At the recent Camp EA press event, we got an up-close look at the next expansion pack for Maxis' incredibly successful life-simulation game, The Sims. Makin' Magic will let your little computer people (or "sims") experiment with the mystical forces of magic by brewing potions and casting spells. They'll do this either by using magic wands or by compiling components for magic spells that must be cast under the appropriate circumstances--or else the spells may backfire and have a detrimental effect, rather than a beneficial one.
As you might expect, Makin' Magic will include plenty of new objects that your sims can purchase for their homes, including a wand charger to help your sims cast spells and a modern-day cauldron that they can use to combine ingredients to create a spell-like effect or to concoct a magic potion. Whether you succeed depends in part on some of your sims' skills. The previous expansion pack, The Sims: Superstar, introduced a celebrity career path that required sims to develop their body, charisma, and creativity skills, and as it turns out, working magic in the new expansion pack will require the game's other three skills: cooking, logic, and mechanical. Some of the spell-like effects that successful sims can bring about include helpful sorceries that create free banquets of food or cause piles of money to rain from the sky--though, if these effects backfire, they can have harmful effects, such as summoning a swarm of horned toads to plague your lawn or causing actual rain to rain from the sky. You'll able to create spells that affect your sims' relationships, including a "marry me" spell that can help your lonely sims get hitched. For other, more-personal enchantments, your sims will be able to cast spells on their neighbors by choosing an enchantment from the regular dialogue options, so along with "tease," "joke," and "talk," your sims might have the new social option of "toadification," which can be used to turn a prince, or anyone else, into a frog.
Makin' Magic will also feature a new out-of-house lot area known as Magic Town, where your sims can purchase rare herbs for use with potions, or buy up seeds and sprigs to plant those same herbs in their own gardens. They can also earn tokens by performing public magic acts on a stage, by engaging in wizardly duels with other sims, or by completing quests given by characters in Magic Town to gather items, talk to certain characters, or perform other tasks. You'll be able to spend these tokens on rare spell components, like pixie dust, but you'll need to take care that you don't use magic excessively in public, lest you be caught by the SpellChecker, the roving magic officer who fines your sims if they're showing off a bit too much. The Sims: Makin' Magic will be released in time for Halloween this year.