The Sims: House Party Q&A

We sit down with a Maxis producer to find out more about this add-on.

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One of the most popular games of last year--and the winner of our Game of the Year award for 2000--was Maxis and Electronic Arts' The Sims. The game took the same level of interactivity found in designer Will Wright's classic Sim City games and focused it down to the household level. The Sims let you create your own dream family, dream house, and dream neighborhood to make up for the shortcomings of your real-life family, house, and neighborhood--at least some would argue, anyway. Last summer, Maxis released an expansion for The Sims, entitled Livin' Large, which added five new career paths and hundreds of new items that enhanced the already addictive qualities of the original game. Maxis and Electronic Arts are looking to capitalize on the success of The Sims series with yet another expansion pack called House Party. Unlike Livin' Large, however, House Party is all about getting your sims to have a good time. The add-on won't feature any new careers for your sims to follow, but there will be three new décor motifs and numerous items designed to encourage you to throw the wildest party your block has ever seen. Shortly after the expansion pack's announcement, we sat down with Maxis producer Tim LeTourneau to find out more about the upcoming House Party.

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GameSpot: Livin' Large introduced household items--such as the telescope and the voodoo doll--that could cause events that affected Sims' lives in strange new ways. What kind of new, event-causing items will House Party have?

Tim LeTourneau: House Party is really about parties and socializing, and the objects are intended to create new gameplay around group dynamics. The campfire, for example, allows for the first time up to eight sims to interact in a single activity. While there will definitely be unexpected and entertaining circumstances to your actions, they will mostly be centered on the social aspects of several sims interacting with one another.

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GS: Livin' Large also featured the ultimate home-cleaning device--the extremely expensive robot housekeeper. Since House Party will focus on parties and gatherings, will it have any new items--like robot cooks or mechanics--to help take care of household maintenance while sims plan parties?

TL: Well, for the sim who wants to be able to spend more time socializing with his or her guests, professional help is available for catering to everyone's needs.

GS: We know there will be mechanical bulls and a giant cake, both of which sims will be able to buy for kicking their parties into high gear. What other new party-specific items will House Party introduce?

TL: Most of the objects are geared to dealing with crowds of sims, but that's not to say that sims won't find it fun to work up a sweat in the dance cage when they are home alone as well.

GS: Will the game include any new career paths--such as those of DJs and dancers--that are specific to partying, for example?

TL: No, but since we are really providing a way to help improve the social lives of sims, we hope that many of those high-level careers that have eluded players due to the number of friends required will finally be attainable.

GS: In the first two games, secondary skills--such as charm, technical knowledge, and physical fitness--served mainly to help sims advance along career paths (charm and physical fitness helped sims advance in the acting field, for instance). In House Party, will these skills play more of a role at social gatherings?

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Click for full size image

TL: Absolutely, but in subtle ways that we expect the players to figure out. Who exactly is the most entertaining DJ or best charades player?

GS: How many new characters will House Party introduce? Which is your favorite one?

TL: At least five--you never know who will show up at a party. Favorite? That's like asking a parent to pick a favorite [child]--they're all special.

GS: Is there a limit to the number of Sims that can attend one your parties?

TL: Well, let's see, you can have 80 people in the neighborhood...We really haven't pushed the upper limit yet, but in sims terms, any time you have more than five visitors over, it's a party.

GS: The Sims had (among other things) kitchen fires, burglary, and starvation. Livin' Large introduced mischievous genies and Jekyll and Hyde potions from the chemistry set. What sorts of new disasters can befall your sims in House Party?

TL: Think "social." Parties are a place where a lot of unexpected social events can occur...and of course love and hate are so closely linked...then there's jealousy, which has a habit of always rearing its ugly head...

GS: Can a party somehow go horribly wrong?

TL: If it does, you'll know by the party crashers. Better make sure your guests are having fun and are socializing.

GS: One of the most remarkable things about The Sims--and one of the most important causes of its success--is its community and how the game's fans have been able to customize and add to the basic game. Will House Party have new features that help fans customize or add further to the game?

TL: One of the objects we're really excited about is the costume trunk. Want to have a toga party? Open up the trunk and select the toga option, and everyone in the house (including guests) will walk over and change. This is a powerful tool, because now you can have a black-tie affair or luau on the beach without having to create sims in those outfits and keep them dressed in them all the time. We'll also provide instructions for replacing the outfits in the trunk with whatever the player chooses from his or her own personal or downloaded skins.

GS: Thanks, Tim.

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