Posts Tagged ‘The Sims’

90s CD-ROM games still have a lot to teach us

simtunes

Videogames were a presence throughout my childhood, thanks to my dad having a PC for work. When he didn’t need to use it, I was allowed to tinker and explore. The games built into the computer like Solitaire, SkiFree and Fuji Golf, as well as the CD-ROM games we got from stores like Office Max and Borders, quickly became second nature to me.

Now, looking back at publications and exhibitions intended to showcase gaming history I realize that some of my own experiences are often missing. While many influential PC games are well known and we can trace their influence on videogames today, there are more blind spots when it comes to the CD-ROM boom of the mid-90s. These games were built for an audience that was familiar with PC software but perhaps not with games, and even in their own time they ignored the conventions of game design. This led to types of experimentation videogames of today can still learn from.

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The games chasing EVE’s vision of a single shard MMO

dualuniverse2amb

The planet is full of aimless people. Dozens of non-descript robots silently going to and fro, with no discernable purpose or meaning. Yes, I’m at Gamescom, the annual gaming conference in Germany, but I’m not talking about the visitors on the show floor. I’m talking about the on-screen player bots of Dual Universe [official site], a sci-fi survival MMO making big promises about player numbers and control.

“This is going to be unlike anything else you’ve ever seen before,” says Jean-Christophe Baillie, founder of studio NovaQuark, “because it’s a giant sandbox shared by everyone at the same time where they can build everything they want.”

Like nothing I’ve ever seen before. That’s something I’m hearing a lot these days.
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The importance of cultural fashion in games

Virginia never imagined she’d be telling a Black woman it was okay to wear Black clothes.

As an African with lighter skin, Virginia had feared accusations of cultural appropriation when she first started making traditional African outfits for The Sims 4. Though she had spent the first 12 years of her life in West Africa, her mixed-race origins marked her as an outsider, and she worried people might see her creations as inauthentic. That only made the response she received to one of her West-African wedding dresses all the more surprising.

‘I’m African-American, I’m Black, but I don’t feel strong ties to Africa,’ read the email. ‘Would it be cultural appropriation if my Sim wears it?’ Read the rest of this entry »

ASA Rulings: Robot Dogs, Sugar Puffs And Time Team

Yes, a GIANT ROBOT DOG.

The Advertising Standards Agency publishes rulings every Wednesday on everything from psychic hotlines to videogames. I’m incredibly fond of their rulings. I think it’s mostly because of the language the companies use to defend themselves, breaking videogame concepts down and presenting them in what’s intended to be a neutral manner.

The upheld complaints are generally less entertaining for obvious reasons – the concerns have been, in some sense, valid. But the *not upheld* complaints often have an air of the ridiculous about them. Through the formal structure of the rulings you get a sense of raised eyebrows or rolled eyes, of overblown sincerity. I’ve also learned some unexpected things, like how many sugar puffs are in a portion…

Here are some of my favourites from the last few years:

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Have You Played… The Sims?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Later Sims games were probably better games, in terms of how they fleshed out the fantasy (and accidentally gave it more than the intended degree of consumerism critique subtext with all those expansion packs and DLC), but Will Wright’s original people simulator remains unsurpassed, I think. It has this detached, sciency atmosphere, far more interested in people as behaviours than people as people – like an experiment which coalesced into entertainment.
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Labour Days And Tales Of Terror: The Sims 4 Patched

weird tales of domestic horror

The Sims 4 [official site] has received a major patch and, true to form, the notes that accompany it are a delightful mix of the comic and the Weird. It’s easy to imagine a Thomas Ligotti or Robert Aickman spinning some of the confusion within the code into individual tales of domestic horror. There are no garbled telephonic hauntings to match the unnerving dimensions of Your Tiny Hand is Frozen – none that have been discovered and purged, at least – but upon reading the entries below can anyone doubt that the suburbs that house our Sims have been infected with some uncanny disorder of the nerves?

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Surviving With The Sims

Note – this was originally published a month ago as part of the RPS Supporter program, hence the reference to our now-finished Survival Week.

It’s Survival Week here at RPS, so I decided that I’d write about my earliest experiences with The Sims, a survival game like no other. Left to their own devices, Sims are just about smart enough to struggle through life but they’re not quite intelligent enough to live. They need to be coaxed into improving their lot, and influenced by the click and the cursor. Without either clicks or cursors, I first encountered The Sims when I was struggling to build my own place in the world. Let’s take a trip down the memory cul-de-sac.

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What I Write About When I Write About Games

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Adam explores his own gaming history to understand why he plays and why he writes.

This is my first week back from a holiday, during which time I barely looked at an internet, let alone wrote on one. I didn’t play any games either, unless you consider freezing to death on a remote Welsh hillside to be some sort of game. As is often the case, not doing something for five minutes has made me think about why I do it in the first place. Why, of all the wonderful and fascinating things that exist, do I spend so much time thinking and writing about games?

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Belittle Computer People: Smile

Smile is a morose game. It’s The Sims stripped back until you can see the white of its skull, a few beads of blood spoiling the perfection of bone like the piss-burned holes in a field of fresh snow. Your little computer person has needs, just as a Sim or an actual human does, and the entire purpose of life is to ensure that those needs are fulfilled. In Smile, this means that every day is a struggle to survive, as cooking a meal takes valuable time that could have been used playing a game, which would have been fine if you’d been able to have a shower at the same time. Smile is free (donations accepted through itch.io) and was created during the Ruin Jam.

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Wot I Think: The Sims 4

The joke isn't that The Sims can play The Sims. It's that their copy has way, WAY more features...

Hurible badda flabber? Wibble durble booby. Fasherk! Yes, you don’t need to speak Simlish to know The Sims 4 is now out and ready to let you spend your precious life ensuring little computer people have far sexier and more successful ones. Only now you can’t drown them in your pool. Does the rest have what it takes to compensate for that shocking omission? Here’s Wot I Think…

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Matters Of The Heart: The Sims 4

The on-stage presentation for The Sims 4 at E3 was a sinister piece of work. Forget your survival horror games and your gore-tastic third-person monster-choppers, this is the most disturbing video shown at the entire event. It begins with simple marketing buzz-speak – “In previous games you controlled the mind and body of your Sims. In the Sims 4, for the first time, you control their hearts.” This is demonstrated by showing what look like canned animations linked to personality traits. So far, so Sims 3. Then, toward the end of the video, the presenter really takes control of a poor jock’s heart.

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The House Always Wins: The Sims 4

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.

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The Sims 4 To Be The Fourth Sims Game?

EA’s recently-announced The Sims 4 may in fact be a new Sims game, sources have revealed to RPS.

The source, who did not wished to be named but who purports to have strong ties to the press release-reading community, claimed exclusively to this website that The Sims 4 is in fact the fourth in the Sims series.
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What I Write About When I Write About Games

This is my first week back from a holiday, during which time I barely looked at an internet, let alone wrote on one. I didn’t play any games either, unless you consider freezing to death on a remote Welsh hillside to be some sort of game. As is often the case, not doing something for five minutes has made me think about why I do it in the first place. Why, of all the wonderful and fascinating things that exist, do I spend so much time thinking and writing about games?

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EA Suing Zynga Over The Ville, To “Take A Stand”

From EA's complaint document.

Update: The memo we saw is now publicly posted here.

EA have announced tonight they’re planning to sue Zynga, over the similarities between the recently released The Ville, and Maxis’ The Sims Social. It’s not the first time that Zynga has released a game that looks astonishingly similar to another company’s game, but it’s the first time they’ve met an opponent big enough to fight back. We’ve seen an internal EA memo that tells staff that while they are pursuing this because they believe they’re legally in the right, they’re also doing it because they believe it’s time to be “taking a stand”. It says that even if they were to lose, “we will have made a point.”

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ErotiSim: Sex & The Sims

Then bite and tear her flesh away. That's the way to do it..

More from the archives, this time a 2007 piece on the dark eroticism inherent in The Sims, penned by the sorely-missed RPS co-founder and giant of words Kieron Gillen.

It was the phone calls that made me certain. The Sims was going to cross over, one way or another.

I worked in a cramped games magazine office for just shy of five years. There were only three times that we really knew the eye of a media mini-storm was circling somewhere above us. We knew we were being watched at those moments, because every time we answered the phone the same questions came from different missionaries from the Real World Media. The first and biggest spike in calls was part of the fallout of 9/11 when every journalist in the world needed to ask us whether Counter-Strike or Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear or Microsoft Flight Simulator could be used to train terrorists to take over commercial airliners. Majestic, prompting the second and smallest peak, was publisher Electronic Arts’ great failure – a reality-blurring attempt to commercialise the alternate-reality game before anyone really knew what an alternate-reality game was, which bombed in the States and was never released in Europe. The third was sparked by The Sims, Electronic Arts’ great success and one of the most popular and groundbreaking games of recent times.
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Mods And Ends: The Sims 3

Does anyone remember Sim Town?

Oh no! It’s for girls! And not even the good type of girls. The bad ones. The ones who like Hollyoaks and reality TV, and feast on swirling and scurrilous rumours about Brangelina.

Except that’s a load of old rubbish, like claiming that games with guns only appeal to violent sociopaths or wargames only appeal to retired colonels. I have it on good authority that many current ranking members of the Armed Forces also like to play wargames. The Sims has long been a fascinating piece of software, in many ways experimental and exploratory, and supporting a type of creative play that is rare to find. Let’s mod it. Let’s really open it up.

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The Very Important List Of PC Games, Part 4/5

I don't look like this. Yet.

Young people. Good grief. Your ignorance is as plain as those spots on your greasy face. Don’t you know anything? Can’t you be bothered to learn anything? Did you even read the words of esteemed colleagues Rossignol, Walker and Smith detailing the first three parts of this Olympian list of The Most Important PC Games Of All Time? I am quite sure that I, Deacon Meer, am wasting my time attempting to impart my own wisdom on this matter to your feckless minds, as is Intel’s AppUp developer program for having the consideration and grace to so thoughtfully sponsor this series. You’re probably all too busy fiddling with your genitals and snorting heroin at one of those ‘rave parties’ I hear young people go to every night. I shall say my piece regardless.
Sit down, shut up, listen >>

Knightlife: The Sims Medieval Announced

Right click, talk, flirt, tickle, pillage, suppress, stab.

What’s this? A press release has come tumbling through the RPS letterbox, bound in tattered leather and announcing the Spring 2011 release of The Sims Medieval. A full game of its own (presumably using the Sims 3 engine), The Sims Medieval will allow players to create their very own “Hero Sim (TM)” and then either head off on quests or focus on building up their kingdom. We’re promised “drama, romance, conflict, and comedy” involving “characters from all walks of life, from Kings and Queens, to Knights and Wizards, Blacksmiths and Bards.” Full press release, some screens and some thoughts after the break.
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Super Spoofery: The Sims Goes Horror

We've all been there.

College Humor gets it right pretty often, and this remarkably well produced Sims spoof is perfectly aimed. Sure, we’ve all told our own version of the time we made our Sims die in a puddle of their own urine, but CH realises those jokes with impressive production values and a superb horror movie vibe. In fact, it’s because we’re all so familiar with the themes that it works so well. Watch it below.

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