E3 Coverage: Day 1

Well its really day 2 at E3, however I was unfortunately not able to attend yesterday because of prior engagements.

Alright face it, E3. It is the biggest place in the world where the industries top gaming companies gather under one roof to showcase their latest products. Don’t get me wrong, but the place is a complete mad house! People shouting over each other, cellphone airwaves jammed up with people talking nonstop, media and press pushing you out of the way, and companies giving away their stuff trying to get their 5 seconds of attention. Sadly to say despite the entire sims community’s size, WorldSims was the only fansite representing the community. As I stepped into the South Hall, booth 1000 of Electronic Arts, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people that helped out at Sims 2 University. My first person I met: Robyn Chandler, head of Public Relations for EA and Maxis. We shoke hands briefly and had a quick chat and she pointed me in the right direction of The Sims 2 Booth.

I casually strolled through the booth hoping to get a glimpse at what’s new, and let me tell you now, I could hardly recognize the game. Oh on another note, The Sims 2 has been nominated for “Best Simulation Game of the Year” (Not sure nominated or won the award… will check today).

I got a chance to met up with Tim LeTourneau who took the time to give me an update on The Sims 2. First the custom content browser built into the game that access The Sims 2 Exchange directly and have the ability to download stuff directly in. That’s really not significant to what Maxis has done.

First changes are in the neighborhood. As we know there are community lots in the game. The community lots purposes don’t serve the same role as they did in Vacation and Hot Date. They are mainly a place for people to shop, buy food, clothes, socialize, and so forth. Added to the game, and fully expanded, are plopable items. As we’ve stated before, there are so many plopable items that you can do. Added to the game now are trees, and a few terrain tools so you can alter the terrain (I saw lots only… not sure for the neighborhood completely.) As usual, only straight roads. No Diagnoals ones. Rush hour isn’t supported unfortunately so all those fancy bridges won’t work. Additional plopable items that made it, hot air balloon, waterfalls, water tower, radio tower, satellite dish, and more! There were so many, eigh, too many to write.

What about Cars? Well they are nothing more but decoration folks, according to Tim. You can acquire them when you gain a significant level of wealth, however, well they don’t serve much of a purpose other than decoration. “Maybe in a future expansion pack, who knows” Tim told me.

On another note, our famous Riverside is now called “Pleasantville.” I saw four neighborhoods at E3: Pleasantville, Waterside, StrangeCity and Veronaville. The house tools are really impressive. I was awed at this one house that was built in StrangeCity. It was just a house built with glass and columns, and stairs. It was really impressive and I MUST show you guys a picture. HOwever the above aren’t really what’s important. What’s important is the game has a new twist.

The game has evolved into five different categories or themes: Family, Fame, Fortune, Knowledge and Romance. Each of the older screenshots you have see depict this one of these categories. Each sim you have will fall under one of these categories. This leads to various objectives and goals defined by your sims aspiration.

What else is new in the game, is the wants and needs, and fears. As a player, it is your choice whether to give your sim what he wants and desires, or what give him his fears. As you accomplish more of your sims needs, you are rewarded with longevitiy, unlockable objects, and let’s say a few other surprises. Lucy took the time to talk to me how this determines the life of your sim. “If you satisfy your sims needs, you extend their life. Stress our sims out and they die earlier. Stress kills.” Lucy told me.

Over the course of the day, I met up with various Maxis people, including Tim LeTourneau, Lucy Bradshaw, Patrick, Jonathan Knight, Luc Barthelet, Mike Perry, Desiree Baldwin, and Will Wright.

Mike Perry (Game Developer at Maxis) showed me The Urbz. Whereas in The Sims 2 and the objectives were to satisfy the needs and desires of your sims, The Urbz is all about setting up your repuitation. The game is divided into different divisions of the town. What’s neat about the Urbz is you have this new “mini” games within the game itself that helps you accelerate faster in the game. Each division of the city has its own culture, wealth, and style. As you continue to play the game, you develop a repuitation. Do your job well in the game (let’s say Sushi chef), you learn a technique or style that adds to your repuitation.

It was very interesting least to say and Mike hinted there may be a future release for the PC though it hasn’t been determined.

I plan to spend more time at E3 tommorow covering the rest of The Sims 2. For those who are at E3, look for a guy wearing a “Sims 2 University Shirt”. Chances are it is me.

I’ll wrap things up with an Interview with Lucy Bradshaw with selected questions we choose to be asked in our thread for people wanting to get their questions answered at E3.

ManagerJosh: “Thanks for taking time to answer a few of the fans questions Lucy.”
Lucy: “No problem.”
ManagerJosh: What’s the deal with weather? Is it officially removed from the game?”
Lucy: “Yes. We felt it wasn’t a necessary aspect of gameplay as it doesn’t affect how The Sims live unlike Family, Fame, Fortune, and so forth. Plus the additional animations were too complex and were simply not ready. We felt it (weather) wasn’t significant enough and we wanted to make sure that aspirations were completely finished, especially now there is a deadline.”
ManagerJosh: “Any possible chance weather may make it to an expansion pack?”
Lucy: “Most certainly.”
ManagerJosh: “How about basements and attics?”
Lucy: “Attics for sure. As for basements, you basically modify the terrain and put a room down below. It works really well. Not sure if you have seen it yet in action.”
ManagerJosh: “Unfortunately, no. Maybe you can show me if one of the booths free up.”
ManagerJosh: “What about college: “”
Lucy: “Not in The Sims 2. Maybe later. Sorry.”
ManagerJosh “A bunch of the fans wanted to know how long Lifecycles are. Like how like each life stage is equaled to how many human hours.”
Lucy: “We’re still fine-tuning that part right now. You can probably expect an entire sim life, toddler to death, to be approximately 20 human hours. However this isn’t final and can change.”
ManagerJosh: “What about ladders in the game?”
Lucy: “Nope. Not sure why anyone would want them.”
ManagerJosh: “Perhaps to curse their sims? Make them walk under it?”
Lucy laughs.
Lucy: “Oh my! Well that’s a thought, but then that’s what the black cat is for.”
ManagerJosh: “Well, last question. What happens to a child when a parents meet an untimely death?”
Lucy: “Well, after a couple of days, a social worker will eventually come and take the child away.”
ManagerJosh: “So what happens to a child? Gets placed with another family?”
Lucy: “No. Basically the social worker takes the child away complete. You would no longer have any control over that sim.”
ManagerJosh: “That’s it Lucy. Thanks!”
Lucy: “Not a problem!”

We’ve reopened the thread to allow last minute questions. Please take the time to goto this thread and post your questions. Same rules apply!

Stay tune for tommorow. I hope to have some Digital photographs up on the site (had a mishap with my camera…low batteries crud.)

On another note, those who love to read Lucy’s weekly newsletter, I regret there will be none as she is in Los Angeles for E3. Next week folks!

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