fanbase. Or at least offer us a semi-open world such as an open district/neighborhood. I'd be fine with Sims 4 worlds if those little 4 lot hoods were open. It's a life simulator. I need to see life when my Sim walks out the door. There should be people mowing their front lawns, kids playing tag, joggers, parents with strollers, cars passing by, sprinklers on the ground, and planes in the sky. Enough of this excuse about game performance. It's such a deflection. And so many people buy into it. Sims 3 with it's buggy open world was ambitious and ahead of it's time, hence the lagging. Technology wasn't there and enough time wasn't put in to accommodate all the expansions running tandem. Personal computers are evolving. Software is evolving. Other games have achieved more with far less excuses.

4.) More build mode options. We can all agree there are different play styles. One is builders. I'm not particularly a builder, but even I know The Sims started as an architectural guide by Will Wright. Stairs have not evolved from game to game. It's about time we got landings, curved stairs, L-stairs, etc. Maybe TS5 is the perfect opportunity for multi-venue lots. For example, a bookstore with a residential home on top. You could highlight certain rooms to designate as retail.

5.) Story progression. I know there are some who like to meticulously micro-manage their Sims households so maybe this could be toggle-able. The world should feel alive and change with the passage of time.

On a similar note, what our Sims do should effect the world around them. If your Sim's an author, their books should be available for purchase at the bookstore. If your sim is an actor like in Get Famous, their roles in films and TV should impact the landscape around them (playing brief clips on TV, ads on billboards, etc.) If your Sim becomes Mayor or president, they're the sole sim in that role. Maybe they even have a statue of themselves errected in town square. I don't know. I'm just spitballing (doing the guru's jobs for them.) Scientists could discover aliens and Sixam could be a mini map with actual significance.

What I'm ultimately getting at is that Sims 4 is more about pretending rather than simulating.

Hear me out on this. You know exactly what I'm talking about. For example, the police career in Get to Work, Sims don't actually go out and commit crimes. The engine randomly selects a sim to be slotted in to fill the role of a criminal. The game runs a scenario and your sim pretends to do police work. Nothing actually comes of this arrest nor does it actually lower crime rates or anything. This is just one example. Sims 4 is perpetually doing this. Rather than actually simulating a living, breathing world and NPCs, the game just sets things up so it appears like life is happening.

Need more examples?

-Sims pass by your lot, but there's no purpose to it. They're not actually heading somewhere. They show up at your lot and text your Sims. They're simply filling a role the game engine sees fit to fill. There's no rhyme or reason or depth. The game just decided someone needed to walk by, show up, text, or call.

-Medical and vet career. Sims and pets aren't actually sick. The game needs patients. Solution = randomly generated sick sims and pets. Done.

-Employees in retail and Dine Out = randomly generated.

What it boils down to is that other characters in the world don't really exist until the game engine deems them fit to fill a role. Other families won't marry, divorce, date, have kids, change jobs, etc. unless selected. Sims 4 just spawns in more Sims to feign that things are progressing.

6.) Bring back the weird. Sims 1 through 3 weren't easy like TS4. Occasionally you got abducted by aliens. Occasionally your Sim died in a fire. Occasionally your sim got struck by a meteor. Sims 4 has fewer random trigger events and the Easter eggs are hollow. Some examples for skeptics: furries digging through trash = pointless when all Sims end up randomly generated in hotdog costumes and furry costumes. Secret lots like Sixam and Sylvan Glade are barren and pointless. Leveling up in meditation allows your Sims to teleport, but big whoop. Anyone can do that with a cheat. Even the new Realm of Magic spells don't seem to do anything too complicated or beyond our control now. They're a shortcut pie menu for cheats.

7.) No more world-exclusive features. I'm referring to things like ocean swimming of Island Living only being in Sulani, possessed sims of Strangerville, and apartments starting out only being in City Living. Expansion packs and game packs should provide content that effects ALL worlds. Also no more recycling animations. For example the cuddle small creature animation that was reused in Eco Lifestyle. That's just one of many. Think about all the tiny detailed animations of TS2. We need that back. Sims 4 is cheap and greedy.

8.) Slot popping. It's gotta go. For those who don't know, for example, your sim goes to a bookshelf to build up their handiness skill and poof! The book magically appears in their hand. Or how a dirty dish on the ground gets magically scooped up into their hands but we don't see the animation in between points A and C. Do the legwork and make the animations, EA and developers. No more shortcuts.

9.) Transportation. Sims should be able to drive, bike, rollerblade, take the tram, bus, etc. Open world would demand this. Cars shouldn't disappear into pockets either. Parking should be a thing.

10.) NO MORE FETCH QUESTS. Sims 4 is full of them (conservation in Island Living, one of the ways to become a spell caster in Magic Realm, solving the mystery of Strangerville, etc.) The problem with fetch quests is that they lack complexity, depth, and are repetitive. Give us more to do.

~I think all these things (except supernatural life states) should be base game. Can you imagine? They say they can't add customizable apartments and such because that would be unfair to those who paid for that feature in City Living. The devs are afraid of being accused of releasing DLC for DLC, but if they're already in base game than they can be expanded upon. We could get new holidays for our calendar, new club traits with each added activity, new lot traits for every new kind of lot, and new season clothing with every pack. The one thing I personally think doesn't need to be base game is Pets. That might be pushing it.~

  1. More relationship options. More expansive family trees. More relationship types like Frenemies. Uneven relationships where feelings are not mutual. Be jealous of, love, hate another sim disproportionately to how that sim feels about your sim. Imagine one-sided crushes! We need this.

Some things that don't rank high on my list to include, but would be appreciated by the community:

1.) CaSt. I used the color wheel in TS3. It caused bugs according to the gurus, but it also allowed further customization.

2.) CAW. Again, I'm not a builder. I download premade lots and worlds. Sometimes I toy around with build mode only to end up frustrated by my own ineptitude. But there is nothing wrong with further customization. I welcome it.

3.) Being able to create pregnant Sims and babies in CAS from the get-go. You should also be able to set your household's income, careers, and skills at the start (maybe even after you place them in a lot.) We're telling the stories. Give us the tools.

What The Sims franchise needs is fresh ideas. We keep buying the next gen when essentially it's the same thing with a fresh coat of paint. Many have suggested adding things like seasons and University to base game, but I think that's complicated. I don't mind the pattern of buying add-ons that expand gameplay. The base game just needs to be good enough to be it's own standalone game.

The Sims franchise started off as simulation God game. You were an outside thirdparty maniacally controlling households. Towards Sims 3 and 4, the development veered towards RPG. Making yourself in Sim form and living your dream life is fun and totally intended, but it shouldn't be the sole focus. There was literally the addition of a first-person camera. Not knocking it. It's a neat perspective. It's just that I've seen Simmers requesting VR on the forums. I don't think Will Wright and the original team behind Sims would be about that future. In Sims 4 and Sims 3 it is impossible to lose the game. That means they're not really a video game. Give us a challenge!

Gurus have openly admitted that their main demographic tends to play exclusively with young adults. So, in EA's eyes, that means invest in them and not other life stages. Hence all the young adult party expansion and stuff packs. I want all life stages to be well developed and dynamic. Elderly Sims and babies have been the most neglected in the past. Some Simmers want more realistic aging. I don't think this is doable at this time or should be a high priority. I think the current life stages are perfectly reflective of real life in a simplified, cartoonified, microcosm kind of way. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Thanks for coming to my TedTalk.

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