Last week, I got a look at "The Sims 3" for the first time.
To be honest, I hadn't played "The Sims" since the release of the "Nightlife" expansion pack* for "Sims 2"; it was then I had the sudden realization that I should go outside and experience a real "nightlife." (This is coming from the person who would later become a regular "World of Warcraft" player, so you can guess how that prospect turned out.)
Anyway, during a demo at a PR office in New York City, associate producer Lyndsay Pearson, ran down a few saucy, new details about the game that makes staying inside seem worthwhile:
A simpler, user interface -- The user interface for "The Sims 3" looks more complex than that of previous games in the series. Its main screen includes more tabs and meters that go into more detail on a particular Sim's relationships, personality traits and moods. However, Pearson told me the team was actually trying to make the interface "more approachable." She said the game's tutorials are designed to ease players -- both longtime and new -- into the gameplay. "People that are a little daunted by the game, we really want them to understand it's about how you want to play," she said. "And we'll teach you the basics, but then if you don't want to pay attention to [certain aspects], you don't have to. If you just want to play this part, that's cool. It's totally up to you."
"We want to make it look easier, but it's still got all the fun stuff for the people that want to be all detailed."
Pearson also said not to worry: The game also has the hardcore "Sims" player in mind. "We still offer the hardcore fans ways to find the most extreme path to get results, and that's the kind of stuff they love," she said. "And so as long as we can still offer that for them, I think we can cover that spectrum pretty well and make it a fun experience for everybody. We want to make it look easier, but it's still got all the fun stuff for the people that want to be all detailed."
Easier house customization -- Pearson promised that customizing one's house in "The Sims 3" was easier than before. The tools are the same, but they've made a few changes to help out the players, like being able to drag walls to make rooms bigger and smaller (versus manually building and deleting walls), and simplifying the ways players can paint walls and floors. For obsessive "Sims" players who might've been bothered by not being able to center a two-tile television in front of a three-tile couch, well, the dev team's fixed that by allowing objects to be centered in the game."Now you can actually center things!" Pearson said with enthusiasm. "And now you can set it up however you want -- you can set things on diagonals and you can really get more realistic with things than you were able to do before."
"Evil Sims will steal candy from babies."
Torturing your Sims -- The core gameplay of "Sims" games are always good and fun, but I wanted to know: Could you still torture your Sims? Like build four walls around them? Pearson laughed, thankfully, and said, "You will still be able to mess with them. In fact, in 'Sims 3' you can mess with other people now, too. You can go into your neighbor's house and steal their stuff or break their TV, so you can actually be more devious on a grand scale than you have been before." These deviant behaviors are related to the new personality traits system, where each character can have five distinct personality traits that shape how your Sim behaves and interacts.
"You can be a kleptomaniac, you can be evil, and actually, evil Sims will steal candy from babies," she said with a laugh. "It will be a little toddler sitting there and then you get this special social to go steal candy from them; then they walk up to them and just like take it. We always pay attention to the audience that likes to likes to continue to kind of mess with their Sims." So the "Sims" developers kept me in mind.
"We've expanded [woohoo] into the open world as well... if your spouse works at the science lab, you could go visit them in the middle of the day..."
Making "Woohoo" in different locations -- I also asked Pearson if sex in the game (called "Woohoo") was treated the same as in the past. She assured me that Sims can still woohoo "all the time." And they're now allowed to do it in other places outside the home. "We've expanded that into the open world as well," she explained. "Your Sim can go on a tour of City Hall and while they happen to be there, they could woohoo there. Then they might get caught and run out in their underwear or they'll run out in an outfit from a job there or something like that. Or if your spouse works at the science lab, you could go visit them in the middle of the day... [laughs] So you know, we support that. That's cool."
However, Sims can't woohoo anywhere your dirty minds can imagine. "You can't go to the park or anything like that," she said. "We have a couple of specific ones that we picked that sort of made sense that you might be there. And you can't woohoo at school. We have to draw the line in some places."
You'll be able to get your "woohoo" on when the game is released for PC in February 2009.