The Sims (sometimes referred as The Sims 1, TS1 or Sims 1) is a life simulator, a spin-off from the SimCity series (released on February 4, 2000 for US and February 28, 2000 for EU) which has in turn eclipsed SimCity in popularity since its release in 2000. The game puts players in control of isometric neighborhoods and people, or "Sims". Originally released for the PC, the game has also been ported to the Mac, and versions have been released for several video game systems. The game was developed by Maxis and published by EA Games.
First released on February 4, 2000, the base game has sold more than 15 million copies, and the franchise has sold over 100 million units as of 2008. Since its initial release, seven expansion packs and a sequel, The Sims 2 (with its own expansion packs), have been released. A reboot to the series, The Sims 3, was released on June 2, 2009.
Sims require direction, via mouse inputs, in order to have their needs met and live their lives efficiently. Sims have a degree of free will, but not enough to be considered completely independent (and even this limited free will can be disabled). The residential lot that individual Sims or families call home can be upgraded both in terms of the structure (Build Mode) and the furniture which occupies it (Buy Mode).
The game has now won numerous awards, propelling the popularity of the game. As the next sequel (in release order) and reboot (in chronological order), The Sims 3 has big expectations to live up to, and is thought to sell millions of copies worldwide, much like the original games.
Strictly speaking, there is no primary objective to The Sims: It is open-ended and players are free to decide for themselves what constitutes success or failure. The game does, however, have plenty of clear secondary objectives, such as career and relationship success, although there are no set rewards for this. The player will need to make his or her Sim successful in many ways. Players must fulfill their need to sleep, eat, and many others, just like real human beings. They will also need to find a job, be promoted, or even marry other Sims so that one can have a successful family life.
The architecture and the artificial intelligence system are both praised by players. Players will need to build a well-designed house and put in different objects to fulfill the Sim's needs. Sims can only interact with the object in their house. A player can control a maximum of eight Sims at a time; the Sim you are controlling can be identified by the plumb-bob over its head.
After suffering a fire that burned away all his possessions, Will Wright was forced to find a new home and rebuild his life. It was this experience that inspired him to think of a game that simulates life, linking his ideas with the SimCity series he had developed. In 1993, he proposed the idea to Maxis but they rejected it, believing that computers at the time could not handle such a game. In 1995, he proposed it again to EA Games. This time, it was accepted. EA Games initially named it Project X, but renamed it The Sims in 1997. Promotions for the game were first seen on the SimCity 3000 installation CD.
Instead of fulfilling 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 offered 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 with a first name and optional biography, and choosing the gender (male or female), skin complexion (light, medium, or dark), age (adult or child), a specific head and body (bundled with a specific body type and clothing), and a personality (from among Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful, and Nice.). 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 lot, 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 controlled by instructing them to interact with objects, such as a television set, a dresser, or another Sim. Sims may receive house guests, which are actually based on the Sims of other game files in the neighborhood. 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 have a certain amount of free will (if it is enabled in-game), and although the player can instruct them to do something, Sim characters may decide to do something else, or simply ignore the player's commands. 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, and developing creativity and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the Sims. Daily maintenance requirements must also be scheduled, such as hygiene, eating, and sleeping. If the simulated humans do not perform the proper amount of maintenance, they will sicken and die. Furthermore, Sims need to have fun; if they don't, 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. This has more to do with their relationship score than their mood, however. Sims in a bad mood are more likely to ignore player input and autonomously seek an activity that will increase their mood. For example, if a Sim's fun level bar is too low, they may refuse to look for a job or pay the bills and instead sit and watch TV. 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'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 are some limitations to the first game of The Sims, 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: Types of death include starvation, drowning, perishing in a fire, electrocution, and 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, or child Sims can be removed by a social worker or sent to military school if their school grades remain at an F for several consecutive days. Although considered states of failure, many players occasionally deliberately mistreat their Sims to observe the reactions. This can be done with no consequences if the game state isn't saved.
The Sims uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics techniques. The Sims themselves are rendered as high-poly-count 3D objects, but a house, and all its objects, are pre-rendered, and displayed isometrically.
- The Sims does not support Windows 2000 but it does run on Windows 2000. The Sims 2 fixed this problem.
The Sims requires the user to be logged in as an administrator but it is possible to run Sims.exe as an administrator by using "Run as"
Users have experienced errors when installing The Sims expansion packs, since then SimsEraser.exe was included on newer disks.
A rare bug has been found that prevented users from installing any of The Sims Products (such as expansion packs) if they reinstall an expansion pack. EA has made SimsEraser to fix the problem
This only occurs on the PC version.
Compilations and Expansions
The Sims spawned 7 Expansion packs (EPs).
- Livin' Large (UK title: Livin' It Up)
- House Party
- Hot Date
- Vacation (UK title: On Holiday)
- Makin' Magic
Compilations with the original The Sims game
The Sims has now been repackaged in numerous editions. These editions are not expansions in themselves, but rather a compilation of the basic game plus pre-existing expansion packs and additional game content. These editions include:
North American releases
- The Sims Deluxe Edition: Core game; The Sims: Livin' Large; The Sims Creator; exclusive contents.
- The Sims Double Deluxe: The Sims Deluxe Edition; The Sims: House Party; bonus content.
- The Sims Mega Deluxe: The Sims Double Deluxe; The Sims: Hot Date.
- The Sims Complete Collection: Core game; all seven expansion packs; The Sims Deluxe Edition exclusive content; The Sims Double Deluxe bonus content; The Sims Creator.
Releases in other regions
- The Sims Triple Deluxe (United Kingdom): The Sims Double Deluxe; The Sims: Vacation.
- The Complete Collection of The Sims (United Kingdom): Core game; The Sims Deluxe Edition exclusive content; all seven expansion packs; The Sims Creator.
- The Sims: Full House (Australia; New Zealand): Core game; all seven expansion packs.
Compilations of expansion packs
An expansion collection series was released in 2005:
- The Sims: Expansion Collection Volume One consists of The Sims: Unleashed and The Sims: House Party.
- The Sims: Expansion Collection Volume Two consists of The Sims: Hot Date and The Sims: Makin' Magic.
- The Sims: Expansion Collection Volume Three consists of The Sims: Vacation and The Sims: Superstar.
Another expansion collection series was also released in 2005:
- The Sims: Expansion Three-Pack Volume 1 consists of The Sims: Unleashed, The Sims: Superstar, and The Sims: House Party.
- The Sims: Expansion Three-Pack Volume 2 consists of The Sims: Hot Date, The Sims: Vacation, and The Sims: Makin' Magic.
Custom Content support was also included in The Sims 2, The Sims Stories and The Sims 3.