In the last week, Electronic Arts has released two trailers for their upcoming title, The Sims 4. The first was a fairly long-winded, sensationalised and uninformative live-action piece, likening the arrival of The Sims 4 to making contact with an alien race. Fortunately, the second trailer actually showed off some of the game, giving a few details on what’s new this time around.
First we see the upgraded Create A Sim tool. All of the clunky old sliders are gone; now you modify a Sim’s features simply by using the mouse, sculpting and fine-tuning the most minute details of their body in any way you desire. The intent here is to make Sim creation an intuitive process, and in the examples shown, it appears to work seamlessly. That said, in the past so-called intuitive technologies have somewhat backfired—just look at the Wii and Xbox Kinect when they first came out—and I can see myself hitting the Undo button over and over as I try to get what’s on the screen to match what’s in my head. This is just one of those things we won’t know until we play it.
Possibly even more significant is the new way to build houses. Again, the focus is on intuitiveness, as you can lay down a room, move it into place, decorate and furnish it, move it again and more, all without having to Undo or delete anything. This could be a godsend to indecisive house builders like me, who live in fear of building an amazing mansion, then realising the whole thing needs to move two squares over to fit with your other plans. I do wonder how having a family living in the house as you build it will change things, though. Will there be a cost for moving an already placed room? Can rooms be stored in a family inventory, for example?
While Sims have always been a touch on the dramatic side with their temper tantrums at an unclean toilet, now emotions play a significant part in their lives. In The Sims 3, a social interaction’s category (friendly, funny, romantic, rude, etc) would determine the tone of the conversation, but this could be somewhat restrictive. Your Sim had to be relentlessly romantic to progress to the less chaste interactions, which meant if you threw in a joke or bit of gossip, you’d have to start wooing all over again. In the Sims 4, it looks to be more the other way around, with a Sim’s emotion influencing their behaviour. This seems, at least in concept, to be a much more realistic and natural design.
While it obviously makes sense to put one’s best foot forward in such an advertisement as this, I think we should remain mindful and vigilant of what we have not been shown. After all, Simcity looked amazing in all the pre-release demonstrations, but ended up a serious disappointment due to what we hadn’t known, namely crippling technical issues. With the same studio involved in The Sims 4, we should all be wary and if possible, try before we buy.