Saturday, June 04, 2005

Why I Can't Play The Sims

I really love
The Sims. I love watching them go about their business. I love watching them say 'hello' to each other and gab and then watch television or fix breakfast. Their independence, their interactions, their shifting needs and wants -- all fascinate me.

The Sims 2 blows me away when I'm wearing my wannabe game designer's hat.

But when I put on my game player's hat, I get bored. And frustrated. Easily.

I discovered that the main culprit is how The Sims divides up how much time it takes to accomplish certain tasks. I hated this dynamic in the first game and realized it wasn't improved at all in the second game. Basic tasks like using the bathroom, taking a shower or eating a meal take forever. Fucking hours.

Guesstimating, I'd say that having a Sim eat three meals a day plus a snack, take one shower, recycle their newspaper, trim the bushes, use the bathroom three times and do all the necessary cleaning will use up their entire day. That's without going to work.

There's just this unacceptable disconnect from my conception of the tasks in question. It makes it unplayable for me, because I really want to explore the more interesting aspects of their interactions, like having a party. The free will option helps with managing the tedium, but it doesn't alter the tedium. I'm still stuck yelling at my Sim to hurry the fuck up because why should it take fifteen minutes to pick up your mail and your ride is here for work and why won't you move you piece of shit you know they're waiting for you and awww now they pulled away you suck.

This just illustrates that the conception of time in video games can be of the utmost importance. It's not always a simple matter of throwing a timer on to regulate the game space.

What I'd like to see from future Sims development is the adjustment of their task-time allotment.

And also, as a bonus, a scheduler that would allow me to plan out key parts of my Sim's day.

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