- Related Stories
For Will Wright, story time is all the timeMarch 13, 2007
'Sims 2 Nightlife' ready to boogieApril 5, 2005
'Sims 2' makes emotional debutSeptember 17, 2004
The secret behind 'The Sims'March 16, 2001
- Related Blogs
'Second Life Herald' book pulls back historical curtain on virtual worlds
November 27, 2007
EA donates SimCity to OLPC
November 10, 2007
(continued from previous page)
Since SimCity and The Sims, there's been lot of competing games in the genre. How do you keep The Sims on top?
Humble: No. 1 is listening to our community. Number two is learning from our mistakes. So if our competitors do things that our players respond to, don't be too proud. And I think listen to your customers and make changes accordingly. It's very important that the customer's always right and you can't let your own internal design religion get ahead of the customer. So that's the answer. Steal ideas where appropriate.
You've got 14 expansions for The Sims and The Sims 2. Is each new one aimed at capturing new demographics?
Humble: There are a few things we do. We have several constituencies within current Sims 2 players we have to address. So, for example, builders who just like build houses. Or people who want to tell stories. So we make sure those constituencies are addressed. When it comes to the pack itself, it's a lot of, "Hey, what would we think is going to be fun?" We usually pick four or five ideas and then go to our players and say, "What do you think is cool?" We had a lot of feedback during the early development process of The Sims 2: Pets. We'd focused a lot on dogs and cats and some users said, "Well, no, I really want hamsters." We said, "It's just going to be a hamster in a cage." And they said, "No, I really want hamsters." So we had to make sure we addressed that. Pets sold more than 6 million copies.
Tell us about SimCity Societies?
Humble: We wanted to follow a similar strategy that we did with The Sims 2, which is, "Hey how can we broaden this? How can we make it less challenging, easier to use, and make it more into a creativity tool?" We've just launched, and we've had a series of really mixed reviews. Our job now is to deliver to our customers who are giving us feedback (and we're giving them) free updates to make sure they get what they want. We're going to stand by them and add that challenge that they're looking for and add that extra depth. We got the (general) accessibility bit down and now we need to address their concerns, "Hey, I want more push back. I want more challenge." It's usually been the opposite: "Hey, your game's too complicated. Make it easier."
How has The Sims franchise changed video games?
Humble: I think it has been extremely healthy for the games business as a whole. I think that whether you're associated with The Sims or not, you could point to it and say, "Hey! They're different." No matter what criticisms you have of the games industry, you can always point to The Sims for a counter argument. I think it's a very, very healthy franchise for the business. It's a legacy that's been built up by a lot of people.
Is there anything different culturally at Electronic Arts between The Sims studio and others, like EA Sports?
Humble: Oh, yeah it's huge. One of the strengths about EA is it lets each studio have its own culture. So, we're known as the hippies on the second floor. That's our rep and we like that and it's nice to be thought of as different. I think every game studio has its own culture. If you're working on an action title, you don't want The Sims vibe. You really don't. It's not going to be good for your game. So if you walk around The Sims studio, for example, the posters on the walls will be home furnishings and the latest fashion and that's very different from most studios that you walk through. So you have a totally different vibe and it's a credit to EA for allowing that level of diversity within its studio organization. I mean we really feel totally free to make our own culture.
Do people who work on The Sims team tend to have different backgrounds than those in other studios?
Humble: Yes. So we've got the highest percentage of women developers out of all of EA. We get a lot of people working on Sims games who simply wouldn't be in the games business otherwise. So if you've got a Ph.D. in computer science and you want to make a Sims game, you may not be interested in most other kinds of games. So we do have a different vibe. And I'm not sure why this is the case, but as someone pointed out to me, one out of three people's names in The Sims division you won't be able to pronounce correctly because it's really international.
Will there be a Sims 3?
Humble: Well, who knows? Yeah, of course, there will be. We are looking forward to talking about it in the future, but not now.
4 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment