Before I post all the news and what the game is about I want to take the time to explain how I played. When I first played the game I played as a player not a creator. I wanted to get a feel for the game without looking constantly at what I can make. Creator drawback I suppose. So when I tell you that this game has brought back our funny, personable simmies I mean it. I laughed so hard at times I had tears streaming down my face. This game has really brought the emotions and reactions of our Sims together. The biggest change I liked from a players standpoint was multi tasking. That’s right our Sims can now multi task!
Today we’ll go over Master Classes for the first 2 days. Tomorrow we will cover the last classes and actual game play. This is just part of everything I have to tell you so let’s get started.
Day 1 we talked about CAS and build mode.
We started with Sim Guru Jill Johnson. Now you have seen a lot of CAS so you may think there is nothing more to say, well think again! The walk styles you have seen, and for those of you with the demo, get ready because they added more to the game. There will be at least 2 more walk styles. Everything can be randomized including the looks. Those of you with the demo probably have already seen this. The coolest change is that you can use all the clothing for all the categories, so that if you see something in everyday or party that you want to wear to formal you just click off the sort. This is also available in the demo.
The one thing you cannot randomize is the traits. Because your game play will be really reliant on those, they want the player to think about their choices. Unlike Sims 3, the choices make a lot of difference in the way your game plays. And when I say a lot I mean a LOT. They play off each other’s emotions.
Genetics are very distinctive in Sims 4. Messing with genetics is fun and the kids come out actually looking like the parents this time. There is a very intricate working of the genetic system. When your Sim makes a baby, it looks like the parents. You will have the ability to change aspirations as they age up. So that your child may have aspirations more along the lines of a child, but change as they age.
We had a chance to see all the clothing and all the ages of Sims. Elder clothing is much improved so that if you want a dowdy elder that can be done as well as stylish elders. You can age your Sim up right in CAS to see what they will look like once they become an elder. You can also change genders with keeping the attributes you gave the Sim in the first place. The kids are very believable and cute. They have clothing more in line with RL kids.
They take into account gender and age attributes for each aspect of the genetics as well. Interactive music has been changed in CAS as well as the camera angles so that they are different than the demo. This helps in knowing where you are and what you want to do while you are in CAS. The voice sliders were done by a voice programmer who wanted to give as much range as possible. A voice programmer, who knew?
Later in the day we moved to build mode with Sim Guru Aaron Houts and Sim Guru John Berges. Now again, you have seen a lot of this, but until you actually get to PLAY with it you cannot appreciate just how cool it is. The roofs are adjustable. I don’t mean adjustable like you can slide them I mean adjustable like you can make them round, oriental, just about any shape you want. Using shift you can change each individual side of the roof as well.
Then moving on to the foundations. You don’t lay down a foundation like in previous games; you build it after the walls. With a slider. Also, I didn’t get a chance to try it, but we were told that you could make a sunken living room by deleting the foundation in parts.
The windows are all adjustable as everyone has seen but, you can intersect all wall décor with the windows. There are some cute window plants I used that look great. All walls can be raised 3 adjustable heights. Individually for each story of the lot as well. There are windows to fit each size. The columns adjust to the wall size so you don’t have to pick columns that will fit. They all fit. They also snap to walls and fences.
There are rounded foundations, but before you ask, no there are no rounded walls only fences. Which means you can have rounded fences and porches. There is crown moulding that can be evenly distributed with the shift key, very pretty. The roofs have an adjustable siding that can be colored and thickened.
For all you modern lot builders who have screamed about pools, there is in the ground finished fountains that will give the same effect as if you were using a pool to stylize your lot. They are very nice and come with water spouts, many many water spouts.
As I started out as a builder in my Sims “career” I can appreciate the flexibility of the build tools. There really is no need for a CFE cheat with all the tools built right in. The flexibility to make a distinct playable lot is all there. The one drawback was that there are no terrain tools. You have terrain paints but no tools. All of us voiced our dismay over this and they are listening to us. It won’t be in base game but added later.
Before anyone gets upset, a lot of things didn’t come in Sims 3 base game either. Just think back. We did get them in time and they really do listen to us. The same is happening with Sims 4. Just be polite and voice your concerns. They do listen.
Here is a scanned list of hotkeys we were given in build mode.
Moving along to after the build and on to decorating the lot. All that clutter you saw in previews is there! They also revamped the categories in buy mode so that there are distinctive categories for each thing. They noticed once CC became abundant and they had many EPs out in the Sims 3 that everything was thrown in Misc and very hard for the player to find. Décor has the biggest revamp with an actual category for clutter. There are no collection files as of yet, but then again this is only base game. No need just yet.
As I went through the objects to decorate my lot I have to be honest. I was still trying to think like a player not a CC creator. Which is a hard thing when you’re used to saying “Oh I need that for this lot. I’ll go make it”. I took and looked through each and every category, again staying in the player mode, and was actually delighted at some of the stuff they have for children! Children will again be able to use and gain skills with musical instruments. There is a kid size violin. And yes they sound like your kid when they are first learning an instrument. Screeching violin strings and all. There are outdoor play items that the parents can interact with the kids. One is a pirate ship. The Pirate ship has way cool interactions. Sim Kid gets in and plays and the interaction pops up for the adult to be a sea monster. Too funny. There is no swing set but you really don’t miss it with all the other toys.
The bookcase and toy chest were the 2 items I put on the lot so checked the interactions with them. The toy box has toys you can buy by clicking on it. Same with books and the bookcase. You can purchase what you need directly from the storage units. This is convenient in terms of play.
Moving on to decorating the kitchen the counters have a predefined setting if you want to use it. All cabinets can be elongated to fit larger walls and they have different designs available with a click. They don’t show in the catalogue so you have to play with that once you get the game. It’s very cool.
Now mind you I was supposed to be PLAYING not building at this point in the day. But I just could not for the life of me tear myself away from the uber cool lot I was making. I know, I know, I said I was trying to be a player, but the tools….OMG the tools! My creator self locked my player self out this first day like I needed some sort of exorcist to knock my head back into place as it spun round and round in this crazy wide eye building frenzy I had going on. Thank god I had 3 more days.
Day 2 Animations and Modding. That’s right actual Modding info!
Now the full day 2 had the classes I was most interested in. How the Sims work and how easy it will be to Mod the game. Are they going to help us modders this time around? Why are there no toddlers? All of that was to be in day 2.
We started the day playing the game, and yes I actually left the building alone to get a feel for the game. I’ll go over game play a bit tomorrow.
The first Masterclass was with Sim Guru Marion Gothier who is a master in the animation dept. It was interesting to see just what goes into animating our simmies and all that went in to each individual interaction they have. The added emotions means that there was a lot more bullet points in the coding. It was very intricate in what they have to do to actually have all the interactions the Sims have now. Contrary to what the layman or player thinks you can’t just “turn on a switch” to make things work. They can lay a foundation for say, toddlers, but it’s some very complicated coding this time around to get it to work. Leaving off the toddlers in base game was a decision that was not made lightly. So why was the decision made? The added features to the Sims themselves is a complicated web of design. Toddlers will have to have their own interactions separate from the Adult Sims to make it believable. Kids have a mix. After seeing the actual plans they have to follow to make the Sims this realistic in their interactions I totally get it. We all voiced they should be more transparent and explain to you all as they did to us. Once you look at the animation bit you “get it” so much better. The intricate coding all spelled out for every single action to make the multi tasking and interactive emotions work is immense. It’s nothing to have over 100 bullet points for something simple as going potty and using the tablet.
They have given us so much in our Sims this time it’s unbelievable. There is multi tasking which they were keen on adding. Also several skills can be obtained at once coinciding with the multi tasking. For instance I can put 2 Sims in a room. One of those Sims wants to run on the treadmill, watch TV and talk to the other Sim at the same time. They can now do that along with getting the Athletic Skill, Charisma Skill, and whatever they are watching on TV (say gardening) skill at the same time. To top it off the other Sim can be exercising as well and talking to the first Sim. It’s genius! This took a lot of thought in the animation process. The game play is flawless in this respect. It also makes for more believable Sims.
Sim Guru Marion explained this well. She even took the Sims animations to Maya, for those of you non creator types this is a program used for building meshes and building game animation. One of the best around. I found it interesting to see the animation process from start to finish. The bullet points look like something out of access spreadsheet with boxes and pointers all meticulously done so they coincide and do not conflict each other. To be honest I had my geek on for this. They made movies of people jumping up and down, holding things, all sorts of Real Life interactions we take for granted every day so they could study them and put them into a code that would work. They watched how people do several things at once like eat and talk and drop something at the same time to pick it up while still talking. It was amazing what they studied in the way of Real Life movements to make this work.
After making and watching numerous videos of movements they then had to code it into a game. As said above it was akin to an access spreadsheet with boxes and pointers and sliders to where exactly the movements would go. Then testing the interactions with Maya to see them move and see if the coding worked. Think of this thousands of times over and over to get what they wanted in multi task. There are something like 10,000 animation types in the Sims 4. Multiply that by thousands of interactions. It’s amazing. They have outdone themselves in the animations coming with Sims 4.
Now on to what I am most excited about for the modding community. Most players will not be interested in this. But those of us in the modding community are going to be excited. Now keep in mind that historically modding to EA and modding to us is usually a totally different thing. Modding to them could have meant adding more colors to their objects. So I waited with baited breath to see if my dream of a cooperation of sorts was maybe happening. As Sim Guru Darren Styles and Sim Guru Lindsay Pearson took the stage I held my breath. The opening of “We want to set a foundation for Mods and Script Mods for the sims 4……” I thought I was going to scream. It was like being on a game show and winning a million bucks!
So it was INDEED going to be about actual real life modding and the modding community! I had questions, loads of questions and couldn’t wait for them to open this up. Basically throughout the class most of my questions faded to the back as they explained they were giving us a road map of sorts of game coding and inside workings of the object/clothing codes. Their reasoning behind this is that even though they legally cannot go all out and help us, they can give us a starting point. This will help them in turn as we have the foundation to be in a position as to not break the game in the learning process. They can keep a better eye on us so when a player contacts support they will know where to send them or help themselves. They have finally accepted that Modding is going to happen and they are better off doing what they can for us legally than totally ignoring our efforts.
So what does this mean for the modding community? It means we will have CC within days not months of game release. There will be a modding forum on the Official Sims 4 website they hope all of us in the modding community making the tools will use to discuss amongst ourselves and help each other out in the tool making process. They will have a tech watching in case they see us maybe moving in a direction of “break the game code”. How much help we will actually get from them is yet to be seen, but at least they are giving us the initial road map to get started without having to tear apart the files ourselves. It’s a great day in the modding community in a world where most gaming is open source with gamers getting mods from the beginning.
We were pointed to the game options where you can see the mods and script mods options right in the game. You have the option to turn off script mods as they are deemed the most dangerous beta to use. Not to worry, there are some very good script modders in the community who test the script mods extensively before release. Everything is going back to .package files for us and will be installable via my documents.
I asked about the xml coding like in sims 3. This has already been confirmed to be python based, but there will still be some xml coding in game as well. Now those players who have no idea what I am talking about, this has to do with making simple mods for the game. It has to do with game tuning.
So here in the next 2 weeks they will be posting a Custom Content Technology Document right on the forum for modding in the Official Sims 4 Forum. All the data formats will be on this document. They plan to update this as the game progresses. This simmer tried to get her hot little hands on that document while there, but of course it was a no.
Tomorrow we will talk about day 3 classes and get into Gameplay.
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