How do you truly feel about The Sims 4? Why do you feel this way?
If you had asked this last September when the game launched I would have said angry. Now, a year later, my anger has taken a backseat to frustration and resignation. I’m frustrated that the newest addition to a game series that I’ve loved for over 10 years is little more than a watered-down shadow of the previous three games. I’m frustrated with EA for releasing more stuff via EPs, GPs and SPs but not adding substance to go along with them. I’m frustrated by being told that I’m playing my SANDBOX game wrong and I need to adjust my play-style to accommodate it.
What are your feelings on the direction of The Sims? What do you think leads you to feel this way?
I feel that the direction TS4 has taken is one of regression. EA has gutted ground breaking features of previous games for no good reason that I can see except for expedience and ease. Instead of optimizing a game engine that was capable of bring us an Open World, CASt, Story Progression and CAW just to name a few features, EA decided to take the easy way out by simply cutting those features. “Don’t Improve, Just Remove.” I’m amazed that for a game which has a projected life expectancy of five years that EA would set the bar so low from the get-to. And with regards to the “new and innovative” features of TS4, no matter how EA tries to spin it, they are basically just expansions and improvements on pre-existing features from previous games--nothing truly revolutionary in sight. Even the over-hyped multi-tasking and emotion systems existed after a fashion in previous games. If these features had true value to me and actually improved my gameplay, I’d make my peace with the savagely cut features—the tradeoff would have been worthwhile to me. Sadly, this diminished, stunted parody of a Sims game is barely worth the infrequent times that I actually bother to play it. To be brutally honest, it just comes across as half-assed and thrown together, not the level of work and attention to detail that I’m used to from the Sims Team and as such it is not engaging at all. It’s a time-killing, throwaway game at best but nowhere near as engrossing or immersive as past games.
Why do you play The Sims? What do you get out of the game that you may or may not be getting from The Sims 4, and why?
I play the Sims first and foremost to relax and decompress from my life. It’s a welcomed escape that, unlike reading or watching television, I control. I don’t play my game just one way but in a variety of ways. I play families, couples and single sims. I enjoy having certain sims focus on specific goals while others live a life of randomness. I like to play challenges, like the “Baby Momma,” “Homeless Family” or “Four Immortal Sisters,” and , while I’m not a builder, I also like to indulge my creative side by creating sims and decorating their homes which I enjoy immensely. With the Sims 4 I don’t feel like I’m able to achieve this as well as I could in past games.
Why? First off family-style gameplay is severely limited as there are NO TODDLERS—yeah, I’m still mad about that backwards, bone-headed decision. Second, living a random life for a sim is difficult and unrewarding as the gameplay is heavily achievement oriented and linear. Certain challenges are doable while others (“Baby Momma” and “Homeless Family”) are not as enjoyable for me because of the missing toddlers. Playing career oriented sims is also not as satisfying as the paths to success are linear and rote. And as far as sim creating and decorating go, the art-style of TS4 has destroyed that aspect of the game for me. The CAS mechanics ARE amazing but the hair, eyes and skin textures are cartoony. Even after adding massive amounts of CC to the game I find myself preferring my TS2 and TS3 sims with CC much, much more. And the lack of CASt combined with the low-poly, boxy, non-textured Build/Buy objects makes decorating a chore instead of a pleasure.
What are your hopes for the future of the series and how do you think your hopes could be realised?
I had hoped for so many things with TS4—now I just hope for a game that I can tolerate. With this downward trend in content and quality I have little hope for the improvement of TS4 and none for TS5 but it doesn’t hurt to wish, huh?
1. Stop limiting the game with dated technology. Making a game that’s supposed to run until 2020 that is 32 bit and XP compatible is insane and inexcusable.
2. Stop being lazy with the animations. Cinebar made a wonderful post about the lack of animations in the game and I couldn’t agree more with her observations. If this is supposed to be a life simulator then I want to see my sims DOING/SIMULATING things instead of magically having things appear in inventories or bookcases. I want my sims to go to work and daycare instead of teleporting there. I want my sim to actually touch the freaking dishwasher to open it. I want my sims to snuggle in bed instead of lying side by side like pixilated Ozzy and Harriets. Basic and fleshed out animations shouldn’t be considered “extras,” they should be givens.
3. I’d like to see more autonomous interactions. I’ve always loved the way sims with high romantic relationships would autonomously kiss or flirt with each other and I want to see that expanded to all relationships. I want parents to autonomously hug or kiss their children, siblings to pinch their kid brothers or sisters if they are getting on their nerves, grandparents slip their grandkids five simoleons on the sly. Little touches like that would go a long way in bringing back the charm the game once had.
4. Bring back the more mature humor and get rid of this slapstick, over-the-top goofiness that has been put in its place. It’s corny, juvenile and silly and I don’t like it.
5. Step up the graphics/”art-style” of the game. One of my major hopes was that my TS4 vanilla sims would look just as good as my TS3 CC sims with better quality hair, eyes, lashes, eyebrows and skins. Talk about a dreamcrusher when the CAS Demo dropped. It’s like comparing “Mario Kart” to “Grand Turismo.” They’re both racing games but one is cartoony while the other is more realistic. I don’t subscribe to the “Uncanny Valley” school of thought and prefer my Sims games to appear more realistic rather than look like old school SEGA throwback games.
6. Stop throwing the baby out with the bath water. If a feature like the Open World or Story Progression didn’t perform up to standards, then optimize it and don’t just take the easy/lazy way out by simply eliminating them. Silly walks and dying of laughter are great gimmicks but they in no way take the place of toddlers, CASt, Open World and dozens of other features that got jettisoned because they were too “difficult” to execute.
Do you have any specific or personal messages for the developers that you would like to share?
I just want to say that you guys really need to get back to basics. I don’t know why you messed with the formula—trying to bring in new players, wanting to be “trendy,” a tight budget, time constraints—but you need to get back on track ASAP. I want to love all of the Sims games but I can’t say that I even like this iteration. I know that many people call people like me who criticize the game “haters” or “whiners” or whatever the slur of the day is on the Forums, but the truth is what I am is confused. What I am is angry. What I am is sad. What I am is disappointed because I know you guys can do so much better than this.