Flights of The Electribird

Through Games, Events and Multimedia

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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.

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Laptops + Gaming = Slap in the Face

As most people should know by now, laptops are not really suited for games, even if the stores and manufacturers beg to differ. Sure, a laptop can handle some games, but a good gaming laptop from today will probably not be able to handle the games of 3-5 years from now. The glorious day, when laptops become easier for the consumers to upgrade, is the day I’ll make out with a guy who looks exactly like Tobey Maguire, because that would be a blessed day indeed!

Why I’m mentioning this, is because my desktop computer’s ready for its retirement after 7 years of good use. Because of this, I haven’t been able to play games with my poor darling, so little Tiny’s all I’ve got. Unfortunately, Tiny’s a laptop and is therefore not suited for games that require plenty of graphic memory, like The Sims 2. Sure, The Sims 2 doesn’t demand much alone, but if you install every single expansion and stuff pack for it along with it, you get a really massive game that requires more than the required performance requirements say on the box. It’s a miracle that I can run the game at all, I tell you. It’s using up around 50-100% of the CPU!

After some searching, I think I’ve found a solution to this problem. As every laptop-owner should know, every laptop has a PCPMCIA-slot (or ExpressCard-slot) on its side. PCMCIA-cards and ExpressCards are used to add hardware that the laptop may not have built into it, like soundcards or modems. Even graphic cards can be created to use this slot, but those cards have not been manufactured for years and it seems like they won’t be manufactured again any time soon. But a company called Magma has a different solution to the problem, even though it may not be the best solution for a person who takes the laptop everywhere. It’s an external expansion box with PCI Express-slots, which you can connect to the computer via the ExpressCard-slot. Inside the expansion box, you can install any card that fits into a PCI Express-slot and then use it with the laptop! Unfortunately, this expansion box doesn’t seem to exist in Swedish stores, which makes it harder for me to order it and try it out. Oh well, with time comes new technology. Who knows, someone might try to make a graphic card that fits into the ExpressCard-slot someday. In the meantime, I’ll have to run my games with what I’ve got. They won’t run the way I want them to, but they work – well, most of the time…

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The Luxury of Having a Laptop with Vista

You know how people enjoy taking a hot bath or relaxing on a comfy couch with a good book? Ever since I got my laptop as a birthday gift not long ago, I’ve been getting more of those comfy habits. So far, my favorite one is to sit on my remote-controlled bed (I have a back problem) with my quilt over my legs and the laptop on a wooden tray in front of me. I have never in my entire life done my homework in a more comfortable way! If anything convinced me to install The Sims 2 on my laptop, that was it!

Speaking of games, I tried to install Spore on my laptop a few days ago. The installation went great, but I was still unable to run the game! I tried everything. I upgraded the drivers, I checked several knowledge bases online and even looked up the system requirements for the game. Nothing! Because of that, I tried to install an older game, thinking it would probably work better – Nox. I know, this game’s pretty old and wasn’t made for Vista (heh, it wasn’t even made for XP) but I still decided to give it a shot. To my joy, Nox worked! Unfortunately, the videos for the game kept freezing. I have no idea how or what could have possibly happened, but after the next few days, the videos for Nox began to work properly! Yesterday, when I was bored after class, I checked out the game menu on my laptop and discovered to my surprise that Spore was still installed, so I gave it a try. It worked! I couldn’t believe it, but it worked! I don’t know what happened before the videos for Nox began to work properly, but I think that has something to do with it. Perhaps Windows Update might have fixed something behind my back. Either way, I have 2 great games on my laptop and both of them work splendidly!

While we’re still in the subject of games, I discovered something else yesterday that I’ve personally never noticed before. Vista has a grading system that showes how compatible the computer is for the games that are installed on it. That’s brilliant! It showed me how compatible Spore was and if I could run it properly, both the required limit for running the game and the required limit for best performance. I’m glad Windows finally has a system for this, because it helps a lot if you’re unsure of how much the computer can handle or if the game would run properly. Spore passed pretty well on my laptop, but my laptop needs 0,5 points more to run the game with the best performance. Too bad I don’t know how to upgrade the hardware on laptops. But that’s irrelavent. Spore works and I can play it wherever I want now!

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Playing The Sims 2 and Spore to the Core!

I am having such a blast with Spore, it’s a miracle I haven’t forgotten my homework! It’s like having a little alien for a pet that’s evolving and breeding and before you can spell the word “adulthood”, you have a whole planet of them, like an antfarm. Then you get to take them out to space and have them spread themselves elsewhere. I like it! I wish my creatures didn’t look so freaky, though. At least the one I’m playing with now seems to evolve nice enough. It looks like the offspring of a hummingbird and a lizardman, with some frog-DNA in the mix. Looks way better than my other creature, which looks like a freaky insect-lizard-halfbreed. I’d make angels, but I can’t get my creature to evolve just right. I’m so sick of having to find all of the body parts everytime I play from scratch. Some creatures really refuse to get eaten and give them to you. Then we have the creatures who’re trying to eat my creatures! Come on, my creatures are too skinny to eat! Well, in their defense, a hummingbird/lizardman/frog-mix is bound to taste like chicken…

I love The Sims. The fact that I can create a family to raise the way I wish is awesome! I loved dollhouses and Barbie-dolls when I was a little girl and this series of games, with all the expansions and stuff-packs, sure makes my life easier to deal with. You can either let a household live the life you wanted and experience that hapiness with them, or ruin their lives to make your own life seem better than it already is – or pick either one for your own amusement or to see how the sims would react. Or perhaps you’re just into making a story or building houses, because you can do that too. Who’s going to stop you from playing a computer game the way you want to? Anyway, I have all the packs for the first and second game and plan to get the third one once it hits the stores. I can’t wait to give that one a try. The sims in that game are going to have more realistic personalities and be aware of the weird things that happens around them, like trashbins emptying on their own or something like that. Those of you who’ve played The Sims 2 knows that the sims look towards the player once they’re made to do something that affects them. Now they’ll react like that for every strange, little tidbit you do that seems unusual to them as well. Like religious people react towards whoever or whatever they believe in, the sims in The Sims 3 will react towards you. It’s like they’re getting more and more aware of the fact that there is someone controlling their lives. Goody, that makes it fun for me to rule their lives with open hands.

All this talk about The Sims and Spore sure puts me in the mood for some gaming, which is just as well. With school and all the homework, I barely have time for anything. That’s why you should always choose a day for fun and leave the rest for chores. You’ll exhaust yourself with stress, but your career will be safe from ruin.