THE SIMS 4: POOLS & TODDLERS
Back when the The Sims 4 started development in 2008 EA was all aboard the online, social media train. You name it and they saw dollar signs and a way to monetize it from preventing piracy, direct marketing DLC, in-game advertising — absolutely everything pointed towards EA making a mint by forcing an online component to their games whether it made sense for the game to be online or not. The Sims 4 was no exception.
"I have not green lit one game to be developed as a single player experience. Today, all of our games include online applications and digital services that make them live 24/7/365." —Frank Gibeau, September 2012, Cloud Gaming USA Conference
With that in mind, we first started hearing rumors that The Sims 4 would be online as early as 2010. By March 2012 when The Sims 3 Showtime was launched with the SimPort feature there was no doubt for most people who were paying attention that The Sims 4 was going to be an online game. Which is partly why when it was announced there was such a huge deal being made about the game being offline and single player.
“The Sims 4 celebrates the heart and soul of the Sims themselves, giving players a deeper connection with the most expressive, surprising and charming Sims ever in this single-player offline experience.” —EA.com, May 2013
But we don’t just have rumors and speculation to go on, we have the resumes of former EA employee Patrick Kelly and current EA employee Gil Colgate where both state The Sims 4 started off being developed as an online game.
"My most recent project for The Sims Label (2011 – 2012) involved creating detailed Flash mockups exploring game play and UI designs for two potential online versions of The Sims 4 (The Sims Olympus and The Sims Icarus)." —Patrick Kelly
"Sims 4. Got to work on clustered servers, chat systems, scaling and performance, and other internet style stuff when it was an internet based game." —Gil Colgate
So it’s firmly established The Sims 4 started off as an online game — it’s fact; not rumor. The only thing that’s not clear is exactly when the direction of The Sims 4 changed from online (after at least four years work, 2008-2012) to being an offline, single player game. We have two conflicting reasons and times given.
According to Patrick Kelly it was scrapped sometime in 2012 because the online concept was low quality with major limitations and had connection issues. In other words the online game just wasn’t working out.
"We listened to the feedback on SimCity and decided that The Sims 4 would be built as a single-player, offline experience." —Frank Gibeau, Venture Beat, July 2013
According to Frank Gibeau, currently Executive Vice President of EA Mobile but at the time of the interview was president of EA Labels, the direction of The Sims 4 changed as a result of fan feedback after the disastrous launch of SimCity. SimCity launched March 5, 2013 so if we believe him The Sims 4 was still an online game as late as 2013.
Not Enough Time/Mismanaged
All of that background brings us to today when we have employee after employee telling us the Sims 4 was mismanaged.
"From what I’ve been told, the game is a mess, the studio is a mess, and people are so frustrated they are about to revolt." —Patrick Kelly, June 9, 2013 (All web activity, sites and profiles deleted.)
"The Sims 4 team is completely mismanaged. They should hire more producers I think :eyeroll: " —Jace Wallace, January 31, 2014 (account deactivated)
DAVE (Last name unknown)
"They’re both [pools and toddlers] really important features that are close to our hearts. We didn’t have the time during production to do them right for base game so we made a really hard decision to wait to do it properly instead of something half-baked. I know it’s sad, but our hearts are in the right place." —Dave, The Sims Studio (via Luana on Twitter) June 25, 2014 (Both accounts were deactivated the same day it was posted) | Image
"You can’t weigh features by how much you want them in the game, you have to consider how many development resources it takes to create them. The tram? A couple of days from one of our FX guys and it’s finished… very low risk, very low complexity (using entirely existing tech), and adds a nice visual punch to the neighborhood. I can’t recall ever scoping against FX… they always have time to be adding more stuff. Our FX folks submitted their own long list of things they wanted to work on because there wasn’t enough for them to do. Now, you can’t take the FX team and ask them to add pools to the game. They don’t have the work skills to do it; neither do I. Pools, toddlers… they’re extremely complex features that require months of man hours of work across multiple disciplines and introduce significant risk. If we were to have added one of those to the game, there would have been two choices for us… cut many small features, or cut one other significantly large feature. And again, it isn’t equivalent - you can’t just cut a large feature and expect it to line up; you have to cut enough to get all the numbers for each discipline in the green, which means cutting extra to get to the point where the hardest hit discpline has enough time to do their necessary work for it. Now you’ve created free time for other disciplines who previously had work, but are left twiddling their thumbs… so you need to find work for them to do that only impacts the areas that you have time to spend in. If you look at one weird aspect of the game and wonder why it took priority over something that seemed important to you, it’s entirely possible it was something that the right people had time to work on without disrupting the busy people. Game development is a constant puzzle where you’re matching headcount and skill sets against features, schedule, and budget, and you’re trying to make everything fit just right with as few gaps as possible. Unfortunately time isn’t like money; you can’t go into debt on time and pay it back later." —Graham Nardone, July 2, 2014 | Image
As a result, all of the plans and good intentions The Sims 4 Team had went out the window and the game was stripped bare of even some of the most basic of features — like pools and toddlers. As Trevor Lindsey recently tweeted there is no such thing as “completion percentage” the game is done when it’s shipped. And in this case The Sims 4 is shipping without the following features:
Features Removed or Not Included
- No Create-A-Style or Color Wheel —No Create-A-Style Confirmed
- No Cut Scenes —Confirmed: No Cut Scenes in The Sims 4
- The Sims 4 World is FUBAR: Loading screens between every lot, public spaces can’t be edited in any way, 5 lot maximum per neighborhood and the largest lot size is 50x50. —The Sims 4 Neighborhood
- Maximum Build Height: 3 Levels —Graham Nardone
- Foundations: No split levels or ability to have different height foundations on a lot. Example: A house built on a foundation and a shed built without a foundation is not possible. —Graham Nardone
- No Basements or Circular Stairs —Graham Nardone and Grant Rodiek
- No Clothes Shopping —Mini SimGuru Q&A from Twitter
- No Grocery Store —Sarah Holding
- No Tragic Clown or Social Bunny —Sarah Holding
- No Work or School Rabbit Holes. —Sarah Holding (one and two) Personal Note: Isn’t that a feature? Moving on…
- No Private School —Graham Nardone
- No Woohoo Skill —Meet The Sims 4!
- No Toddlers and Pools —Neighborhoods, Weird Moments and More!
- No Swimming at all or bathing suits. —Sarah Holding and Graham Nardone
- Only 2 Heights: Children and everyone else. Teens, young adults, adults and elders are all the same height —Graham Nardone and Grant Rodiek (Reason: Difficult/Costs too much)
- No Story Progression —Sarah Holding and Graham Nardone
Suspected but not confirmed (Sim Gurus will not answer the many Simmers who have asked.)
- No Terrain or Water Tools (flat lots only/ponds are objects)
- Can’t place ANY lots; can only change pre-placed lot types (i.e. commercial to residential)
- No Ownable Cars (or taxis and school buses): There’s no garages or driveways in the build mode video and in response to a question about transportation: “It doesn’t really make sense to ride one [tram or steamboat] with the way our neighborhoods are set up.” —Trevor Lindsey (Walking to the edge of the lot and teleporting is the only type of “transportation” mentioned so far.)
- No Ghosts and Aliens: No clue.
The community was not happy — to put it mildly — about finding out The Sims 4 would not ship with pools or toddlers. From parody videos, polls, petitions on the forums, comics, heartfelt posts, a petition on change.org with upwards of 15,000 signatures in little over a week and dozens of articles written about it from IGN to Kotaku. A big deal was made.
Nothing. Rich Hilleman decided long ago that people lie and those who complain the loudest are EA’s biggest customers. EA equates outrage and customer complaints with sales so there’s no incentive for them to spend the money needed to put out a finished product. They’re betting we’ll buy it anyway.
Update 7-7-2014 Rachel Franklin responds in a blog post titled What’s Out and What’s In:
"Let me start with a bit more about the decision we made not to include pools and toddlers in The Sims 4, as we’ve seen some of you have concerns about this.
The fact is, we owe you a clearer explanation for why pools and toddlers will not be in The Sims 4 at launch, so here goes. It begins with new technology and systems that we built for this new base game for The Sims – a new AI system, new animation system, new audio positioning tools, new locomotion logic, new routing intelligence and much more are all entirely new in this game. The vision for The Sims 4 is a new experience that brings your Sims to life in deeper and uniquely personal ways – through emotions, personality traits, behaviors and interactions. To do that, our technology base needed a major upgrade.
So the bottom line is that when we sat down and looked at everything we wanted to do for this game, all the new tech we wanted to build into it, the fact was that there would be trade-offs, and these would disappoint some of our fans. Hard pill to swallow, believe me, but delivering on the vision set out for The Sims 4 required focus. Focus on revolutionizing the Sims themselves. So, rather than include toddlers, we chose to go deeper on the features that make Sims come alive: meaningful and often amusing emotions; more believable motion and interactions; more tools in Create A Sim, and more realistic (and sometimes weird!) Sim behavior. Instead of pools, we chose to develop key new features in Build Mode: direct manipulation, building a house room-by-room and being able to exchange your custom rooms easily, to make the immediate environment even more relatable and interactive for your Sim.” —Rachel Franklin
Credits: Toddlers by fakepeeps7
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