Exclusive! Putting the 'social' into The Sims Social [video + interview]

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If there's one blockbuster game from that's practically begging for a Facebook release, it's The Sims. The life simulation game series has been one of the best-selling PC games since its arrival in 2000 and it has particularly resonated with women, who wouldn't otherwise consider themselves gamers. This is the same audience that turned games like FarmVille and CityVille into computer game phenomenons.

Several months ago, Electronic Arts announced that the best-selling game franchise would be making its way to the social network, and with launch just mere weeks away, Games.com News brings you an exclusive sneak peek at what exactly puts the 'social' into The Sims Social.

Get the scoop on the game's social aspects in the brand new trailer above. I also talked to John Earner, general manager of Playfish's London studio, to get more details on how exactly the game will work -- including whether or not your beloved Sim will be able to do regular Sims things like make WooHoo and kick the bucket.

sims play tricks


What is both the most helpful and most horrific thing you can do to a friend in The Sims Social?
Generally you can do nice and helpful things for friends, and horrible things only to enemies. There's nothing worse than having your food stolen or fake spiders placed in precarious places, I find. As for being helpful to friends, players can clean your bathroom, repair broken items, and even do some gardening around your house.

Do you have the option to 'Dismiss' or reject what your friends have done to your Sims or their house?
No, but then nor can players do any permanent damage to your place. Any negative actions are fun and cosmetic. Relationships in The Sims are predominantly a game helping one another and positive interactions. Even rivalries, frenemies, and the other negative relationships in our game are in good fun and meant to be between friends.

sims social facebook preview
How often can you visit friends' Sims and do nice/naughty things for them?
As often as you like! Activities are accomplished using an energy system, but we provide bonus energy each day for each unique friend you visit to help you out.

How exactly does the whole romance thing work? What if you don't' want random people coming in and smooching on your Sim -- is there a way to restrict that? (That could get creepy fast).
There are three relationship paths in The Sims: friends, enemies, and lovers. Major relationship milestones like dating require a two-way handshake between players. It takes two to tango, so to speak.
sims social facebook preview
What about making WooHoo in the game? How does that work? (I assume that requires two consenting Sims, yes)?
WooHoo requires two Sims to be in a romantic relationship path: dating or further. Even then, you can only ask your Sim to, you know, WooHoo with their significant other. Whether they actually do it is up to them. Like traditional Sims games, Sims have a mind of their own. Our platform constraints require that mind be a bit smaller and less complex, but the general idea of a player assuming the role of god and sim playing role of fickle human subject still applies.

Other games -- like FrontierVille, FarmVille -- also let you see what your friends do when they visit your version of the game -- how is this feature different in The Sims Social?
Friend visits are a longstanding social gaming feature staple. Where The Sims Social differs from its social gaming predecessors is that the game now creates meaningful and varied relationships between players' Sims, just like in real life. You don't just have neighbors - you have girlfriends and frenemies and BFFs. Depending on the nature of your relationship, the nature of each visit and what you can do during a visit, is different and certainly more meaningful.

When a friend becomes an 'enemy" or you become an 'enemy' -- how does that change the game experience at large? Once you're deemed an enemy, can you work your way back toward being a friend in the game?
You can always work your way back, but you can't erase the past. Two Sims who used to date are ex-lovers (awkward!). Relationship statuses create new interaction options not available in other relationships.
sims social preview
Like the regular Sims -- can your Sim die in The Sims Social?
You never know. Generations is something we continue to spend a lot of time talking about for down the road. Remember, we're just getting started at launch. It could add replayability to the game. The flip side is that with a free-to-play business model, players aren't a fan of the virtual stuff they spend real money on going off and dying on them. It's a manageable problem, but not an easy one. The story of the Sims franchise is something like this. The Sims 1: They live. The Sims 2: They die. The Sims 3: they can explore a world beyond their house. The Sims Social: Back to "they live," but they live with your real friends. Our platform and our audience require us to simplify the game in some respects, but allow us to enrich it in others due to the social nature of the game. Also, our game is a service. We can travel along a similar journey as the PC and console gaming Sims franchise have done via frequent updates. We're just getting started.

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Are you planning on playing The Sims Social? Looking for friends to play the game with when it launches? Leave a note in the comments below. Add comment.
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