The Sims 3 Q&A: Dreams, Wishes, and Improving on The Sims 2

We get the latest on the anticipated virtual-life simulator. Plus new screens.

The Sims and its acclaimed sequel, The Sims 2, were among the best-selling PC games of all time. The virtual-life simulators created by designer Will Wright spawned numerous expansions and gave players the ability to play God, endowing sims with personality traits and guiding them through work, play, love, and loss. Electronic Arts is aiming for The Sims 3 to improve on its predecessors in every way.

In The Sims 3, life will take place within one seamless, streaming neighborhood, rather than several neighborhoods that would require load times. You'll grant sims personality traits and guide them toward completing their deepest wishes, such as becoming an astronaut or a famous rock star. Achieving your lifetime dreams won't be easy, and you'll often be presented with morally questionable shortcuts on your way to the top. Will you really do anything to get ahead? We sat down with executive producer Ben Bell to get the latest on The Sims 3. Here's what he had to say.

Halloween parties build social skills at an early age...

GameSpot: Please give us an update on the game. What aspects are the team working on at the moment?

Ben Bell: A lot of our time is spent playing and perfecting the open, living neighborhood and all of the gameplay that takes place there. In The Sims 3, we're opening up the other half of life that players have always wanted to explore. What happens when you're not stuck at home? It's been a huge undertaking for us, but we're very happy with the way it's working out.

One example of the work we're doing is the AI behind the people who live in your town. You control a household of sims, but all of the other sims in your town live and develop as you play. It takes an impressive amount of tuning to make this work just right. I think that people are used to seeing lots of other characters in a gameworld, but they've never seen a gameworld where every character is being motivated by unique personality traits and motives like The Sims 3. Another thing we're working on is a feature called Create a Style, which allows players to customize just about everything, from clothing to furniture to cars. We want players to be able to change the game like our artists can. The interface is really powerful, and we want to make it perfect.

GS: We're sure The Sims 2 community was very vocal about what it wanted from a sequel. What were the most popular requests that fans made for The Sims 3?

BB: We're all fans of The Sims, and a lot of our team worked on The Sims and The Sims 2, so player feedback is built into our team. We also spend a lot of time interacting with members of The Sims community around the world. I don't think the game would be what it is without The Sims community. Fans have always wanted more interaction with a community of sims. If you think about it, The Sims is the most detailed depiction of contemporary life to be presented in a work of fiction, but half of life was missing. In The Sims 3, we'll let you explore the other half of life that happens when you are not at home.

GS: We understand that the game features a continuous neighborhood and no loading times, but there won't be multiple neighborhoods as in The Sims 2. Tell us a bit about this decision. How will it change what different players do with the game once they get it in their hands?

BB: There is one neighborhood, and it is pretty amazing. We've been working exclusively on this one neighborhood, Sunset Valley, for the last few years. There have been many versions of it. Some ideas were scrapped, while others survived for a while until we had a better idea. This town is bigger and richer than anything we've made before. We really wanted to make something that would blow people away, and we wanted to do more with the town than we have in the past.

No two towns will ever be the same after one generation in The Sims 3. As I mentioned, every sim has complete AI throughout their life. You'll see people grow up, go to school, fall in love, get married, get jobs, move out, have families, grow old, and pass away. It's also possible to change all of the sims in your town, so you can fill the town with whoever you like...celebrities, yourself, your friends, characters from your favorite show, favorite band or sports team, or anyone you can imagine!

GS: As players create their sims, they will now be able to select five personality traits that will help define their dispositions. How will this new system let players create characters with more-defined personalities...and more importantly, how will it do a better job of letting players re-create the personalities of themselves, their friends, or their favorite celebrities? What are some extreme personalities we'll see in The Sims 3?

BB: There are over 70 personality traits that players can choose from. When you choose traits, they are represented as a simple word that you might use to describe someone you know, so it's easy to understand what they will do in the game. What makes traits so powerful is that they can change the game in profound ways. You'll see different behaviors, interactions, advantages, and goals depending on the traits that your sims have. Just to name a few examples of more extreme traits, you can let your sims be insane, evil, kleptomaniac, paranoid, brave, hates kids, genius, and more...

GS: We understand that every sim has a dream that can be fulfilled as part of a lifetime achievement goal. What are some examples of lifetime achievements, and what happens when you reach it? What if you fail?

BB: Just like people, the sims have wishes. Some of their wishes are really big, and we call those lifetime wishes. A lifetime wish is a really big achievement like becoming a rock star, raising a huge family, getting rich, or becoming an astronaut. Along the way to achieving your lifetime wish, you'll fulfill smaller wishes. As you fulfill a sim's wishes, you earn points that can be used to purchase special traits and reward objects that are generally hilarious and awesome. There really is no way to fail in the game, but you can make some really funny things happen if you want to cause trouble for your sims.

GS: How much dedication does it take to reach the pinnacle of your respective career ladder? Are there any shortcuts to the top?

BB: If you play your cards right, you might be able to get to the top of more than one career in a lifetime, but it would take a lot of hard work, and your sim would need the right traits. Workaholic sims will be happy if they live at the office, so that might be a good way to go. There are definitely some shortcuts, and your sims will get opportunities from time to time that give them a boost.

… skills that come in handy at adult-themed parties in later years.

GS: Plenty of open-ended moral choices will pop up in The Sims 3, like giving you the choice to skim off the top of campaign contributions in the political career. Give us some more examples of these moral choices depending on your career. What are the consequences of such decisions?

BB: The game is full of moral choices. Some of them are presented to the player as career opportunities. I don't want to give too much away on this subject. A lot of the moral choices in the game come from the social simulator, and this is where the game becomes so compelling. A lot of players use the game to explore moral questions in their own lives. It's sort of a "what if" simulator...

GS: What can you tell us about the community features and sharing options players can use to build and share with their friends and with the larger Sims fan base?

BB: The Sims 3 players will have unprecedented freedom to customize the look of their game. A player with creative aspirations and no technical training or knowledge can make changes to the look of just about everything in their sim's life, right in the game. We call the technology Create a Style. In the past, fans made their creations outside of the game and then shared them on the exchange. We wanted to give the power that our artists have to the players.

The process of getting creations online is easier than ever. The Sims 3 launcher helps you install and manage custom content so that you don't have to hunt around for directories or anything like that. Finally, The Sims 3 community is completely new and there are some incredible tools, including a Web-based video-editing tool so that players can make movies from the videos they capture in the game.

GS: As in The Sims 2, throwing parties is all the rage in The Sims 3. What are the different party types available depending on your career?

BB: There are new party types in The Sims 3, but there are also some pretty cool locations to party with your friends. If you want to call your friends down to the beach and set up an afternoon BBQ, you can do that. Break out your guitar, turn on the radio, call up some friends, and chill out. If you're a rising politician, you can throw campaign fundraisers to build up your campaign fund as well.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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Discussion

160 comments
luvbunny892
luvbunny892

they never said they did get rid of the comfort and environment needs. if anything they added more

iluvgames32
iluvgames32

kool u don't hav 2 buy a special version of the sims 3 to get holidays! that's awsome.

cjog
cjog

i want to make a rockstar

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

this looks great but why did the have to get rid of the comfort and environment mood

tonyhawksP8
tonyhawksP8

Hopefully EA doesn't trash this too.

david1233
david1233

viewtifuljon111, you're damn right. I'm a hardcore gamer and i consider the Sims to be one of the best game franchises of all time. I can't wait for this and I'll be getting this on release day.

viewtifuljon111
viewtifuljon111

I don't care what anyone says. I'm a hardcore gamer and I love the Sims

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

Can the expansion pack be a download instead

MaxieWaxie
MaxieWaxie

This is definitely a game i will get. I got Sims 2 and all of its expansions packs and the game blew my mind. I saw the game when it first came out a few years back, but never thought it was a good game. I really hope they adjust the aging thing in Sims 3 cuz in Sim 2, you age freakin fast.

xXAcidXx
xXAcidXx

you know what would be pretty sick if EA allowed you to cross over your sims2 expansions on here i mean the graphic really havent changed from 2 to 3

Sevey13
Sevey13

While we are on the subject of expansions... What would be really nice would be if the Sims 3 allowed for some sort of recognition for people who have previous expansions. While the title of the game is only "Sims 3," the fact of the matter is those of us who have followed the series from the start and have bought 28(!) different expansions and stuff packs (I haven't, but I have been with the game since Sims and have about 10 total expansions). That is no small chunk of change to be sure. It would be a really nice gesture on the part of EA to include a feature that recognizes that we have previous expansions (enter the super secret installation code, or have the expansion on the same computer, or something simple like registered copies with the EA website) and unlocks more items to use for building/decorating (that's the main reason I buy the expansions; some new items to use). I sincerely hope Maxis recognizes that it has a very dedicated fanbase that has already invested TONS of money into the franchise and responds in some according way.

huladog123
huladog123

This preview further boosted my confidence that the Sims 3 is going to pwn. After seeing all these screenshots, videos, and previews, I expect an outstanding game and nothing less.

tatu2004
tatu2004

that's a great read make me want the sims 3 even more

Peach100
Peach100

Awesome. I love they have now added actual personality traits. I heard that this new trait system can generate about 700 million different personalities! I'm excited. (Oh, I like the joke that is included with the two screenshots above. Nice one.)

tiki203
tiki203

Will this be available on Mac?

jedifisto
jedifisto

Sweeeeet i love the sims, it would have been cool if they signed with games for windows and you could get achivments haha but they would have to make so many.

GenVidTh
GenVidTh

@ flameducky If you don't want the Expansion pack or the stuff pack, don't buy it. It just Simple :) Because there are a huge fan of The Sims out there (like me), who always waiting newer both Expansion pack or the stuff pack from the developer :P

angelkadaj
angelkadaj

I need to upgrade my pc, or else I won't be able to play it. But one thing is sure. This game will be great.

diamond2206
diamond2206

The Sims 3 is going to be fun. I can't wait for it to come out.

Jmaster3265
Jmaster3265

@ flameducky Actually It's been said that The Sims 3 will be able to run on older PC's... Yes The Sims 3 will have a litle bit higher requirements than The Sims 2 but the designers have said it still will work on lower end PC's. Furthermore, you don't have to get the expansions... Especially if your computer can't handle them...

flameducky
flameducky

Would everyone stop whining about expansions? It takes a good PC to run the sims 3 + it will probably take up space on your hard drive, so what's the friggin point of expansions? It takes up too much space already.

iceygurl
iceygurl

well here the traits for sims 3 Absent Minded Ambitious Angler Artistic Book Worm Brave Can't stand art Charismatic Childish Clumsy Commitment Issues Computer Wiz Conversationalist Couch Potato Coward Daredevil Dislikes Children Dreamer Easily Impressed Evil Excitable Family Orientated Flirty Friendly Frugal Genius Good Good at Massages Good Sense of Humor Great Kisser Green Thumb Grumpy Handy Hates the Outdoors Heavy Sleeper Hopeless Romantic Hot-Headed Hydrophobic Inappropriate Insane Kleptomaniac Light Sleeper Loner Loser Loves the Outdoors Lucky Materialistic Mean Spirited Mooch Natural Cook Neat Neurotic Never Nude No sense of Humour Over-Emotional Paranoid Party Animal Perfectionist Schmoozer Shy Slob Snob ,Stubborn , Sweet Talker ,Technophobe , Unflirty Unlucky , Vain , Vegetarian, Workaholic ,Worrywart

arfo
arfo

I still play simcity 4 and sims1(making magic) just because of great gameplay. just gameplay is important for me !!!

Bruthaman
Bruthaman

A large percent of the changes being wrought in this latest version of the ubiquitous Sims franchise, are indeed driven by feedback from the player community. And while I can and do appreciate things like skin shade & body bulk sliders and the personality tweaks, it certainly seems that no matter how many interviews they do with the Sims Devs, they never seem to answer the questions that I and a host of other players are really interested in. Namely, will there be any leeway given for height and secondary sexual characteristics changes? Racial characteristics notwithstanding, height, hip, gluteal and bosom differentiation are the only real way to insure that the players don't once again wind up with a town full of 'Stepford' Sims. Unfortunately, the fact that these questions are scrupuluosly avoided, leads me to believe that the answer to the afore-mentioned question, will indeed be in the negative. If that turns out to be true... although many of us will indeed purchase the darn thing, I believe we will ultimately be dissappointed.

Saije
Saije

Sims 3... Put on your battle armor and prepare for the volley of cheap tacked on expansions to maximize profits.

stevenk4k5
stevenk4k5

They definitely look more realistic and unique now. In The Sims 2, most Sims looked near identical and cartoonish with the only real differences being skin color, clothing, and hair styles.

ikari-leader
ikari-leader

@ Patrick731989 I would say, "if you are playing the sims you have a problem". But millions would disagree. Including my sister.

Patrick731989
Patrick731989

if you're playing the sims for graphics you have a problem

yuiopy
yuiopy

I hope that this one would be much better that Sims2..

mrbass208
mrbass208

Gwarp, you are absolutely correct. The graphics do not tell the story. The underlying gameplay engine has undergone a large-scale transformation that will go unnoticed and unappreciated by most of these posters. However, I'll bet they'll still try and be first in line to get a copy. Looks like a solid improvement on a solid franchise.

redneckdouglas
redneckdouglas

Out of all these years, The Sims still doesn't have LAN mode!

Ticklethis275
Ticklethis275

never liked the sims games much always ended up in a dead end job and 7 kids or i have 99999999$ and dont have anythingg to do

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

They've improved gameplay 100x That is ALWAYS better than improving graphics. You young graphics kiddies kill me. You only see graphical Hype and dont focus on other important aspects of gaming. Namely Gameplay. To have a full neighborhood function with all the complexity of a single family in Sims2, is an outstanding achievement. Computer has to be constantly calculating AIs of every sim in your neighborhood as they live and interact with each other. And people complain cause woohoo the graphics arent better, which takes no brains at all. Also there will be a hugely improved custom content system for designing your own outfits, and look of your sim. Look at the depth of the games improvements, not just one little aspect.

iceygurl
iceygurl

u lame dat why u dnt understand but i can't wait till it comes out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andre23
Andre23

I dont understand what is so cool about The Sims.

tantk0
tantk0

hope sims3 will have more replay value than sims 2 :P

Vasot
Vasot

WTF ??! Graphics are the same with Sims 2 It should be called The Sims 2.5

Don111
Don111

Same here I cannot wait, and good news (darn it and I am still continuing in getting the sims 2 expansions) (I skipped the regular sims, since my brother had it)

spirit_obscura
spirit_obscura

Belkajr: "I'm a little curious as to why they think if you like the sims you will like games like "do you like horny bunny"..... Weird." haha exactly. I hope the system requirements won't be unforgiving :S

Belkajr
Belkajr

I'm a little curious as to why they think if you like the sims you will like games like "do you like horny bunny"..... Weird.

Naimek
Naimek

Yeah,I agree with Ornemorie I don't see any improvements in graphics though I think that this game will rock,sooner or later!!!

Ornemorie
Ornemorie

I don't see any improvements in the graphics. Sorry to say that.

HighNMitey
HighNMitey

It look so awesome, building social skills, having Halloween parties and no load screens. I am excited.

amoores
amoores

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

en4o
en4o

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]