The Sims is a strategic life-simulation computer game developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. It was created by game designer Will Wright, also known for developing SimCity. It is a simulation of the daily activities of one or more virtual persons ("Sims") in a suburban household near SimCity.
The Sims was first released on February 4, 2000. By March 22, 2002, The Sims had sold more than 6.3 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling PC game in history; as of February 7 2005, the game has shipped 16 million copies worldwide. Since its initial release, seven expansion packs and a sequel, The Sims 2 (with its own expansion packs), have been released. Another sequel, The Sims 3, is currently under production. The Sims has won numerous awards, including GameSpot's "Game of the Year Award" for 2000.
The player controls almost all aspects of the lives of a family either premade or self-created. Many choices lead a player's sim to a large household or a single life.
The idea for The Sims is thought to be drawn from Will Wright's experience in the 1991 Oakland firestorm, when his house and many of his possessions were burned down in the fire. Wright was required to move his family elsewhere and rebuild his life; these events led to Will's inspiration of creating a simulated game about life. The game is also loosely based on SimCity, another computer game designed by Wright in which the player must manage a city and its citizenry, dubbed "Sims". The idea of "simulated people" led Wright to believe that he could program and design the perfect construct of the main aspects that a computer or video game possesses.
Wright originally proposed the idea of a virtual "dollhouse" to Maxis in 1993 while the idea was still in development, although the proposal was met with skepticism by staff; computer hardware during the period was not thought to be capable of running such a simulation smoothly. In 1995, Wright was offered an opportunity from Electronic Arts to continue developing the concept and game so that EA could publish it. Development of the game, initially dubbed "Project X," commenced in 1995.
After production for the game finally began in 1995, Wright was interviewed about his idea in a PC Magazine article published around 1995, in which he talked about the chance for players to control a computer generated character in their own environment.
In 1997, the name of the game was changed from "Project X" to "The Sims" as a reference to Will Wright's earlier "Sim" games, which had been very successful in the early- to mid-1990s.
Each family, regardless of how many members are in it, starts with a limited amount of cash (§20,000) that will be needed to purchase a house or vacant land, build or remodel a house, and purchase furniture. All architectural features and furnishings are dictated by a tile system, in which items must be placed on a square and rotated to face exactly a 90 degree angle with no diagonals permitted. Walls and fences go on the edge of a "square" and can be diagonal, whereas furniture and Sims take up one or more squares and cannot be diagonal. There are over 150 home building materials and furnishings for purchase.
Sims, if enabled within the game, have a certain amount of free will, meaning they will engage in activities when left to their own devices, though player commands will override anything a Sim decides to do on its own. However, Sims may not perform important commands, such as find a job or conceive a child. Unlike the simulated environments in games such as SimCity, SimEarth, or SimLife, the Sims are not fully autonomous. They are unable to take certain actions without specific commands from the player, such as paying their bills. Thus, if left alone, without any player supervision, the Sims will eventually develop overdue bills and their property will be repossessed.
The player must make decisions about time spent in personal development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the Sims. Daily need fulfillment must also be scheduled, such as personal hygiene, eating, and sleeping. If the simulated humans do not perform need fulfillment, they suffer consequences. For example, if they do not eat, they will die of starvation. If they do not go to the bathroom, they will wet themselves. If they do not have fun, they become depressed, and unwilling to do things. When Sims have low motives they are more likely to be nasty to other Sim characters by insulting them, slapping them and even attacking them.
Financial health is simulated by the need to send the Sims to find jobs, go to work and pay bills.
There are several career tracks, with ten steps in each. A Sim that makes a number of new friends and learns the right skills, can get promoted, and receive a raise and changed work hours. The original careers are, Business, Entertainment, Law Enforcement, Crime, Medicine, Military, Politics, Pro Athlete, Science and Xtreme. The expansion packs add new careers.
The inner structure of the game is actually an agent based artificial life program. The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is advanced, and the Sims will respond to outside conditions by themselves, although often the player/controller's intervention is necessary to keep them on the right track. The Sims technically has unlimited replay value, in that there is no way to win the game, and the player can play on indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.
In addition, the game includes a very advanced architecture system. The game was originally designed as an architecture simulation alone, with the Sims there only to evaluate the houses, but during development it was decided that the Sims were more interesting than originally anticipated and their initially limited role in the game was developed further.
The first game of The Sims has several limitations, most notably that children never grow up to become adults, though babies do eventually become children. Also, adult Sims never age (or die of old age), and there is no concept of weekends. For example, adults and children are expected to go to work and attend school respectively, every day. In particular, adults receive a warning if they miss one day of work, but they are fired if they miss work for two consecutive days. Children can study at home to keep their school grades up.
While there is no eventual objective to the game, states of failure do exist in The Sims. One is that Sims may die, either by starvation, drowning, perishing in a fire, electrocution or by virus (contracted from a pet guinea pig, which can happen when its cage is left dirty). In this case, the ghost of the deceased Sim may haunt the building where it died. In addition, Sims can leave a household for good and never return; two adult Sims with a bad relationship may brawl, eventually resulting in one of them moving out. If a child has failing grades for too long, he or she will be sent to military school and also leave the lot for good. There are also more complicated ways of killing Sims, including getting them into a pool and deleting the steps, or putting them into a room then deleting all of that room's doors.
The Sims uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics techniques. The Sims themselves are rendered as high-poly-count 3D objects, but the house, and all its objects, are pre-rendered, and displayed dimetrically.
Simlish is a fictional language featured in Maxis' Sim series of games. It debuted in SimCopter, and has been especially prominent in The Sims and The Sims 2. Simlish can also be heard in SimCity 4, but far less frequently. It also featured to an extent in the Firaxis game Sid Meier's SimGolf. Designer Will Wright was conscious of the need for dialog in the game, but thought that using a real language would make it sound too repetitive and would also be too costly to hire translators for world languages.
The Sims development team created the unique Simlish language by experimenting with fractured Ukrainian and Tagalog (one of the major languages of the Philippines). "Sims" will usually let you know what they want by making some sort of movement while talking in simlish. Inspired by the code talkers of WWII, Sims creator Will Wright also suggested experimenting with Navajo.
The Sims is one of the most heavily expanded computer game franchises ever. In all, a total of seven expansion packs were produced for The Sims (listed in chronological order):
In Unleashed, the original ten-lot neighborhood that was featured in all previous games, is now expanded to over forty and there is now an option to re-zone lots into residential or commercial. In commercial lots, you can build shops of numerous types and restaurants which sims can visit by calling the Old Town trolley to take them there.
The theme of the game, with its new lots and music, is considered Cajun or Zydeco. One could compare it to New Orleans' French Quarter with voodoo shops and jazz musicians appearing on commercial lots. This theme returns in The Sims 2: Apartment Life.
|The Sims Deluxe Edition||2002||Core game; The Sims: Livin' Large; The Sims Creator, an editor used to create custom Sim clothing; Deluxe Edition exclusive content, which includes 25+ exclusive objects and 50+ clothing choices.|
|The Sims Double Deluxe||2003||The Sims Deluxe Edition; The Sims: House Party; Double Deluxe bonus content.|
|The Sims Mega Deluxe||May 25, 2004||The Sims Double Deluxe; The Sims: Hot Date.|
|The Sims Complete Collection||November, 2005||Core game; all seven expansion packs; Deluxe Edition exclusive content; Double Deluxe bonus content; The Sims Creator.|
|Name||Region||Windows release date||Features|
|The Sims Triple Deluxe||Europe||2003||The Sims Double Deluxe; The Sims: Vacation.|
|The Sims: Full House||Australia/New Zealand||2005||Core game; all seven expansion packs; disc containing preview of The Sims 2.|
Reviews for The Sims Online were lackluster. Many reviewers likened The Sims Online experience to an enormous chat room where few participants, if any, have anything worthwhile to say.
The game was revamped in 2008, and given a new title called "EA Land".
On April 29, 2008, it was officially announced that EA Land would be shutting down permanently. Effective on that date players could no longer renew their subscriptions and new players could no longer sign up. Existing players were able to play until August 1, 2008, when EA-Land became completely out of service.
The Sims 2 is set 25 years after the original game, and integrates a storyline into the game. For instance, the Pleasant family (available in the family bin in The Sims) has settled in a suburban neighborhood, and their family tree panels reveals relationships with the original Pleasant family from The Sims. Additionally, the Goth family has aged significantly, while Bella Goth has mysteriously vanished (suggestively from an alien abduction).
Because faces and neighborhoods are handled in very different ways, objects had to migrate from 2D sprites to 3D models, and some objects (particularly those contained in expansion packs) were not copied at all. The Sims 2 was not made backwards-compatible with any The Sims content. There have been many expansion packs and add-ons released for The Sims 2.
Among some promised features are no perceivable loading times, more realistic Sims and more open home locations and neighborhoods.
On May 25 2007, it was announced that The Sims film rights had been purchased by 20th Century Fox. It will be written by Brian Lynch, the writer of Angel: After The Fall. The film will be produced by John Davis, who has worked on films such as Norbit and Eragon.