The Sims 3 preview with the producer MJ Chun (first part) Print
Written by CriCri Saturday, 21 March 2009 01:59
MJ Chun Mj Chun - Sims 3 Producer On March 13th EA Italy invited us in their studios in Milan, to show us The Sims 3 and meet Producer MJ Chun. Before I start with this article, I really have to thank Piero and Francesco (EA Online Manager and Trainee) and Eden, Sims Community Manager, for making this event possible.

Of our team, only Cristina, the undersigned, and Nenny (who has been following our Finds for more than a year and is now part of the team with her creations for Sims2Cri) were there. Zukkao, Cri e Nenny Zukkao, Cri e Nenny Unfortunately, Paperpin, who takes so much care of Sims3Cri, couldn't come to the event. This article has been realized with the collaboration of Zukkao, webmaster of SimsFan and a dear friend of mine, who was also present at the meeting. I have to thank him too for his help and for making our homecoming trip so amusing, while we were trying to make up our mind and draw a conclusion of what we had seen some hours before. Well, let's get it started now! We're going to tell you everything we saw and learned, integrating with something we already knew and with news published on other websites (unfortunately, the producer had a very short time, and even if we spent a hour and half with her, it was impossible to see everything!).

After a short introduction held by the Italian Marketing Managers, who thanked us for what we do everyday for The Sims and for our passion, MJ Chun got to the heart of the matter. The monitor was already showing the Create A Sim screen, that has always been the starting point of many articles and news, maybe for its importance and the prominence they want to give to the changes they've made to the game, or maybe as MJ said, because it's her favourite part of the game.


Create A Sim

Create a Sim Create a Sim MJ moves quickly among the menus, and it's evident that she has spent God-knows-how much time on those slides, and to us, who only know them from a couple of screenshots, to focus on every option seems to be quite hard...A quick look at the premade Sims we can find in the game: as it has been said many times, they really look more realistic, compared to The Sims 2, and maybe even more "playable", since you won't risk to meet fugly ones in the neighborhood. We have also had a look to the several ages and body shapes. At this point, a question about height and why it hasn't been included in the game was needed, and as we imagined and tried to explain to all our users, the reason can be found in matters of planning and programming, that is, merely technical.
Producer said: "The reasons are decidedly technical. We'd really like (to include height in the game, ndr), but it's already very hard to provide interactions that work with every body shape, and adding a height slider was very troublesome, expecially for those players who own old machines".
We can only live with it and give up hoping they will include that later.

Color palette and textures

Palette colori e texture Palette colori e texture We have been talking about the color palette, that allows us to choose from an RGB scale the nuance we want for skin, hair and clothes. From what we have seen, a hair band, a sweater and a skirt, sliders to apply different patterns and colors work as for the hair (where we can choose the color of highlights, roots, and so on). This doesn't work for the skin, instead, which will be the same all over the body (you can choose among red, green, blue and 3 "natural shades", of which you can pick your favourite nuance). We have seen a tabby fabric (producers must love tabby fabrics..) applied in "cloves" on the hair band, then a diamond pattern has been applied on the sweater and an abstract texture on some parts of the skirt. We can't say if the number of sliders is the same for every element, but we're encouraged by the fact we can at least choose what and how we want to customize. I must also say that it's not very clear how we can import custom textures in the game, and it actually should not be possible, at least for now. We can always download combinations created by others, but we have doubts about that too. Pattern application Pattern application Now that I think about it, looking at the way Sims 2 and Sims Societies work, maybe we'll be able to import new textures adding the right format files in the right folders...we kinda hope for that, just to give vent to our creativity although we cannot modify alphas and meshes! We hope to give you good news about that anytime soon.

The new menu interface is rich in buttons and functions, we have seen a few of them and they seemed so many! We can understand why Kate from Parsimonious was complaining about that in her Creator's Camp review! One thing that is surely innovative is the introduction of the Drag&Drop function, so that we only have to select a pattern and drag it on an object to apply it (and this works in the CAS screen as well as in the Buy Mode). Another important thing is that if we create a peculiar style for the hair and then we change the hairstyle, the colour remains the same we've picked! We won't have to do everything over!


Accessori Accessori

Hair, Clothing, Accessories & co.

We can't edit shapes or overlay clothes, such as a jacket over a top. As in The Sims 2, combinations like jacket and shirt, sweaters, tops, etc. are not editable. A good innovation is that we can choose the footwear, naked feet included! We can change the color of every element and also choose a fabric. As we said a few lines ago, clothes have different slides too, and we don't have to use the same color all over the suit. As for hairs and accessories, MJ briefly showed us something, but the undersigned are a bit "moles" and we haven't seen that much. Drawing on some Q&A published on the official English website, we must inform you there are no curly hairstyles, only a bit wavy ones. It's true that they look more realistic and less wig-ish as in The Sims 2, but locks and curls are definitely not featured in the game. Who knows, maybe EA has signed a contract with the hairstylists of the world to compell us to straighten our curls?! Just kidding, we hope they will be realized soon, as afro hairstyles have been realized for men and women. Some items can also be customized with flowers, bands and hats.
Jewelry addicted won't have to wait EP number 6 to have jewels, since there will be earrings, bracelets and necklaces. No piercings or tattoos, and earrings are only for adults and teens. We'll also have different kinds of glasses.

Faces can be customized with freckles, beautymarks and wrinkles.

Exporting files and the Exchange

Let's get back to The Sims 2. Can you remember what we had to do to export a Sim? We had to launch the BodyShop, and if the Sim was made in the game we had to use SimPE and then the BodyShop to extract it. In The Sims 3 things will be similar to Sims 2 Pets. When creating a Pet we can export it both on the Exchange and in a single file directly from the game, or again save the breed. That's how things work in Sims 3. There is no more BodyShop, everything can be done in the CAS and we can export the full Sim as well as each single element. For example we can save hair color combinations, pattern combinations and so on, and export the single item or the whole.
MJ kept claiming how easy is to share files on the Exchange, and that's why we asked her if we can still save files in our local directories, then take them and upload them on our websites. Thank God she said we can! The same thing works for furniture, lots, etc.


Disappointing "advanced customization" compared to The Sims 2

The bad news, and one of the parts we wanted to clarify. Talking about the CAS, exportation of contents and custom styles, we couldn't avoid to ask why they dedided to make no more BodyShop, no more alphas  to edit (allowing players to modify transparencies and opacity, creating long and short sleeves where possible, etc.) and mainly why they didn't realized a tool to edit meshes. From the Creator's Camp reviews we read that someone at the camp said "the community will be able to find on its own", that sounded like "if you can do that on your own, why should we  bother to  do them for you?", contrasting with the third webpisode, for example, where all the developers seem to be very concerned to our needs and say that basically all the ideas they have come from players.

MJ is very diplomatic and says that in the Sims Division there are several ingeneers that work on meshes for clothing, objects and other stuff, and they use a professional program to do that, called Maya, and everything they create must be adequate to certain standards, must work with every interactions, body shapes and stuff. What players have created for The Sims 2 is a universe of customizations, which is often badly realized, incomplete and unadequate to EA standards. For example, have you ever downloaded a dress that doesn't change when a Sim gets fat or walks? They can't sell something like that. If you have seen those "Lost & Found" objects, they are objects that haven't been included in the game and hidden in the gamecode for this reason, and later extracted by experienced modders like Numenor.

In a few words, they wouldn't even know how to realize a mesh tool that supports all the animations, as their professional utilities do. They don't preclude that the community will find a way to do that, or maybe they will help us in some the meantime, no new meshes or alphas.

Already seen

Already seen...

Looking at the CAS screen, we couldn't avoid a certain deja-vu feeling, and so we asked the producer how come many clothes reminds us of Sims 2's and if they were "recycled" (so that maybe we could import old Sims 2 contents in the game). MJ said the developers had the same feeling, like "Do I have to do it again? Just the same??", and also said that every item has been re-designed and re-done, because it's impossible to import old contents because they're totally different, for sliders, morphs and textures. In The Sims 2 everything was made in color, now every texture is made in gray scale because the color is applied by the player through the RGB palette.


Traits and personality

Kiddish Trait Let's get deeper, and imagine we have created our avatar; we only have to define its "inner side".

Lifetime wants

Thanks to Parsimonious Kate and her Creator's Camp review, we know all the 61 traits we'll find in the game. You can also find them on SnootySims. If a Sim has the Good trait, s/he can't have even the Bad trait.

MJ confirms that when we choose a trait, every incompatible one will be automatically disabled. This doesn't mean we can't give a Sim different traits, but if we can't have a good and bad Sim, we can always make a friendly and bad Sim (like politicians are, said MJ).
New options allows us to put 3 favourite things, like the Turn ons/off of Sims 2 Nightlife.
Scelta Tratti Scelta Tratti We can choose a favourite meal, music and color.
We have already said that they affect a Sim's mood, but we haven't found out yet if a color can influence a Sim too. Surely they can talk about their favourite color.

Sims 2 players also know that Sims are influenced by their relationships and that sexuality is not pre-determined; for example, if a male Sim has a friendship relation with same sex characters, romantic options will automatically show up. In The Sims 3 the device is the same, and you can't determine your Sim's sexuality, but it is somehow influenced by the surrounding environment, such as the relationships s/he's going to create with other Sims.
There are no more Aspirations and Rewards, but Lifetime Wants, that appear according to the 5 selected traits. The game provides us with 5 of them and we have to pick one.


Before talking about the gameplay and the neighborhood, we want to leave you with a little consideration...Although Sims 3 characters look "normal and playable", we can't say they're good -ooking, and we wanted to make a face-to-face comparison between defaults..

Paragone TS2 vs TS3 Paragone TS2 vs TS3
Paragone TS2 vs TS3 Paragone TS2 vs TS3
What do you think? Surely after this comparison, The Sims 3 looks waaay better, despite its limits!
Continue reading with the second part of our report!
Last Updated on Saturday, 19 February 2011 23:37