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Sims 4 – Prior to Release Information

Sims 4 is the highly anticipated fourth installment of the strategic life simulation video games series, The Sims. It is scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter of 2014 for both Microsoft Windows and OS X. Its potential release date was announced by Electronic Arts on May 6, 2013. The developers of the Sims 4 are The Sims Studio and Maxis, unlike the previous installment in the series, the Sims 3. The publisher is Electronic Arts, as always with The Sims series.

The Sims 4 will be a single player, offline game, although it is required to have an origin account to install the game. Unlike Electronic Arts’ usual DRM, a constant internet connection will not be required. There will be some social gameplay elements, for those that choose to go online – details have not been given.

Lacking something in Sims 3

The latest released installment of The Sims franchise, Sims 3, has the player interact in the most major way with their Sims by managing motive bars, which represent that individual Sim’s needs and desires, both physical and mental. These motive bars include: hunger/thirst, social, hygiene, fun, energy, and bladder. There are additional, hidden motive bars for special life states. These motive bars influence your Sim’s mood, which is represented by a more complexly tiered, vertical bar. Your Sim’s mood ranges in degrees of bad to good, which influences what actions your Sim can perform, how well your Sim can do them, and whether or not your Sim will fail at something in particular. Usually a Sim is only bared from being able to do certain actions when they are in a terrible mood, shown by a stark red in the mood bar. In such a terrible mood, your Sim instead will only be able to do actions that fulfill their relevant dire need, or needs; for example sleeping, or even eating. Each installment of the game has so far focused on this kind of interaction with your Sim.

While it is enjoyable to live out the life of your Sim, maintaining his or her motive bars while accomplishing feats, improving skills, amassing money, building relationships, starting families, designing homes, and all the other things Sims can do, there is a certain depth lacking. Interacting directly with your Sim, there are only negatives and positives. Sim is stressed from working too hard? Just play some video games on their computer. Then go back to working. That’s it.

Fill a motive bar to max, and there is no longer any reason to continue in that activity, other than the sheer enjoyment of partaking in the game, and perhaps a more personally invested reaction. This applies particularly to fun and social. Don’t socialize for long enough, and your Sim will become lonely. Have your Sim talk to another Sim for a little while, and it will fill up quickly. Other than that – in terms of socialization – you can build and change the relationships your Sim has with other Sims, like acquaintance to friend, romantic interest to girlfriend or boyfriend, and things like that.

There just is not a depth to your Sim as if they were a person. Sure, you can tell they’re either in a bad or good mood, but there’s no way to discern what they’re really thinking or feeling. There are the reward guided wishes, but those are not really it either.

Emotions!

In the Sims 4, Sims now have the depth of emotions, which is purported to have massive influences on your Sims’ behavior and interactions. In the Sims 4, your Sim would now have the capacity to feel, develop, and express emotions. This, in turn, would affect other Sims around your Sim. Instead of just motive bars to be concerned about and manage, to further your own goals with your Sim, your Sim would now have emotions and feelings about everything they do.

In an indubiously gameplay controlled environment, Electronic Arts showed through a youtube released video the possibilities and range in this in a social environment like a party amongst a few Sims, within the home of three roommate Sims. These three roommate Sims were named Sophia, Ollie, and Andre. Andre and Ollie are said to be fighting for Sophia’s attention, as the usual.

The demonstration starts out with Andre talking to Sophia, with the dominant emotion of confident. Andre is grinning, showing that he is having a good time and is doing well at talking with Sophia. To the left, there is an avatar conveying Andre’s emotional state – confident, shaded the hue mint green. It is doubtful the Sims’ emotional states will be displayed in such a way when the game is finished and released. You do not see any UI display in the demonstration video, except in other categories.

When the video demonstration turns to Ollie, you see that is he sitting there, bored. Instead of that emotional state inhibiting your choices to be stuck within that emotional state, you actually have some options available to alter your Sim’s emotional state and those around you. Ollie plays a morose song upon a violin in the living room, where the Sims are gathered – including Andre. And when Andre listens to this song, he becomes depressed, literally crying into his hands. That is a broad spectrum shift from confident to depressed, which depressed is colored by a deep shade of blue. Andre’s shoulders are hunched, his arms hanging, and his eyebrows are upturned, all portraying his depressive state.

Like a tactical retreat, Andre leaves the living room before attention can be turned to his fragile, embarrassing state. The video then concentrates on Ollie, who is first shown to have the emotional state of Fine, hued like a turquoise green. This avatar has a pleased smile. Ollie is now speaking to Sophia, the woman the two Sims are fighting over.

The demonstration returns to Andre, still depressed. The expression you see on Andre is very similar to the model of the avatar, with upturned eyebrows and a lip-quivering pout. It’s possible that those avatars are just pulled directly from the video’s footage, and instead how it is represented in game may be entirely different.

You can see that Andre does not have to do anything specific to shift from his depressed mood. He eases out of it gradually, to a more mild form of sadness. In game, this would create a more realistic and dynamic emotional state system, as you would not be forced to always do something to change your Sim’s emotional state. In my opinion, this contributes to a further differentiation from the encumbering effects of the motive bar system, as your Sims in Sims 4 would have the capability to ebb and flow emotionally.

The avatar and hue for the emotional state of Sad have no difference to the Depressed emotional state. As purported, there are many choices to be made across and within the spectrum of emotions the Sims can have. Perhaps there is some tinge of maliciousness in sad, or voodoo magic is an interaction that is not locked to any range or type of emotion. From the information released, you can only speculate how exactly interactions and choices are limited by emotional states. Is it you can only choose to do certain things when in a certain emotional state, like sad? Or is it they are more apt and effective when in certain emotional states? It makes sense that your Sim could cry into his or her pillow when sad, but can’t do that when happy. How far does that go though? Does it determine what skills and magic your Sim can access?

The voodoo magic Andre uses on Ollie causes a dramatic mood shift for Ollie, as Ollie transforms from the emotional state of Fine, to the emotional state of Furious. This looks like a heightened state of anger, colored a vivid scarlet red, with Ollie’s avatar having his shoulders pinched and pushed up, his arms straight at his sides, and his expression grimacing like he is in a full blown shouting argument.

Stewing in his fury, Ollie leaves and stomps into the home gym. Railing on the punching bag there, Ollie works out his fury enough that his emotional state lessens to the emotional state of Angry, which evidently seems to be less severe than furious even though the displayed avatars on the left are no different, not even in the hue.

Next, the emotional state of Flirty is shown, with a hue of bright pink. This emotional state was said to be caused by an object that influenced the Sims (in the video demonstration, this is cited as a ‘frisky’ painting, which is just a painting of a female astronaut riding a 60’s comic book style rocket ship in space). This is similar in mechanic to the morose song on the Violin Ollie played previously in the video demonstration, except in a more subtle way, and without requiring a Sim to perform a specific action. This implies that a wide variety of objects, places, and events can illicit emotional reactions in your Sims. Furthermore, those emotional reactions should vary as per your Sims personality. All of this results in a heightened depth for creative and immersive gameplay.

All of this causes Andre to ask Sophia if he wants to see his ‘Rocket Ship’, while Ollie has finally returned to the living room, with the emotional state of Cranky. Since the emotional state of Cranky still has the scarlet hue, and the identical avatar to Furious and Angry, this shows that Cranky is the least severe of the three revealed emotional states pertaining to anger.

As it turns out there really is a rocket ship outside, a wrought metal contraption with stamped nails, protruding propulsion systems, and a red spinning wheel to open the door. Briefly, you see the heightened emotional state pertaining to romantic, named Passionate.

So while the released information has shown a scattering of emotional states, likely what the game will feature will be branches of emotions. Each branch will contain a mild to severe range of emotional states, like Cranky, Angry, to Furious. Confident likely pertains to a state of joy or contentment. Focused might be less concentrated around a happy to sad spectrum, and instead deriving from determination. Hysterical would probably be surrounding humor. It is difficult to say where the emotional state of bored would fit; maybe there is a more neutral category that sits at the center of the branching emotional states.

Create A Sim

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The customization possible in the Create A Sim is heightened in a way that is complementary to the addition of emotional states in the Sims 4. You can choose personalities for your Sims. A revealed instance of this is the choice of your Sims’ gait.

In the Sims 4, no longer are you restricted to only using sliders to customize the appearance of your Sim. You hover your mouse over any specific area of your Sim’s body, which will highlight the malleable area, and then you click, drag, pull, and push to shape that area of your Sim. This way of customization is fluid and dynamic, allowing a far higher concentration of detail to your Sim, and an altogether greater unique look to your Sim.

While you could adjust a fair amount of your Sim’s look in the Sims 3, the Create a Sim system did not offer much in terms of range for how your Sim looked. There were presets available to change the ears, the face, the nose, and etc.; and then an advanced mode that you adjusted that category with sliders. It was difficult, and required mods to attain a higher level of customization, that could often cause glitches. Every area of your Sim’s body is available for customization. It is a lot like shaping a lump of clay with human shaped ranges. From what has been shown so far, you do not seem to get any hyper unrealistic dimensions and shapes, but that is not to say you cannot make your Sim look supernatural, strange, or goofy. The manipulation points alter from the angle you are viewing your Sim’s model in the Create a Sim as well. This appears to most heavily feature when augmenting the features of your Sim’s head and face. And when you alter points on your Sim’s face, preset styles show up, offering you features that differ greatly in appearance from one another. From which if you choose one, you can freely manipulate the shape. It is specifically stated that you are not locked to any preset you choose, from body type, to eyes, and anything else.

You can even augment the posture of your Sim, by dragging and pulling on the Sim’s spine from a side viewing angle.

There is an advanced mode as well, that upon zooming in to your Sim, you have even more precise manipulation points available to you. For example, the size of your Sim’s irises.

Finally hair styles are independent from any kind of hat. There is additional clothing physics added to the Sims 4, so that clothing appropriately interacts with each other, instead of intersecting each other’s models. Boots will go over jeans, while bellbottoms will overlap boots.

  • Customizable gait.

Shown so far are four available gaits, that are almost all personality polarized. The first one is unnamed so far, delegated to ‘Default walk style’. It has a more normal style of walking. The 2nd one is named perky, as each step is bouncy, the Sim’s chest is thrust out more, and the hands swim more. The legs do appear to move narrower, more feminine. The 3rd is called snooty. The Sim’s nose is upturned, her lips pursed and her hands clasped tightly. The 4th one is called swagger. The Sim’s shoulders tilt back and forth, a bit like rocking, and the arms lazily sway. Most of the time, the way the legs move has subtle differences.

  • Traits

As to what kind of traits there are, those are not yet revealed, but in the Create A Sim demonstration, visible in the UI displayed on the left of the screen was icons for five traits. Each icon was unique in some way. They have yet to be commented on directly. It’s possible that either these were already selected traits, or that the unique icons displayed categories. That might mean that you can only choose traits from categories, and cannot have more than one of that category. Like you could not have two traits that augment skills.

Whether or not it’s permanent, lifetime wish appears to be altered to ‘primary aspiration’. This might instead be a coloring for the Sim’s whole life, rather than a very specific goal to achieve with the substantial reward of lifetime wish points.

  • Voice

The customization of the voice appears to be more user friendly, and less ambiguous as to what you are adjusting via the slider. There is a bar where you can control the spectrum of low to high. There are then three further graphical augments, one looks like a piece of candy, the second looks like a musical note, and the third looks like a singing bird. As to what this affects it likely is a different voice, or a drastically different voice modulation.

Considering that it has been confirmed that there will be brand new voice over content for the Sims 4, and no re-used voices from the previous installments of the Sims, we should be able to expect high quality and less distorted voices for our Sims. Some of the slider-made voices in the Sims 3 could sound very strange, and there generally was not much uniqueness for how the Sims sounded.

Build Mode

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The Sims 4 Build Mode has been overhauled in a similar vein as the Create A Sim as. It has become more about shaping. At best for augmenting an already designed and put down room, or house, you could drag the walls in the Sims 3. This would essentially copy and paste additional walls, the wallpaper and flooring attached in that small area. If there was a wall that was slanted adjacent to it, then you could not drag the wall you wanted. If there were any counters against the wall you wanted to adjust, then you could not do it either. If you wanted that room somewhere else in the house, you would have to demolish the entire thing, and then build it all over again elsewhere.

In the Sims 4, you can freely push and pull on the edges of rooms, expanding and decreasing their size. This appears to be generally how you create rooms as well now. You start out with a small box, and then push and pull until you get the shape you want. This is not limited to walls, as can be seen in the video demonstration that bulky balcony rails can be dragged along with the cursor. If you want to move where a room is located, you can pick it up and place it elsewhere.

Altogether the Build Mode seems both simplified and improved, its fluid customization more suited for creativity and freedom.

Multitasking

In Sims 3, Sims were generally only capable of doing one thing at a time. This probably does not sound too bad, but when looked at closer, it does not make much sense. You, as a person, can walk and play with your phone at the same time. You can talk to multiple people at once, engaging not just one person in a topic, but multiple. You can brew a pot of coffee while talking to someone. You can hold hands with someone else while you walk even. These usually are just things Sims could not do.

In the Sims 4, Sims are purported to be able to multitask across a broad variety of activities. They have yet to be demonstrated, but the Sims will be able to walk and talk at the same time, and perform similar simultaneous activities. This is expanded to parties and social gatherings. In the Sims 3, when a party was thrown, the Sims would gather at the designated area, but then they would remain as they normally are, separate and disconnected. You would have to engage each and every one individually. If you tried to have a conversation with multiple Sims at once, rarely was the conversation directed at more than one Sim at a time, despite that your Sim would gain relationship points towards multiple Sims. After you forcibly initiated a ‘group conversation’, it would just look like the other Sim was just happening to be standing there.

All the Sims in the party are supposed to be able to freely socialize with one another. Talking in the room would be like talking to everyone. The details are ambiguous though.

In the Sims 3 there was a small and fairly niche occurrence of Sims multitasking. Because of each Sims’ high freewill, often they would wander away while you were trying to interact with multiple Sims at once. It tended to be a struggle and a chore to perform interconnected activities with one another, and of what ones were possible anyway. Even Sims that were in the same household would infrequently sit together at the same dining table to eat if there were multiple options to sit at. You could neither designate where your Sim was going to sit either. Sure, you could tell them where to sit, but then they would just get up to pick up their food and then choose wherever they wanted to sit to eat. Calling a household to a meal might have them sit together though. Whenever they would sit at the same table to eat, they could talk to each other autonomously, gaining relationship points with each other.

What seems to be possible in the Sims 4 is that you can freely interact with another Sim while performing certain activities already. Like there might be dialog options available to choose from while your Sim is eating. That simply does not exist in the Sims 3.

Graphics and Style

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There is a significant improvement in the graphics the Sims 4 has to offer compared to the previous installments of the franchise. Much of this is concentrated in the style. The graphics are now cell shaded. It is not as severe as something like Zelda: Windwaker. So while the graphics are cell shaded, the appearance the Sims have is now more realistic. You can more accurately create Sims after the various ethnicities that exist in the world. Details such as jawlines, noses, chins, and the like are less round and unspecific like the Sims 3.

There is crispness to the graphics, and a bloom applied. It’s a different direction in terms of style for the Sims franchise, but a definite improvement.

Preordering

Surprisingly in general, but not really so much for Electronic Arts, is that the Sims 4 is available for preorder on their website - thesims.com. There are two versions of the game you can choose from so far, from thesims.com. Alternatively, you can preorder the game from amazon as well. They do not carry the digital edition, but instead have a different kind - premium. The two companies elude to some different content being included in each, but Electronic Arts does not specify the details beyond the names of the general bonus content. It could just be the same bonus content.

  • Limited Edition
    • Includes: Base game
  • Digital Edition
    • Includes: Life of the Party and Up All Night bonus content
  • Premium Edition
    • Includes: Life of the Party with 'Flaming Tiki Bar + Spectacular Party Costumes' and Up All Night with 'Laser Light Show, new parties, outfits, decorations, and recipes.'

  • Note: All information in this article is current as of 31st of January 2014. Sims 4 released gameplay footage and information is based on a pre-alpha version of Sims 4. UI elements, and more, may change. Some of this article contains opinioned speculation that is derived from the limited release of information for the Sims 4.

Article by: Vehement Chrome

games | simulation | sandbox_adventure | role_playing_game


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