The Sims: Taking Over the World

The Sims: Taking Over the World

On Friday night, September 12, New York City’s gaming community gathered at the Nintendo World Store for a celebration. Nintendo Power magazine turned two decades old, and a charity event/gaming party was held in its honor. We took the opportunity to talk with representatives of gaming companies new and old for the inside scoop on upcoming games. First up was EA Sims Label Marketing Director Aaron Cohen, with news on what’s to come from the Sims line. He told us about My Sims Kingdom and Sim Animals for the Wii, and even revealed new information about the next PC giant, The Sims 3.

Newsarama: Now, the main game you’re promoting here tonight is My Sims Kingdom for the Wii. This is a sequel, so what kinds of things will fans see in this that they didn’t in the first one?

Aaron Cohen: Well, we took everything that was great about the first one, all the creativity, all the humor of it, and we’ve added an epic story to it where King Roland gives you an assignment, and you’re going to be saving the kingdom here. He has you exploring 14 different lands, and each has very different themes. There’s a cowboy land, a dinosaur land, a rocket reef, so it’s very much a fantasy adventure, but with a lot of the creativity that My Sims can bring in.

NRAMA: Is there less focus on the actual creation aspect then?

COHEN: No there’s not. The creation aspect is actually how you’re going to solve the adventures. You’ll actually solve problems through creativity.

NRAMA: Is this exclusive to the Wii then?

COHEN: Wii and DS. The first My Sims is actually coming to PC in October.

NRAMA: Does it look like this one will come to PC as well?

COHEN: Well, we’re talking about that right now. As of now, it could happen, it might not happen.

NRAMA: What about My Sims made you feel you needed a sequel so soon?

COHEN: Well, it took off really fast, became a really big hit, and we had very clear feedback from the fans that they liked the open gameplay but they were also really hungry for a story, “Why am I working in this world.” So, out comes the sequel. It has about twice the features of the first one, and all the features made so much sense, came together so fast, that we were like, “Alright, this is gonna work!” We’re really happy with it, it really builds on the promise of the first one and has become this big, fantastic game now.

NRAMA: Are general gameplay mechanics the same, so someone who’s familiar with the first can pick this one up pretty easily?

COHEN: They are, but there are also new mechanics. For instance, there’s jumping, so there’s a little bit of a platform game in there. There’s also contraptions, machines that do different tasks: opening gates, making pizza dough for the chef, a rocket ship that goes off. You put together the gears and wires and piping to build machines with specific functions.

NRAMA: Are there very specific solutions to those contraption puzzles, or can players get a working solution out of their own creativity?

COHEN: You’d be really surprised; the designers have in mind one solution. Then when we play-tested it, players came up with all these crazy solutions. I saw a kid make a giant machine with a hundred different cogs to open one door, and when it all worked he was excited. So each problem can be solved in multiple different ways.

NRAMA: Switching gears a little bit, back to the PC. Sims 2 is winding down. We just had the last expansion pack for the game ship with Apartment Life. Now the last Sims 2 Stuff pack was just announced, Mansion and Garden Stuff; can you tell us about that a little bit?

COHEN: Mansion and Garden Stuff is great. It’s very high-end stuff. If you watch the shows that are about mansions, like the old Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, you can make your home a mansion like that. From columns to expensive furniture to high-end kitchen appliances, you can really make your own little “Trump Tower” and deck it out with the best items possible.

NRAMA: Of course, only three months later The Sims 3 comes out…

COHEN: Sims 3, the big one!

NRAMA: There was a pretty gigantic leap from Sims 1 to Sims 2

COHEN: Yeah (laughs)

NRAMA: Are we going to see that same level of leap from Sims 2 to Sims 3?

COHEN: I think so! You can actually go outside now. Before, outside was sort of fake; it was there but not there. This time there’s a whole open world to explore. It’s a giant sandbox to play in, filled with more than 30 different personality types making up all these different characters in the world. It changes your Sim’s life in a really interesting way, this big massive open world. It’s a big, big idea, and no one’s going to quite get it till they play it. It’s huge.

NRAMA: Now one of the complaints that fans had from Sims 1 to Sims 2 was that a lot of the functionality that expansion packs added in Sims 1 were lost when you started over with Sims 2. Is that going to happen again with Sims 3?

COHEN: No, there’s obviously less stuff, less items, but the feature set is about matched.

NRAMA: You’ll have pets right away for example?

COHEN: No, not pets, sorry about that. But your Sims themselves will be more lifelike, because the different personality types will be much more broad, and much more interesting. The behavioral styles, it’s an extremely large change, the kinds of unexpected situations that these “people” are going to be in.

NRAMA: How about the home types. Will you be able to go from Apartment to Mansion right away in the Sims 3?

COHEN: Yeah, the home types will all be there. So you can go from small apartment to large mansion, and there will be different lots you’ll have to earn. If you’re playing the strategy game, working your way up, getting rich, getting a job, falling in love, all of that is there, at a bigger level.

NRAMA: And of course, there will be expansion packs for The Sims 3.

COHEN: Oh Yeah!!

NRAMA: Do you have any scheduling idea, how fast those are going to roll out once the game is released?

COHEN: Uh, we don’t have a date for the first one yet, but the first one is on the drawing board and is getting ready. People expect that and we’ll definitely give it to them.

NRAMA: Last but not least, the newest Sim property, Sim Animals. What’s this all about, what hole in the gaming world is this game filling?

COHEN: It’s a new genre. You’ll have your own forest to control, this whole ecosphere that you’re in charge of. You’ll make friends, you’ll make enemies, and as you go along, you’ll see more and more of the forest, and meet more animals to play with, each with their own personality. The animals learn from you, how you play tells them if they should be scared of you, if they should like you, if you’re going to be nice or mean.

NRAMA: So these are actual animals, not user-created new species, right?

COHEN: Yeah, these are actual animals; racoons, squirrels, bears, rabbits, any animals you’d find in a forest. It’s not a hardcore simulation, it’s a simulation, but geared much more towards fun.

Twitter activity