The Sims is another one of my all time faves. I spent long hours on this game trying different options, creating custom people, building large mansions with all the luxuries money can buy.
The Sims is a strategic life-simulation computer game created by game designer Will Wright, published by Maxis, and distributed by Electronic Arts. It is a simulation of the daily activities of one or more virtual persons ("Sims") in a suburban household near SimCity.
The Sims was first released on February 4, 2000. By March 22, 2002, The Sims had sold more than 6.3 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling PC game in history. Since its initial release, seven expansion packs and a sequel, The Sims 2 (with its own expansion packs), have been released. Another sequel, The Sims 3, is currently under production. The Sims has won numerous awards, including GameSpot's "Game of the Year Award" for 2000.
Instead of objectives, the player is encouraged to make choices and engage fully in an interactive environment. This has helped the game successfully attract casual gamers. The only real objective of the game is to organize the Sims' time to help them reach personal goals.
In the beginning, the game offers players pre-made characters to control as well as the option to create more Sims. Creating a Sim consists of creating a "family" (identified by a last name) that can hold up to eight members. The player can then create Sims, by providing the Sim a first name and optional biography, and choosing the gender (male or female), skin complexion (light, medium, or dark) and age (adult or child) of the Sim. The personality of the Sim is dictated by five attributes and a specific head and body (bundled with a specific body physique and clothing). The player cannot change a Sim's face, name, or personality once they have been moved onto a lot.
Each family, regardless of how many members are in it, starts with a limited amount of cash (§20,000) that will be needed to purchase a house or vacant land, build or remodel a house, and purchase furniture. All architectural features and furnishings are dictated by a tile system, in which items must be placed on a square and rotated to face exactly a 90 degree angle with no diagonals permitted. Walls and fences go on the edge of a "square" and can be diagonal, whereas furniture and Sims take up one or more squares and cannot be diagonal. There are over 150 home building materials and furnishings for purchase.
Sims are directed on the basis of instructing them to interact with objects, such as a television set, a piece of furniture or another Sim. Sims may receive house guests, which are actually based on the Sims of other game files. The player cannot control 'visiting' Sims, although it is important for Sims to interact with one another in order to develop a healthy social life and gain popularity.
Sims, if enabled within the game, have a certain amount of free will, meaning they will engage in activities when left to their own devices, though player commands will override anything a Sim decides to do on its own. However, sims may not perform important commands, such as find a job or conceive a child. Unlike the simulated environments in games such as SimCity, SimEarth, or SimLife, the Sims are not fully autonomous. They are unable to take certain actions without specific commands from the player, such as paying their bills. Thus, if left alone, without any player supervision, the Sims will eventually develop overdue bills and their property will be repossessed.
The player must make decisions about time spent in personal development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the Sims. Daily maintenance requirements must also be scheduled, such as personal hygiene, eating, and sleeping. If the simulated humans do not perform the proper amount of personal maintenance, they will sicken and die. Furthermore, Sims need to have fun; if they do not, the fun level bar eventually lowers and they become depressed, but however depressed they become, they are unable to commit suicide (they are not programmed to do so). They are, however, able to be nasty to other Sim characters by insulting them, slapping them and even attacking them. Financial health is simulated by the need to send the Sims to find jobs, go to work, pay bills, and take advantage of personal development and social contacts to advance in their jobs.
The inner structure of the game is actually an agent based artificial life program. The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is advanced, and the Sims will respond to outside conditions by themselves, although often the player/controller's intervention is necessary to keep them on the right track. The Sims technically has unlimited replay value, in that there is no way to win the game, and the player can play on indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.
In addition, the game includes a very advanced architecture system. The game was originally designed as an architecture simulation alone, with the Sims there only to evaluate the houses, but during development it was decided that the Sims were more interesting than originally anticipated and their initially limited role in the game was developed further.
There first game of The Sims has several limitations, most notably that children in the first series never grow up to become adults, though babies do eventually become children. Also, adult Sims never age (or die of old age), and there is no concept of weekends. For example, adults and children are expected to go to work and attend school respectively, every day. In particular, adults receive a warning if they miss one day of work, but they are fired if they miss work for two consecutive days. Children can study at home to keep their school grades up.
While there is no eventual objective to the game, states of failure do exist in The Sims. One is that Sims may die, either by starvation, drowning, perishing in a fire, electrocution or by virus (contracted from a pet guinea pig, which can happen when its cage is left dirty). In this case, the ghost of the deceased Sim may haunt the building where it died. In addition, Sims can leave a household for good and never return; two adult Sims with a bad relationship may brawl, eventually resulting in one of them moving out; child Sims can be sent to military school if their school grades remain at an F for several consecutive days.
The Sims uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics techniques. The Sims themselves are rendered as high-poly-count 3D objects, but the house, and all its objects, are pre-rendered, and displayed dimetrically.