Game

The Sims turns 20: Creator Will Wright reflects on the battle he waged to get one of the best games of all time made

It’s surprising to consider that The Sims, the best-selling PC series of all time, was almost never made. Creator Will Wright had a battle on his hands as he tried to develop the idea, and no one at Maxis shared that vision. It was, in Wright’s own words, “a struggle.” But it was something he wanted to play, and he knew others should feel the same way; After all, they did it about SimCity. But how did such a unique concept for a video game – namely the manipulation of tiny virtual humans and their daily lives – come about?

“I’ve always been interested in architecture and architectural design,” says Will Wright. “After SimCity, I started thinking I wanted to do something more structured. So initially it would be more of an architectural version of SimCity. As I went down this path, I started thinking that I needed a way to “note” what you were building, and so I knew I needed little people living in these structures that you were designing. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make these people’s behavior very robust, interesting, and reasonable, regardless of what kind of environment you put them in.

It took Will, among various other projects, almost two years to create these little humans, AI characters that would interact with the structures built in the simulation. SimCity was a huge success and as a result Maxis had some freedom to create the ideas he wanted to do. For Will Wright, it was going to be The Sims.

How The Sims Was Created

But Maxis was not convinced. Although Wright detailed the project and what he hoped would happen, the company was stunned; Why play a real-life imitation game when video games can help us live out our wildest fantasies? “As I tell them [Maxis] “Even though they’re focused on people, they’ve heard of a game about taking out the trash and cleaning out your bathroom, and it doesn’t sound very interesting to them compared to saving the world or piloting. a jet plane.”

But Wright insisted, knowing he had something to do. “But I realized that people are influenced by people,” she says, “I knew it was interesting for me and I had to fight for it internally. At the beginning, there was no nobody behind the project. We had programmers who were using a set of tools that we weren’t really using, so I made it a Black Box project and said “can I have these four programmers” and nobody didn’t really care and they said ‘yes’.”

It wasn’t just fellow developer friends who struggled to bring in testers even concentrated in the early stages of development, with the game’s concept proving to be one of the most important PC games of all. weather. “I think we even had a focus group in 1993,” Wright says, “we tested five different game concepts. I remember [with] the other four focus testers said “oh yeah, that was pretty good, we’d play that”, but when it came to The Sims and we told them the idea, they all said “oh c is such a stupid idea”. , we never play that, we hate the idea”. In the chat group, he was completely bombarded. ”

“I had a concept in my mind of how I felt, but it’s hard to expect anyone else to understand and have that concept. And I was in the same situation before, someone one told me he had an idea, but I didn’t get it. “I know some guys who’ve done it and they’d show me one of the early versions and they’d be like, ‘What the hell is that? ‘is ? It’s just a slideshow, but when I saw the final version I played and loved it. But when they told me about it at the very beginning, I couldn’t understand it.”

As development continued, it was clear that Wright needed to expand on these ideas, and these virtual characters were key to highlighting what they were. The Sims themselves were caricatures of real life, representations of how we might appear to an all-powerful being with superior thinking ability. Weird, maybe simple – but still fun. While this was partly due to the limited resources available at the time, there was a conscious decision to keep The Sims sub-real, make a real impression on people, and be fun at the same time.

“At some point we realized we wanted some level of abstraction,” says Wright. “Part of it had to do with the amount of detail we were able to get into the simulation. I always thought it was kind of a human breeding simulator. The level of behavior that I thought we could reach was the one you could probably relate to when they’re shopping, arguing, or on some level when you look out a balcony window and see people on the street.” Understand their behavior, but not every little detail. And that was my goal to try to simulate these characters to that level. “

speak in black

“We could have had them say pre-recorded lines or something, but that would have destroyed the illusion of reality pretty quickly because we couldn’t provide that level of AI,” he continues. “By having them do these kinds of meaningless conversations, your human imagination fills in the blanks and imagines talking. It’s really an example of how we put part of the simulation on the human imagination – the part where the computer is so bad.”

So how did Wright start creating an entirely new language? While trying to focus on the sound of The Sims, early testing focused on more exotic languages. “We actually had Ukrainian programmers working for us and I tried to record that some of them spoke Ukrainian and it was a bit too Slavic, and then I started experimenting with different languages. Navajo was nice, but we couldn’t find a Navajo voice actor. Estonian was very interesting because Estonian is very hard to find. It sounds like an interesting, exotic and real language, but you can’t associate it with a particular geographical region – but we just found an Estonian voice actor. And finally I found these two improv comedians; They came and we told them that we wanted something that sounded like a real language but didn’t wasn’t really. Together they developed what later became known as Simlish.

Will Wright, Creative Director

Most people would recognize Simlish speech if they heard it, and a lot of that is down to its iconic – and unique – approach to language. It turns out The Sims was a pretty big hit, not least for its ability to appeal to people who might not be interested in gaming. The sisters and mums were rushing to try the games for the first time, an unusual occurrence in an environment that was – at the very least – a stronghold of young boys at the time. “I was actually a little surprised,” Wright says of The Sims’ success. “I thought The Sims would either be a pretty big hit or a miserable failure, I didn’t think there would be much in between. Really, the key was getting players in the right mindset to see this game as something more creative and exploring and a little less about winning.”

The Sims was released in February 2000 and sold over 11 million copies two years later – video games officially reached a much wider range of gamers. Worldwide, the franchise is estimated to exceed $5 billion in lifetime revenue, with the original game accounting for a significant percentage of that figure. And with good reason, because even now – 20 years after its original debut – The Sims’ appeal is still stronger and more compelling than ever.

It has long been speculated that Maxis was hard at work on development. The Sims 5. Although little is known about the project, one thing is certain: Will Wright has an enduring appeal that is unlikely to fade from the foundations laid 13 years ago, and will undoubtedly be at the center of all games that carry The Sims brand. may come in the future.

Save up to 57% on a Retro Gamer Magazine Subscription Package and get the best retro gaming features and interviews delivered to your door every month.


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The Sims turns 20: Creator Will Wright reflects on the battle he waged to get one of the best games of all time made

It’s surprising to consider that The Sims – the best-selling PC franchise of all time – nearly wasn’t made. Its creator, Will Wright, had a battle on his hands as he tried to develop the idea, and no one at Maxis shared that vision. It was, in Wright’s own words, “a struggle”. But, it was something he wanted to play, and he knew that others must feel the same; they did about SimCity after all. But, how did such a unique concept for a video game – namely the manipulation of tiny virtual people and their everyday lives – come to be?
“I was always interested in architecture and architectural design,” Will Wright explains, “and after SimCity I started thinking that I wanted to do something that was more around designing structures. So originally, it was more meant to be an architectural version of SimCity. As I went down that path I started thinking I needed some way to ‘score’ what it was that you were building, and so I knew I needed little people living in these structures that you were designing. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the behaviour of these people very robust, interesting and plausible no matter what kind of environment you put them in.” 
Creating these tiny people – AI characters that would interact with the structures built within the simulation – took about two years of Will’s life, in between a variety of other projects. SimCity had become a huge success and, as a result, Maxis had a little freedom to create ideas that it wanted to see made. For Will Wright, that would end up being The Sims.
How The Sims was made

But Maxis wasn’t convinced. Though Wright detailed the project and what he hoped it would be, the company was nonplussed; why play a game about emulating real-life when video games could help us live out our wildest fantasies? “When I was describing it to them [Maxis] – even with the focus on the people – they were hearing a game about taking out the trash and cleaning out your bathroom and it just doesn’t sound very interesting to them compared to saving the world or flying a jet fighter.” 
Wright persisted, however, knowing it was something he needed to make. “But I kind of understood that people are fascinated with people,” he says, “and I knew it was interesting to me and I kind of had to fight for it internally. At first, nobody was behind the project. We had some programmers who were in a tool group that we weren’t using really so I turned it into a Black Box project on my side and said ‘can I have these four programmers’, and nobody really cared so they said ‘yeah’.”
It wasn’t just his fellow developers that he had to convince either, with the game concept that would turn out to be one of the most important PC games of all time struggling to even appeal to focus testers in the earliest stages of development. “We even did a focus group back in, I think, ’93,” states Wright, “where we were focus testing about five different game concepts. I remember [with] the other four the focus testers said ‘oh yeah, it was pretty good, we would play that’, but when it came to The Sims and we were describing the idea to them, they were all universally like ‘oh that’s such a stupid idea, we would never play that, we hate that idea’. It totally bombed in the focus group.”

“In my mind I had this concept of what it would feel like, but to expect somebody else to understand and have that concept, it’s a hard thing. And I’ve been in the same position before, where somebody told me some idea they had and I just didn’t get it and it sounded kind of stupid. I know the guys who made Myst and they were showing me one of the early versions and I was like ‘what is this? It’s just a slideshow’, but once I saw the final version I played it and loved it. But when they were describing it to me in the very early stages I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.” 
As development went on it was clear that Wright needed to flesh out these ideas, and the key way to highlight what it was all about was through these virtual characters. The Sims themselves were caricatures of real-life, representatives of what we might look like to an almighty being capable of a higher level of thought. Quaint, simple perhaps – but entertaining all the same. While part of this was down to the limited resources available at the time, there was also a conscious decision to keep the Sims sub-real, to create a real impression of people but to ensure that it was enjoyable all the same. 
“We understood that at some point we wanted a certain level of abstraction,” Wright tells us. “Part of that had to do with the amount of detail that we were able to go into in the simulation. I always thought of it kind of as a human flocking simulator. The level of behaviour that I figured we could achieve was like if you were to look out of a balcony window and see people down on the street you could probably get a sense of when they’re shopping, when they’re arguing or some level of understanding their behaviour but not necessarily every little detail. And that was the target for me, to try and simulate these characters at that level.”
Speaking Simlish

“We could have had them speaking pre-recorded lines or something like that, but it would have destroyed the illusion of reality pretty quickly just because we couldn’t provide that level of AI,” he continues. “By having them speak this kind of gibberish, your human imagination actually fills in the blanks and will imagine the conversation. That’s really an example of us offloading a portion of the simulation to the human imagination – the portion that the computer is very bad at.”
But how did Wright set about creating a whole new language? Initial tests focused on more exotic languages as he tried to hone in on the sound of The Sims. “We actually had some Ukrainian programmers working for us and I tried recording some of them speaking Ukrainian and it was a little too obviously slavic, and then I started experimenting with different languages. Navajo was nice but we couldn’t find any Navajo voice actors. Estonian was very interesting because Estonian is very hard to locate. It sounds interesting, exotic and like a real language but you can’t really associate it with any geographical area – but we only found one Estonian voice actor. And eventually I found these two improv voice actors; they came in and we described to them that we wanted something that sounded like a real language but not really. Together they kind of developed what later became known as Simlish.”

Will Wright, creative director

Most would recognise a conversation in Simlish if they heard it, and a large part of that is its iconic – and unique – approach to language. As it turns out, The Sims was a pretty big success, most notable for its ability to attract people who weren’t otherwise interested in games. Sisters and mums were jumping in to try out games for the first time, an unusual occurrence in a medium that was, at the time – primarily, at least – the bastion of teenage boys. “I was actually kind of surprised,” says Wright of The Sims’ success. “I figured The Sims would either be a pretty big success or a miserable failure, I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of in-between. Really, the key to it was getting players into the right mindspace of seeing this game as something that was more creative and about exploring and a little less about winning.” 
The Sims was released in February 2000, and two years later it had notched up over 11 million sales – the reach of video games had officially grown to a much broader group of players. Worldwide, the franchise is estimated to have surpassed $5 billion in lifetime revenue, and the original game accounts for a large percentage of that. For good reason too, because even now – 20 years on from its original release – the appeal of The Sims is still as powerful and persuasive as it has ever been.  
It has been long speculated that Maxis is hard at work on the development of The Sims 5. While little is known about the project, one this is for certain: that the foundations that Will Wright laid 13 years ago have an everlasting appeal that is unlikely to disappear, and will no doubt be at the core of any games bearing The Sims branding that may arrive in the future.

Save up to 57% on a Retro Gamer magazine subscription bundle and have the best retro gaming features and interviews delivered to your door each month.

#Sims #turns #Creator #Wright #reflects #battle #waged #games #time

The Sims turns 20: Creator Will Wright reflects on the battle he waged to get one of the best games of all time made

It’s surprising to consider that The Sims – the best-selling PC franchise of all time – nearly wasn’t made. Its creator, Will Wright, had a battle on his hands as he tried to develop the idea, and no one at Maxis shared that vision. It was, in Wright’s own words, “a struggle”. But, it was something he wanted to play, and he knew that others must feel the same; they did about SimCity after all. But, how did such a unique concept for a video game – namely the manipulation of tiny virtual people and their everyday lives – come to be?
“I was always interested in architecture and architectural design,” Will Wright explains, “and after SimCity I started thinking that I wanted to do something that was more around designing structures. So originally, it was more meant to be an architectural version of SimCity. As I went down that path I started thinking I needed some way to ‘score’ what it was that you were building, and so I knew I needed little people living in these structures that you were designing. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the behaviour of these people very robust, interesting and plausible no matter what kind of environment you put them in.” 
Creating these tiny people – AI characters that would interact with the structures built within the simulation – took about two years of Will’s life, in between a variety of other projects. SimCity had become a huge success and, as a result, Maxis had a little freedom to create ideas that it wanted to see made. For Will Wright, that would end up being The Sims.
How The Sims was made

But Maxis wasn’t convinced. Though Wright detailed the project and what he hoped it would be, the company was nonplussed; why play a game about emulating real-life when video games could help us live out our wildest fantasies? “When I was describing it to them [Maxis] – even with the focus on the people – they were hearing a game about taking out the trash and cleaning out your bathroom and it just doesn’t sound very interesting to them compared to saving the world or flying a jet fighter.” 
Wright persisted, however, knowing it was something he needed to make. “But I kind of understood that people are fascinated with people,” he says, “and I knew it was interesting to me and I kind of had to fight for it internally. At first, nobody was behind the project. We had some programmers who were in a tool group that we weren’t using really so I turned it into a Black Box project on my side and said ‘can I have these four programmers’, and nobody really cared so they said ‘yeah’.”
It wasn’t just his fellow developers that he had to convince either, with the game concept that would turn out to be one of the most important PC games of all time struggling to even appeal to focus testers in the earliest stages of development. “We even did a focus group back in, I think, ’93,” states Wright, “where we were focus testing about five different game concepts. I remember [with] the other four the focus testers said ‘oh yeah, it was pretty good, we would play that’, but when it came to The Sims and we were describing the idea to them, they were all universally like ‘oh that’s such a stupid idea, we would never play that, we hate that idea’. It totally bombed in the focus group.”

“In my mind I had this concept of what it would feel like, but to expect somebody else to understand and have that concept, it’s a hard thing. And I’ve been in the same position before, where somebody told me some idea they had and I just didn’t get it and it sounded kind of stupid. I know the guys who made Myst and they were showing me one of the early versions and I was like ‘what is this? It’s just a slideshow’, but once I saw the final version I played it and loved it. But when they were describing it to me in the very early stages I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.” 
As development went on it was clear that Wright needed to flesh out these ideas, and the key way to highlight what it was all about was through these virtual characters. The Sims themselves were caricatures of real-life, representatives of what we might look like to an almighty being capable of a higher level of thought. Quaint, simple perhaps – but entertaining all the same. While part of this was down to the limited resources available at the time, there was also a conscious decision to keep the Sims sub-real, to create a real impression of people but to ensure that it was enjoyable all the same. 
“We understood that at some point we wanted a certain level of abstraction,” Wright tells us. “Part of that had to do with the amount of detail that we were able to go into in the simulation. I always thought of it kind of as a human flocking simulator. The level of behaviour that I figured we could achieve was like if you were to look out of a balcony window and see people down on the street you could probably get a sense of when they’re shopping, when they’re arguing or some level of understanding their behaviour but not necessarily every little detail. And that was the target for me, to try and simulate these characters at that level.”
Speaking Simlish

“We could have had them speaking pre-recorded lines or something like that, but it would have destroyed the illusion of reality pretty quickly just because we couldn’t provide that level of AI,” he continues. “By having them speak this kind of gibberish, your human imagination actually fills in the blanks and will imagine the conversation. That’s really an example of us offloading a portion of the simulation to the human imagination – the portion that the computer is very bad at.”
But how did Wright set about creating a whole new language? Initial tests focused on more exotic languages as he tried to hone in on the sound of The Sims. “We actually had some Ukrainian programmers working for us and I tried recording some of them speaking Ukrainian and it was a little too obviously slavic, and then I started experimenting with different languages. Navajo was nice but we couldn’t find any Navajo voice actors. Estonian was very interesting because Estonian is very hard to locate. It sounds interesting, exotic and like a real language but you can’t really associate it with any geographical area – but we only found one Estonian voice actor. And eventually I found these two improv voice actors; they came in and we described to them that we wanted something that sounded like a real language but not really. Together they kind of developed what later became known as Simlish.”

Will Wright, creative director

Most would recognise a conversation in Simlish if they heard it, and a large part of that is its iconic – and unique – approach to language. As it turns out, The Sims was a pretty big success, most notable for its ability to attract people who weren’t otherwise interested in games. Sisters and mums were jumping in to try out games for the first time, an unusual occurrence in a medium that was, at the time – primarily, at least – the bastion of teenage boys. “I was actually kind of surprised,” says Wright of The Sims’ success. “I figured The Sims would either be a pretty big success or a miserable failure, I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of in-between. Really, the key to it was getting players into the right mindspace of seeing this game as something that was more creative and about exploring and a little less about winning.” 
The Sims was released in February 2000, and two years later it had notched up over 11 million sales – the reach of video games had officially grown to a much broader group of players. Worldwide, the franchise is estimated to have surpassed $5 billion in lifetime revenue, and the original game accounts for a large percentage of that. For good reason too, because even now – 20 years on from its original release – the appeal of The Sims is still as powerful and persuasive as it has ever been.  
It has been long speculated that Maxis is hard at work on the development of The Sims 5. While little is known about the project, one this is for certain: that the foundations that Will Wright laid 13 years ago have an everlasting appeal that is unlikely to disappear, and will no doubt be at the core of any games bearing The Sims branding that may arrive in the future.

Save up to 57% on a Retro Gamer magazine subscription bundle and have the best retro gaming features and interviews delivered to your door each month.

#Sims #turns #Creator #Wright #reflects #battle #waged #games #time


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