How do you truly feel about The Sims 4? Why do you feel this way?
I feel very disappointed in The Sims 4. I feel like this game is completely unrelated to those that came before, and it has taken the series in steps both sideways and backwards. It is a poor excuse for a sequel. The gutting of the game of core features, and denial of previously possible individual play styles led me to feel this way. I feel excluded from the game, due to its missing features.
I feel the series has lost its original direction and motivation and has moved onto a shallow and hollow path that will cause it to lose a large portion of its most loyal fanbase. I feel the original direction of "playing with life" has been replaced by a vague and disconnected idea of glitz, glamour, fame and drama, rather than the everyday simplicity of life with a fun flavour that fed the series for the first ten years. The Sims are shallow and slaves to their environments, rather than their personalities and goals. There is no longer any challenge to the game, and the creative possibilities so expanded on with The Sims 2 and 3 have been cleared away. It's now the developers' way or nothing. This game no longer allows me to create anything below the surface, and even the surface creation has been stripped down.
I feel my style of play has been completely removed from the game. I am a colony and family player. With Sims 2 I started with a fresh town with no buildings and moved one family in. They built their home as they aged and invested in business in the town with the aid of Open For Business, my favourite pack of all time. Gradually, the children took over the reins and branched out into the town. I would switch to a new immigrant family, marrying them into the town and building them up. As time passed, the town founding families would have a rich and long lineage to trace, and the memory system helped me to some extent with this. The Sims 3 took some of this gameplay away, but replaced it with a wonderful open world and the CASt customisation I had always been wanting. The Sims 4 has NONE of these game mechanics. I can't build a full family without all of the life stages. I can't build a town from scratch because they don't exist. I can't build my colony. The developers of the Sims tell me "You rule", but what, exactly? A shallow experience of grinding unlockables in a petrie dish with far lessened creative possibilities.
The Sims series is going downhill fast, and the attitude of the developers that the complete gutting of the capabilities and highlights of the series, while still charging premium prices, appears so ill-conceived as to be nothing more than a perfect example of proverbially shooting oneself in the foot. No other game publisher would have been this foolish as to strip a game dry and then feign surprise at its subsequent reception.
I also feel that part of the large appeal of The Sims, felt particularly in 1 and 2, was the feeling it gave, through the suburban setting and the musical themes, of existing in some sort of Pleasantville-esque environment. The build and buy mode with the music gave a feeling of a 1950s homewares commercial. This has all been lost with the seemingly bizarre decision to try and remain current by forcing all sims to have smartphones, giving the Grim Reaper a tablet, etc. It's so jarring that it completely removes all sense of connection between me and the gameplay. I think this was the wrong direction to take it.
I also feel the Sims has gotten lost in cutting corners and relying on additional content. If an item or gameplay structure appears in release it should be fully realised and relative to real life, as this SHOULD HAVE REMAINED A LIFE SIMULATOR. If my sim is cooking, it should reach into the cupboard for ingredients like in The Sims 2, not magically materialise them like in 3 and 4. A dishwasher should not open itself. Sims should not teleport into vehicles that have fully visible doors. If the developers are going to add something, they should settle for no less than 100% accuracy, not a half-done clone of life. Ten fully functional, relatable and realistic items are far more preferable than twenty incomplete, jarringly unrealistic ones.
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 as an escape and as a creative outlet. Life is, for the most part, out of our control. It is a pleasant experience to have an outlet for creativity that also functions as my own personal creation of a utopian/dystopian environment. I play to mold the Sims and the world around them, to create an environment and to form an attachment to them and the environment. I am pleasantly invested in the creativity this series previously allowed.
I get none of this satisfaction from The Sims 4. The Sims act in no way how I believe they should. Why on earth would I want my adult female in a cocktail dress to whip out a mobile phone, take a selfie, then do pushups? This isn't even nonsense of the fun kind. It's irritating and in no way interesting.
What are your hopes for the future of the series and how do you think your hopes could be realised?
I'll answer this as bluntly as possible. I hope the series will:
- stop catering to the lowest common denominator. We're not all tweens who want celebrity.
- give up the obession with the high life, success, wealth and celebrity.
- return all creative tools (town creation and CASt)
- return ALL life states
- only undertake something if it can be completed 100%. Quality over quantity.
- stop catering to the "now" and isolating all of the loyal fans who've come before by returning the aesthetic of the game to timelessness.
- allow the player once again to assume the "god" position in the gameplay. As it stands now, the gameplay dictates the players' actions, not the other way around, as it should be.
- SANDBOX play!!!! I don't want to "unlock" things unnecessarily. This isn't a grinding MMO where you need this kind of predatory manipulation in order to retain players. Make a good game and they'll play it. Simple as that.
- give the ability to create a town with some semblance of economy. Allow a sim to have a job chosen at start. Give the jobs specific items that replace the concept of rabbithole. Allow raw material jobs, refining jobs and crafting jobs. If you are going to have a woodworker, please have a lumberjack and a furniture retailer option to flesh out game. Grow cotton, weave cloth, make clothes, clothing boutique, modelling agency is another tech tree example.
How can this be realised? I'm sorry to say, but the people responsible for the current turn of events at Maxis should be removed. It is obvious from this side that the failures have added up to give us where the series (and SimCity) stands now. Go back to the drawing board for EVERYDAY LIFE and build that. Include what you see and hear everyday. Aim high. Aim to mash Sims 2 and Sims 3 into a fantastic new game that DESERVES additional content, not an empty broken shell that you need to sell additional content for in order for people to find enjoyment in it. If you can't do it then get people who can.
Do you have any specific or personal messages for the developers that you would like to share?
Yes. What were you thinking? Please go back to where you came from and then move forward again. The Sims 4 is embarrassing when compared to its predecessors, and that's pretty shameful. As a player, I can clearly say this weird "drama" simulation is just the weirdest thing I have in my collection, and not in a good way.
Bring the game back, please.