Tuesday, 27 August 2013

How The Sims 4 is aiming for more subtle sim behaviour

The Sims 4 is putting a heavy emphasis on emotions, but the Sims Studio doesn't want to make those play out as broad cartoonish stereotypes. Instead, executive producer Rachel Franklin says the goal is to make the sims a more accurate reflection of real life, with more subtle touches based on human motivation and emotional states.
"At the beginning, The Sims was about needs," she told Polygon. "How are you going to manage your time to satisfy your needs, get more money to buy better things. We've evolved the sims over time, over generations."

For example, since people multi-task regularly now, the team has put work into making sure the sims can too. They might eat and talk or exercise and watch TV, at the same time. But the new focus on emotions also means that they might not do those tasks as well. "If I'm in a terrible emotional state I'm not going to perform as well," Franklin said. "If I'm inspired and driven, I'm going to do my job better and it's going to help."
In fact, the team is aiming to make even fantastical elements behave a bit more realistically. EA showed off a voodoo doll to shift a sim's emotions during the stage presentation at Gamescom, but Franklin notes that the effect won't work that quickly in the game. Instead, choices will influence the sim's mood over time.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

More About The New Cas-Good News-The Hair isn't Finished Yet!

Create A Sim

Jill Johnson is a Producer on TS4 Create-A-Sim. She demoed CAS for us and then we got to play on our own, trying out the tools, stretching our imaginations and grabbing screens and info to share with you all.
Jill explained that hair seen in the early teasers (remember the eyes?) were built with something like Hair version 1.5, today we were using Hair 3.0 and has massive improvements already. Hair isn't finished yet and there is still work to do on layers and textures so as with most stuff, don't write it off just yet, there's still a long way to go before we see a finished game.

The biggest change for CAS is that pretty much all of the sliders have gone and been replaced with direct manipulation. This means that you can use your mouse pointer to simply grab parts of the Sim body and drag them around to make limbs bigger, smaller, wider and narrower. Breasts can move up and down as well as bigger/smaller. Butts can be inflated, shoulders broadened and even feet enlarged. Posture can be changed too, to make Sims slouch forward or walk tall and straight. It's like using modelling clay to build any shape you desire (now I have the smell of 'Play Doh' in my head!). All this allows for an almost infinite body shape. Two sliders that remain are those for Heavy/Fit (represented by an apple and a donut) and Fat/Thin (represented by a couch and a dumbbell).

You can start out by choosing one of a broad range of body shapes and starting faces which you can then fine-tune to your needs if you wish. EA claim to have spent a lot of time creating base faces that represent multiple ethnicities, which can be seen quite clearly in the latest images released. There is also a really smart randomize feature for you to quickly pull together some random Sims. In truth thought, it's not completely random at all! You can choose which features to switch so if you are happy with your Sims face you can lock that in.

Your choices are Body Shape, Body Size, Face, Skin Tone, Hair, Facial Hair, Voice, Clothing or All. The reason I say it's not completely random is that it's smart enough to match certain clothing types and colours. So if it selects a beige leather jacket for a random female Sim the tool might select some beige boots to match. Nothing came out looking like a wardrobe fail in the dark of morning, these Sims looked like the outfits where colour and style matched for them!

But CAS actually works in 3 levels of detail. First you are zoomed out to change things like clothing and accessories, change body size and shape etc. Then you can zoom in on the face to the next level where you can manipulate the head size and shape, nose, mouth ears. This level of detail wowed us at Sims camp as it was, but then Jill went another step deeper and zoomed in on each of the editable features of the face. Again, manipulation is simple, by grabbing and dragging the face structure to exactly where you want it. Even the eyes are so detailed now that you can change the size of the iris, a first for The Sims. Eyebrow arch, lip crease and the bridge of the nose can all be adjusted in minute detail.

Another Sims first is the ability to interchange boots and clothing items, they call it the Sims 4 Boot System. If your Sim is wearing long boots, they will be tucked under boot fit trousers, or fully visible if wearing shorts or a skirt. Here's an image for you to see the same pair of boots being worn in two ways.


Much of the personality system in the Gamescom build of CAS are disabled but we were able to glean a lot of further information out of the Producers. I should point out now that a lot of the community have picked up on CAS images and assumed that there are only 5 ages in Sims 4. I can confirm that these images are placeholders and do not represent all ages at all, there are likely to be more. Notice they are all the same size, the game doesn't show ages like that, they are smaller to bigger and then smaller again for Elder. We heard Producers mention Teens, Kids and Elders. Right now, the demo and all media assets only show Young Adult.

So you can see from my image here that as well as Gender and Age you can still choose Traits. We're told there are over 50 in the base game (more in the Emotional Gameplay section later). Sims also have Aspirations and the one you see here is linked to the Astronaut career in the game (you will see the spaceship in the Gamescom demos and media assets).

Walk Style is new and a great addition to the game. You can choose the way your Sim will walk in game, from Perky, Snooty and Swagger. These are 'basic walk cycles' which can be overridden in game if the Sim is grumpy or happy or any other emotion takes over them. I also found out that children can inherit a walk cycle from one of the parents, depending on which traits they also inherit.

Voice Style isn't exactly new, we could pick Voice 1 or 2 etc., and change pitch before. For female Sims you can now choose either Sweet, Melodic or Lilted. For males you can chose from Clear, Warm or Brash. For Sims 4, the studio selected voice actors for the broadest range of content to keep Sims unique and gameplay less repetitive.

Emotional Gameplay

Producer Grant Rodiek is the emotional gameplay guy! He gave us a very detailed overview of the way the game mechanics work and how Sims 4 shows this in so much more detail than previous games. So much so that you will be able to glean more information about a Sims mood by looking at their face, or the way they walk, than by looking at the User Interface like we have become used to.

When considering gameplay they decided that if a Sim is more often than not sad, or angry, then the game was not so fun to play, so they decided that in the future, negative storytelling should not result in negative gameplay. Just because your Sim is moody it shouldn't make you feel that the game is not worth playing.

A sad Sim can be seen slumped forward, walking slowly and grimacing, with raised eyebrows and maybe even a quivering bottom lip. An angry Sim will stomp around with clenched fists. A Sims mood might also restrict their interactions to be more realistic, so a sad Sim can no longer flirt because in life, that's unlikely to be possible. They can complain about their problem though! Angry Sims can denounce friendships and chew people out, but cannot offer encouragement.
Many more things will affect a Sims mood in Sims 4. Moodlets fuel emotions but even furnishings will change Sims feelings. In one example we saw, a Sim started feeling frisky after viewing an amorous piece of artwork. Grant suggested that you could build a love cave with romantic paintings and lots of pinks and reds if they are a Sims' favourite colour.
You could create a Gym with angry pictures, dark colours and object that suggest power to build anger and therefor productivity in a Sim working out. Not all objects are emotions based, only the ones where it makes sense for them to do so. Emotions can also be drawn from watching movies or reading books, if it has a particularly sad storyline for example. Sims can even randomly wake up and get out of bed in a bad or sad mood, just to add another touch of reality to our Sims lives. They may also come home from a bad/good day at work with a changed mood to when they left home.

Emotions were described as being like temporary traits as they can give certain unique interactions in the short term. This was shown with the brilliant new object, the Gigantic Pirate Ship Playground where happy, fun parents can play with children, chasing them around dressed up as a sea monster, but sad Sims cannot feel playful and therefor won't have such interactions available. Different ages have different emotional content assigned to them but we were told that all ages have them! Teenage was mention here ;-)

Emotions can be controlled by the player by influencing what a Sim does. For example taking a bubble bath will reduce sadness, taking a salty shower will allow a Sim to have a good cry and a cool shower will help a Sim cool down if angry.

Grant suggested that there were around 15 different emotions which included Confident, Flirty, Bored, Cranky, Embarrassed and Energised.

Other big changes to Sim autonomy are that wishes and wants are being replaced with long-term goals. The new aspiration system will be simple and friendly as the team try to move away from players thinking "My Sim doesn't like that so I won't do it, or my Sim likes that so I will".

Emotions have intensity levels and believe it or not, EA confirmed that a Sim can actually die from its emotions! An example was that a Sim taken through the levels of anger through furious to enraged might result in them having what was described as something like a heart attack where they will break into such an animated rage that they keel over and die!

Speaking of which, EA have changed their philosophy on death for Sims 4. They realized that some things in previous games made death almost not fair and as funny as it was to die by having a satellite land on you from above, it just wasn't right. In Sims 4, death will only ever be a result of your actions, or age, and before a Sim does die from your actions, there will be plenty of warning signs before the event occurs! One thing for sure though; depressed Sims will not commit suicide! EA had no desire to 'gamify' tragic events.

We were told that there are around 10 Skills in the base game fixed into 3 Skills categories. Focus (logic, cooking etc.), Inspiration (painting, writing etc.) and Energise (athletic, physical etc.). More details to come about those in future.

And a final fascinating fact for you, confirmed by EA; you will see both left, and right handed Sims!

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Sims 4 will perform better on low-end machines than The Sims 3

Maxis has said that The Sims 4 will run better on lower end machines than its predecessor, providing good news for those of us with embarrassingly crap PCs.

Producer Ryan Vaughn spoke to Digital Spy and said “We’re really excited to say that players on lower end machines are going to have a much better experience on The Sims 4 than they did with The Sims 3.”
He said that Maxis is aware that, with a player-base as wide as that enjoyed by The Sims series, people with a broad range of machines will want to play the fourth instalment. The aim is for the “gameplay [to be] just as much fun regardless of what spec you’re playing on.”
The Sims 4 will be published by EA on PC and Mac in 2014. There’s no word on if it’ll be making its way to consoles
Evolution of Sims Graphics without Custom Content

Goodbye To Slider Mods??

Manipulate your sims features like never before! Even the pupils, make them tiny or big. More definition more rotation, you just grab and pull, no sliders needed. Bone structures, body structures, you can make the feet bigger or smaller, every part of the body has the Create A  SimTool feature. You can now pick a hat to go with an outfit, instead of it being preset with hair, and the trousers, now tuck into the boots.! You can add attitude to your sims walk and see them doing this in the new CAS! I'm getting excited. :) Watch this video preview for more

The Sims 4′ Adds Emotional, Multitasking Sims

"The Sims" are getting in touch with their feelings.

The fourth edition of Maxis’ successful life-simulating game will include more emotional versions of the virtual people whose lives and homes players can manipulate. This time around, “The Sims 4” producer Lyndsay Pearson said the developers have focused on crafting more believable Sims who can perform multiple actions – like walking and talking – at once.

While the Sims have always been an emotional bunch, they’ll be guided by their moods even more in “The Sims 4,” set for release next year for PC. During a demonstration of the game at Electronic Arts’ offices last week, a Sim named Andre felt jealous when his pal Ollie began flirting with a female Sim. He intervened but became depressed once his advances were dismissed. He then opted to blow off steam by boxing.

“The key to `The Sims 4′ emotions is that there isn’t anything particularly better or worse,” said Pearson. “You have the ability of what to do with that emotion. If your Sim is furious, that may seem like a bad thing, but it actually means they can write a special book or paint a special painting or go for a really good run and have a really great workout.”

The sequel will also make it easier for players to build homes for their Sims by picking pre-designed rooms and plopping them together to create a house. The abodes can then be filled with furniture and other items that inspire different emotions in the Sims. Some items can only be earned when Sims meet certain goals, either personally and professionally.

“The Sims 4″ includes 18 touch points on the Sims’ bodies, which can be sculpted to create custom faces and physiques. The developers have also added new locales for the virtual people to “WooHoo,” the franchise’s cheeky term for sexual intercourse. For example, Ollie eventually ended up getting it on with that female Sim in a rocket ship parked in his backyard.

“`The Sims 4′ and `The Sims’ in general has always had a really good sense of humor,” said Pearson, who has worked on the franchise for 10 years. “For us, that’s an opportunity for new places for your Sims to have a little bit of fun and `WooHoo’ and maybe new ways to die. All of those things are funny parts of the game we’ve maintained in `The Sims 4.’”

Pearson said “The Sims” franchise has now sold more than 170 million copies worldwide, cementing the 13-year-old people simulator by Electronic Arts Inc. as the top-selling PC game franchise. “The Sims 3,” the previous installment launched in 2009, and 10 expansion packs, which add themed settings and features to the original game, have since been released.

 She noted that “The Sims 4″ would be an offline single-player experience, although players will still be able to exchange virtual creations much the same way they did in previous editions of “The Sims.”

Read more: http://techland.time.com/2013/08/20/the-sims-4-adds-emotional-multitasking-sims/#ixzz2cmve9SGX

Thursday, 22 August 2013

More from Sims 4

Maxis' fourth Sims title is scheduled for a 2014 release, but a limited alpha version of the game is playable here at Gamescom in Cologne. Gamers at the show can mess around with The Sims 4's character creation tool, which does a great job of showcasing the renewed focus on deeper and more flexible customization. While you've always had a rich set of options for tailoring your Sim's traits and attire, the new game ratchets up the level of fine-grained control to pretty much unprecedented levels.

Almost every setting has a deeper level of control to explore. Thus, not only can you select between three different voice styles, you can also set the pitch. Two sliders adjust the overall fat and muscle content of your Sim, but they're underpinned by a bewildering breadth of size adjustment for particular body parts. You can individually adjust the width and depth of your Sim's shoulders, neck, chest, belly, waistline, thighs, calves, arms, forearms, feet, and, of course, head.


The facial features are almost wholly customizable. You can completely abandon prefabbed parts in favor of your own designs, because the entire bone structure can be architected to your liking. Noses can be crooked or pointy, cheekbones can be prominent or subtle, and you can choose between various skin tones as well as colors. This micromanagement of every single detail becomes most apparent when tweaking the eyebrows. They can be elongated, thickened, repositioned, arched, or straightened.

The new Sims editor is the closest thing I've yet come across to a truly comprehensive character creator. It promises to completely obviate the old method of selecting from a finite list of generic components to create something that carries the appearance of a custom design, but is usually quite detached from the objective in your mind.

Maxis also says its new Sims will be more emotional than ever before and the Sim creator offers emotion previews that show how your avatar will act out his or her happiness, sadness, or anger. Regrettably, emotions are still expressed with flamboyantly over the top gestures, lacking any subtlety or relation to (most people's) real world behavior. Each of the three Sim walk styles is just a variation on the theme of overacted preening.

These amateur dramatics sit awkwardly with the rest of the new character editor — they're a step toward the comical and unbelievable while the new customization abilities push The Sims toward a much more immersive and realistic experience. We'll have to wait until The Sims 4 launches on PC next year to find out which of these tendencies wins out in the end. Until then, I leave you with the hat-wearing denim lover I created on the Gamescom floor.


Previews of Sims 4 So Far

Sims News Q & A With The Producers

Developer Q&A: Ryan Vaughan, Producer for The Sims Studio

We unveiled The Sims 4 at our gamescom press briefing – to give you an insider’s look, we sat down with producer Ryan Vaughn to tell us a little more about this PC favorite and what the Sims team will be doing this week here at gamescom.

Q: What is the biggest difference in The Sims 4 compared to The Sims 3?

A: It all starts with the biggest innovation in The Sims 4, the Sims themselves. Our Sims have evolved into emotionally aware beings whose every action is affected by what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. Now you get to play with the mind, body and heart of the Sims.

Our second big feature is a new set of technologies we’re calling SmartSim. This has allowed us to make the most intelligent and relatable life simulation ever.

And finally, we’ve completely rebuilt our creative tools to be more intuitive, more powerful, and much more fun to play with. For the first time you reach into the world and shape your Sims by hand and build your homes room-by-room with ease.

You’re going to be able to see this in action during The Sims Live Broadcast so check it out! [Airs at 8am Pacific on Thursday, August 22 at www.TheSims.com/live]

Q: Sims have now been around for over a decade. How do you keep it interesting for (very passionate!) fans?

A: It’s funny you ask that, because it’s actually the fans that continue to drive our excitement about The Sims. It is their undying passion that energizes us, and their continued devotion that inspires us to create the kinds of games and content that we want to play. We’re constantly surfing the forums, checking in with them on Twitter via our @SimGuru accounts and looking for their feedback so that we can deliver the experiences they’re looking for. Keep it up, guys, we’re listening!

Q: So, what’s going on at SimsCamp this week? Tell us more!

A: We’ve invited top fans of The Sims from around the world to converge at SimsCamp to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at The Sims 4. In addition to being amongst the first people in the world to play with Create A Sim, they’re the first to go behind the curtain to see how all of the pieces of our game come together.

Q: What is the feature you’ve waited for the most to show off while at gamescom?

A: The Sims themselves. These are revolutionary new Sims with emotional centers that behave and react more naturally than ever before. Every one of their actions is affected by their emotional states that lead to richer, more meaningful gameplay.

Q: How long have you been a Simmer yourself and what makes you love this franchise?

A: I started working on The Sims in 2007 when I was lucky enough to land on The Sims 2 team, but I’ve been a Simmer since the beginning. My favorite part about The Sims is that it’s a blank canvas. We give players all of these creative tools and they use them to tell their own unique stories.

For me, I love to build homes. So it actually really excites me that we’ve completely revamped our Build tool. It has all of the power that I want, but it’s tactile and flexible so that I can make great homes with ease.

Official Sims 4 Trailer

Sims 4 News!

The Sims™ 4 Digital Deluxe

The Sims 4
is the highly anticipated life simulation game that lets you play with life like never before. Create and control new Sims with mind, body, and heart. Build their unique homes. Direct and explore the stories of your Sims and experience delightful and exciting results. New, tactile creative tools in Create A Sim and a room-based Build Mode give you intuitive and fun ways to create compelling content. Show off your favourite creations with all new ways to share and shop through community content for inspiration.


• New Sims – Create and control all new Sims with mind, body, and heart.

• Intelligence – Your Sims move and act more naturally than ever before, from multitasking to expressing their emotions by the way they walk. Choose the personalities of your Sims, select their aspirations, and explore the depth of these lifelong goals through your Sims’ thoughts, social skills, careers, and memories.

• Emotional Depth – For the first time, Sims live with emotional depth. Your Sims can experience 15 different emotional states and are influenced through other Sims, actions, events, memories, or even from the clothing and objects you choose. The choices you make matter by influencing your gameplay and the stories of your Sims, with the potential to spark even more intense reactions.

• New Creative Tools – Create A Sim and Build are more powerful, intuitive, and fun than ever before. You have the freedom to sculpt Sims with tactile precision and effortlessly build the home of your dreams.

• Vibrant Neighborhoods – Chose among brilliant and diverse environments for your Sims to live in. Vibrant visuals bring your Sim’s home to life.

• Rich Rewards – Earn new objects, outfits, and traits by completing events, discovering collectables, and unlocking account achievements.

• Share Your Creations – Share your Sims’ households to gain fame. Download community creations for an all-new look.
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