Controlled Versus Autonomous Behavior

In The Sims , players are able to direct their sims to perform certain actions: take out the trash, call up a friend, take a shower, and so forth. The sims will also, however, function on their own without the players direction. The sims contain enough internal logic to tend to their most pressing needs, whether it is to eat, to go to the bathroom, to play a pinball game, or to read today s paper. As players make additions to the house or purchase further possessions, the sims will walk over to new objects and either applaud or complain about them, their reaction dependent on how much they like each particular object. This communicates to the players whether the sim is generally going to be happy with the new possession or if the sim would rather it were not there. Since the way the house is set up is a big component of the sim s total happiness, this provides crucial information to players about how to best set up the house.

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The sims have some intelligence of their own, which frees up the player from having to worry about every last detail of their lives.

The autonomous behavior of the sims also allows players to set up the house and then sit back and watch how the sims live in it. This makes the game more like SimCity , in which players could only set up the framework of the city ” its streets , its zones, its key buildings ” and then see how the inhabitants of the city live in it. Players of The Sims can build a pleasant house that they think would be good to live in, then sit back, and watch the sims inhabit it, using their default behavior. This provides yet another avenue for interesting gameplay.

The sims generally do not have the foresight of players, however, and as a result will perform better, be more productive, and be happier if players smartly direct their every move. For instance, the sims will not try to improve their career- boosting skills of their own volition, such as improving their creativity by learning how to paint. So it is often in the players best interest to override the sims internal choices for what action to perform next , if they want the sim to attain her full potential. This keeps the player feeling smart, or at least smarter than the computer. However, the autonomous behavior avoids players having to micro-manage every little decision. Sure, being able to tell the sims exactly what to do is a key part of the game, but if players are controlling a number of sims at once, planning something for every one of them to do at a given moment can be quite a task. The sims internal behavior helps to off-load this responsibility from players when the players do not want to worry about it.

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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