Flights of The Electribird

Through Games, Events and Multimedia


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The Sims 4 – A Fixer-Upper Game

Happy New Year, everyone!

The Sims 4 has been out for some time now and I have yet to read that many good things about it from those who’ve played it. It took some time for me to get my copy of the game, due to some misunderstanding with the store I got it from, causing me to order it from another country to get the version of the game that I wanted. Now, after playing the game myself for a while, I can understand why Electronic Arts can’t catch a break with one of their most money-making franchises ever.

Just like the previous Sim-games, the player can create a household of 8 custom-designed people to place into a house (or an empty lot, where you can build your own house) and control them any way the player sees fit. According to EA’s salespitch for The Sims 4, the sims can now be designed like clay figures, by pulling specific areas of their bodies with the mouse, and have more improved personality traits and emotions that changes the game entirely compared to the prequels, which makes them respond to everything around them in a more natural way. For instance, if a sim gets angry, that sim will stay angry, making some new anger-related interactions be available for the player to choose from until the sim changes mood, which can be done in a number of ways, like watching TV, taking a shower or simply waiting it out. There has also been some updates to the way you can build and design both the exterior and interior of their house. The height of the roof can be altered, the patios can be made circular and rooms can be picked up and moved around with the mouse alone, to name a few examples. But if you’re one of those gamers, who want to get started right away, you can always use the in-game gallery to download families and houses that other players have made straight into the lot without exiting the game (Internet required) or go ahead and play with the already-existing households in the game.

Unfortunately, these and other fancy updates came with a large price. To make room for everything on the 2 discs you get when you buy the game at the regular retail stores, lots of features that the hardcore gamer is used to had to be either downgraded or left out completely. The neighbourhoods are no longer open, so you’re once again stuck with loading screens when the sims leave the home lot. There are no special creature in the base game, so you’re stuck playing with nothing but humans. The colour-wheels in the design tools are gone, so you’re stuck with whatever colour options each object and clothing item have available. The features that caused the biggest riots on social media websites all over the world, were pools and the toddler stage of the sims’ growth cycle, which players believe to be too important key features to be without (yes, Maxis left those out too). Their excuse was that it simply wasn’t possible to add them, because the game mechanics couldn’t handle it, if I understood what they had told my sources correctly, just like they couldn’t handle the height differences for the teenagers (they’re the same height as the adults now, which makes them a little harder to differentiate from the older generations at first glance). As a former game design student, I find this to be a sign of laziness and stress due to a very short deadline…

To save the franchise (and their income), Maxis had no choice but to make free patches for the players to download to update the game with some of the things that were missing. So now, thanks to the updates, the players can play with ghosts, pools and 2 missing careers (athlete and business) and more updates should be on the way (can’t remember if they were supposed to be 4 or 5 patches in total, but chances are that Maxis will stop here, because they plan to release an expansion pack soon). This is a very kind and unexpected gesture from any EA-related company, considering that EA has the reputation of being corporately evil (sorry)…

As a collector of The Sims-games, it angers me that I have to give this game a 3/5. The features that’s been added into the game are wonderful and fun to play with, but the things that’s been removed or downgraded ruined gameplay for me on a large scale. If this game was released as The Sims 2 years ago, they could have gotten away with it, but after the previous sequels, this isn’t an upgrade at all, even if the new features improved the gameplay a lot. Those who know about Electronic Arts are used to seeing them as a greedy, money-hungry company (again, sorry) and The Sims 4 hasn’t improved that reputation at all. But by making those free patches, Maxis may have saved some of their dignity and salvaged some respect, but is that enough to get the angriest of their devoted fans back? I’m still remaining a bit doubtful at the moment, but I have noticed that a lot of them has been playing The Sims 4 again before going back to the prequels. That’s a good sign, right? Either way, you can always try to blow off some steam by letting the sims get a cowplant…

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When there’s Sims, Something Always Slips

Sorry about the lack of updates, but even I have a life to deal with. Sad, isn’t it?

The last thing Electronic Arts is known for is to keep a secret, especially when it comes to their best-selling game series, The Sims. If an employee doesn’t slip the information in the most subtle way possible, the stores that plan to sell the merchandise slips the information instead, which seems to have been the case this time. Stores are sometimes told in advance about upcoming products, so the chance of the information being true is higher than you think. The only issue is that the information is almost guaranteed to change eventually with time. The change could be anything from a cancellation to a name-change. Let’s hope it’s just the second one this time, shall we?

According to this rumour, EA’s planning to release an expansion pack called The Sims 3 Hobby and Profession. People are still speculating over what kind of remake it is on some websites and forums, but the name makes it pretty clear to me that it’s a remake of The Sims 2 Free Time and it wouldn’t surprise me if they squeezed in something from The Sims 2 Open for Business into the mix. The store itself confirmed the information to be accurate, but I’m personally waiting for EA to announce it officially before celebrating. Nothing guarantees a release more than that, even if the product ends up getting cancelled anyway in the end.


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Why Didn’t EA Think of this Before?

Electronic Arts has gotten a lot of complaints from fans of the games The Sims and The Sims 2 due to bugs and errors in both the base game and its expansion and stuff packs over the years. After all of the interviews I’ve read and watched for years on the Internet and in bonus discs, I’ve learned that the people who work on The Sims franchise don’t seem to have much time for anything else. I remember that one of the employees (a developer, I think) was using a huge thermos mug filled with tea or coffee to stay awake for work! It’s no wonder that there can be so many errors and bugs in the game if the people who work on it are too tired of exhaustion to notice them before deadline! That’s why I thought it was a great idea when I read about the event EA’s been hosting – The Sims 3 Creator’s Camp.

EA has held events like this before, but from what I can tell from the media, the Creator’s Camp seems much more grander than anything they’ve done before. Most of the major fansites (like GameSpot, who posted the video above) has been invited to attend and test out a nearly finished version of The Sims 3, which they could later on write about on their websites. Not only is this an excellent way for EA’s employees to cut some slack, this is also a great way for The Sims 3 to get some major publicity as well as a better quality as soon as the game’s ready for release. Game developers can sometimes miss out on things when they have to play the same game over and over again for months in search of flaws and fans all over the world, who’re so obsessed with The Sims’ franchise that they forget about their patience, can read about what the visitors have seen on the fansites and stay patient. More time to spare and less work for EA-employees and free game testers and major publicity for EA and The Sims 3. That’s a whole lot of flies in 1 whack!

After reading about delays for the game’s release, I going to assume that the fansite-people found plenty of stuff that needed to be fixed, but that’s just speculation from my side. But if I’m right, I don’t mind waiting another few months for The Sims 3. I’d rather spend my money on a perfect game than a buggy one that requires several patches to work properly.