The Sims 2 Body Shop open for business

Maxis and EA Games release a new character-creation utility for The Sims 2 in advance of the game.

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The Sims 2 will be the sequel to what is reportedly the most successful computer game ever. Like the original game, the sequel will let you create a computerized person, or "sim," so that you can control your character's life by choosing whom he or she befriends, what jobs your sim takes, and so on. The sequel will also present you with many options with regard to creating a customized, distinctive-looking sim--including anything from hairstyles to clothing to facial features and more--thanks to a new utility called "the Body Shop." Your sims will also be able to pass their features on to their progeny. You can download the Body Shop at DLX, which includes the utility plus a series of exclusive outfits and appearances. For more information on the utility, we sat down with producter Darren Futa.

GameSpot: Tell us about the Body Shop application. Why are you releasing it early, in advance of The Sims 2 game?

Darren Futa: The Sims 2 Body Shop is a stand-alone tool for content creators to design unique and diverse sims that players will be able to use in The Sims 2 and can offer to other players.

Users of The Sims 2 Body Shop will be able to choose their sims' skin tone, eye color, hairstyles, facial hair, makeup, clothes, and more. The tool will give them control over their sims' faces by [allowing them to] choose from a diverse range of facial “types” and [allowing them to] use sliders to fine-tune even the smallest details, such as nose length, eyebrow thickness, lip curl, and chin shape. There are over 50 modifier sliders alone!

The Sims 2 Body Shop gives custom-content creators the abilities to make content that anyone can play with in The Sims 2. Advanced users can take advantage of this powerful tool by designing clothing, skins, and accessories, while also sculpting unique-looking facial features and giving their sims crazy hair colors. They can take a T-shirt and add their face to it, make a set of yellow cat eyes, create a set of scaly green skins, and much more. The possibilities are truly infinite [for] designing cool wardrobes or a cast of outrageous sims. The Sims 2 Body Shop can work in conjunction with any paint program a player owns. This enables players to modify and create new elements for their sims.

The Sims 2 Body Shop makes it easy for users to package and post their customized content on The Sims 2 fan sites, trade with their friends, or upload their content to TheSims2.com.

By the time The Sims 2 is released, we hope to have thousands of pieces of player-made content available [for] download and use in the game on day one.

GS: What exactly can and can't people do with the application?

DF: The Sims 2 Body Shop has three major functions, including building sims, creating parts, and offering new creations to other players.

Players can build sims using the same controls that will be shipped in The Sims 2. These include selecting the basics, such as age, gender, and body type. Players can pick or blend different facial types together and use detailed sliders to modify individual features, such as eyes, mouth, cheek, ears, and nose. Players can then select their sims' skin tones, hairstyles, and eye colors. The initial content-pack downloads include basic sets of outfits for sims at different ages, including casual, everyday, formal, swim, sleep, and underwear. Finally, players can also select from various makeup settings, glasses, and other accessories.

Nearly everything that can be used to build a sim can also be customized using The Sims 2 Body Shop. Players have endless creative possibilities at their fingertips, such as taking a simple T-shirt or sweatshirt and adding their own faces to the front or creating a tiger-striped sim that will pass on its unique skin tone to its children.

Creating sim parts is a more-advanced feature of the tool that requires players to use an outside graphics program to paint texture files. The Sims 2 Body Shop handles all the mechanics of exporting the graphics files and importing them back for use in the game, but it is up to the players to create the artwork.

In this first version of the tool, players will be able to create new textures but not new models. However, using just the existing models we're providing, there is an incredible amount of unique and compelling fan content that can be created.

And last but not least, [there's] trading! Anything that can be built or created in The Sims 2 Body Shop can be exchanged with other players directly or distributed to the entire community through The Sims2.com, where players will be able to download some of the coolest custom content directly into their games.

Please note: One thing players are unable do with The Sims 2 Body Shop is fully complete their sims and bring them to life. Players will need to bring their sims into the game, add the essentials that make them come to life, and make sure they have names, personalities, aspirations, wants, fears, skills, and relationships.

The Sims 2 Body Shop is a tool for building sims' appearances, and the game is how players bring them to life.

GS: Can you tell us about the GameSpot-exclusive items packaged in the download?

DF: We have created three exclusive skins for GameSpot, including a "fantasy warrior babe" sim, a "trench coat agent" sim and the "ultimate GameSpot fan" sim.

GS: How do players get custom-created content into their games?

DF: With the release of The Sims 2, we are focused on improving access to player-made content in the game directly. Players will actually be able to browse for custom content and [can] download their favorites without ever exiting the game!

For example, players will be able to bring up a screen that shows some of the best custom-content skins and [can] choose something they like. For example, [players can choose] a green-haired teen with lizard skin. Players can then download it and add that sim to a family, all within minutes and all directly from within the game.

Players will also be able to find player-created houses, download a few, and store them in a "catalog" to add to their neighborhoods later. It's an example of how we've provided great player-made content management on the ground floor. This is something that we want to keep in the forefront of all our game designs for the future.

GS: Could you give us an update on The Sims 2's development? How is the game coming along, and what aspects are you working on?

DF: Aside from working on the launch of The Sims 2 Body Shop, we've been focused heavily on building the core product to show off a lot of the new gameplay at E3. The Sims 2 is set to make a splash at this year's show, with new videos and demos spotlighting our new features. For the first time, we'll be showing The Sims 2 on the game floor to all attendees. The demo will follow some truly realistic sims as they are guided through life with a purpose--experiencing their big life moments, fulfilling their dreams, and facing their fears.

GS: Looking forward to it. Thanks, Darren.

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