The House Always Wins: The Sims 4

By Adam Smith on May 28th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

I like The Sims. Quite what that says about me I don’t know but there it is. Actually, I can be more specific – I like the idea of The Sims far more than I like what the series has become. The third game seemed to be going in the right direction, simulating the lives of neighbours, workmates and friends, but without extensive modding those lives were empty. As is no doubt increasingly obvious to anyone who reads my wittering in a regular basis, I’m fascinated by the things that a game simulates while I’m not looking. I want those trees to make a sound even if I’m not there to hear it. I sense that The Sims 4 will be a step back from its prequel in that regard but the new ‘Build’ trailer is handsome.

It’s entirely possible that the in-game store will be even more prominent than in The Sims 3 (I reinstalled recently and links to the store have surely become much more prevalent since launch?) and that there’ll be a price to pay for every nifty set of designs. Thankfully, whatever else might go wrong, the game will have an offline mode, unless one of the things that goes wrong is a sudden retraction of the promise that the game will have an offline mode.

Sims will now have emotional states, triggered by relationships and surroundings, and the interface seems friendlier than ever. We haven’t seen anything regarding the wider simulation yet so I may be wrong in thinking that there’ll be a return to the single family at a time model of the first two games, which sees every other living thing in stasis when they’re not in the vicinity of the currently controlled sims. Peculiar and not particularly conducive to the sort of emergent storytelling that the style of game could create. I doubt we’ll have AI sims that build and decorate their own homes anytime soon (although the modular furnished rooms shown here suggest it might be more viable than I’d previously imagined) but it’ll be shame if the illusion of life beyond the family’s four walls is lacking.

I guess what I really want is The Sims: Behind Closed Doors, in which rumours and gossip are rife, and every home has its own secret existence.

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38 Comments »

  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    I find it weird that they prioritize praising the quickness of the new home building system.
    I don’t mean that it would be a bad thing, but it’s feels weird. I hope that with all these time saving systems they haven’t made it worse for a slow tinkerer like me.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      It doesn’t seem like any of the tools are missing. It’s just that everything is tuned to be easier to execute without clicking more buttons and sliders and the like.

    • erzilie says:

      coming from a person who did nothing but build houses and lots throughout all of TS2 and TS3 (and i do mean NOTHING BUT), i can understand why they stress the quickness and ease of the new building system. the time it takes for a tinkerer to build a house in ts3 compared to ts2 is measured in afternoons. what would’ve taken me 45 minutes to build in ts2 takes me up to 6 or 8 or 12 hours in ts3, and i’m a “talented” (read: well-practiced) builder in the community. the fact that ts3 opened up ~infinite possibilities~ makes the entire prospect of building so unappealing, so time-consuming and so unrewarding that the majority of people i see who simply play the game don’t even bother with it. they just drop a box down, paint it default preset colors, drop down default preset furniture, and make do with ugly bullshit–because nothing about the ts3 system ever imagined that people would be so completely exhausted with it that they wouldn’t even want to deal.

      but these features are fantastic. for people who don’t know, a lot of the more complicated building techniques are accomplished in the ts2/ts3 systems by using the constrainfloorelevation cheat (heretofore referred to as “fuckulating”). in order to have windows at anything but the default height in ts2/ts3, you’d have to fuckulate the walls, which would end up stretching the wallpaper texture, so you had to plan accordingly to hide it as best you could. adding a foundation after you’ve already built a structure and adjusting its height is possible in ts2/ts3, but also requires an incredible amount of fuckulation, especially compared to just moving a slider. you can change the wall heights in ts2/ts3 as well–but again, you have to fuckulate them, and if you want to change anything afterwards, you have to refuckulate things as they bump out of alignment. and there was really just a limit to what you could accomplish. the roof thing in the ts4 preview is completely new, as is the ability to just move an entire structure. so are curved walls. (CURVED WALLS.) all of these things make me sob hot, beautiful tears of joy.

      of course, this isn’t a video for advanced builders, so i have to cross my fingers and straight up pray that they left the fuckulate cheat in the game, because there are some functions it serves that this building system probably doesn’t. but other than that, i think you can be pretty confident that they left all the basic systems intact. tinker away!

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I think even to make a box with windows and doors it could be fiddly and long winded. Hopefully they simplified this while leaving the more complex options in for the builders. I don’t see them removing the complexity mostly because having a whole bunch of nice buildings on the store is beneficial to their wallets.

    • Noviere says:

      As far as I can tell, all of the old options are still there… They’ve just added a bunch of new stuff for people who aren’t primarily builders. It’s like the blueprint feature they added with one of the later expansions.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Clement says:

    I just, I can’t buy this game. I feel like an asshat for making these comments, in that they seem like the kind of thing nobody wants to read and that I should just keep to myself, but I’m doing it anyway.

    I feel a bit bitter about it. The Sims franchise was a lot more fun that I thought it would be and I feel a bit sad to say goodbye to it.

    Between the shitty things this company will obviously never stop doing, the utterly overpriced and way too damn many expansions, the nickel-and-diming, the horrendous loading screens, the bad UI, the bad community features, the bad decision after bad decision, etc, etc, ad infinitum…

    I feel confident that I will never buy this game, even if by some miracle it went on sale for some ridiculously low price.

    • sinister agent says:

      Honestly, don’t feel bad, all those complaints are reasonable and indeed pretty common. A couple of my friends were huge fans of the Sims (particularly 2), and they have the same concerns. The series is basically EA’s gifted but sorely mistreated offspring. It deserves better.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I would buy it at an extremely deep discount, a deep enough discount that it probably won’t happen even long after anyone would care. The expansions are just so many and so expensive that you’d have to see like a 90% discount for the price to actually be reasonable. It’s depressing because I like The Sims, but oh my god, it’s unbelievably expensive if you want all the expansions. So expensive I can’t even find an appropriate adjective if you want everything.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      “Between the shitty things this company will obviously never stop doing, the utterly overpriced and way too damn many expansions, the nickel-and-diming, the horrendous loading screens, the bad UI, the bad community features, the bad decision after bad decision, etc, etc, ad infinitum…”

      That, right there, is the essence of Electronic Arts, in a nutshell.

    • Shadow says:

      Yes. Unfortunately, unless you shell out a frankly infernal amount of cash, you can’t enjoy a fully-featured Sims game. I was about to say the whole thing is 200 dollars for Sims 3, already quite a ridiculous figure, but I checked Steam to make sure. No, I was off, way off: we’re talking about a five-year-old game which demands $429.81 for the entirety of its content. If you’re lucky, once every blue moon you’ll see it 50% off, when they’re feeling excessively generous. But $215 is still, unsurprisingly, wildly unreasonable. Even at a completely hypothetical, never-to-be-seen -75% it’d still be over a hundred dollars.

      And even if you pay those exhorbitant sums, the mass of expansions builds a cumbersome monstrosity overburdened by its own weight. Huge and inefficient. And God forbid there’s any problem with your game and you need to reinstall it, something well within the realm of possibility. Especially if you dabble with mods.

      The Sims 4 will likely go down the same road, eventually becoming even more massive and inefficient than its predecessor. Pricier as well? Who knows, but it’s certain they’ll milk the game down to its very bones, in every way they can imagine.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Actually, I did a little digging on the prompt of the last Sims 4 post and the entire thing would actually cost £535 (there are several packs that are available only via origin)

        That’s insane

        It’s also pointless because many of those DLC & expansions packs do not play nicely together and some are mutually exclusive (not by design but just because of errors)

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      Amen broham,

      After dropping mountains of spliff to complete my Sims experience for the third time, I have made an oath to only touch the Sims 4 when I can pick up the “Complete Edition” for twenty bucks in some bargain bin or on GOG.

      Especially now more than ever since Twallan is no longer around to fix EA’s broken game.

  3. Artist says:

    Sorry to say, but Sims 4 will be online only! There is so much AI-stuff that a single computer cant handle so we have to compute it on our cloud! Yes, and this time we took care of those buggers and smart-asses that pulled the cable for false accusations about our demand for online powaz!

    Yours,
    EA

    • AdmiralSolaire says:

      @Artist
      Haha! I made an account here just to laugh at this! So true!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      You have it wrong. They never lies. The Sims 4 was an online experience of community from day one. We know our players will have more fun in a community and that’s why they play our game…

      … it’s our vision.

      PS, sorry for typos, late night typing! :P

    • Mokinokaro says:

      A nice attempt, but EA”s already said the game can be played offline.

      • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

        EA also initially claimed that Mass Effect 3 would have no multiplayer before it was released. But guess what? It ended up having multiplayer. As such, I won’t believe a word that comes out of their mouths until I see it for myself.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          They couldn’t exactly discuss a feature that was unannounced, could they?

          Also, I highly suspect ME3′s MP design was recycled from a failed project like C&C 4 came from a Chinese F2P entry in the series. It just somehow worked out with ME3 (and ended up the better part of the game.)

          I’m not exactly ready to take EA at their word either, but you guys are ridiculous.

      • Lanfranc says:

        And Brutus EA is an honourable man.

  4. The Random One says:

    I played the first Sims game a geological age ago. Sometimes I want to get back to it but with two games and uncountable expansions I wouldn’t know what to get.

    This must be how non-gamers feel all the time.

  5. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    The GDC talks about AI, animation systems, scripting and that, have gotten me interested in the game again. But I don’t really know if I want to be interested in it. You’re tearing me apaaaht, EA!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      They did that about SimCity… we all know where that went. :(

      • Premium User Badge

        Joshua says:

        I think part of the problem here is that SimCity traditionally has been a simulation of a city (well duh) which they tried to turn into a simulation of people inhabiting a city. The Sims itself has always been a people simulation.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    Part of me just wants to build a gigantic terrarria with, instead of exotic insects or such sort, have all sorts of psychologically problematic fresh-out-of-college singles and then just give some pointers and see how all of it starts turning into GoT levels of power grabbing. Or seeing that nothing about that really matters and that it all turns out to be a very normal affair.

    Funisms aside, how is The Sims doing on incorperating the often-stereotyped types of people out there like ADDers, Autists or mental ilnesses like depression? It might be a touch too heavy for such a … youth-spirited game, but heck, the sims could be used as a teaching tool for that sorta thing.

  7. Arglebargle says:

    I played a ton of Sims 2, but EAs pathetic, exploitative business model keeps me from investing in any of the newer versions. Sad, because the modding community has been tremendous. I once ran a version of the Sims with only horror movie people and monsters. It was hilariously good fun.

    But I am not going to feed the beast any more.

  8. Mctittles says:

    I want a grittier sims where it’s possible for depression, drug abuse, spouse beating, suicide, and accidents that cause handicaps like having to live in a wheelchair etc. These things wouldn’t have to be common, but I think if actually really bad things can happen to your sims you would care more about them.
    Currently it’s all about getting your bars up high and if they go low you can just ignore it and fix them up to high when you have a chance. I never really care when my Sim is in a bad mood knowing I can fix it with little work, but what if you let your Sim go and they commited suicide?

    • AdmiralSolaire says:

      Can’t your Sims already die of depression if you don’t do anything bout it?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Yup. They used to be able to die from alcohol poisoning too, but I think Maxis took that particularly humorous option out of the series with Sims 3.

    • Zombat says:

      So a bit like Dwarf Fortress?
      Doesn’t have drug abuse… yet

      But sad dwarves do throw tantrums which involve them throwing about the furniture and sometimes beating people/pets/domestic animals, eventually leading to either berserk rages or suicidal depression (the amount of forts I’ve lost because some inconsiderate git jumped down the well…).

      Theres not much for accidents (although I haven’t played since the miner cart update) aside from digging accidents (which are often fatal) but there is plenty of wildlife and hostile civilisations that will maul your dwarves with DF’s very detailed layered damage system (if you stab someone with a spear you’ll piece their skin, fat, chip the bone, and finally skewer an internal organ.)

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      The Sims modding community has it’s own Rule #34

      if you can think of it, there’s a mod for it.

  9. Hydraulic Meercat says:

    I wanted this to be good and looked everywhere for hope, but it really does seem it’s another ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ recycle job from EA. So many new and innovative things could be done with this series, but they only ever dare to slightly polish previous versions with every iteration. Even just making the passage of time more realistic would have me all excited for this, but nope, it’s still going to take an hour to walk down a flight of stairs.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Each Sims game is mostly an engine update to the previous one more than anything. That’s just how the series is.

  10. Noviere says:

    The comments about “having” to buy so many EPs is kinda odd. I never really felt I needed most of them… Pets are annoying for example, and Katys Perry’s Sweet Treats is an abomination. I do think the Sims Store has insane prices, so I never bought from it.

    My big issue with the Sims 3 was always it’s instability and bugginess, which just gets worse and worse as new content is added. From loading screens that take 3-5+ minutes, to memory leak-like slow downs the longer you play, to random bugs like stuck Sims, car pool that gets stuck and honks in front of your house 24/7, to corrupt saves.

  11. wodin says:

    I want a WW1 in charge of a company type Sims wargame game please.

  12. Cryptoshrimp says:

    CURVED WALLS OH MY GOD

    Ahem. This looks very nice. As Erzillie said higher up the comments, building anything half-decent in the Sims 3 was such a chore – having to use cheats and generally being a right pain to do. I’m happy we get multi-height walls, for example.

    Sadly, as also said in the comments, it’ll probably be a fucking mess of paid-for expansions that haven’t changed in theme or scope since the Sims 2, an in game store AND stuff packs. Maybe they’ll even throw in subscriptions this time? And yes, Graham, they did add more store things into the game as time went along.

    I hate it, but I’ll probably still buy it because I am weak, even though I hate the blatant milking of the user base, EA’s spyware tendencies and the general buginess of the game.

    • Mctittles says:

      In the Sims 2 they started putting in Sims 3 advertisements. They even added Sims 3 posters to hang in the room of your Sims 2 place.

  13. sabasNL says:

    I loved The Sims 2. Bought it with a few expansions when it was on sale, it was surprisingly fun.
    The only way I’ve been able to enjoy The Sims 3 however, was by pirating it. The prices are way too high, I simply can’t afford to pay such a huge sum for just a single game. It’s even worse than the more obvious milkcows such as Call of Duty.
    I find it sad to see that The Sims 4 won’t be any different.

  14. Amlau says:

    I am gonna check out the sims again when it’s getting more complex and you can create a family or individual and all their relationships, polish their life, etc. And then act as an agent of chaos, introducing a new woman that will break a marriage, make them murder somebody, make them millionaires in a day, announce the apocalypse, etc.
    And then watch them cope.
    But that would be some kind of TV show simulator wouldn’t it ?