Having spent a few crazy days at Sims Camp at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, I've finally found some time to sit down and start sharing my experiences with the game. I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting information to come out of the event and some attendees have already managed to get some info out via their social networking sites, but in my usual manner, I've opted for a long winded but hopefully informative article.
I have to stress the usual disclaimer, more so than ever. We were seeing and using pre-alpha software, so what we saw is in many ways far from the polished version of the game that will ship next year. Still no suggestions when next year, EA won't be pushed to committing to any quarter or season. Likewise, thinks can change, so I might tell you something here that although correct at the event, may be wrong in the final or later versions. Also, all these images are exclusive to TSR, please don't reuse them, but link people to this article if you want to share them.
EA got the scoop themselves in showing CAS off in the TS4 Live Broadcast from the show floor on Thursday but I'm pretty sure I still have many details here that Jill didn't manage to cover in her report. After speeding through CAS I'll spend more time on Emotional Gameplay which hasn't been covered much yet!
Jill Johnson is a Producer on TS4 Create-A-Sim. She demoed CAS for us and then we got to play on our own, trying out the tools, stretching our imaginations and grabbing screens and info to share with you all. This build has a very limited set of clothing, hair and other assets. I invited people to post in our forums, any questions they wanted answering and there were lots of concerns about the quality of the hair and it looking like plastic. I grilled Jill best I could on the issue and she explained that hair seen in the early teasers (remember the eyes?) were built with something like Hair version 1.5, today we were using Hair 3.0 and has massive improvements already. Hair isn't finished yet and there is still work to do on layers and textures so as with most stuff, don't write it off just yet, there's still a long way to go before we see a finished game.
The biggest change for CAS is that pretty much all of the sliders have gone and been replaced with direct manipulation. This means that you can use your mouse pointer to simply grab parts of the Sim body and drag them around to make limbs bigger, smaller, wider and narrower. Breasts can move up and down as well as bigger/smaller. Butts can be inflated, shoulders broadened and even feet enlarged. Posture can be changed too, to make Sims slouch forward or walk tall and straight. It's like using modelling clay to build any shape you desire (now I have the smell of 'Play Doh' in my head!). All this allows for an almost infinite body shape. Two sliders that remain are those for Heavy/Fit (represented by an apple and a donut) and Fat/Thin (represented by a couch and a dumbbell).
You can start out by choosing one of a broad range of body shapes and starting faces which you can then fine-tune to your needs if you wish. EA claim to have spent a lot of time creating base faces that represent multiple ethnicities, which can be seen quite clearly in the latest images released. There is also a really smart randomize feature for you to quickly pull together some random Sims. In truth thought, it's not completely random at all! You can choose which features to switch so if you are happy with your Sims face you can lock that in.
Your choices are Body Shape, Body Size, Face, Skin Tone, Hair, Facial Hair, Voice, Clothing or All. The reason I say it's not completely random is that it's smart enough to match certain clothing types and colours. So if it selects a beige leather jacket for a random female Sim the tool might select some beige boots to match. Nothing came out looking like a wardrobe fail in the dark of morning, these Sims looked like the outfits where colour and style matched for them!
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