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The Sims 4 Discussion

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If you’re a Sims fan, you may or may not know that The Sims 4 was set to be released early next year but has now has been delayed until the third or fourth quarter in 2014. This news will disappoint some fans, but in all honesty, I think it’s a good thing.

The Sims is a fun series, no doubt about it. You get to create and customise houses, create families and pretty much control their lives—your Sim’s fate lies in your hand…literally. As a fan of the franchise, my love for the series remained strong, but unfortunately, that love turned into a love-hate relationship when it came to The Sims 3.

What I found most troubling with it was the amount of bugs I experienced throughout my gameplay. There were many times when my game froze, when items went missing, when an object wouldn’t work, when textures took a while to load, when my Sim would take forever to get changed, when my Sim would die because they randomly froze, and the list goes on. I even experienced odd glitches. Take a look for yourself.

The Sims 3 - Glitch

Odd Glitch

I felt that almost every expansion pack was rushed which resulted in many annoying glitches and bugs, and at times it seemed like the developers relied too much on the patches to fix them due to their deadlines. I really hope this isn’t the case for The Sims 4 because it would be a huge disappointment. After all, nobody wants a faulty, bug filled game so perhaps this delay will allow the developers to make The Sims 4 as perfect as possible before it is released…I hope so, anyway.

Now, let’s go back in time for a moment, back to the moment when, or if, you played the original Sims—those were the days.

The Sims vs The Sims 3

The Sims vs The Sims 3

When we were introduced to The Sims 2 in 2004, it was a massive change—one that left fans amazed and excited. Then five years later The Sims 3 hit the shelves. Apart from the graphics and some of the expansion packs, the only three major things that were completely different compared to The Sims 2 was the layout of the menus, being able to roam around the neighbourhood and customise almost everything, except for rabbit holes. The Sims 3, for me, was a slight improvement of The Sims 2 and a bit of a letdown.

So, what’s new with The Sims 4? Check out the trailer below and be the judge!

The creation tools for both building houses and creating Sims has definitely improved, and having your Sim have emotions will be interesting. My main concern for The Sims 4 is the quality of the graphics. It seems like Maxis is trying to avoid making the Sims look as realistic as possible by adding a cartoonish feel to the game and sadly, it isn’t winning me over.

The Sims 4

I think it’s about time the developers added something completely new to the franchise, something I’ve wanted in the game for a while now which is to customise and adjust the height of your Sim! It hasn’t been confirmed or rumoured, but it would add more fun and realism to the game and it would also be a step up from the previous games. Another thing I’m hoping The Sims 4 will include is to be able to enter every rabbit hole—such as restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, cinemas etc. Even having the option to enter your Sim’s workplace/school and being able to control what they do there would be new and interesting, but that’s just me. And lastly, I want to be able to completely edit my town and add trees and other objects—including lot spaces like in The Sims 2—in each neighbourhood.

But what else could possibly make The Sims 4 different from the rest? Apart from my hopes listed above, it would be awesome if you had to buy or grow ingredients in order to prepare food instead of instantly being able to cook them when you click the fridge. If you played The Sims Makin Magic, you will remember having a cookbook where you had to add certain ingredients—such as butter, sugar and baking mix—in order to prepare cakes.

The Cookbook

The Cookbook

The concept of the cookbook can be used in The Sims 4 and it can contain a large range of different recipes and drinks—some known and some unknown—and it would be up to you to decide what to add and what recipes you can create. It would add a more creative and new feel to the game in terms of cooking, and it would be just like real life.

Of course, these are my opinions and what I want to see in the game, but now it’s over to you. What are your thoughts for The Sims 4, and what do you hope they will include in the game? It’s a little early to judge since it’s still in development, but let’s hope The Sims 4 is a big step up from The Sims 3…it has to be.

The Sims 4 - House

Stephanie is an aspiring novelist who loves writing—both fiction and non-fiction—and enjoys editing. Having graduated from University studying Professional Writing and Editing, she continues to do what she loves most: writing novels, short stories and poetry, as well as writing and editing articles for the site and listening to her favourite band, Linkin Park. But apart from writing, there is one other primary passion of hers. Video games. From playing Monkey Island on Microsoft DOS, to Doom, Mario, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, her love for video games became a part of her life at a young age and they always will be.

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Epic Expectations and Epic Games Store: Storm in a Teacup on Creating Close to the Sun — Exclusive Interview

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Close to the Sun

Storm in a Teacup’s Close to the Sun released a month ago, but much remains for fans to learn about the project. Though the inspired game has plenty of clear influences, its differences from what came before are what make Close to the Sun a standout title in its genre.

In OnlySP’s interview with Storm in a Teacup’s creative director and CEO Carlo Ivo Alimo Bianchi below, Bianchi talks about his influences, the studio’s future, Bioshock, and Epic Games’s contribution to the project.

OnlySP’s Amy Campbell gave Close to the Sun an impressive High Distinction, thus adding the horror title to a list filled with some of the best games available.

OnlySP: We see this happen all the time where indie games will get a lot of attention simply for the premise alone. Some are watching Close to the Sun for this very reason. What is that sudden pressure like and what is Storm in a Teacup doing to make sure expectations are met?

Bianchi: We’re incredibly humbled by all of the hype we’ve seen around Close to the Sun, we’ve been working hard with a small team to make sure we met the bar for a title like this, and the last six months have been spent polishing the title to make the experience what it is today.

OnlySP: Obviously, a lot of people are comparing BioShock and System Shock to Close to the Sun. What makes Close to the Sun similar but different when compared to those games?

Bianchi: It’s a flattering comparison which we feel comes mostly from the design language within the game—when you see Art Deco in a video game BioShock is by far the biggest point of reference for gamers, for us though, it’s more about what was visually right to bring to the game. In our version of history science has accelerated the progression of society—bringing 1930s styling to the end of the 19th century, it’s also a suitably opulent aesthetic for our Tesla who sees himself as a modern-day Prometheus.

When you look at the gameplay itself, it’s really very different—Close to the Sun is more like SOMA or Outlast. To be honest we tried to stay away a little from the BioShock comparison not because it isn’t an incredible game, (it is a masterpiece) but because we wanted to align the expectations of consumers for Close to the Sun—it’s not an FPS.

soma

OnlySP: What are some of the game’s that got you, not only into gaming, but into making games? What games are you looking toward for inspiration when developing Close to the Sun?

Bianchi: The first games I ever played were on Commodore 64 and, as every guy coming from that era knows, just launching games at the time took some experience. It was fascinating for me at the point that I started writing my first code in Basic for fun. After that consoles came out and things got much easier, just buy a NES game, blow inside the cartridge like there is no tomorrow. Games became just something to play with, not something to think over. Even by my 18th birthday games were just something fun to play—I could never imagine I would end up developing games.

The first game that made me think was Resident Evil, it was an action game with interesting puzzles, a good story and a horror mark that executed splendidly (for the times) all of its aspects. It taught me that games could be more than just a shooter OR a puzzle solver, they could be both if executed well. The second game that comes to my mind is for sure Final Fantasy VII, still today my favourite game of all time. That game taught me that story telling could be way deeper than what I was used to. I loved the combat system and still think it’s the best turn-based system ever, but the lore in that game together with characters’ depth was something else. Another game I want to mention is Tomb Raider, that has been the first 3D game where I really felt depth! I felt so immersed in its environments that sometimes I dived from higher grounds to certain death just to enjoy the amazing vertical depth of the game. Tomb Raider was the first game that made me think: what if I could create something like this? There are many more games I could mention but these three are for sure the most important for my life as a developer.

When we started our design work on Close to the Sun we had three key pillars we wanted to use to create the game, these were: we wanted to create a suspense filled horror game, we wanted it to be on a boat (it’s the perfect setting to convey vulnerability and isolation to the player) and we wanted to include Tesla as a historical figure (and personal hero of mine). When it comes to the titles that inspired the team for Close to the Sun, we loved SOMA, Layers of Fear, Firewatch—these are all incredible titles.

Epic Games Store

OnlySP: So, the Epic Games Store controversy has gotten the entire PC gaming market riled up. A recent press release not only doubled down on the fact that Close to the Sun will launch first on the Epic Games Store, but that the partnership with Epic actually “accelerated development.” Could you elaborate on some of the ways the partnership sped things up?

Bianchi: Epic have been pivotal in the creation of Close to the Sun—they’ve been behind the project from an early stage and even provided a development grant for the game early on with no obligation. With the support they had given us and the project it felt completely natural and right to bring the game to the Epic Games Store.

On a technical development level I think it’s really easy to underestimate the value of the tools they provide—creating a horror game requires a lot of testing to see the reaction you want from the player, our team spent a lot of time using Unreal to create rapid prototypes for the final version of the game, something stuck, some things didn’t, but what was left perfectly fulfilled what we wanted to achieve and with the visual fidelity the Unreal Engine provides.

OnlySP: What do you have to say to those who are bad-mouthing the game simply because of the exclusivity period?

Bianchi: We understand fully why players feel so passionately about their launchers, but we felt the Epic Games Store was the right fit for the game, for the reasons already outlined already but also for visibility. The game will come to other storefronts in time, but right now we’re working on the console release so we can make the game available to even more players.

OnlySP: How much time can players expect to sink into the game’s story mode on the first go around? Does the game’s story offer anything for players who dive back in for a second playthrough?

Bianchi: Your first play through on Close to the Sun will take between 4 and 7 hours depending on the type of player you are. The game is rich in environmental storytelling and collectables and if you want to find and understand all these it may even take you longer. As for replay value there are some environmental elements that you’ll only truly understand once you finish the game, these are great to look out for the second time around.

close to the sun

OnlySP: Where does Storm in a Teacup go from here?

Bianchi: We have some ideas; we’d love to go on to create another game in this same universe but for now our focus is on the console versions of the game that will launch later in 2019.

OnlySP: Forgive me, but I’ve got to ask: Do you have any updates for Switch owners who want to play Close to the Sun on that platform? The ‘accelerated development’ comment discussed earlier definitely had me wondering.

Bianchi: We’re always open to looking at new platforms but we don’t have any news to share on this at the moment.

OnlySP: Why should people who may not already be interested in your game look into Close to the Sun?

Bianchi: Close to the Sun offers a unique experience—looking at the ideas and inventions of Tesla and what he might have gone on to achieve if he hadn’t been outmaneuvered during his years in industry. Tesla died near penniless in a hotel in New York but the world could have been so different—in 2019 we’re still barely scratching the surface of his ideas.

OnlySP: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Bianchi: Thank you for reading and a special thanks to anyone who goes out to buy the game.


For all the latest on Storm in a Teacup, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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