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Some Quick Calculations February 9, 2009

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OK, I’ll admit it. I read other Sim-related blogs. Please don’t hate me.

There isn’t an awful lot of news, but a comment struck me as funny…

Says one user on a blog I read (no I’m not linking because I won’t embarass said idiot user.) “Any less than 80 doesn’t really seem like enough.”

There are 63 traits, as of the current build we know of, in the Sims 3. Of those, you can pick up to five of them. You don’t need to use all five.

So.. let’s see if I remember my probability..

63C5 + 63C4 + 63C3 + 63C2 + 63C1 = …

7,666,239 combinations in personality.

Which I’ll give you is less than the 25 million choices you’d have with 80 personality traits, but come on.. some of that can be added with expansion sets! πŸ™‚

7 million seems pretty good to me!

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Sims 3 Delayed February 4, 2009

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Sims 3 has been delayed. I want to be surprised, but I’m not really. EA usually delays most new feature games a few months, though never announcing the delay quite so soon before the game was supposed to come out (the game, btw, was supposed to ship out February 20th.), so this is a new low for them.

I don’t pretend to know why. They aren’t really saying. Those of us watching can put some things together. We know that at a Creator’s Camp a few weeks back, they said the game was very buggy, so they may be bug-busting, which is a legitimate reason to delay a game. (New game, lots of features, lots of potential for bugs.)

On the other hand, we know that EA had a meeting yesterday to discuss how they did fiscally (the same time the decision was made) and they said they did not do as well as they anticipated (who did in this economy, I ask you?), so it’s possible that this is a marketting decisision to both release this alongside of Sims 3 for other playforms (Mac and iPod Touch/iPhone) and really advertise this to get the word out.

Really… it doesn’t matter why, though I’d love to know. It’s possible it’s a bunch of things.. bug-squashing and marketting and who know what else. What matters, really, is that it HAS been delayed until June 2nd. Period. And nothing I feel or think will change that.

I’m feeling a little more philosophical about this now than when I first heard. At first, I was mostly just pissed off. To announce the delay three weeks before the game was due, with rumours having gone off for the last three weeks that the game would be delayed… is just… it’s a new low for EA and they made no friends with that move. But the delay itself isn’t a surprise and it’s not really world-ending, just.. sucky.

But… I have my wife, my health, a job. I have other games to amuse me until Sims 3 finally comes out (at least I refound a way to enjoy Spore. Good timing that…) So… while it felt world-ending yesterday, I know it isn’t.

But EA.. and I know you aren’t really listening, but I’m talking to you anyways.. don’t do to Sims 3 what you did to Spore, delay it and delay it and delay it. Don’t do that. One delay is OK… don’t delay it again in 3 1/2 months going “Sorry. We aren’t doing as well as we’d like fiscally, so we need to delay it again.” because not only is that garbage, but it isn’t SENSIBLE. If you want to MAKE money, release it!

So… Spore February 3, 2009

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When Spore first came out, I’m going to admit I really didn’t like it very much. To be fair, there was just no way it could ever live up to the hype it set up for itself.

The Cell Stage was OK, the Creature Stage OK. The Tribal Stage Lacking, The Civilization Stage Terribly Lacking, but the game did shine on the Space Stage which was very open ended, if a bit potentially repetitive.

As a whole game… it isn’t all that impressive. I wish I could say otherwise, but it just isn’t. OK, OK, Lacking, Terribly Lacking and Great does not lend itself to a good game.

But… Sims 3 is coming out and I’ve felt that I’ve wanted to sit down and play.. something, but I didn’t know what, especially because I keep looking at Sims 2, considering playing it and saying “Nah. I’d just be disappointed. I WANT Sims 3!”

So… this weekend, I picked Spore back up and decided to take another whack at playing a new game in the Space Mode only and seeing if I couldn’t enjoy it more if I strategized better. See, the last time I played Space Mode, I went pretty far, but.. my empire was all over the place, and that began to leave me frustrated as I went from planet to planet to planet trying to stop those bloody Space Pirates that kept popping up!

So.. instead, I started up a new game, Normal Mode this time (not easy) and just went to see how it would go. I could tell the difference immediately in difficulty level. ALOT of the star systems around me were already occupied, and not always by friendly people. I ended up at war with two different species on either side of me for no reason whatsoever that I could tell. (I imagine, if I had switched to Hard Mode, not only would most of the systems around me have been occupied, but by strong and unhappy people.)

That said.. the space war system isn’t bad. Especially if you keep a full contingent of friends around you. Just start blowing up his colonies one by one and then bring the fight to him and blow up his cities one by one. Not easy, per se, but totally doable. And it led to some variety in the game. I wasn’t JUST wandering around, exploring, doing missions, etc. Though I’ve tried to keep most people happy. Not being at constant war is nice and I’ve been taking my time expanding this time (unlike those around me, but I have a plan!)

My original.. mindset as I was going to play was.. the Federation, basically… I won’t start wars and I’ll try to be friendly with everyone. There’s some missions I won’t take (mostly any mission that’s going to put me at war with a whole other species.. unless I’m already AT War, then it’s OK.) That said.. if a war is started, I’ll finish it!

Along the way, I figured out something I hadn’t figured out last time.. how to switch your identity. Basically, if you have enough moneys, you can have someone ‘train’ you in the way of their identity. So I looked around me at some of the types of people around me. Traders, Zealots, who knows what else.. and decided that I liked the idea of being a Trader. Their Super Weapon gives you the ability to buy up systems peacefully. So.. getting the moneys together, I said.. OK.. make me a Trader.

Wait, said the Civilization, to prove yourself as a trader, you must understand the allure of profit. Go sell 5,000 Things. 5,000 Things… no problem. O.o

Actually, it isn’t so much a problem as it’ll take time. Lots and lots of time. On the other hand, what I do with the profit from selling these things is entirely up to me. So by the time I get the A-OK to be a Trader, I could have upgraded my ship as far as it can go and bought one or two star systems.

So… go figure, I’m playing Spore. At least until Sims 3 comes out. Or I get bored with it.
Heck, it might take me until Sims 3 comes out to sell 5,000 things and become a trader! O.o

Sims 3 Redux January 30, 2009

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I was going to post in anger Monday, when the news broke that it appeared delays were imminent. Not because of the delays themselves (though that would be a major downer. I REALLY want to play with Sims 3), but because there was so much contradicting information.

What we know is that they removed the information from the official site saying the game is due out next month. We know that Eurogamer asked EA what was going on and they said they were evaluating the launch window. What we don’t know is… will they CHANGE the launch window?

There’s been alot of speculation why they may be reevaluating this now. One obvious possibility is that they’re trying to nail down bugs. During the Creators’ Camp early this month, the Creators had worked with a month-old version of the game that they (the Creators) noted was very buggy.Β  So it’s possible they’re just getting rid of those. The other possibility was that there were some more serious complaints voiced during the Creators Camp about how certain tools just weren’t as good as they should be or were missing.

What we know is, one way or the other, we’ll know soon. EA promises to discuss this soon and even if they don’t, the game has to go Gold before it gets on the shelves so we if it goes Gold soon, that means that the game will probably come out mostly on time.

I’m hoping it comes out in time. Barring that, I hope the delay isn’t too long. Mostly, I’d just like to know the score.

In my last post, I was describing how.. totally different playing Sims 3 will be, when compared to Sims 2. I’ve been doing alot of anticipated thinking about this. And then they posted another article yesterday to the site VIP section about the Collecting… I don’t think minigame is appropriate.. so let’s say portion of the game.

In short, it sounds like they took the gardening and fishing badges from Seasons and the Bug-Collecting part of Freetime and tried to give these gameplay elements a bit of real depth, as well as offering your Sims a reason to stay out of the house and explore the neighborhood. As anyone who’s played.. well.. a whole host of games.. from Animal Crossing to Diablo II (and other Dungeon Crawl Games)… collecting things can be a WHOLE lot of fun, especially the really rare stuff.

Plus, you can actually do something more with these things you collect, instead of trading them to Tom for Bells (Animal Crossing reference there. Please excuse. πŸ˜‰ ). You can grow and collect fruits and vegetables and actually cook with them. From what I understand, the food system has been drastically redone and you can actually use fresh produce to cook (instead of adding “Fresh Points” or what not to your food.)

Fish can be displayed (wall mounted or put into a bowl) or, I will assume, eaten. Who knows what else (since some of the fish you can catch are not your everyday sort of fishy. The article mentions a jet black fishy with small white fangs. Vampire Fish?)

Other things you can collect are insects (no idea what you can do with them. Maybe nothing. I’m not eating them. You hear me, Maxis?!?! I’m not cooking my butterflies!!), minerals, gems and space rocks. (No Fossils, EA?)

This whole.. portion of the game is in addition to the rest of the base game.

The final picture I’m getting is that a game that, like life, makes you pick how you’ll spend your time. That there’s so much going on, so much you CAN do, that there’s simply no way that any one Sim CAN do it all. And that, in my opinion, is a positive thing. A good sort of realistic. πŸ™‚

Building Anticipation January 23, 2009

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So.. in a mere four weeks.. basically 28 days.. Sims 3 will be out.

To say I’m excited is somewhat of an understatement.

I’ve been keeping up with the game news that’s been slooowly leaking out, the new pictures, the videos, information from those who were part of the Creators Camp, and the feeling I’ve gotten is that the increase in complexity is pretty comparable to the difference betweeen The Sims and Sims 2.

That is to say.. Sims 3 is a very different game from Sims 2. A game with alot of complexity and a whole new game structure to explore and learn.

The whole “Everyone in the whole city is aging” thing is… well.. different. I don’t feel comfortable with it yet, but within a few months of playing, maybe I will. Probably, I’ll turn it off until such a time as I feel comfortable with it. That way I can actually PLAY my neighborhood. From what I’ve seen and hear, there’s just too much going on in the neighborhood and I’ll probably want a chance to actually play everyone before they pass on. Playing with everyone will probably be the best way to REALLY get a feel for what the attributes MEAN. What does it really mean for game play to have an Insane Character? To have a Klepto Character? What does it mean to have an Evil neighbor? Will I need to keep an eye on my kids lest Evil McEvil steal their candy?

I keep thinking back to how COMPLICATED Sims 2 was, in Comparison to The Sims (Sims 1). Don’t get me wrong. I loved the extra complexity. It led to a fuller game and a better gaming experience, and more importantly.. it made Sims 2 worth having because Sims 2 *WASN’T* a dressed up Sims 1, with the same game mechanics, but better looking.. the game was significantly different, it’s own entity. Some of the Expansion Packs added depth to the game (some.. not so much.), but it was always a generally BETTER Game that The Sims. Sims 3 looks to be the same way.. a genuinely different game, with different gameplay. Sims 3 looks to be more about really LIVING your Sims’ lives for them.. not just babysitting them, but letting them have their very own lives and helping them live that.. either to fulfull their life desires or let them live a life of mediocrity.

I guess.. in four weeks, we find out! πŸ˜€ Hopefully, it’s as great as it looks to be!

2008 in Review December 29, 2008

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I’ve been thinking about the year. It’s been an interesting year, as far as games and I go.

2008 has been the year that I broke out of the SimGod role and started looking elsewhere for entertainment, mostly because of the Sad Excuses for Games that EA put out this year.

I love my Sims. Don’t get me wrong. I’m VERY much looking forward to the The Sims 3 next February, which I suspect will be my Game of 2009. But… look what 2008 brought The Sims 2.
Freetime.. a DECENT Expansion Pack that just never quite worked. They added some decent ideas, but it felt half-full and never integrated into the game as much as I’d have hoped. My plan was to give my Elder Sims, ESPECIALLY my Elder Sims something to DO when they retired. The fact was..it was too easy to get really good at a hobby, and some of the hobbies were half-full (Science Hobby)
Apartment Life – Decent idea and I REALLY looked forward to it (though admittedly by the time Apartment Life had come out, details were streaming through about Sims 3 and I wanted THAT more.) but there didn’t seem to be alot of benefits to having an apartment over a house and the whole community feature felt.. half done.

EA’s other outings in 2008?
Spore – Overhyped, but in the end, not really great. I hear there’s an expansion pack coming up – Galactic Adventures. I’m willing to see what it adds, but the problem was.. the game wasn’t nearly as open ended as I’d have liked. From the mind that gave us SimCity and the Sims, I expected something open-ended, that really gave our civilizations chance to do their own thing. The creature creator/vehicle creator was really outstanding and very open-ended, but even if everyone’s creature looked different, their gameplay was nearly identical.
SimCity Creator – SimCity 2000 or 3000 hyped up for the Wii with a really difficult interface that didn’t really work well.
MySims Kingdom – I tried MySims and… it was never a GREAT Game. I’ve heard the same is true for MySims Kingdom.

So… with pretty lackluster stuff coming out of my usual entertainment place, I started looking elsewhere.

In January, it was Civ IV. I’d heard great things about Civ and I finally got it. I was impressed. Civilization is an awesome game that REALLY opens up the imagination. You can be nearly any sort of civilization. You can be warriors, scholars (sort of), traders. There’s a breathtaking scope to this game.

Animal Crossing – Finding a Niche for this game is hard. Part Simulation, Part total time waster, you can spend hours and hours collecting fish, insects, furniture, or screwing around with people online.

The Lego Series – Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Batman – Puzzle Platformer with a sense of humor. Most of the boards, if you destroy enough things and build enough things and whatever, you can figure your way through to the end and play again in free play to get everything you couldn’t get before.

I’ve rediscovered Platformers again as well. Games like DeBlob which is amusing platformer fun and games like Super Mario Galaxy which I’ve played once, but I know I enjoyed (which is why it’s winding it’s way to me as a late Christmas gift.)

So.. here’s to the end of 2008, a different year for gaming and me!

On Animal Crossing: City Folk December 15, 2008

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It’s debatable whether Animal Crossing: City Folk is truly a Sim Game in the fine traiditons of SimCity or the Sims, where you get to act as God and create and control SomeTHING. But.. there are Sim elements to the game. You may not create the Village from scratch and decide who lives there and doesn’t, but you do have alot of control over your looks, your home and your City.

There’s so much to do.. you can fish, you can hunt bugs, you can hunt fossils. You can do favors for neighbors, hang out with other users. You can fill your sky with constellations. You can fill your museum with fine artworks, fossils, et. al. There’s alot to do.

In a way, I WOULD call Animal Crossing a Sim Game.. you’re Simulating Small Town living (except that the residents seem to keep getting bees in their bonnets to leave unlike most small towns.)

Anyways…I got this game when it first came out, about a month ago and it’s the only gave ever that I’ve played a full month straight. Mostly, I think, because my lovely wife is playing along with me. It’s a game we can both play together. We can help each other. We can compete (sort of) in a “I can get more bugs/fish than you can” way.

Plus.. the game is unlike any other game I’ve ever played before. EvenΒ  unlike the Sims. It’s a slow game. If you don’t get things done today.. you can do them tomorrow (most things.) If you didn’t catch a Tuna today.. well… it’ll be in there tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get a Silver fishing poll and it’ll be easier to land some of those puppies.

This weekend, we took the show on the road and invade other people’s cities (and let others invade ours.) All in all, it was a pretty fun experience. Most people were pretty cool. They treated our city and us, the players, with respect. Most people just wanted to hang out with others. There were hide and go seek games, fishing competitions.. it was alot of fun, really. πŸ™‚

Anyways, this is a really neat game. There’s an amazing amount of stuff to do and, if you’re willing to play often, a chance to get it all done (just not all in one sitting. Not going to happen.) The game is slow, but it’s a good slow. I’d suggest this game to anyone. πŸ™‚

What’s the first thing you will do when you get Sims 3? November 14, 2008

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I’ve been reading a Sims 3 Forum off and on and one of the questions asked recently is… what will you do when you finally get your hands on Sims 3?

The responses range from Run Around the House Screaming Like a Maniac (my personal favorite) to Make a Sim, Make a House, Read the Manual and Explore the World. All good suggestions. At the time, I sort of laughed it all off, after all, there’ll be plenty of time for everything, but then I remembered when Sims 2 first came out.

Sims 2 was such a different game from Sims 1, with all of Sims 1’s expansion packs. It introduced so many different concepts that it really did take time to really understand what was going on. Time, and a few failed tries (As the wife remembers the first time I made a sim of the two of us and we had a child, Emily, the Social Worker came to take Emily away. :/)

So I think I need to at least accept that it’ll probably take some time to dip my toes into the new game and really get comfortable with the new system. There’s so much new.. I’m sure I can handle the new CAS and the new Create-a-Style, but the new Seamless Neighborhood will probably take some time, as far as the lack of.. Time Warp (the fact that as you’re playing your one city, all the rest of the city is out and about too, living out it’s life) as well as the new Wishes system, the Moodlets and, of course, the new Personality Traits (and everything they mean)

Which brings me back to the question.. with acknowledging that Sims 3 will be such a different game, what would the first thing I’d do be, to get into the new system?

Assuming the likely reality… the game takes some time to load up, there’s a manual to read, and, as usual, I have my Prima Guide…
I think I’d likely poke through the Prima Guide while the game was loading. POSSIBLY playing the installation game (there was one with Sims 2. There may be one with Sims 3.). Then when the game finally loads, I’ll play through the tutorials. Then, finally, I’ll explore the game… I’ll probably attempt to build a house, definitely refurnish a house, maybe create a few sims, play out some of the Sims’ lives.. and just… try to enjoy it all. πŸ™‚ Try to take the time to really take it all in. I know that the EA team has spent ENORMOUS effort trying to bring us a good game, so… I shall try to note all of it and all the odd little amusements. πŸ™‚

Next post: What I’m looking forward to the most in Sims 3

A Truly Sim Moment November 10, 2008

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Every once in a while, there’s this moment of such.. ludicrousness (I don’t care if that’s not actually a word) that it HAS to have happened in game because it wouldn’t happen in real life. Such a moment happened yesterday.

Let me set the scene first.. Bruce Perry and Sandra Valdez were college mates. They lived in the same dorm together and ended up falling in love. They even got engaged one day in between classes (Sandra goes up to Bruce and goes “Bruce, I’m a family Sim and I need to be thinking of the future and the lots and lots and lots of babies I’m going to happen. I know you’re a Pleasure Sim but you’ll do. Marry me.” For some reason, Bruce agreed (I wouldn’t. Sandra’s not kidding about the babies. And if that isn’t bad enough, there’s Sandra’s mother who seems to still look as young now as she did when she was Sandra’s age. Something’s afoot there…)

But anyways, they graduate college and decide to move in together into their very first apartment. Life just sort of moves on. They get jobs, they move forward in their jobs, they even get a roommate. Oh, and Bruce becomes an Evil Warlock, but that’s a story for ANOTHER time. But no marriage, and no kids. And this makes Sandra… unhappy. Very unhappy.

One day, the two of them somehow manage to get the same day off, a Saturday. Bruce wakes Sandra up “Wake up sleepyhead?’
Sandra winces at the bright light coming through the windows “What? Don’t you know it’s my day off. Let me sleep!”
Bruce, already clothed, tries to push Sandra out of bed “I’m hungry. We have NOTHING to eat in the house (Sandra snorts.). Let’s go out for breakfast!”
Grumbling, Sandra gets her clothes on and the two of them hop in Bruce’s Sports Car and head downtown to Oresha Family Dining. After a pit stop at the bathroom, they have breakfast, a small affair.

“Do you remember what things were like before we moved in together?” Sandra asks, dancing around the big issue in her head “Do you remember the things we planned? Marriage? Kids? All those IMPORTANT Things in life?”
Bruce nods “Yes, I remember, but.. well.. life got busy. You know how it is.”
“I do” says Sandra “I do understand, but… these things are IMPORTANT to me. You’ve been out on the town. I haven’t begrudged you that. I haven’t begrudged you the Sports Car either. But.. what about my needs?!?!”
“Well” asks Bruce “What do you want to do?”
“Let’s get married!” ventures Sandra “Right here! Right now!”
Bruce looks surprised “Here?”
Sandra asks “Why not? Why not here? Let’s do it!”
And so.. they exchange rings, and get married. Sandra then leads her new husband to the photo booth, to take some pictures of their new rings.. though.. Bruce sort of leads her in another direction (she doesn’t complain, exactly.)

The next day.. after the marriage and the.. consummation, Sandra suddenly starts feeling ill. Really ill. Like.. morning sickness ill. She rushes to the toilet, wondering “Could it be? Could it possibly be?!?!” She pulls out a Pregnancy Test, and sure enough, it is! Their little photo session left them with more than a photo to remember the date by.

Only in the Sims.
Seriously.

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend November 8, 2008

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So I’m sitting at my desk watching videos for The Sims 3. I’m so impressed that I could cry. Mostly I could cry because I have to wait FOUR MONTHS to play this game! Details keep filtering in and what I see is really really REALLY impressive.

I could discuss the fact that you can really begin to make unique characters, characters that actually LOOK like people you might know. One of the videos I was watching decided to turn the Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates into Sims to make the point. (The Barack Obama and Sarah Palin sims were spot on. The McCain sim.. less so.)Β  You could make an entire neighborhood filled with characters from your favorite story (I turned to K and said “You could make an L M Montgomery City filled with L M Montgomery Characters.) or famous people or… just people you happen to know.

I could discuss the fact that you can play in the neighborhood, which will revolutionize the way you play.

I could discuss the VERY powerful Create-A-Style Tools that allow you to actually have a house that matches, no matter what sort of furniture you put down. You can pick the patterns, the textures (wood, steel, etc.) and then drag that ‘style’ to cover EVERYTHING.. tables, chairs, TVs, Cars, Walls, Cupboards, EVERYTHING!

I could discuss that it appears they’re giving us some of the best of the best from the various expansion sets. Cars, Gardening, Fishing, a few others. No pets, but that’s OK. That’s an expansion set all it’s own.

But I’m not going to.

Because, as K points out, the game is four months away and if I do that, I’m going to be sad that I don’t have it yet.

K offers a suggestion, though, and a rather good one. The game is four months away. Time to say goodbye to an old friend (We’ve been friend for Five Years, Sims 2, but I imagine in four months, you’ll be nothing but a good memory. Well.. maybe K will play with you.)

It’s a good idea, a very good idea.

So… be warned. Some new posts are coming on the way as I say goodbye to a great video game, prepare for an even better video game and tell the story of a bunch of rather weird ‘people’ down in Fairview, my personal neighborhood.