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The Sims News of 2004
Time to look Back
At the time of writing, 22 December 2004, the year is almost over. It's been an important year for Sims fans, with probably the biggest milestone the release of the Sims 2, at 17 September of this year. But that's far from everything that's happened in the 12 months that have passed. Almost every month a lot happened on the Sims area, whether there were new screenshots, interviews, reviews, and other articles. But what are the most important things that happened this year? Take a look back in the archive of the Sims Zone. The news archive of 2004. This is a brief overview of what's happened in the past year. Sit back, relax and enjoy the read, and think of the times past...
The year started off fairly well. The first newspost, made in the evening of 1 January, was about some artworks for the Sims 2, followed by some videos a day later. Most people were still having their holidays, and so was Maxis. The first few days were a fairly calm time. But that was soon to become different. The first remarkable news was that Maxis had launched a new company website. Some information about their games could be found - and still can be - on Maxis.com.

Bustin' Out was released a month earlier, still in 2003, but Maxis didn't reveal all the cheats until 4 January 2004. That was the day a few new cheats were posted on the official site. But the main focus lay on the Sims 2, the upcoming PC game, the sequel to the biggest PC game ever. The game all fans of the original were waiting for. There was a designer diary, part 6 already, about the game. The release date of 19 March was confirmed by EA in European countries, but that was contradicted only weeks later. But the Sims 2 wasn't the only game that kept us busy.

I already mentioned Bustin' Out, but there was more news about that than just the cheats. Nokia had announced the GBA version would be ported to their N-Gage platform. But there was still Makin' Magic as well. The seventh and last expansion pack of the Sims 1, which was released a few months earlier. Andy had written his review for that in January. But there was also SimCity 5; while it's still not announced, it has been rumoured and its domain was registered, along with several other domains with names of Maxis games.

Back to the Sims 1, there was the first SimDay of 2004. The weekly event on the official website wasn't during the holidays, but 8 January there was one again. And with some nice news for TSZ: we were mentioned in the monthly community update, as the Add-on Handler and the Neighborhood Handler were released late 2003. There was more news about this site though. We made a few minor changes in our layout to solve problems with specific browsers. But there was something big coming. In the background work on a new feature was being completed, and there was an exclusive chance to test it if you donated. Its details were still hidden for a while though, until at 25 January we announced the Knowledge base to be opened to all members soon. It would be new, unique, and its success unpredictable...

In the end, the news archive for January wouldn't be as big without the Sims 2. There were several previews, more videos, interesting articles, camera information, an FAQ and screenshots, screenshots and even more screenshots. But also big news, that would disappoint many fans who had been waiting for the game since before the announcement already...
"We expect that The Sims(TM) 2.0 and Medal of Honor Pacific Assault(TM) will ship in fiscal 2005."
The quarter results of EA were in and they were positive - but CEO Larry Probst came with the sad news the Sims 2 wouldn't be out until the third quarter of 2004. Long discussions, many disappointed fans, and busy forums. All because the game was delayed. This was probably by far the most important news of January 2004.
In February the Sims 2 still dominated the news, as it did almost the entire year. But with the news of the delay being so fresh, fans were still quite upset. Luc Barthelet, at the time still General Manager of Maxis, made a statement explaining the delay of the game. But besides that, there wasn't much news about the delay. Just a little bit from a chat transcript, in which Maxoids stated the delay happened because some new features would enter the game.

More news of the Sims 2 came in the form of the usual: screenshots, articles, etcetera. While we are now looking back to the past year, GameSpot did it differently. The checked out the news of the future. They went crazy and thought up a few new expansion packs to be released. The one that was announced, "Playin' Sims" was all about Sims playing "The Verts" on their computers, and buying new expansion packs regularly. More serious news was a new mini game that Snooty Sims posted. It was one from a Sims 2 preview cd by LidRock.

Just like the month before, there was news of Bustin' Out regularly, the second Sims game on consoles and the first on the handheld. RedNote published some songs, and GameSpot made a guide through the game. There was also some new information concerning the N-Gage version of Bustin' Out.

February was also the month that Maxis gave the official Sims 1 a slightly different layout. But not only that - Maxis would move out of their home. Luc Barthelet told us about this move from Walnut Creek, were Maxis was once founded, to the main campus of mother company Electronic Arts in Redwood City. Not everybody would move though. A small team working on secret projects would stay behind. But it wasn't all good news. There were rumours that staff of Maxis were laid off, including a lead designer. It was also said that the move was part of the reason for the delay of the Sims 2, but that was always rejected by Maxis.

Sims 1 was also still alive and kicking. For fans with a Mac computer, the biggest news in February was probably that Makin' Magic was released. But for Slice City there was other big news - they made it into the professional news, when Wired published an article about a special object of theirs. They made it possible for Sims to play SimCity. But what happened to the knowledge base that was announced in the previous month?
"After much hard work and testing, it's finally ready, and so we've just launched it."
The most important news of February was posted at midnight, on the first day of February. We'd launched a brand new feature, one that would prove to be very popular within a few weeks. Hence it was quickly followed by some improvements a fortnight later. The knowledge base has quickly become the source for help with your Sims games, whether the Sims 1, the Sims 2, or one of the console games. The biggest Sims FAQ on the net was featured in a new community update on the official site. This we consider the most important news in February 2004...
March was a month which started with some negative news for EA - or Nokia for that matter. EA President John Ricitiello said Nokia's new platform, the N-Gage, wasn't very meaningful for sales and it felt stupid. Bustin' Out was still in the line-up for the N-Gage platform at the time, along with 4 other EA games. Other problems were raised with The Sims Online. People registering for the free trial that was release late February were charged $1 on their credit cards. The problem was solved at 4 March though, and confirmed by a statement from MaxisKitty.

Meanwhile the Sims 1 was still a bit on a roll. After winning several awards in the past, it won another two Interactive Achievement Awards. Bustin' Out was awarded as family game of the year, and Superstar was the simulation game of the year. At the end of the month Will Wright also won some fake roses. After 5 March, when the news of the two awards was posted, a quiet period followed. This was interrupted at the 18th with the news that after the US and Canada, the Sims Online would be released in Japan. A little later the news came in that CaSIE was CaSIE no longer. Instead it would be called the Body Shop. A few hours later, its estimated release date was revealed by PCZone. That was also the first mention of the Sims 2 being released in September.

On our side we didn't sit still as well. A problem with our mail form was solved and, more importantly, we moved to a new server. Subdomains were introduced again, to make parts of the site accessible more easily. A little later it was announced that the Add-on Handler, the tool to easily install downloads for the Sims 1 with, would be translated to several languages. Translators were wanted for the job to translate the program of which a new version was being developed. Towards the end of the month, the Sims Zone reached a new milestone as well. Two million people had visited the site since 2 February 2002. That's 2 million visitors in a little more than 2 years. Since then we've almost doubled that amount already, with 3.9 million visitors at the time of writing. But there was one other major thing that happened that month...
"My time at Maxis as been the most wonderful time of my life for I love the games we make and the individuals who make them."
In his weekly e-mail, Luc Barthelet told the community he'd be leaving Maxis. He's still working at EA, close to Maxis, but he no longer was the General Manager. Neil Young would be his replacement during the remaining time that the Sims 2 was being developed. In the same e-mail, Luc revealed a new Sims game would be released on the consoles later that year, to be announced around the E3 in May. Although the month was relatively quiet with mostly just screenshots and articles, this is news that stood out and is what we think is the most important for March.
Written at 01:00 on Thursday 23 December 2004 by ChEeTaH.

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