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TechnoGoth

Character Sims

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Well I've decided to stop working trying complete an entry for the 4e4 contest and go back to trying to finish my novel and a video game, between work and everything else. So I am curious what aspect people find most appealing about character based sims? The game is a character based anime school sim. When you play a game like princess maker, the sims, or harvest moon what parts do you enjoy find tedius or enjoyable and what do you find they lack? Is a resolution or and game goal important? Or would prefer to be able to keep playing until you get board?

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One game that I enjoyed that sorta works like the ones you described is Animal Crossing on the Gamecube, the parts that I liked about it where:

1) It works on real time, if its 6:00pm for you, its 6:00pm in the game. It has holidays in the game so you see fireworks on Newyears etc.

2) Certain things in the game can only be done at certain times of the year, ie. in the winter you can make snowmen if you make a perfect snowman the snowman will come to life and give you a piece of snowman furniture

3) Tons of different types of collections to try and gather, different sets of furniture, collect a mini town, collect fossils for the museum. And even collect NES systems that let you play old NES games on your Gamecube

4) There where many different goals you could create for you self (build you house bigger, collect a full set of something, earn 1 million dollars) but nothing really made the game stop. You could just keep playing.

The game is a little easy because I think its desgined for a young audience but its very involved and I think its a great game from a desgin stand point.

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I prefer games to have definite goals, because otherwise what motivation do you have to work energetically at the simming activities? Specifically the game must tell you clearly what goals are available, have lots to choose from, and rewards (plot progress/cut-scenes) when you acomplish them. The goals should not all be available at the beginning because that causes a learning curve problem and isn't surprising - instead new goals should become available as the game progresses, perhaps a new 'sequel' goal becomes available when you complete a prerequesite goal.

Hmm, what else do I like... I like collecting a complete set of visually interesting items (or maybe poetically interesting, like collecting fragments of a poem/myth/story to assemble and read the whole thing). I like building up and customizing my character's body/clothes/social standing/house/village/whatever. I like cute funny random events. I like dialogue interactions which make me feel like the NPCs are real people and I helped make them happy.

I don't like: Easter eggs you would never fnd without a walkthrough. One-time opportunities you can easily miss or screw up. Anything which requires you to be in the right place at the right time. Goals which are impossibly difficult. Running out of goals. NPCs which say the same thing all the time. A game world which is boringly the same for a long time. Not knowing what all my options within the game are.

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I don't like the fact that there's nobody in the SIms that you can't be best friends, or even lovers with. A stranger comes to my house, smashes my trash can, steals my newspaper and runs off, but if I manage to meet them, I can have them in bed within two days.

I want a world with clearer social bounds. Not just that guy who always wants to fight, or the girls who's way out of my league, but actual grassroots factions and alliances. The Sims has the mechanics in place to do it, with the natural gossip and second-order friendships, but it's nerfed to the point of being cosmetic.

In order for such a system, to work, though, there must be a way to see it. Cliques hanging out together, people actually discussing this phenomenon, groups obtaining names in the course of the game, etc. would help make it accessible to the player.

Will you have a null protagonist, like a dating sim, or a more fleshed out hero, like a school sim, or a detached character, like the Sims?

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Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I don't like the fact that there's nobody in the SIms that you can't be best friends, or even lovers with. A stranger comes to my house, smashes my trash can, steals my newspaper and runs off, but if I manage to meet them, I can have them in bed within two days.


Aw, but that's my favorite thing about the SIMs - games like Harvest Moon and Azure Dreams are frustrating because there are a few 'courtable' people (usually all female) and all the other NPCs are just not available - it's like they aren't human, or they're behind an invisible wall or something - ruins the immersiveness of the game. :P

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I don't like the fact that there's nobody in the SIms that you can't be best friends, or even lovers with. A stranger comes to my house, smashes my trash can, steals my newspaper and runs off, but if I manage to meet them, I can have them in bed within two days.


Aw, but that's my favorite thing about the SIMs - games like Harvest Moon and Azure Dreams are frustrating because there are a few 'courtable' people (usually all female) and all the other NPCs are just not available - it's like they aren't human, or they're behind an invisible wall or something - ruins the immersiveness of the game. :P


I agree a bit with both of you. I liked the fact that you can become friends (or lovers) with anyone. My main problem was that it was just too easy to woo anyone.

For example, I tend to play The Sims 2 like it was a giant soap opera. However, it ruins it a bit when a loser of a Lothario with zero charisma can successfully seduce the neighbouring house-wife, even when she is a newly-wed, with the Family aspiration, still deeply in love with her husband, and with a baby. It also further ruined the immersion a bit when said Lothario stormed into the neighbour's house to slap the house-wife when he caught her in bed with her husband, especially when the Lothario was an out of shape slacker, and the husband was a pro-star athlete.

Edit: Whoops, I forgot to answer the original question. The thing I like most about character-based sims is that they are different from other games, and I like variety in games. I also like customisation and being able to shape the path of a game with you actions ("agency"), and character-based games often offer this in spades.

[Edited by - Trapper Zoid on September 14, 2005 11:17:22 PM]

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So you are trying to do the next Season of Sakura?
Or maybe True Love?
Well, that would be nice if you succeeded, I love those little games [grin]

I discovered the Sims 2 this summer after buying it for my little sister (A great excuse). And I must say I was happily surprised. That Desire/Fear system is a great way to implement goals in a non restraining way. The concept of lifestyle (Family, Money, Love, Knowledge) is also excellent, although only 4 was a little bit disappointing (well, they added one in the new expansion, so you never know).
I also felt that jobs weren't very exciting, in that (for what I can tell from the little time I have played and what I have read on the Net) they don't give you anything really interesting apart from money. Then again, you don't really have to do anything, which I feel is also a wasted opportunity to have mini games of some sort.
I was dissapointed with the actual amount of variety of the Sims generated by the computer, as opposed to what you'd expect when you start playing with the Sims bodyshop. Only four skin colours (and looking rather all the same), no "real life" archetypes (I want to create Asian girls!) only four eye colours? Well, anyway, these are cosmetic details. But my point is that the variety is IMO a bit superficial.
I don't like the fact that people randomly come to your house for no reason whatsoever. Or the annoying fact that after spending ages chatting up the Post Office girl, I realised she was in fact a teenager, not simply petite, and that I couldn't make her age, nor ask her to live in my house... WTF!
One other hand, I do like the fact that you have to handle the whole neighbourhood, really.

I loved Princess Maker 2. I have only played it a few times, but everytime I played, I just had to keep going until my girl reached 18.
What I loved about this game is the fact that unlike the Sims, the game originally seems to offer very little, yet as you discover it, you keep getting rewards and surprises and more options are revealed.
I love the concept of having the jobs shape your character (something sorely missing in the Sims), although I find the way it's done rather frustrating (you can only select chunks of 10 days.
The fact that your character, depending on her stats, won't be adapted to some jobs, and not to others, is a bit frustrating, but at the same time, it's the point, I suppose: you need to understand your child, and realise in which profession she will blossom. I had great hope for my child to become an artist, until I realised she had a gift for Cooking, winning the Cooking tournament every year from an early age...
The money issue is very frustrating, in a way, and the education really costs a lot. Also I don't know if it was my girl, but how thin do you have to be to fit a leather dress! Having a child with low stress, yet not turn her into a fatty was very difficult for me.
The whole "running away" thing particularly pissed me off, especially when the little fool did it when the little Prince was visiting the palace. Plus there just didn't seem to be any sort of pattern to her madness, nor did she ever explain where on Earth she was leaving, or why. This didn't even seem to be related to stress or anything else. WTF.

If you could mix the "higher level" management (as opposed to "oh, I am gonna need to pee... again" of the Sims) of the Japanese sims, with the graphic freedom allowed by using 3D of the Sims, while keeping the character and charm of the Anime style, you would make me happy.
Optionally, add mini games for various activities : the exploring parts of PM2 where a welcome distraction, but why not have mini games for the various jobs, too? Or even sex games like in Cobra Mission, a hentai game that used the traditional "find the right words" system to get the girls naked, but then added a "find the hotspot" mini game to actually satisfy them (a bit similar to the Hot Coffee mod, but quite harder to win).

I don't know if sex is something you want to have in your game, but personally, although I must say I was amused by the various locations you could do it in in the Sims 2, I was a bit dissapointed by the absence of difficulty. All you had to do was get the person to love you, then use the right sequence of actions, then there you go. Really? Well, I sure wish it was that simple inreal life.
Maybe they'll do a Sex in the Neighbourhood extension and make the nookie more interesting and a part of the gameplay? Yeah, right...

As for resolution, I am not sure. TRue Love/Sakura/PM2 are all resolution based, but their limited time frame make them perfect for replayability. PM2 takes me like, I dunno, 2 or 3 hours to finish. That's a really good incentive for replayability. I suppose it's all about "letting the player create the story".

Hope this helps?

Philippe

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Iv never really like these kind of games, they always seem to get boring and repetitive quickly, though I think I would actually enjoy them a lot if a few issues were addressed.

1) A little AI to make the game less monotonous, doesn’t have to be too complex but at the very least make it so key character can walk around the world instead of just appearing in the same spot every time I enter a area between a 1:00 to 5:00.

2) If relation building consist of every day going to talking to said person for most of the game try not having said person say the exact same thing every time.

3) Try to avid excessive limitations on what the player can do, you could have stuff like landscaping or being able to divert a river (just examples , probably wouldn’t apply to all games) but give the player as much control over the details a possible like being able to design a house and not just get one upgrade, then another so it doesn’t feel like its just stat building.

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I think being able to be different is important.

At least in this kind of genre, it is to me. A lot of people like to customize things for themselves. I don't know anything about programming, but if you include a lot of customization interfaces you'd get a lot of attention in this kind of thing.

Like a few posts above, different furniture kinda thing... but for a school setting... Japanese. I imagine you're doing uniforms, so I don't guess clothes would be it... Maybe customize your class schedule. If it's 3D perhaps make customizable animations? I dunno... just being able to make a personal imprint has always been a big deal for this.

Resolution is important unless it's multiplayer. THen again, in this kind of game everyone's goal usually differs. Some may want to see his/her character get kicked out of school, some may want to see them graduate, some may wanna see them get accepted to a big time college... I don't know, but time spent without an eventual goal is wasted. So it'd be hard to decide what kind of resolution it'd be.

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I haven't played Sims 2 all that much, but I did play Sims and a Sims-like called Space Colony. One thing I think that Firefly Studios did really well with Space Colony was leveling the characters. They mixed a bit of RTS in such that the point of leveling the characters was that they'd run the colony better. So you had a real motivation to do so.

I think it's important that the characters have a good amount of personality expression. Seeing an old man fight with a teenager in the Sims 2, with both sounding like their cursing and punching their fist into their open palms is really funny. Space Colony had neutrotic characters who had funny English dialog, which I appreciated much more than Sims-speak.

It's also very important to mix the strategy of taking care of the character needs and the price/leveling path for what solves those needs. If you can just buy everything to solve character needs easily, there's no challenge.

It might be important to capture the aesthetic of an anime high school. What do people most remember when they think of anime they've seen of this environment? My only real memory is Ranma 1/2 (?), with the guy who turns into a girl when hit by water. (????) I don't really know much beyond that, unfortunately.

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