GameSpot Q&A Preview The Sims Livin' Large

Thursday, May 18, 2000 - 23:40

GameSpot has posted a Q&A preview about The Sims Livin' Large. Click read more to read the preview and view the screenshots.

The Sims Livin' Large - GameSpot preview The Sims Livin' Large - GameSpot preview The Sims Livin' Large - GameSpot preview

With the success of SimCity 3000 and The Sims, one would forgive Maxis for sitting on its haunches while it basks in the glory of its two latest strategy games. But the Walnut Creek, California-based developer headed up by Will Wright isn't taking any breathers. Already, the company has started development on two new games centered within the Sim universe.

One of these games is the anticipated expansion pack to its people simulator, The Sims. Called The Sims: Livin' Large, the add-on adds five new career tracks that will spawn more than 50 additional jobs for your Sims to choose from, as well as three new decors for your humble abode. While there's still no multiplayer component, Livin' Large adds a number of quirky new gameplay features that are standard Maxis fare. To find out more about this game, we sat down with Maxis executive producer Sinjin Bain for a few minutes.

We'll let Sinjin take it away from here.

GameSpot: Let's get the most important question out of the way first. What is the deal with the game reviewer being the bottom rung on the journalism career track?

Sinjin Bain: Well, actually typesetter is the lowest rung of the journalism career. The journalism career track was constructed on a huge "reticulated career curve," where the typesetter is extremely low on the "curve" and all the rest of the jobs (including game reviewer) are packed very tightly at a much higher place on the curve. So really, game reviewer is virtually at the top of the ladder! What you should be asking is what the game reviewer "skin" will look like. I'll keep my lips sealed on that for now.

GS: You're a cruel, cruel man. Do the Sims retain their own unique brand of gibberish, or will they have actual spoken dialogue?

SB: The Sims will retain their now-famous SimLish language with thought/emote bubbles.

GS: A lot of people complained about the camera's sluggish behavior in The Sims. Have you addressed this problem in Livin' Large?

SB: The graphics performance will remain the same. Players seem far more interested in getting new objects that give more new gameplay than asking for performance improvement, and that is our focus with Livin' Large!

New changes

GS: The Sims in the original game had a problem with pathfinding, often causing difficulty in maneuvering around a simple object. Has the AI been improved on?

SB: With respect to pathfinding AI, I think we are handling the severe requirements of the game as well as can be done. Some problems that were perceived as pathfinding problems actually turned out to be problems with object placement or other tangential issues. We have addressed these as they are brought to our attention.

GS: Will you be able to follow your Sims to their new jobs, or is that aspect of the game still invisible to the player?

SB: Livin' Large careers will be handled the same way as in The Sims. Following your Sims to work would require an entirely new game design, not that it isn't a bad idea.

GS: Will a Sim's choice of profession have a more pronounced effect on character interaction (for example, if you're a cop, and someone else in the neighborhood is in the crime industry, will that affect your relationship)?

SB: The social-interaction engine remains functionally the same, although many of the new objects in the game have a wider range of ways that they will affect your Sims!

GS: Will players be allowed to make an "evil" Sim through starvation/abuse/neglect or other means? In the original, treating a Sim poorly only made him depressed and insubordinate.

SB: Again, the social engine will remain functionally the same. A Sim isn't naturally good or evil... it's how the players live out the story of their Sims' lives. If you check out some of the stories users have created and posted on, I think you'll find some truly "evil" characters.

However, many of the new NPCs and objects that we'll be introducing into the Sims world will significantly broaden the cause and effect of social interactions of your Sims and create new gameplay situations related to unanticipated changes in the state of your Sim! It could be that in Livin' Large you might be able to create an "evil" Sim.

Next: Music, decor, and multiplayer

GS: In the previous game, time seemed to move too quickly, and the only way to make sure everything got done would be to constantly pause and toggle different game speeds. Will the flow of time be changed or tweaked?

SB: The game was actually tuned as part of the patch to address this area a bit and seems to have been a good move based on input over the past month, so we'll use this new tuning currently in the patch for Livin' Large! The party balloons, which are available from and will also be added to Livin' Large, slow time down, which makes it much easier to host hot-tub parties.

GS: In addition to the Latin, country, classical, and rock-and-roll music that played over the radio, will there be any additional music in Livin' Large?

SB: No, but you can put new music files into the game's music folder, so in effect, you can have any music you want!

GS: Livin' Large will have three new decors, one of which is a medieval theme. Will players actually get to build a castle, or is this new option just an interior motif?

SB: Well, it's not really about three new decors; it's all about hundreds of objects that you can create virtually anything with. We merely chose three examples that we felt were as diverse as possible to show the range of environments you can create for your Sims. Once again, the goal is to expand the creative space as much as possible. Players can create tropical compounds you might find in Tahiti, or Germanic castles. Players can then populate their Tahitian compound with island girls or magic genies, or their castles with mad doctors, warped assistants, and monsters they've created... it's really up to the players! We haven't found the limits to what you can create yet.

The other important thing to remember is that many of the objects we create aren't just decorations or "functional," like a chair or table. They can actually change the game's simulation engine. The Sims: Livin' Large will give you a chance to put your Sims into even more extreme situations.

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