The Sims

The Sims


The Sims focuses entirely on the lives of virtual people called Sims, placing the player in control of their virtual "world" and their daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, reading, and bathing. Will Wright, the game's designer, calls it a "digital dollhouse"[citation needed]. Although players are encouraged to make their own characters, certain pre-made characters, such as the Newbie and Goth family, have become popular.

The player controls almost all aspects of the lives of a family either premade or self-created. Many choices lead a player's sim to a large household or a single life.

The idea for The Sims is thought to be drawn from Will Wright's experience in the 1991 Oakland firestorm, when his house and many of his possessions were destroyed in the fire. Wright was required to move his family elsewhere and rebuild his life; these events led to Will's inspiration of creating a simulated game about life. The game is also loosely based on SimCity, another computer game designed by Wright in which the player must manage a city and its citizenry, dubbed "Sims". The idea of "simulated people" led Wright to believe that he could program and design the perfect construct of the main aspects that a computer or video game possesses.

Wright originally proposed the idea of a virtual "dollhouse" to Maxis in 1993 while the idea was still in development, although the proposal was met with skepticism by staff; computer hardware during the period was not thought to be capable of running such a simulation smoothly. In 1995, Wright was offered an opportunity from Electronic Arts to continue developing the concept and game so that EA could publish it.[verification needed] Development of the game, initially dubbed "Project X," commenced in 1995.[verification needed]

After production for the game finally began in 1995, Wright was interviewed about his idea in a PC Magazine article published around 1995, in which he talked about the chance for players to control a computer generated character in their own environment.

In 1997, the name of the game was changed from "Project X" to "The Sims"[verification needed] as a reference to Will Wright's earlier "Sim" games, which had been very successful in the early- to mid-1990s.

Instead of objectives, the player is encouraged to make choices and engage fully in an interactive environment. This has helped the game successfully attract casual gamers. The only real objective of the game is to organize the Sims' time to help them reach personal goals.

In the beginning, the game offers players pre-made characters as well as the option to create more Sims that they can control. Creating a Sim consists of creating a "family" (identified by a last name) that can hold up to eight members. The player can then create Sims, by providing the Sim a first name and optional biography, and choosing the sex (male or female), skin complexion (light, medium, or dark) and age (adult or child) of the Sim. The personality of the Sim is dictated by five attributes (Neat, outgoing, active, playful, and nice) and a specific head & body type. A Sim's body is bundled with a specific body physique and clothing. The player cannot change a Sim's face, name, or personality once they have been moved onto a lot.

Each family, regardless of how many members are in it, starts with a limited amount of cash (§20,000) that will be needed to purchase a house or vacant land, build or remodel a house, and purchase furniture. All architectural features and furnishings are dictated by a tile system, in which items must be placed on a square and rotated to face exactly a 90 degree angle with no diagonals permitted. Walls and fences go on the edge of a "square" and can be diagonal, whereas furniture and Sims take up one or more squares and cannot be diagonal. There are over 150 home building materials and furnishings for purchase.

Sims are directed on the basis of instructing them to interact with objects, such as a television set, a piece of furniture 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 to interact with one another in order to develop a healthy social life and gain popularity.

Sims, if enabled within the game, have a certain amount of free will, meaning they will engage in activities when left to their own devices, though player commands will override anything a Sim decides to do on its own. However, Sims may not perform important commands, such as find a job or conceive a child. Unlike the simulated environments in games such as SimCity, SimEarth, or SimLife, the Sims are not fully autonomous. They are unable to take certain actions without specific commands from the player, such as paying their bills. Thus, if left alone, without any player supervision, the Sims will eventually develop overdue bills and their property will be repossessed.

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 need fulfillment must also be scheduled, such as personal hygiene, eating, and sleeping. If the simulated humans do not perform need fulfillment, they suffer consequences. For example, if they do not eat, they will die of starvation. If they do not go to the bathroom, they will wet themselves. If they do not have fun, they become depressed, and unwilling to do things. When Sims have low motives they are more likely to be nasty to other Sim characters by insulting them, slapping them and even attacking them.

Financial health is simulated by the need to send the Sims to find jobs, go to work and pay bills.

There are several career tracks, with ten steps in each. A Sim that makes a number of new friends and learns the right skills, can get promoted, and receive a raise and changed work hours. The original careers are, Business, Entertainment, Law Enforcement, Crime, Medicine, Military, Politics, Pro Athlete, Science and Xtreme. The expansion packs add new careers.

The inner structure of the game is actually an agent based artificial life program. The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is 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 the player can play on indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.

In addition, the game includes a very advanced architecture system. The game was originally designed as an architecture simulation alone, with the Sims there only to evaluate the houses, but during development it was decided that the Sims were more interesting than originally anticipated and their initially limited role in the game was developed further.

The first game of The Sims has several limitations, most notably that children never grow up to become adults, though babies do eventually become children. Also, adult Sims never age (or die of old age), and there is no concept of weekends. For example, adults and children are expected to go to work and attend school respectively, every day. In particular, adults receive a warning if they miss one day of work, but they are fired if they miss work for two consecutive days. Children can study at home to keep their school grades up.

While there is no eventual objective to the game, states of failure do exist in The Sims. One is that Sims may die, either by starvation, drowning, perishing in a fire, electrocution or by virus (contracted from a pet guinea pig, which can happen when its cage is left dirty). In this case, the ghost of the deceased Sim may haunt the building where it died. In addition, Sims can leave a household for good and never return; two adult Sims with a bad relationship may brawl, eventually resulting in one of them moving out. If a child has failing grades for too long, he or she will be sent to military school and also leave the lot for good. There are also more complicated ways of killing Sims, including getting them into a pool and deleting the steps, or putting them into a room then deleting all of that room's doors.

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, by selling more than 6.3 million copies worldwide. As of February 7, 2005, the game has shipped 16 million copies worldwide. Critics praised it with positive reviews. It has been a success in many ways—attracting casual gamers and female gamers (the latter making up approximately 50% of players) — unusual in a market traditionally dominated by young males. Open-ended gameplay has been done before in games, such as the farming-based simulation series Harvest Moon (a 1997 game originally released for the SNES), but The Sims has certainly gained popularity for this particular style of gameplay.

Simlish is a fictional language featured in Maxis' Sim series of games. It debuted in SimCopter, and has been especially prominent in The Sims and The Sims 2. Simlish can also be heard in SimCity 4, but far less frequently. It also featured to an extent in the Firaxis game Sid Meier's SimGolf. Designer Will Wright was conscious of the need for dialog in the game, but thought that using a real language would make it sound too repetitive and would also be too costly to hire translators for world languages.

The Sims development team created the unique Simlish language by experimenting with fractured Ukrainian and Tagalog (one of the major languages of the Philippines). "Sims" will usually let the player know what they want by making some sort of movement while talking in simlish. Inspired by the code talkers of WWII, Sims creator Will Wright also suggested experimenting with Navajo.