Sims Online Preview

Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 23:00

"The Sims Online will take everything that’s right and good about The Sims and SimsVille, allowing hundreds of users to access the same location, on numerous servers around the globe."

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The Sims Online Preview

Previewed by Libe Goad

If SIMing is wrong, I don't want to be right.

It’s no secret that Will Wright is a game-development genius. His experiments with virtual socialization have created a nation of rabid Sims devotees, and I’m proud to be one of them. So, when my little ears heard that Maxis has the massive multiplayer title The Sims Online in the works, my heart jumped out of my chest and performed a frenetic happy dance on my desk.

The Sims Online will take everything that’s right and good about The Sims and SimsVille, allowing hundreds of users to access the same location, on numerous servers around the globe. Now instead of your precious Sims living lives confined to their individual homes (The Sims) or neighborhood (SimsVille), the pixelated life-forms will be able to socialize in a SimCity-like environment with other gamer’s Sims.

This massive multiplayer concept isn’t a foreign one, of course. Games like EverQuest show that online gaming is plausible and attracts thousands of gamers worldwide. The Sims Online will be no different, with the exception that the goal is not to kill each other, but to socialize. This socialization will take shape in a real-life environment, including the home, neighborhoods, work, and in clubs.

Before this happens, however, a player will first have to choose a city to live in, one of 20 that will be initially available. Wright says he expects people to choose a city based on a Sims' interests, so expect to see cities inhabited by Old West throwbacks or sci-fi enthusiasts. In addition, you can pick a city or neighborhood to inhabit based on the surrounding Sims' lifestyles, which can be displayed if a Sim's owner so desires. Think of it as an online matchmaking service for game characters.

The gameplay looks and feels much like the other Sims games, but cooperation will be the key to ultimate success in this virtual Sims reality. Gamers will have the option to cooperate in roommate situations, complete job objectives, start new business ventures, or pass the time with a virtual game of chess. Plus, the more a person comes into contact with other Sims, the more likely they will become rich or famous, or both.

Expect to see at least 64 new social interactions for the game, including the ability for the Sims to chat with one another via word bubbles floating above their Sims’ heads. Say goodbye to the days when a Sim would come home after work and simply proclaim, “uh bitz a umlade rone dae geegbad a.” The virtual people will also be able to express themselves with various gestures, movements, and through different moods. In addition, gamers will be able to communicate with one another through more traditional online community outlets.

EA has yet to test the game outside of its offices, but in anticipation, the producers are working on setting limits for the gameplay. Sensual activities will be limited to kissing, players will be restricted from posting adult-oriented material, and several “game masters” will serve as moderators in case any Sims run amok. I’m especially interested in seeing how the game will keep users from utilizing nude patches and Simoleon cheats.

The game software will cost $50 and the monthly subscription fee is currently set at $10. Keep an eye on these pages for a full review before The Sims Online hits retail in early 2002.

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