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The Sims Online News Interview
Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson :: 12:00 AM @ December 16th, 2002 :: In-House: Interviews
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Can you please give us a brief description of who you are and what you do?
Sure. I�m Chris Trottier. I�m a designer on The Sims Online.
How surprised were you with the long term success of the Sims?
We had a feeling when developing it that it would either be a colossal success or a colossal failure. We had our hopes that gamers would be intrigued by a different kind of game play. But I don�t think anyone anticipated how many non-gamers would not only play the Sims but become incredibly hardcore and loyal about it.
Some have called the Sims Online a heavily enhanced chat room.
What is your opinion on such a comment?
It�s true that it can be played that way. We�ve made it very accessible and friendly to casual players. But the way I see it, we�ll have 5-10 percent of the players who are playing a much different game (creating the world, developing properties, and competing in an open market for the other 90% of the player�s attention and spending money).

TSO brings unsurpassed creativity and customizability to online gaming, and players who are intrigued by that and by the possibility of interacting in a more campy, contemporary role-playing space (with a greater diversity of players) will probably enjoy TSO.
Give us a brief insight as to how players can keep track of their friends.
Bookmarks allow you to keep track of friends� online status. In-game messaging allows you to message anyone (who�s not ignoring you), whether they�re online or not.

Beyond that, you can declare (a limited number of) friends in-game. The mechanic is a simple social interaction that creates a one-way relationship (I declare you a friend), but the strategies people employ to get and keep friends can be pretty political. The more people who declare you a friend, the more in-game rewards you get (more superpower socials, for example). You can see a display of anyone�s in-game friends and read their comments about their friends in a navigable (think six degrees of separation) game UI called the friendship web.
With the Sims, players were given a social structure controlled by the developer. It would seem with the Sims Online the social structure is controlled by the actual players in the game. How were such issues addressed and what features have been added to the Sims Online to handle this?
Well, at the most basic level, there�s no in-game AI behind the social interaction outcomes any more. They are selected directly by the person you initiate the action on. So the outcomes are much more varied and unpredictable.

The smallest unit of social organization is to live with other players. Players take roommates to develop property more quickly and keep their properties hosted more often. By pooling resources, their economic advancement is accelerated tremendously.

We�ll also soon support the ability for groups of properties to link together and form a �neighborhood.� They will name their neighborhood, and this will appear in the navigation screens as regions on the map.

Going forward, we�ll be working with the TSO community to develop more and more meaning to put behind these social organizations.
It has been reported that all items and textures from the original and expansion Sims will be included in the Sims Online. What new are some new items and features we can expect from the Sims Online?
Hoo boy. Where to begin:

We created objects to support several different kinds of role playing environments such as theaters and wedding chapels. We created objects to support more diverse stylistic themes such as sci-fi, old-world, and Moroccan. We created game components that allow players to create their own life-sized games, such as dice, decks of cards, timers, balls, scoreboards, life-sized game pieces, etc. We�ve created several objects that allow players to make money, both solo and in groups. At the moment, we�re developing objects on a couple different fronts. 1. objects that support stores, such as clothing racks. And several mini-games, such as casino games, that allow player to play casual games in an immersive environment.
How can players ignore annoying people who do not stop pestering them?
There�s an �ignore� interaction that makes it so they won�t see the person�s chat, and that prevent the person from messaging them or initiating social interactions on them. You also have a tremendous amount of control over who is admitted to your property. You can kick people out, ban them, keep invitation-only lists, etc. If all those fail, you can complain about another player to our customer service representatives. If they are behaving outside of our terms of service, they will be followed up with appropriately.

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