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EA Explains Sims 4's Pool-less, Toddler-less Oblivion

NO TODDLERS OR KINGS ONLY MAN

To hear some incensed fans tell it, The Sims 4 without pools or toddlers is a barren hellscape, an empty, rotten womb where fun is but a dim memory. I think those people might be overreacting just a smidgen bit, but you know, everyone’s got their priorities. It’s totally fair to wonder what exactly drove EA and The Sims Studio to yoink two staple features from the series, though, and now the team has explained itself. Kinda.

Writing on the Sims blog executive producer Rachel Franklin said that The Sims 4 necessitated a lot of brand new tech, much of which was built from the ground-up. New (though seemingly unrelated) features, then, took center stage while others got pushed to the margins. As a result pools and toddlers ended up on the cutting room floor.

“The fact is, we owe you a clearer explanation for why pools and toddlers will not be in The Sims 4 at launch, so here goes. It begins with new technology and systems that we built for this new base game for The Sims – a new AI system, new animation system, new audio positioning tools, new locomotion logic, new routing intelligence and much more are all entirely new in this game. The vision for The Sims 4 is a new experience that brings your Sims to life in deeper and uniquely personal ways – through emotions, personality traits, behaviors and interactions. To do that, our technology base needed a major upgrade.”

“So the bottom line is that when we sat down and looked at everything we wanted to do for this game, all the new tech we wanted to build into it, the fact was that there would be trade-offs, and these would disappoint some of our fans. Hard pill to swallow, believe me, but delivering on the vision set out for The Sims 4 required focus. Focus on revolutionizing the Sims themselves. So, rather than include toddlers, we chose to go deeper on the features that make Sims come alive: meaningful and often amusing emotions; more believable motion and interactions; more tools in Create A Sim, and more realistic (and sometimes weird!) Sim behavior. Instead of pools, we chose to develop key new features in Build Mode: direct manipulation, building a house room-by-room and being able to exchange your custom rooms easily, to make the immediate environment even more relatable and interactive for your Sim.”

It doesn’t exactly add up to a nice, tidy equation, but that’s EA’s story and they’re sticking to it. Some of the new features do sound pretty neat, though. Not so much the number of new animations (which Franklin spent quite a bit of time talking about), but the ability for Sims to multitask is a much-needed addition.

I mean, who only does one thing at a time anymore? Right this very moment I’m polishing off this post, checking Facebook on my phone, and fending off the pack of weirdly intelligent wolves that organizes raids on my home, darting in and out of the cruel San Francisco fog like furry, four-hundred-fanged dancers. I think they’re trying to reclaim Golden Gate Park and all the surrounding lands, but I honestly couldn’t say. They strike without warning, meaning, or mercy.

Anyway, The Sims 4 looks kinda neat, but I have no idea whether or not it will actually be any good. Here’s hoping, of course. It’s been a few years since I dove into a Sims game, so maybe it’s time to pop in and see what’s new.

Also, for the record, I did the whole agonizing pool execution thing a couple times back in the day, but my conscience screamed at me afterward. Meanwhile, I have a cousin who just spent hours and hours drowning Sims, and she’s one of the nicest people I know. I don’t know what any of this says about anything. There are some interesting recent studies on how people of different dispositions react to these sorts of things in games, but not when it comes to the outright torture of tiny human-like creatures.

I’m actually really interested to understand this: if you torture(d) Sims, why do you do it? What sorts of feelings do you experience while doing it? What about after? What makes it “fun”? Or if not fun, then engaging?

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Nathan Grayson

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