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Project Rene - aka The Sims 5 - shows prototype lighting, animation, routines in latest video

A peek behind the customisable curtains

Project Rene - aka The Sims 5 - seems a long way off, but that isn't stopping Maxis from showing the game in its early, in-development state. The second episode of their community stream, Behind The Sims, continues from the first by showing lots of different prototype features, including glimpses of a new lighting model, new emotive animations, daily routines, hair customisation and more.

Here's the video in full, which also includes details of The Sims 4's upcoming Horse Ranch expansion pack. Skip to 11m 17s for the Project Rene chat.

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"We're building many different elements of this game in parallel," says Project Rene creative director Gina Herrle," almost like prepping all of our ingredients before we can bring them together to bake a cake." This is a good metaphor to setup for the prototypes that follow, which are each designed to illustrate a single new feature.

There's a brief look at a new lighting model, with objects casting shadows onto walls based on both interior and external light sources. We then move onto an example of animations designed to help players "read the room", with Sims shaking hands with different body language depending on how they feel.

One of Project Rene's touted features is a grander simulation of the neighbourhood beyond your Sims' front door, and one of the most exciting prototypes was just a handful of clips of pill-people sliding around between greybox buildings marked "Bistro 2" and "Dive Bar" and "Office 3." This is designed to illustrate the kinds of routines your Sims and their neighbours might follow during the day.

I also liked the look of a clip that showed Sims communicating their moods and reactions in part via 2D animated flair within the 3D world, such as flames shooting out of the head of an angry Sim. These were described as an experiment in helping players better understand their Sims with as little informational overload or UI cruft as possible.

All of these are early prototypes and the footage is covered in caveats stating that they don't represent the final game. Ideas may be scrapped or changed, but I'm just enjoying being able to see The Sims 5, or whatever it ends up called, long before it's finished.

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