April 2012

What Could Be In Store For The Sims 4?

Idle speculation: GO!

 

We have pretty solid information that the developers at EA have started working on The Sims 4. Although it will most likely be a long while (perhaps several years) before the game hits the shelves, there is still plenty to talk about in the mean time.
 
A two minute promo (really more of a demo real) for Sims 4 was leaked a few months ago. It seems to be legit, and in fact EA has had it taken down from YouTube - but it still exists here and there on various fan sites. 
 
My first thought on seeing the promo was, "I'm going to need a better computer." Which is both funny and sad, because the entire reason I bought this computer - this one right here that I'm using to write this article - was because I needed a better computer so that I could play The Sims 3. Can it be time to buy a new computer already? (All signs point to "Yes." My current computer has to stop to render things when I switch to a new lot. I shudder to think what would happen if it tried to churn through all the animations showed in the video.)

3 Ways Sims Freeplay Feels Weird

Sims will Woo Hoo with each other right there in the living room while their neighbors sit on the couch watching their television. (Kinky!)

 

If you have been playing the Sims franchise of games for very long (I started in February, 2000) you get a feel for how they work. Having played Sims Freeplay for a few weeks, here are some of my more in-depth reactions to some of the odder bits of the game.
 
1. No free will
Sims Freeplay is frequently compared to a Tamagotchi, and the comparison is apt. If you leave your little Sims or simply neglect their needs for too long, bad things happen. They have zero free will. Left to their own devices, they will simply stand right where you last put them, stinking, starving, exhausted, and having to pee. They won't lift a finger to help themselves, which can feel frustrating to an experienced Simmer.

Sims Freeplay Strategy: LP

Budget it carefully, so you don't have to buy it!
As a general rule, there are two strategy rules for Lifetime Points (LP):
 
1. Gather as much of it as you can
2. Spend it as rarely as possible
 
In other words, you want to bank up as much LP as you can. Let's take a look at these rules one at a time.
 
1. Gathering LP
There is basically only one way to get LP for free, and that's to fulfill goals. Sure, the dog can occasionally dig up an LP point or two, but in my experience, that's pretty rare.
 
It's annoying that you can't control the goals that the game gives you. There doesn't (as far as I can tell) seem to be any way to pass on or cancel a goal. You either fulfill it or it sticks there forever. (If this is not the case, please let me know!)
 
This just emphasizes the fact that optimum gameplay will be driven by the goals. It's a strange feeling if you're used to the "ultimate sandbox" nature of the Sims desktop games. (Less strange if you are a Sims Social player.)
 
Naturally, you can also buy LP for real-world money. Currently, LP runs 60 points for $9.99. Ouch! 
 
You can also earn LP for free, by doing a lot of sketchy things like signing up for the Dr. Seuss Book Club or a Gamefly account. I urge you NOT TO DO THIS. Trust me, if you want the LP that badly, it's cheaper in the long run to just buy it with cash money.

Sims Social and Freeplay: A Glimpse of the Anti-Piracy Future?

Will this be how the world's most pirated game fights back?

 

Regardless of where you fall on the piracy continuum, one thing is very clear: EA hates it. Right or wrong (and I know people who will argue either way) EA is convinced that it is losing millions of dollars of revenue per year to piracy of its flagship game, The Sims 3. And when a company is convinced that it is losing millions of dollars of revenue per year, it fights back.
 
EA has tried a lot of different anti-piracy measures in the past. SecureROM proved to be a major debacle, one of the few instances of gamer news that broke through to the mainstream media. Spore was originally going to ship with SecureROM, and it was originally going to be inextricably tied to one specific computer. Buy a new computer? Too bad - you have to buy a new copy of Spore, too.

Sims Freeplay: Adding Buildings

You want a pet shop, or maybe a hobby store. But how the heck do you get one?

 

It all began when I read the Sims Freeplay in-game help file. (You can access help on by clicking the white on green "…" button at the bottom center of your screen, then click the white "I" at the lower left, then click Help. It's a measure of what a mystery this game is, that it's so hard to find the help file!)
 
To buy more dogs, it helpfully explained, simply build a pet shop. Want to buy your Sims cars? Build an auto shop!
 
BUT HOW.

Sims Freeplay: Backing Up To The Cloud

Freeplay lets you back up your game to the cloud - if you can figure out how!

 

The biggest frustration with trying to play Sims Freeplay on an iPad is just figuring out how things work. There appears to be one single (poorly spaced) help document that - as is so often the case - isn't nearly helpful enough.
 
One project I recently undertook was to figure out the deal with the little cloud icon. If you go to the main menu (click the three white dots on a green background at the bottom center of your screen), the middle right-hand option is a cloud. Why? What is the cloud for?

Sims Freeplay: The Passage of Time

This is both the blessing and the curse of Freeplay. It's also part of what makes it so addictive, and keeps you coming back to play

 

When I first began playing The Sims Freeplay, I was annoyed that you could neither pause the game nor speed it up. Then I realized that the game was taking place in real time, and it BLEW MY MIND.
 
When it's 9:07PM in real life, it's 9:07PM in your game. When it's half past noon in real life, it's half past noon in your game. And when an action says it will take ten seconds, it takes ten real world seconds. 

Sims Freeplay: The Dog

Like it or not, the game assigns you one (1) standard regulation dog upon beginning the game

 

I have to give the Sims development teams a lot of credit. In a relatively short space of time (the last 2-3 years) they have come up with three Sims-related games, each of which is substantially different from the others. The Sims 3, Sims Social, and Sims Freeplay sometimes seem to have almost nothing in common. Or they have common elements, but these elements are treated so differently that it's like visiting a foreign land.
 
So it is with "the dog" in The Sims Freeplay. There are no animals in The Sims Social. Whereas in the Sims 3 Pets expansion pack, dogs, cats, and horses are fully controllable members of your family. The dog in Freeplay falls somewhere in the middle. 

First Look: The Sims Freeplay

The vomit is hilarious!
I tried The Sims Freeplay for the iPad for the first time this week. Let's say I am intrigued enough to keep playing, but I have some reservations. It's a mixed review at this point.
 
Freeplay appears to be a sort of halfway step between The Sims 3 and The Sims Social Facebook game. Even the graphical style exists halfway between the Sims Social cartoonish look, and the Sims 3 realistic (if plasticky) look. I was pleased with the detailed rendering of objects, trees, and the dog who wandered onto my lot. Less pleased with the look and feel of my Sim, who seems blocky and sharp, like a rubber skin pulled taut over a jumble of wood scraps.

The Sims 3 Slut Boots Glitch

Got a spiky spidery monster baby? Here's why - and how to fix it!

 

One of the most persistent glitches in the Sims 3 - I hesitate to call it a "virus" - is the slut boots problem. The slut boots in question are an item of custom content which proved quite popular with players. (It should be noted that this problem affects other items of custom content as well - like the shirt, picture here.)
 
They also seem to have become "attached" to other items in the Exchange, and may spread to games similar to the way a virus would. Although just to be clear, these boots are not actually a virus, are not destructive, and were never created to be a problem. However, some people have apparently been "infected" by the slut boots by accident, finding them in their game with no idea how they got there.