Generations EP 'hands-on'


The Generations Event, London.

On Thursday April 14th I was invited down to London to get 'hands on' with the next Expansion Pack for Sims 3 and to talk with one of the producers on the game, Graham Nardone. Having already read many interviews that had been posted quoting Graham from his wild press tour of Europe I felt as familiar with his answers to the same questions I had already seen as I think he was. So rather than posting the same interview that every other fansite is posting I'll just incorporate what I learned from him in my article. We aren't allowed to call it a review, or a preview, so an article it is (probably because this is an early build of the game and may or may not incorporate all of the features and objects mentioned here, so don't be surprised if they pull something as they have done in the past).

"So... what do you think?" (asked countless times an hour all day)

"Unconventional". That's how I summed up Generations when people asked me what I thought of it. That's not a bad thing, but Generations doesn't quite follow the usual principle of Sims Expansions. There are no new neighborhoods, no new locations to visit, no pets, no snow. I've previewed got 'hands on' with most of the EP's from the games and this was quite different from all others. Generations is more about "bringing it back to being about the Sims" as Graham put it when I asked what the initial objectives were for EP4 in the early development plans. The reason you don't need all the new locations, 'hoods and places to visit with Generations is because this pack injects tons of new content into your existing Sims lives and worlds. It's a huge enhancement to the base game really, which I have seen criticised around the community already, with people suggesting that all these things should have been in the base game from the start. Well, we have to consider that The Sims 3 can be improved upon in almost countless ways, so if the Dev's tried to incorporate all of the Generations features (and all the others EP content that people say should have been included) the game would never actually ship. It's like a work in progress, it will never be "complete", and so EP's are the way that the developers build on this 'work of art'. Just had to get that off my chest before I delve into the goodies ;-)

Seen it, read it, know it

Like me (as a Sims fan) you probably read all the other articles already posted about Generations, so during my time with the game I tried to find new stuff and delve deeper into things we may already know. I'll have to include some of the obvious content because it's so prominent (use it as confirmation if you will) but read on for more juicy details. I'll stop waffling now!

Loading up the game, the usual addition of imaginary loading scripts sweep across the bottom of the screen. "Whittling canes... Sparking imaginations... Timing mood swings..." They give an idea of what to expect when your game loads for the first time!

Life: The long and short of it

Bouncing into the game settings, the first thing I noticed was that you now have more control over the Lifespan of your Sims. Rather than a generic 3 settings, you can now choose length in days for each of the life stages, so if a long retirement is more your thing, max out the oldies to 365 days. If you don't like baby or toddler chores, drop them down to 1 day so they grow up super speed or if you're a glutton for punishment, raise them up for maximum cuteness time. Effectively you now have a choice of lifespan for your Sims from between 7 and 1930 days! Here are the options:

Baby:              1 to 65 days
Toddler:          1 to 150 days
Child:              1 to 150 days
Teen:              1 to 300 days
Young Adult:    1 to 450 days
Adult:              1 to 450 days
Elder:              1 to 365 days

Writing of Elders, they don't miss out on having their generation enhanced with this pack. They can sit with their grandchildren and tell stories, reminiscing of days gone by, but if you buy them a cane they can also hobble around berating the world or anyone and anything that crosses their path.

 

Babies and Toddlers get a few enhancements with strollers, new toys and interactions with their families. Children and Teens get a great boost with fun stuff to do from dressing up in costumes and playing in tree houses to boarding schools and pranks.

 

Adults and Young Adults get to have more intimate relations with engagements and weddings being prominent once again, wild parties and the return of memories bring with them grudges and mistrust.

Boarding Schools for the Gifted

I just mentioned the new Boarding School so lets delve into them deeper. This EP does not bring with it all the detail of the University EP from Sims 2 but it does allow your Sim kids to get out of the house more to enhance their learning. Boarding Schools offer a unique educational experience for Child and Teen Sims if their parents are willing to take on the tuition costs. There are 5 styles available, each of which train students in different skills and advocate certain traits. They are:

Fort Starch Military School:        §800 per child
School of Peace and Love:         §800 per child
Dribbledine Sports Academy:     §1,200 per child
LeFromage Art School:              §1,200 per child
Smuggleworth Prep School        §1,600 per child

The kids also get to go on field trips (if you, acting as their parents? allow them to).They can be kicked out of school for poor performance but once graduated will leave with additional life skills which will certainly help them progress in later life.

One of the most memorable events of a Sim Teen's life is attending Prom. Teen Sims get an invite with the time and date of their school's annual dance. They could go Stag but they might be invited by a friend to go as a date, or they could ask a secret crush to the Prom. Once at the Prom they can tear up the dance floor or even reign as Prom King or Queen. Sims elected to the Prom Court receive a special object in their inventories.

Tree House Horrors

Grahame gushed over the tree houses, one of his favourite additions to the EP, of which there are 3 types:

Kids Clubhouse:                                     §1,000 - Fun 7
Sci-Fi Hideaway:                                    §1,500 - Fun 7
The Princess and the Pauper Castle:        §1,500 - Fun 7

Kids climb up into the trees to play and can act out all kinds of fantasies up there. For example, my kids were pretending there was a pirate invasion, so we saw cannons exploding all around while pirate music played away in the background, bringing you into the world of your Sims kids imaginations! Word has it, adults can use the Tree Houses too, for a little WooHoo! Here are some screens of the 3 tree house types (as with all images, click for a larger version):

 

Daddy Day Care

As I already mentioned, this unconventional EP doesn't add a lot of the common additions to the game but there is one new profession to add to those that you might already have from Ambitions. These aren't like the base game jobs as you need to pretty much manage the Sim in their work. Welcome to what I would consider my worst nightmare... the Daycare Profession!
Every weekday, several toddlers will be dropped off in the morning until the parents pick them up in the evening. You will need to feed, change and play with them all as happy kids lead to happy tips and rewards! The better the daycare specialist the more kids will turn up and the more money will be earned, including school age children after school. These kids will need to be encouraged to get their homework done during this time to get the best rating and rewards.

"Just don't blow yourself up"

Boys eh? I had one, every kid I knew had one, and I'm sure it scared the wotsits out of our parents when we played with them. Chemistry Sets have made their way into the game and can be used to make all manner of potions which can be used for both positive and negative effects on Sims.

Sims who are adept in the Logic Skill can mix potions into drinks, creating a "mysterious drink" that looks like colored water. Put it in the fridge or leave it on the counter for other Sims to find and drink. Potions I discovered included the 'Ninja Vanish Potion' which teleports Sims home instantly (great for getting out of trouble fast), 'Ghost Potion' which lets Sims spend some time on the other side, 'Mood Enhancer' which brings happiness,  'Bladder Flow' which causes a Sim to empty themselves post-haste and the 'Radical Repairium' which gives and instant Handiness Skill boost. Here are the others with costs, which I was able to create in my short time:

Mood Enhancer:                              §5
Stink Juice:                                     §10
Liquid Horror:                                 §20
Radical Reparium:                           §50
Bladder Flow:                                  §75
Sleeping Elixir:                                §90
Ghost Potion:                                  §125
Ninja Vanish:                                   §250
Imaginary Friend Metamorphium:      §4,500

Grahame suggested that there were 10+ potions so there are still some for you to discover for yourself using the Catalyst Chemistry Lab Station.

More about the things you already knew...

Video Cameras allow your Sims to film their surroundings and to use these videos later in life to reminisce or teach kids about their ancestors. The videos can also be used as incriminating evidence when challenging spouses! The great thing about Video Cameras is that it allows you as a player to see the game world from a Sim's perspective as game view drops down to Sim level while you act as director and cameraman. Videos are stored on memory cards which can be extracted and carried and played on almost any TV screen your Sim comes across. Sims in the area will respond to the video being played just as though they were witnessing the event happen, which is crazy impressive! And yes, Video Cameras can be used in Tombs! 'The Mummy Returns', anyone?

Memories and Facebook /TheSims.com integration: When a significant event happens in one of your Sims lives an entry is made in their new Scrapbook. You can browse and edit these entries but you can also create your own during gameplay whenever you want to save a moment for prosperity, marking it as either a positive, negative or neutral event. These memories can then be shared via Facebook or TheSims3.com.

Costume Chests allow your Sim kids to dress up as a Dinosaur, Astronaut, a Prince or a Princess. Interestingly, kids of either gender can be Princes or Princesses (a bit of cross dressing never hurt anyone), and there are a choice of 3 different colors for each outfit (might change before final release).

Sleeping Bags have been introduced mainly for the benefit of Slumber Parties, allowing your Sims to have friends over for late night shenanigans without them having to leave with the party in full swing. We don't yet know if these can be used in Tombs or outside the Bookstore awaiting the release of the latest thriller, but that would be a nice touch!

Lifetime Rewards see 7 new additions including the Hover Bed which costs 20,000 points. I was just able to achieve 20k in the time I had to buy this, the cheapest of the rewards available. Bask in the glory of the quickly thrown together screenshot! Sims can of course WooHoo on this causing it to tip and tilt all over the place. Other rewards include the Clone Voucher, Super Nanny, Clean Slate and more.

The Catalogue Filter: It returns! The filter allows you to turn on and off content from each of your installed Stuff and Expansion Packs to make it easier to find the content you are looking for. View just one pack or several, or you can filter only EA Store content or Custom Content you downloaded or created. No option to create your own collections yet but I did raise this with Graham, pointing out the foundations were now set for them to include collections and sets with the next pack ;-)

Imaginary Friends are the talk of the town with this EP so you have probably read all about the way that your Sim kids can play with them, that only they can see them and that you can actually control them, switching between real and imaginary Sim after drinking the 'Imaginary Friend Metamorphium'. But I couldn't resist showing you this screenshot I took showing the differences between having the child Sim selected and not:

So... what do you think?

Go on.. say it.. "Unconventional"! Do you agree?

I had a great time playing with Generations but as usual with these events, there just isn't enough time to see and do everything in the game. TSR Featured Artist BlackGarden was with me at the event and has no doubt covered different things in her report so be sure to check that out on BlackGarden's Blog. I know for a fact she has some screens from a bachelor party her Sim girls threw where half nekkid firemen turned up! You will also find more details about the Lifetime Rewards there.

Plenty of comedy in this pack as usual and I think people will generally be happy to see all of their existing families benefit as much from all the new content, rather than just those in a new neighbourhood.

I'll finish with a bunch of screenshots of things which I was unable to elaborate on as time just didn't permit for game exploration that deeply. One thing there are plenty of pictures of (because I knew you would ask) is one of the new Houses that come with Generations. Remember the Dolls House that kids have been playing with since base game? Well, that has been faithfully reproduced into a beautiful, very playable house for your Sim families to live in, so enjoy the many interior screens from there.

Feel free to post comments about the article in the news post and tell us what you do and maybe don't like about Generations along with a scale of 1 to 10 of how much you're looking forward to EP4 (1 being that you had to be woken up just to get this far in the article, 10 being that you have actually soiled yourself in the chair with excitement).
Bye for now!

/Steve

Screenshots

The Demo House

The Dolls House

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