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Home Meeting with the producers The Sims 3 preview with the producer MJ Chun (second part)
The Sims 3 preview with the producer MJ Chun (second part) PDF Print
Written by CriCri Sunday, 22 March 2009 00:00
Article Index
The Sims 3 preview with the producer MJ Chun (second part)
Loading families, playable Sims, Wishes and Opportunities
Children, teenagers, school, socials and interactions
Open town and shopping
Death, ghosts and passing away
Pregnancy, childbirths and heredity
Cheats, game launching and conclusions
All Pages
MJ Chun MJ Chun - Sims 3 Producer On March 13th, EA Italy invited us to their offices in Milan to take part to a The Sims 3 preview with the Producer MJ Chun. This is the second part of the article, and we're going to talk about the neighborhood, the gameplay and the game launcher. As for the first part, even this article has been realized with the cooperation of Zukkao, SimsFan webmaster. I still thank all the persons I've mentioned in the first article, in particular Eden, who allowed us to publish a couple of juicy details about the game that haven't been published before!

I'm not going to repeat the same introduction I've made in the first part, but I invite everyone who hasn't done it yet to read the first part of our review before reading this article. First of all for the introduction ;) and then because we talk about the creation of a Sim. So here's the first part of our reportage.

I also recommend you to read Eden's review, that is available on her site.


Gameplay, neighborhood and stuff

Once closed the CAS window and said goodbye to our Sim, that hasn't been saved (MJ really waves him goodbye and talks to him in Simlish too! ;)), we're facing the neighborhood screen. In the blink of an eye, a couple of mouseclicks open the Settings Panel. Almost popping our eyes out of our heads, we can read the several options, that are:

Quartiere Schermata del quartiere

  • Aging on/off: has the same function of the Sims 2 cheat, and can enable/disable a Sim's aging. It is a global function, and affects all the characters of the neighborhood. We haven't found out if there's a cheat that disables the aging only for selected families.
  • Story progression: concerns the development of the story. It's one of the things we were curious about, and thanks to a question about pregnancy, we had the chance to ask MJ what this option actually does. Normally, when the story progression is enabled, if we have a pregnant Sim and play with other families, once we get back to her we'll find the baby, whose name has been randomly assigned from the game. If we don't want this to happen, we must disable the story progression, so the Sim won't give birth until we don't play with her. We haven't found out if this option freezes all the events or just the most important ones.
  • Average life length: we have talked about this in a Creator's Camp review; this options can be used to decide the average length of a Sim's life, stretching from 25 and 1000 days.
  • Free will: through this option we can decide how self-sufficient Sims will be and how long they can go on without our help. Although Sims 3 is not focused on satisfying needs, if we set the free will to the minimum value, the game will concern mainly on them, like The Sims 2.

We must admit, however, that we're almost sure we have forgotten about an option and we can't remember if autonomy and free will are arranged in two separate options (one with a slider and the other with a checkbox) or only in one, or if we haven't heard about this missing option at all.

It doesn't seem to be any connection between the neighborhood size, the number of families and a computer's performance. They said there won't be noticeable differences, if not just for the number of details.


Lots and terrains

The "open" neighborhood is the peculiarity of TS3, and that's why is important that terrains and lots are well-organized, to make everything more striking. MJ showed us the new Build Mode tool, thanks to which we can enlarge a lot by simply dragging and dropping the walls, keeping the current object arrangement. At this point we asked if there are still different lot sizes and so if the house structure has limits. MJ says there are three lot sizes - small, medium and large - that are very important because we can peek through the neighborhood's windows. Then, if we have picked a small lot and can't enlarge our house anymore, we'll have to move it on a bigger terrain. We haven't tried that personally, so we only quote what she said. We hope we can know something more later..



Loading a family and controlling Sims

As it happens in The Sims 2, to load a family we need to go to the neighborhood view. Pannello Sim Pannello Sim Houses are checked off by symbols. Once you load a family, you can see all the members in the user panel, and as for The Sims 2, we can choose which one we want to control. When clicking on a Sim, the camera automatically moves and "looks for him" in the town. For example, if we have a two-membered household and one member is at home and the other is in the park, the camera will shift to the park and viceversa.
Vista quartiere Vista quartiere Zukkao and I have been talking about the possibility of having some kind of search engine, so that by typing the name of a Sim, s/he would be automatically localized in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, it isn't so. For example, if our Sim wants to go and visit a friend, we need to shift to the neighborhood view and look at our friend's homes, that are marked by a symbol, and if we want to visit one of them we have to click on the lot and get there. If we want to change the family we want to play with, we have to click on "Change the active family" and then on the house of the Sims we want to use. In a few words, lots are always the starting points, even if its members are walking around in the town.
Notice that on the official English forum they said that changing a family implies the loss of all the current wishes and opportunities. We don't know if it's only a warning given by the fact that with high free will and enabled story progression, Sims keep living autonomously or if actually we can lose some progresses. We were questioning if it's possible to save a copy of our families or save them in one of the available slots.

If you don't know yet, there is only one neighborhood, even if it has been said that new towns will be published after the game's release, and only for those who own original copies. From the official English forum and their reportage we can also read that there should be 21 families, each of which has a certain difficulty level. Every Sim is playable, then if you don't like default families you can move them and fill the town with your Sims. There are few NPC characters.

Wishes and opportunities

After all the console versions of The Sims and Sims Stories, producers have tried to introduce some elements, peculiar of these two versions, in the traditional PC edition. In our everyday life we have many long and short term goals (i.e., I have to go to the gym today or I have to get back in shape within this summer), and Sims have mirrored this side of our lives through Wants and Fears. Again in The Sims 3, each character will develop its Wishes, that are little goals to achieve and then say "Wow, I did it!" (and probably they will be less improbable than in The Sims 2..).
The big deal is Opportunities, some kind of little quests, typical of the console world. To show us what they are and how they work, MJ looks up, puts her fingers on the keyboard and smiles "I'm going to cheat now", that means she's going to force the game to show an opportunity to the Sim she's playing with (most probably this cheat is available only for the producers and not for players). The game, in fact, is not a fulfilling-needs-game anymore, and provides us with several minor challenges and goals to achieve, called Opportunities. We can choose to accept them or not, they're little quests that say to the player "Hey, do you know you can do this?" and give rise to try new things. For example, although we can't follow our Sims at work, we can have the opportunity of inviting a client for dinner when our boss can't, making friends with him and learn new socials.

Out and about in the town

Sims live the town and move "for real", without the tiring blue loading screens, that probably every player hates.

Muoversi in citta' Muoversi in citta'

As previously stated, Sims can go on foot, ride bikes and drive cars. There are no driving schools, nor for cars or bikes. Children can ride bikes too, but they need specific ones, while teens can use adult's. Since we were watching a Sim that was getting back home by car, we asked about the "driving factor".
Sims cannot drive their cars, I mean, we can't say them how to drive and where to turn, they will just use them to move from a place to another, as for The Sims 2, and we can just follow their path. There are no car crashes. If there are walkers, the car will just keep going ahead. In the neighborhood there is a continuos stream of people walking, cars, bikes etc. Toddlers need to be carried if we want them to visit the town.

Note: obviously to use a car or a bike our Sims need to buy one!

Another good thing is that finally Sims walk on a straight line! At least, after watching a video where Sims were walking on a diagonal line, we asked MJ if it was a result of some cheats, and she replied that now, when we pick a destination, Sims walk on a straight line to reach it.



Children, teens and schools

Fermata bus Fermata bus Children and teenagers do go to school, and the school bus runs by everyday. In TS2 if you missed the bus you'd get into troubles, but now there seems to be a remedy ;) Maybe our kids who were looking for a pretext to stay at home won't be happy about that, but the school bus not only passes by your lot, but also by every lot where young people live. Then, if you miss the bus, you can always walk to the closest neighbor with children and catch it. Once you get to school, the bus disappears.
Everyday our young ones have homeworks to do at home. Those with the "workaholic" trait won't miss a second and start to do them as soon as they get back home. On the official English forum they say there won't be private schools and you can't invite the school Principal anymore; actually we didn't think about that when talking to MJ, so we can't say if that's true or not.
At the end of the school time, kids can bring a friend at home again, or they can go and visit a friend. We can accept or deny the invitation, and according to the friendship level we have reached, we may be asked to stay over. If we accept, the Sim master of the house will welcome us with a friendly "make yourself at home". Maybe this is given to the fact that Sims now have their own beds, as we said in a previous article, and they don't fall asleep in the first bed they see (unless it's not in their personality ;)).
We have asked if children, toddlers and teenagers can die. The answer has been a little elusive, like "Can they die in The Sims 2? Then they will..", but anyhow producers can't say everything and there are surely tons of things to do, and probably MJ did not tried them all. It's sure, instead, that teens cannot have love affairs with young adults or adults, since it would be illegal, as it is in real life.

Socials and interactions Interazioni Interazioni

When Sims run into relatives or friends, they recognize them. When we make friends with someone, in the top part of the screen will appear the relationship meter. We have already explained that relationships are more realistic, they need more time to lower or turn into love, but the fun fact is that, like reality, when we meet someone new we don't know everything about him/her. In the relationships panel, in fact, we will see what we already know (for example that he's vegetarian) and several ??? for what we don't know yet.
Traits affect a Sim's behavior, i.e. a bad/evil Sim will feature a special menu list where are grouped all the exclusive socials s/he has thanks to his/her traits.

Flow of time

As in The Sims 2, we have several time speeds. We have a fourth speed indeed! This is useful when our Sims are sleeping, for example. Another news is that if we let a Sim sleep until s/he's completely restored, this will positively affect his/her mood. In our help, when a Sim is sleeping, hovering with the mouse arrow on the bed will show the awakening time, that is, the hour by which the Sim is fully "recharged".
As we have said many times, there are no seasons or weather. The sun is always shining and the landscape is just breath-taking. Very long hair move a bit when Sims walk.



Almost fully opened neighborhood


Ristorante Ristorante

Everyone has been talking about the open town and that finally we can follow our Sims and peek through the neighbor's panes, but this is possible to an extent. We have already said that you can't follow your Sims at work, but it's better repeat that one more time. It seems that by clicking on the lot where your Sim works, you can hear some sounds, typical of your character's job.
Even if we can't see them, we'll be required to take some decisions, meet coworkers and have some quests. Working places aren't the only lots we can't visit, because even restaurants aren't playable (if you tell your Sim to have dinner in the outside area you can see him taking a seat and eat his meal), as well as shops (Sims get out of them after the shopping, but we haven't seen this feature so we can't be sure about it).
Community lots we can freely visit (and build) are: libraries, cemeteries, parks, lakes, gyms and pools.

Aspiration rewards and personality tweaking

As for The Sims 2, we'll have aspiration rewards, but they will be a bit different than the previous ones. Let's say that some of them work like in some TS2 EPs, that is, we can spend certain points to modify something. The "Midlife crisis" is a very important reward, and also the most expensive one, since it's the only way we have to change our character's traits. Then, when we reach a certain point of the game and we're tired of our Sim's personality, we can change it!

Shopping, clothing and cooking

Negozio vestiti negozio vestiti

What do we have to do to change our Sims look? When we asked if toddler can change their outfits, we have also asked if Sims have to buy their clothes. MJ said that everything is directly in the CAS, and will also be available in each Sim's wardrobe. This news is confirmed also on the English forum (read here), even if it contrasts a bit with what we wrote about the possibility for each Sim to have only 3 outfits per kind, and the stores we have seen in some screenshots. Maybe they're both available in the game, as it happens for food in The Sims 2 (we can buy food at the grocery's or calling the delivery service). We think, then, that it will be possible to buy clothes both from the wardrobes and in the stores, but as we said previously, each Sim will have up to 3 outfits per kind. Virtual life has several benefits, and one is the fact that clothes never get dirty; probably, people who isn't used to houseworks and laundries will be disappointed for that, but in The Sims 3 there won't be laundry services, no washing machines, nor washes or irons. When we asked MJ for that, she bewildered looked at us and said: "Do your REALLY want to do the laundry? We have though about that because we know players want it, but it seemed so boring to us..".
As for meals, the big deal we have been talking about in other articles, is that we can cook pre-made food or buy ingredients and create recipes. We can also grow ingredients, such as apples, lemons, grape, watermelons, peppers, garlic, lettuce and tomatoes, and go fishing.



Death, ghosts and passing away

How many times can you die? Sims seems to be luckier than we are, in fact, when the X hour comes and the Grim Reaper appears in our lots, we can buy him with the Death Flower and survive. The Death Flower is very rare, as well as the Life Fruit is, and we need to search in several places before finding it. If we aren't lucky enough to find the flower, dead Sims can always resurrect as ghosts. If we bring back to life a Sim, s/he will appear as a playable Sims in our households, and despite The Sims 2, we'll be able to control him/her as if s/he were alive. Ghosts have wishes, they walk and they don't float, and although they aren't "solid", they can give birth to children.

Fantasmi Fantasmi

They look like the old creatures we were used to in The Sims 2. The fun thing we saw when MJ was showing us how to play with a ghost, is that when they are holding an object you can see only the shadow of the object, as if it were floating in the air! It's very realistic if you consider that ghosts are invisible beings! Other Sims will notice the presence of ghosts, and the easily frightened ones will be scared every time. Ghosts seem to enjoy scaring other people! In some screenshots we have seen a blue and a white ghost, so we asked if the color of a spirit changes according to his death, as in TS2, and how many colors there are. MJ confirmed the relation between death and color, and described 4 of them: old age, drowning, electrocution, fire (we know there are others they can't talk about!).
Can Sims live for ever? The answer is no! At an extent, even a ghost has to pass away for good, and then they'll appear only periodically in the cemetery, but won't be playable anymore. We could then say "Finally dead! No way, no return!", as MJ did explaining how hard has been to test the several ways to escape from death. She has also stated that in no way a Sim, not even an evil one, can kill another character, but you can actually find a device, for example by setting a fire.
Another interesting detail is that Sims live autonomously when we don't play with them, but what happens if a Sim dies when we're using another household? Simply, when we get back to that family, we'll find the urn of the dead Sim, and then we can choose to move it to the graveyard or keep it in our lot. These events, like childbirths, can be avoided if you disable the story progression, so you won't have bad surprised when you shift to a family you haven't used for a long time.



Pregnancy, childbirths and genetical heredity


As we said at the beginning of this second part of our review, if the story progression is enabled and we have pregnant Sims we don't play with, the child will be born and his/her name will be assigned by the game. Teenagers can't have children, while young adults and adults can. Young adults in particular, are the most fertile ones. Pregnancy lasts 6 days, no matter the length of the Sim's life; on the first day nothing happens; 24 hours later the female Sim realizes to be pregnant and shifts to maternity clothes, and in the following days the baby bump gets bigger and bigger. As in The Sims 2, pregnant Sims have morning sickness, cravings and backache (they can ask their partners for a massage or go to the SPA to get one). Pregnancy has two new interactions: announcing you're pregnant (we recommend to do it at least with your partner and who knows how he will react if he hates children!) and give birth at the hospital. You can choose to give birth at home or at the hospital, but according to MJ, it should be very cute to rush to the hospital and then thank the doctor, even if we haven't seen these scenes and we don't know if this all happens for real or we'll have to "create" this in our fantasy. We were also curious about the genetical heredity. Like The Sims 2, children will take some traits from their parents, with a bonus. Producer said that children also get hidden skills and there's no way to discover what they concern, and in fact, developers had very hard times testing them. Children can get traits that openly contrast with their parent's.



Cheats and the Game Starter

With the latest EPs we got used to the Game Launcher, some kind of experiment of what we'll find in The Sims 3. From what we have seen, it will be more complicated and rich in details. We can download file from the Exchange or see what we have already downloaded or saved, our videos and other stuff, and everything is divided into categories, so we can easily find for example Sims, clothing, lots, etc. In other articles we found on the Web, we have read that it's very hard to develop an anti-piracy system that doesn't limit the player, and it looks like they're still working to find a way that doesn't limit the number of installations as it happened with Spore, that allowed only 3 installations, and it's not clear how things will work for The Sims 3.
We have asked MJ if there are cheats for the players and she confirmed they do, but are different from The Sims 2's and we probably won't need them at all; for example we don't need them to place an objects outside the grid.

Feelings and conclusions

If you haven't fallen asleep on the keyboard yet, we'd like to give you our opinions. Surely watching Sims going around without the blue loading screen feels very weird, as the different personalities Sims can develop do. We're actually very scared at the idea of starting everything over and being limited with the customization..but we hope we'll find a way to get through. MJ has been just exquisite, even if understanding her fluent English has been a bit difficult sometimes, but meeting such an inspired person who loves so much her job is very encouraging. We were also thinking she was a Sims coming out from the screen, because the line between her game knowledge and her way of talking and acting like a Sim was very thin sometimes! sv_m1730 The most amusing fact was when she wanted to show us something from her laptop and trying to turn it, the power unit fell down, just a few inches from Francesco's feet (he's from EA Marketing). Notice that her laptop wasn't actually so..portable, and we were really curious to find out what kind of machine was. It should be an amazing Dell XPS (we suppose an XPS M1730 with two NVidia SLI graphic cards - say hi to subliminal advertising). Surely, on a machine like that, there are no loading issues, and the graphics was more than perfect. We hope we won't be too disappointed once the game will be installed on our computers!
Unfortunately, press and other interviews were waiting for the producer, who said goodbye and thanked us, also saying she was available to answer further questions. We have been talking with the marketing managers, having lunch with them and receiving the first Sims 3 gadgets! We couldn't miss the final picture in front of the game cover's poster, striking a pose with the bag and the other stuff!


Foto di gruppo Gadgets

You can see all the pictures of the event in our gallery.

We also recommend you to read other sites' reviews:

Next Videogame (Italian only)

Moreover, other European countries have had events like this (in the UK they had also the chance to play the game!), so here's some links to their articles:
The Sims 2 UK (English)
SimsTimes (German)
SimsExchange (German)


Last Updated on Saturday, 19 February 2011 23:34