The Sims

The Sims is a strategy/simulation computer game, created by game designer Will Wright and published by Maxis. First released in 2000, it is the most successful PC game in history. Like other Maxis games, such as the earlier SimCity (also designed by Wright), The Sims is sometimes described as a "god game": a game that lets you create and control the lives of virtual people.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Expansions to The Sims
3 External Link

Overview

As with previous Maxis games, The Sims is a departure from most previous computer games, which tend to have a definite goal or objective. Instead, the game focuses entirely on virtual people called "Sims", placing the player in control of a "virtual dollhouse", controlling their daily activities such as sleeping, eating, cooking and bathing, to name a few.

Instead of objectives, the player is encouraged to make their own choices and engage fully in an interactive environment. As such, the game has successfully attracted casual gamers. The only real objective of the game is to organize the time of their Sims to help them reach personal advancement goals.

Sims have a certain amount of free will, and although you can instruct them to do something, they may decide that something else needs to be done first, or even outright ignore your commands. The player must make decisions about time spent in personal development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the sims. Daily maintenance requirements must also be scheduled, such as personal hygiene, eating, and sleep. If the simulated humans do not receive the proper amount of maintenance, they will sicken and die. Financial health is simulated by the need to send the sims to find jobs, go to work, pay bills, and take advantage of personal development and social contacts to advance in their jobs.

In addition, the game includes a very advanced architecture system. Incidentally, the game was originally designed as an architecture simulation alone, with the Sims only there to evaluate the houses. During development it was decided that the Sims were more interesting than the houses and a legacy was born. The architectural side of Sims was more fully developed in the SimCity series of games. (Incidentally, the Sim City game was originally designed only as a method for developers to create cities to include in a bomber game that Wright was creating.)

The inner structure of the game is actually an agent based artificial life program.

The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is very advanced, and the sims will respond to outside conditions by themselves, although often the player/controller's intervention is necessary to keep them on the right track. The Sims technically has unlimited replay value, in that there is no way to win the game, and you can play on indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.

There are some limitations to The Sims, most notably that children never grow up to become adults, though babies do eventually become children. Also adult Sims never age, and there is no concept of a weekend. For example, the adult sims go to work every day and the child sims go to school every day.

The sims are directed totally on the basis of instructing them to interact with another object, be that a television set, a radio, or another sim. Sims may receive house guests, which are actually based on the sims of other game files. The player cannot control 'visiting' sims, although it is important for sims interact with one another in order to develop a healthy social life.

The Sims uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics techniques. The sims themselves are rendered as high-poly-count 3D objects, but the house, and all its objects are pre-rendered, and displayed dimetrically.

In 2002, The Sims became the top-selling PC game in history, displacing the game Myst. It has been a success in many ways—attracting casual gamers and female gamers (which account for 50% of sales)—unusual in a market traditionally dominated by young males. However, due to the game's immense success, questions have been raised about the game's values; notably concerns about the game's seemingly blatant consumerism - the most reliable way to become happy is to buy things. The game does take some account of this; as a larger house may in fact make lives for the sims more difficult as they take a longer time to walk around to do things.

Maxis recently (December 2002) completed The Sims Online, which recreates The Sims as a MMORPG, where actual human players can interact with each other. If it repeats the success of The Sims in bringing in casual gamers, there lies a massive potential for a mass social experiment, discovering how non-gamers or even non-Internet people would interact with each other in a entirely virtual game world.

So far (August 2003), reviews for The Sims Online have been lackluster. Reviewers liken The Sims Online experience to an enormous chat room where few participants, if any, have anything worthwhile to say.

Expansions to The Sims

The Sims is one of the most heavily exploited computer game franchises ever. It has more expansion packs than any other game. Here is a partial list of expansion packs available for The Sims (more or less in chronological order):

  • The Sims Livin' Large: Adds more objects, events and sims
  • The Sims House Party: Adds party-related content, such as lighted dance floors
  • The Sims Hot Date: Allows sims to pick up other sims for romantic encounters
  • The Sims Vacation: Allows you to take sims to various vacation destinations, such as beaches and the woods for camping
  • The Sims Unleashed: Gives sims the ability to adopt and train a wide variety of pets
  • The Sims Superstar: Allows your sims to become superstars.
  • The Sims Makin' Magic (released October 2003): Allows your sims to use magic and cast spells.
  • The Sims Bustin' Out (released December 2003): An RPG version of the game where you you guide your Sims to move into Malcolm's Mansion.
  • The Sims Online: The Sims on the Internet and partying together

The Sims is now available as The Sims Deluxe Edition. It is not an expansion to the game, but a repackaging of the game along with the Livin' Large expansion and an editor, The Sims Creator to create sim "skins."

Soon Maxis will release The Sims 2. The sequel will take place in a full 3D environment, as opposed to the combination 2D/3D environment of the original.

External Link




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