Depth and Focus

A big part of what makes The Sims work is the range of choices players are presented with for what they can do with their sims. Abdicating authorship is all well and good, but if the designer fails to provide players enough meaningful choices, players will find themselves only able to author a very narrow range of stories. Indeed, it is the designer s responsibility in creating a software toy to design that toy with a broad enough range of possibilities that the appeal of playing with it is not quickly exhausted. AndWright did that expertly with The Sims , leaving players with a constant feeling that there is so much more to do and see in the game-world, that one could never hope to do it all.

Players can concentrate on building their house, starting either with some of the pre-built houses or constructing one from the ground up. A robust set of house-construction and landscaping tools allows players to create a very large variety of houses , with probably no two built- from-scratch houses ever being the same, even with millions of people playing the game. Once a house is built or purchased, players can concentrate on filling it up with all manner of interesting possessions, which have a variety of effects on the inhabitants of the house. Of course, players get to construct the inhabitants as well, picking from a large range of personalities, body types, ages, ethnicities, and even hairstyles, with the option to make children or adults as well as males or females. Once the sims move into the house, players are able to determine what they eat, what they study, what career they pursue , how they have their fun, and with whom they socialize. Whether it be house building, property acquisition and placement, character creation, or life control, any one of these components includes far more choices than most games provide. When all of these different systems are combined, the range of choices available to players increases exponentially, creating a game with truly unprecedented depth.

Of course, what the sims cannot do in the game is significant as well. The sims cannot-leave their homes except to go to work, and when they do players cannot follow them. Being able to go to other places would be nice, but consider how much more complex the game would need to be to simulate the rest of the world. A massive amount of additional work would have been required, and had that sensible limitation not been made early on in the title s development it might never have been completed. By focusing on the home life, the game is able to get it right in a way it could not have had the game-world of The Sims been larger. In short, what would have been gained in breadth would have been lost in depth. If a designer spends all her time adding an unreasonable range of possibilities to the game, it is likely that any one of the features the game includes will be far shallower than if the designer knows how to focus her efforts.

The Sims also expertly captures the just one more thing style of gameplay. This type of gameplay is perhaps best exemplified by Civilization , where players are constantly looking forward to the next technology to be discovered , the next unit to be built, or the next discovery of new territory. Similarly in The Sims , players may be working on having their sims meet new people, trying to advance their careers, hoping to put an addition on the house, and thinking of someday having them raise a child, all at the same time. Because of these constant aspirations, there is never a good place to stop playing the game; there is constantly something on the horizon to look forward to. Hence the game is fabulously addictive , with captivated players devoting hour upon hour , day after day, and week after week of their lives to the game.

Game Design Theory and Practice
Game Design: Theory and Practice (2nd Edition) (Wordware Game Developers Library)
ISBN: 1556229127
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 189

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