Sims 4: Principles of Animation


This article is a challenge. Create a Sim and Build Mode were right up there on people's wish list for information. If I tell you this is about sitting in chairs and walking, you’re unlikely to be impressed, but if you are really interested in Sims 4 I urge you to read, I found the whole subject matter fascinating!

I can't help but feel like a salesman while writing this article though. Some of you might see it as a shameful promotion of Sims 4 in trying to convince you that it is better than Sims 3. Well, that's not my job (leave that to EA marketing). All I can do is pass on my experience and the opinion I formed while at Sims Camp, it is of course for you to make your own assumptions from what you see.

Me personally? I really liked what I saw and was drawn in by the depth of the technical changes and the effort the development team were clearly putting in to this product. I only wish every Sims fan could have seen the presentation we saw from Marion Gothier who gave us the 'Principles of Animation' Masterclass. Most of you would have found it fascinating, I'm sure.

The difficult thing for me here is explaining what we saw without the benefits of the animations and research Video Marion had on hand, but I'll do my best with my mock-ups made in Sims 3!

Principles of Animation

Every single animation in TS4 is new, nothing has been ported over from any previous game and it soon becomes apparent why that would not have worked. The principles of the animation of Sims in TS4 are that they are less robot and more human. Sims have smoother, more natural behaviour motions with vastly improved routing. Group socials and multitasking are two ways that Sims look and feel more human than ever before.

In TS3, Sims could only walk in a straight line, making slight angle adjustments at turning points if necessary. In TS4, Sim can walk in a full 360 degree turn. They can also sidestep, turn while walking and manoeuvre into a tight space. Stepping and turning can be done at the same time so a Sim getting up out of a chair no longer needs to stand, then shuffle to the direction they want to head, then start walking in a straight line. TS4 Sims will raise themselves out of the chair, turn themselves accordingly and start walking in a single, fluid motion, not only making the whole process quicker but looking very realistic. In fact, there are 60 different animations for a Sim stepping and turning in different ways alone!

Sitting is something that has had a major overhaul and seating placements can now be placed on almost anything. We may be lucky enough in future to see Sims sat on counters, tables or even walls! Almost all animations that we have come to expect from a standing Sim can now be made while sitting as well. We watched a Sim multitasking at a dinner table with another Sim. In between eating, the food was placed back on the table to allow for gesturing while talking. Drinks are picked up and put down as needed and while all this is going on, the Sim is twisting in his seat to face the other Sim while talking, or facing forward while eating. It doesn't sound much but when you see it in game it makes you realize how cardboard our past and even current Sims behave.

Another example was given with the storytelling animations. When a Sim tells a story they can gesture wildly, and each story has 3 sections which can have different animations of gestures so it might start out well but end up with little response from the audience, resulting in a failed gesture of disappointment for example. Importantly though, we were shown a Sim telling this story and gesturing while standing, sitting on a chair and even sat on a barstool with his feet on the stool rail. Animations are truly flexible and can be used far more diversely in the game.

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