Flights of The Electribird

Through Games, Events and Multimedia


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Cravings and Crafts

Sometimes a game can become a lot more fun to play when you don’t play it too often. It’s like it’s Monday and you’re saving a box of chocolates for Saturday. Eventually, the craving for the chocolates will sooner or later begin to taunt you, but if you’ve been good and patient enough to wait, the chocolates will taste better than ever before. I do the same thing with games and while I wait like a good birdie, I do crafts out of whatever’s availlable. Yarn, paper, cloth, wood… anything can become a piece of art. When I told a friend of mine about my little hobby, she adviced me to show off my work on a website that I’ve come across before. I always thought they only showed off drawings, paintings and photographs, but I had no idea you could post literature and artisan crafts there as well. If you’re curious to see what I’ve posted on my account there so far, go to http://electribird.deviantart.com/ and take a peek.

After that, when I’ve waited long enough, I can play games will all the joy in the world. This time, The Sims 3 Generations was up for testing and I must say that this expansion did more to my game than I ever thought it would. Those of you who’ve played The Sims 2 might remember how the game was based on family life and new generations, yes? With The Sims 3 Generations, all of that came back to the game. Before then, The Sims 3 seemed to be more about getting the sims out of the house and explore the world, but that is no longer the only focus of the game anymore and I find that very uplifting. On top of that, I’ve missed the chemistry table from the previous games and the imaginary friend made my game a lot more interesting. I also didn’t expect to use the pranks and teen party features as much, but I’ve been having fun with those as well. I’ve personally only been to one teen party in my entire life and it was nothing like this! Sim-teens are more fun. They don’t need to ruin their livers and brains with alcohol to have fun. A stereo, some stink-juice potions, a pizza and some whoopi-cushions in the furniture is all you need to make a crazy party. Then you can dance with your imaginary friend, while your guests look at you funny, until your parents get home to ground you if the guests aren’t gone in time. How can you not crave moments like that?

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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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The Game Test without an End

After several months, I can finally tell the world that I’ve really tested The Sims 3 well enough to post about it here. I’ve already mentioned this game in a previous post, so I won’t  The game is extremely huge and I haven’t had enough time to actually play anything this summer (I have a life to live too, you know!), but I have managed to get enough sparetime to make a decent judgement.

Let’s start with Create-A-Sim, the part where you create the household. In the beginning it looks really complicated at first, but then you start looking carefully and start noticing what EA had promised – everything can be edited to suit the player’s demand. The face, the eyebrows, the clothing… well done indeed. I don’t even have to worry about matching clothes anymore. The players can even choose the shoes now! That’s an issue that’s been bothering me for a long time. I’m also glad that they started with jewlery already, but what about the piercings? So far, the ears are the only thing you can pierce. Where’s the rest? And what about the chest size? I understand if EA want to keep the game friendly for young teens, but they don’t have to make the game that unrealistic. There are plenty of D-cups in my family with average wastes and no plastic surgeries, so why can’t I make my sims look like them? I’m not asking for the silicon revolution, I just want to make some sims who look like the people I know. At least you can make young adults from the start now. That option didn’t exist before and I was happy to find out that they could get married and become pregnant. College? Nope, I saw no signs of that being in the game. It’s like playing with the bullies I used to go to gradeschool with, only I’m the one who’s in charge of their lives and ready for revenge. Apart from that, the sims’ personalities have also got a more accurate way to be specified in. For every sim, you can pick a certain amount of traits (2 for toddlers, 3 for children, 4 for teens and 5 for young adults and up), favourit food, favourit music and favourit colour. Even the sims’ voices and lifetime wishes can be picked here, although the voices doesn’t sound that different from each other and the lifetime wishes don’t always match the kind of sim the player intended to make sometimes (the lifetime wishes are generated after choosing traits, then the player gets to pick 1 of 5 lifetime wishes for the sim).

Next up, it was time to pick the new home for the newly-made sims. Not only could you choose between an empty lot or a lot with a house, you also get to choose between a furnished house and an empty house, leaving room for some personal decorations inside the house. My issue was that I couldn’t see an option for building a house without making a household for it. Instead I saw an option for editing a neighbourhood, but I think you need a save-file to do that. By editing the neighbourhood, you could move households around, splitting them up or putting them together no matter if it was sims you’ve played with or sims you’ve created before that you haven’t placed in a home yet. The only thing that the player had to keep in mind was the 8-sim-per-household-only-limit (which bugs me to the core, I’m used to huge families). Even though they’ve made it very complicated to switch the family you control in the save-file, I like the idea of being able to edit every household this way.

After that we have the part where you get to play with the sims. If feels great to be able to move around outside the house for a change, even though the curfews for the youngsters took a bit to get used to. It really shows that MySims had something to do with The Sims 3, because there are stuff for the sims to find around the neighbourhood. Stones and seeds can be found, fruit and vegetables can be picked and fish can be fished in every community lot the player can find. I don’t know about the stones, but the rest can be found a little here and there depending on what’s on the lot, like fish can only be found in the lakes. But if the player doesn’t feel like getting their sims to go fishing or picking stuff up from the ground or the trees, everything edible can be found at the grocery store to eat, cook, plant or fertilize the plants with. Yes, planting food’s now an option from the start! No expansions needed for that! The sims’ interactions with each other has also changed compared to the prequels. When the sims interact with each other, the type of interactions are more sorted than before. Do you want your sims to act friendly? Use friendly interactions. Flirty? Romantic interactions. There are several of those to choose from and even unique options for every trait the sims have, like “Talk about self” for snobs and “Coo over children” for family-oriented. Even objects have new interactions depending on the sims’ traits and skills and what kind of objects they are. A teddybear, for example, can be kept in a sim-toddler’s inventory and then be seen in the crib while it’s sleeping at night or be clicked on while it’s still in the inventory to be played with when the sim-toddler is awake. That way, the player doesn’t have to look for the object to make the sim use it. If the sim is carrying it, just check the inventory and use it from there. It doesn’t work with all objects, but it’s nice to know what’s possible with the stuff people normally carry with them everywhere, like cellphones and the like. If the sims’ got some handiness skills, they can even upgrade some of the stuff around the house, like plumming, appliances or electronic devices. Keep in mind that only some of them can be upgraded.

Last, but not least, we have the build and buy modes, where all the stuff for the interior and the exterior design of the house can be found. Both modes seemed like a total disappointment at first until I discovered the icon with the paintbrush. If the player clicks on that and then on whatever colour they wish to modify, the player can alter the colour and material of the object. The player can even use hexcodes to get just the right shade they want, which impressed me a lot. With the hexcode, I could copy and paste the exact colour on other objects, making them match with ease, no matter what material I used! This colour-matching trick worked great on all the object including clothing, items and parts of the house.

In all, I’m very impressed with The Sims 3, even though it failed to exceed my expectations. There’s plenty of things in the game that disappointed me, like how they removed what was already realistic in the previous games (like changing diapers on a changing-table and shop for clothing). I’m also a bit disappointed in that the sims can’t visit all buildings without disappearing inside them. I don’t have to watch them work or study, but if I take my sims out on their spare time, I would like to see what they’re doing inside everyone of the buildings and join them on their adventures, even when they’re on a tour. As much as I love the new personality system, I know that EA could have done a better job on that front, because the traits need to be better sorted than they were in Create-A-Sim. You can’t just pick 2-5 of all the options there are to create a proper individual, it doesn’t work like that. Not only should there be more traits per sim, the traits should also be sorted into more categories, like skill traits and mental traits.

Before I end this blog, leaving you with questionmarks about the screenshots and the movie-making, I’ll be honest and mention that I haven’t tried those yet. Why? Lack of time, that’s my excuse. Besides, I enjoy playing the game more than doing movies with it.


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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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The Sims 3, I Wish to Own Thee…

The Sims 3 will hit the stores in a few months and I’m 1 of the few Sim-fanatics who can’t wait for that to happen. The more I read about it, the more I want it. For starters, they’ve added things that make the game seem more realistic and stuff that makes the sims seem more sentient. For starters, we can interfere more with the sims’ careers, like sucking up to the boss or do a specific task. Then we have the way the sims react to what we do around them. Let’s say the sim’s busy improving its cooking-skills. The player doesn’t wish to disturb the sim for such a simple task as to empty the trashcan and therefore decides to do it manually. If there’s a sim around to see the player do it, it will respond to that if the player doesn’t do it very often. I find this behavior very fascinating, because it makes me as a player more involved with the lives of my sims. In the prequels, the sims are aware of that the player exists and this you can tell by how they look towards you when they want something. In The Sims 2, the sims even react to the commands you give them sometimes. The Sims 3 takes that to another level, which could make the player feel more involved and connected with the sims. It does make me wonder how far Maxis (or EA’s Sims Division, as they’re called nowadays, I think) will take this feature. Will we eventually have contact with the sims or will they strictly treat us as casual “higher powers that be”, like they always do? I’m very comfortable with the second one, but I’ve always wondered what a sim would say to the one who controls its life…

I also like how everything can be customized to fit the style you want for your sims. No more picking what the game has to offer! One style or a blend of as many styles as you wish, the choice is yours! The style of what, you ask? We’re talking about patterns and colours on clothes, wallpaper, objects, floors and more! Even the colour of their eyes and hair can be changed into a variety of colours! I’m thinking of making a sim with orange eyes and purple, green, blue and pink hair. If that’s possible, I hope they made the same thing for the skin. We could make aliens!

There’s lots of cool stuff to do in this game and I can’t wait to try them all. I’m not sure how much of that stuff will actually be part of the finished product, but I’m very fond of what I’ve read about so far, both from the game designers and producers and the fansites. I can’t wait to see what they’ll mention next.