By Mike Perry, Game Designer
Pull My Finger or Karate Chop, You Decide!
"Pull my finger--no really, pull my finger," says Fred Dieckmann, producer. Paul Metcalf, animator, then leans over and makes a variety of not-so-polite noises. Thus begins a developer meeting on the social moves for The Sims Bustin' Out.
The Sims Bustin' Out's socials are some of the edgiest The Sims has ever seen. That's one of the benefits of building a Sims game for the console: We can push the boundaries a little. OK, we can push them a lot. What other game lets you experiment with spanking your friends or putting your mom in a headlock? Sims will either hate or love you.
How do these social moves help you in The Sims Bustin' Out? In order to succeed and climb to the top of the ladder in your career, your sim will need to build relationships with the many outrageous characters that you'll meet in all of the 16 new locations. Making friends with characters will win you unusual items such as an antique Japanese lantern, a motion detector for paranoid sims, or a top-of-the-line pool table. Sims can build friendships, have lovers, and, for the first time in The Sims on console, make enemies. Although making enemies won't get you very far, they might be fun to have a sissy fight with once in a while.
Sure, you could just talk to the new characters such as Bing Bling and Mona Lott, to unlock some new objects, but what fun would that be? As you travel to the various locations, you'll need to learn what makes these characters tick. You will be able to unlock social moves like towel snap, spank, and moon walk, to name a few. Once you have these in your repertoire, you can unleash them on other unsuspecting sims to see how they react and unlock really cool objects like the highly coveted DJ booth. Depending on the career that you choose for your sim, you'll be challenged with meeting certain characters and trying to unlock their social moves.
We've created 48 all-new social moves exclusive to The Sims Bustin' Out, such as sissy fight, karate chop, burp in face, and break dance. We're also giving you a different twist on some of the classic social moves. For example, we now have four new ways to kiss that include French kiss, romantic kiss, blowing a kiss, and smothering someone else's arm with kisses. In other words, there's a ton of new ways to romance your favorite sim--as long as you are watching your sims' needs and don't have a bladder issue. These social moves will now have different outcomes depending on the relationship you have with another sim, as well as their unique personality. Some sims will like to be French-kissed, while others like romantic kisses. And don't try to spank them too early on, because that can really ruin a budding relationship. You'll have to experiment with what types of social moves work with different sims. You'll be amazed at the good and bad reactions that you will receive.
When you start playing The Sims Bustin' Out and interacting with the characters, you'll notice that each non-player character has its own "signature" social moves. The "pull my finger" joke is Dudley's favorite, while Mimi Landgrab has a special move called "use sign language." These signature moves are a perfect example of the type of humor we are going for in The Sims Bustin' Out. The team wanted to push the envelope on social moves so we could really make the new characters unforgettable. It's also a way to travel to new locations, which is the central theme of The Sims Bustin' Out, as well as another way to add more social moves to your repertoire. But, really, most of the new socials were created because they just made us laugh.
How did we come up with these special moves in The Sims Bustin' Out? The development process involved a fair amount of planning and a whole lot of acting. First, the team brainstormed crazy ideas and posted notes of visual concepts on the walls to generate more ideas. We then projected the ideas on a giant projector screen and had very animated discussions with everyone on the team about what would work in the game. Most game development meetings don't have an art director demonstrating the "pull my finger" joke, but ours do. It was also important to expand on socials that already existed in the game, such as kissing. Many additional ideas came about, like what social moves we could fit into each new location. For example, the towel snap is a great way to discipline some namby-pamby weakling at the gym location, and the spank is the perfect move for making a new friend at Club Rubb.
After all of the ideas were collected, the team was filmed as they acted out actual social moves. Imagine seeing two of our guys demonstrate the "making a move on a sim" social action or "rolling around on the shag rug." (For some reason, they wouldn't perform the French kiss, even though we kept telling them to take one for the team--and that the footage would be destroyed afterward.) This process enabled the animators to get a sense of what the social moves should look like in order to translate them into the game. Once the team chose the best animations and examples that represented the irreverent and edgy humor of The Sims Bustin' Out, the animators worked with 3D Studio Max to make the animations come to life in the game. Once we got the 48 animations working, we hooked them all into the game and played with them!
We're really excited about the large number of all-new social moves that can be unlocked in The Sims Bustin' Out and the number of outrageous objects that you will be rewarded with. As a matter of fact, we spent long hours refining several of the socials to make sure they would get into the game. For example, we have a flip move that can turn another sim completely upside down. It took quite a lot of work to make sure that the sim would flip "properly" and not flip right through the walls! However, it was worth it to be able to watch one of our designers try to flip an artist without hitting a wall.
What's really cool is that you can define your own playing style with the new social moves and how you choose to interact with the different personalities of the many sims you'll meet. Also, you can now zoom in a lot closer, so you can see every detail of each social move. One bit of advice: Just don't do the "pull my finger" joke on Mona Lott at Club Rubb, because I'm not sure she likes it (or does she?).
In The Sims Bustin' Out, the new social moves help to define the personalities of all of our new characters and add an entirely new way of playing The Sims on the console. Plus, the fact that they are unlockable adds an entirely new way of collecting and trading with others. We can't wait for the reactions from the fans. I do have a hint for players: Try to play the game in two-player mode--with two personalities, you can experience more social moves!
Stay tuned for the next designer diary for a behind-the-scenes look at recording the simlish, music, and ambient sounds (screaming, slapping, laughing, and cries of disgust) that are going into The Sims Bustin' Out.