Words From Andy
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Sims 3 announced & a look at simulation gaming

Sims 3 cover art

I was surfing the internet today and came across an ad for the Sims 3, I was unaware that this game was even under development, let alone ready to be shipped in 2 months (June 2nd). The game boasts improvements over it's predecessors, by allowing the user to us a color wheel to change colors of object. Sounds small, and really I don't know why they didn't do this before, but it's kinda a big deal.

I was actually playing Sims 2 a few months ago with my Fiancee, who had never played it. She became frustrated when trying to make a Sim Andy that the hair colors provided did not match mine. This new feature would allow the user to perfectly set the skin tone, hair color, eye color, shirt color, chair color, wall color etc etc. The user is also allowed to give the sims personality traits, such as being a flirt, a kleptomaniac, insanity, being evil, the list goes on. What they have basiclly done is bumped up the character creation screen. I love this. They also will allow the sims to move around the town, so you can actually just walk over to the neighbors with out having to reload everything. That's awesome, but I really want to look at the idea of character customization, cus I think this is a big issue that many game companies do not give enough credence to. The Sims is the perfect example as to why.

Think about it, what is the sims? It's a simulation game of the sims life. You are literally playing someones life. And I don't know about you, but it reminds me of a quote from Brian Regan about watching fishing shows. "Ever watch fishing on TV? That will make you worry about yourself. Your sitting there going 'Oh i better get a life, I watching fishing. I'm too lazy to fish... I'm taping fishing... to watch again latter.'" It's kinda like that, is your life really that boring that you need to live vicariously though computer graphics? But the thing is people love to do this, why? It's something Shigeru Miyamoto hit on very early into the gaming age.

People are will intrinsically care more about a character if they feel a personal attachment to it. That's actually why Link is named link, he is supposed to be a link between the player and the game. Being able to see yourself in a character was key, but think how awesome it would be if not only seeing yourself in the character, but you WERE the character.

I don't know about you, but when I first got the Sims 2 the first character I made was an Andy Sim. I was an athlete. Being able to take yourself out of your life and be in another one for a short time is the point of gaming. In real life could I play for Manchester United? HA! But in EA's FIFA, I can create myself as a soccer player be put into their roster. And that is cool.

I recently was staying at my brother's house to watch his dogs while he was out of town. And while at his house I became very, very addicted to Soul Caliber 4, why? The character creation. The game allows you to create your own characters. And I did that, nearly all day.

So, it's obvious with the success of the Sims, the success of Miis, character creation tools, etc, that people like to be in control of what their character is like. What's the next step? I think the next step would be for something like a Call of Duty to place a character creation tool in it. Would it be difficult to do, I don't think it would be as bad as you would think, not to mention it would take the ability to put you in the game one step further. How awesome would it be to be playing online against your friend and actually see your friend? Or be playing as your beer league soccer team on line against other beer league soccer teams in FIFA. I it would be a hit.

The demand is there, the ability is there, or will be shortly, and if game companies are not thinking about this, they really should be.

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