The Sims

The Sims 1 Crowd Sitter

It turns out you can get a whole lot of The Sims 1 characters on the screen at once! But then you need some crowd control and coordination.

Here's an object that I'm developing for The Sims 1 as part of the Simprov wedding playset, and some screen shots of what it does.

This is the new "Crowd Sitter" object for The Sims 1. Donna and I came up with an idea for an icon to represent this magical crowd control object, which will only be visible in build mode. But for now it looks like an altar.

I named it "Crowd Sitter", like "baby sitter" but it's for all ages and lots of people at once, and it can also make them stand. It's an essential tool for orchestrating weddings, but it's useful for other purposes like parties and concerts and boxing matches.

When in play mode, you can turn a Crowd Sitter on and off with a pie menu, and it directs all people to sit down in front of it, or stand up facing it if there aren't any seats left. It has an effective radius of about 7 tiles (more now), with a quarter pie slice shaped footprint. You can strategically deploy as many sitters as you need, to cover all the seats you want people to sit in or areas you want them to stand (like rows of pews in a church or a circle of benches in a stadium). I made a special routing slot that has a maximum size 54 tile footprint (more now), based on the TV set's routing slot, but on steroids.

I stress tested it by making four of these Crowd Sitter objects, and facing them in different directions, to make people gather around the center in a circular crowd.

Then I made at least 8 * 20 = 160 people (Sim clones), and turned on all the sitters at once facing outwards, to make them all gather around the center! But of course if there are no seats to sit in, the poor people have to stand.

In the following scene, I'm cheating by using the faith based initiative "placebo field" (aka Fox News), which is a special effect built into the altar, that supernaturally makes everybody always happy, fills their tummies, drains their bladders, keeps them clean, etc, so they're willing to stand around tirelessly without complaining, for as long as I tell them to, and not questioning anything they're told, while totally believing their government is looking out for them.

Sims Content Catalog in Laszlo and Python

This is a large project I'm developing in OpenLaszlo: creating a rich web application for browsing, searching, exploring, collecting, personalizing, shopping and downloading Sims content.

I'm working with SimFreaks to put their entire catalog of thousands of Sims objects and characters into this database driven catalog. I'm using Transmogrifier to automatically export pictures of all the Sims objects.

Besides simply searching the catalog for interesting objects, you can navigate and explore collections of objects, and even interactivally compose your own scenes.

It's like a cross between colorforms playsets, hypercard and graphical adventures, with Sims room backgrounds, objects and characters, including interlinked image maps and text annotations.

The front-end is implemented in OpenLaszlo, and the back-end is implemented in Python, using SQLObject.

It also includes an administrative database interface for browsing and editing the SQL database that is used to model the site, and keep track of the users, objects, collections, pictures, etc. It's extensible by plugging in customizable Laszlo widgets for displaying and editing special data types, like pictures, checkboxes, color selectors, date pickers, pie menus, OPML editors, etc.

Laszlo Database Interface

I'm developing a reusable Laszlo component for browsing and editing SQL databases.

Currently it's up and running, built into the Sims Content Catalog Laszlo application, and it talks to a Python/SQLObject/MySQL back-end. But I'm factoring it out and redesigning it to work on its own, and support multiple back-ends.

Laszlo is ideal for implementing specialized user interface components for editing custom data types, like checkboxes, pie menus, color selectors, date pickers, OPML editors, picture viewers, map browsers, etc.

Should the Government Treat Video Games like Alchohol and Tobacco?

USAToady wrote an article about the "Battle over violent video games heating up".

First of all, to address the lame-assed attempt at a pun in the article title: I wish USAToady would just stop trying to be mildly but non-offensively funny, or else hire some real stand-up, knock-down, drag-out comedians like Al Franken to write their headlines.

The battle over violence. Ha ha ha not. The only thing they've been able to demonstrate so far, is that video games cause foolish violence and heated battles between fully grown politicians, who should know better. So stop selling video games to politicians.

"Those who favor laws restricting the sale or rental of violent videos to minors say government should treat the games like alcohol or tobacco."

Now there's a great idea: the Government should treat Violent Video Games like they do Big Tobacco.

Price support and production controls for violent video games: The computer game industry could really use the shot in the arm that would bring!

Should the government pay video game developes NOT to produce violent video games? They could keep their employees busy writing harmless cruise missile guidance systems and tactical nuclear warfare simulations for the war on terror, instead of developing violent games for kids.

Would Jesse Helms have mounted a filibuster, to prevent a video game tax hike, and protect the video game industry in his state? Will Texas Senator John Cornyn sell lawsuit protection to the Texas Violent Video Game Industry, just like he protected the Big Tobacco Industry from being sued for killing their customers?

Player Created Content

This is stuff about The Sims player created content.

Computer Game Design

This is stuff about computer game design.

The Sims Stuff

This is stuff about The Sims, includes a discussion forum, and chapters about computer game design, player created content, and Sims proposals and documentation.

I worked with Will Wright at Maxis on the original team that developed The Sims. I developed the character animation system, user interface, content creation tools. I'm independently developing tools and content for The Sims.

The Future of Content - Will Wright's Spore Demo at GDC 3/11/2005

The Future of Content

What I learned about content from the Sims.
...and why it's driven me to procedural methods.
...And what I now plan to do with them.

Will Wright
Game Developers Conference
3/11/2005


Notes taken by Don Hopkins at the talk, and from other discussions with Will Wright.

See also: Pictures of Will Wright's Spore from GamingSteve.com.


Introduction

Will Wright started his talk by saying that he wanted to show this tothe game developer community first, before a commercial show like E3.

Sims Designer Chris Trottier on Tuned Emergence and Design by Accretion

Will Wright, Gordon Walton and Chris Trottier brought us an exciting look into The SIMS Online. The only question now is... will they sell IV's for those users who won't be able to tear themselves away from it to eat?

The Armchair Empire interviewed Chris Trottier, one of the designers of The Sims and The Sims Online. She touches on some important ideas, including "Tuned Emergence" and "Design by Accretion".

Chris' honest analysis of how and why "the gameplay didn't come together until the months before the ship" is right on the mark, and that's the secret to the success of games like The Sims and SimCity.

The essential element that was missing until the last minute was tuning: The approach to game design that Maxis brought to the table is called "Tuned Emergence" and "Design by Accretion". Before it was tuned, The Sims wasn't missing any structure or content, but it just wasn't balanced yet. But it's OK, because that's how it's supposed to work!

In justifying their approach to The Sims, Maxis had to explain to EA that SimCity 2000 was not fun until 6 weeks before it shipped. But EA was not comfortable with that approach, which went against every rule in their play book. It required Will Wright's tremendous stamina to convince EA not to cancel The Sims, because according to EA's formula, it would never work.

If a game isn't tuned, it's a drag, and you can't stand to play it for an hour. The Sims and SimCity were "designed by accretion": incrementally assembled together out of "a mass of separate components", like a planet forming out of a cloud of dust orbiting around star. They had to reach critical mass first, before they could even start down the road towards "Tuned Emergence", like life finally taking hold on the planet surface. Even then, they weren't fun until they were carefully tuned just before they shipped, like the renaissance of civilization suddenly developing science and technology. Before it was properly tuned, The Sims was called "the toilet game", for the obvious reason that there wasn't much else to do!

Here are some questions and answers from the interview with The Sims designer Chris Trottier:

Automating The Sims Character Animation Pipeline with MaxScript

From: johnw@lyric.com (John Wainwright)
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 1998 1:31 PM
To: dhopkins@maxis.com (Don Hopkins)
Subject: CGDC talk

Hi, Don.

Kinetix has roped me into giving a talk about MAXScript at the Game Developer's Conference in Long Beach on Friday. I wanted to see if its OK to mention your use of MAXScript at Maxis and if so, maybe you could give a few bullet points on what it's OK for me to mention. Of course, I remember the note track key stuff and the Access database interface, but I'm not sure if there were other things and how all that wound up coming together.

Thanks,
John.

Certainly! Here is a description of how I'm using MaxScript to implement The Sims character animation pipeline:

Syndicate content