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Sims 3 Gameplay
Getting Together

Traits are even more influential to the gameplay: available socials and other interactions may differ from sim to sim, depending on their traits. An inappropriate sim may, for example, get inappropriate options like "Insult", "Argue" or "Make fun of". In fact, some sims may want to take a spunge bath in public. Parents on the other hand, may enjoy the parenting gameplay in the Sims 3, which is more extensive, according to Ben.

You can, of course, socialize with any sim you meet around town. When you do so, the relationship score will appear in the top-left of the screen. This will show what you know about the other sim: traits, career and perhaps even the (past) status of the relationship (somebody could be shown as "Ex-Girlfriend," for example). At first you'll know nothing, but as you talk and interact more, you'll get to learn about the other sim's traits, partner and career. If you have traits in common, you'll get special social options that can help you improve the relationship between the two sims. The social meter will also show how the other sim thinks about you in a thought bubble.

Actually meeting others is also different: as said before, you can go pretty much anywhere in the neighborhood (together with your babies and toddlers). Also to homes of other sims. You may run into others anywhere across town though. When scanning the map, you can filter the places to visit in several ways. Icons ("map tags") will show what kind of place each location is. You can choose between filters that show all locations, home and work related places, Friend's homes, community locations and jobs (all work locations).

Monday Morning Blues

One of the classic things in the Sims is that sims have a mood. The Sims 1 was all about keeping this high through the various needs. In the Sims 2 sims got smarter and were able to look after them a bit better. As pointed out earlier in this preview, Sims are able to take care of them quite well if you ignore them. They'll do okay - mediocre but not extremely well either, as long as you provide the basic necessary things to them.

The classic needs are also still in the game, except for comfort and environment (room). New is that your sim's mood is now also influenced by moodlets. Depending on the traits of the sim, a number of moodlets may appear. A beautiful park (which has items like swing sets, slides or jungle gyms) may improve the mood of a sim temporarily. As long as the conditions for the moodlet are satisfied for your sim, the moodlets will stay and increase your sim's mood. Some moodlets may time out though, and will only last for a number of hours (like the "Having a blast" moodlet). Of course there are also moodlets that have a negative impact (like the "Exhausted" moodlet which you get from working too hard). Hungry Sims may also get negative moodlets about that. It seems that because of this, needs do not directly influence your Sims' mood anymore, but only through the moodlets if a need is in the far red or green.

Having a good mood also pays off. The happier a sim, the more lifetime happiness points he receives. These are given away every hour of every day. So keeping the mood high means more points, which means faster access to those expensive lifetime rewards.

Making Money

Compared to the Sims 2, the careers are also quite different. The offices are now inside the neighborhood, accessible through the map view. While you still can't see your sims at work (you probably never will), you can easily pick a job through these buildings (some of them even have two careers, and there is also a school for your Sim children). No more scanning the paper hoping for that one perfect job: you can just take it. You can still go through that classic way, but - at least on the PC - things are a little easier. Rather than having to hope the right career pops up, only to find out you need to "Look for a job" again because the first offer is the best, you can now simply scroll through the available jobs. Just click through the 5 available jobs and go back at any time you like. Still, accessing the perfect career for your Sim is probably the easiest by just going through the map view.

The careers themselves also work differently. Ben gave an example of the political career where you may have to raise campaign money to get ahead in your career. You can socialize, throw parties and more to raise money, and hopefully get that promotion. That means that your daily work life may enter your gameplay too. We also noticed some options for part-time jobs. You can also become a partner and buy shares in the company, or even buy out every other stock holder and own the place. Power to your Sim: you can fire anybody you like, said the message.

When a sim reaches the top of the career, special interactions may become available too. For example, Ben had a sim who went by the name of Cycl0n3 Sw0rd, a mad scientist. He can experiment on objects. He takes out some devices, points it at something, and well... it catches on fire (the floor burns too). Or good things happen, giving extra powers to objects (think of getting extra moodlets when using such objects), an object can become a shocking trap, and more. There are several perks you can earn throughout a career. The political career, for example, has the perk so your sim can solicit money from others, which you achieve around level 5.

Throughout a regular sim day, a Sim may also receive career, skill or social opportunities. These are little goals that you can try to complete, resulting in a bonus if you do. It was still somewhat unclear what exactly the goals and rewards are though. Something else that's new is that when your Sim heads off to work, you get several options. The default will be to just do your work, but your Sim can also work hard or take it easy, meet colleageus, have fun with them or suck up to the boss (who will appear as acquaintance in the relationship panel of your Sim). Somebody in the culinary career also got the options to catch up with some sleep at work ("Sleep on preparation table") or practice cooking. Whether it is possible to learn skills at any career, is unknown.

Skills also still take their role in the Sims 3, and while it is still unclear which skills you'll find exactly, there are at least skills for handiness, gardening and fishing. The career panel shows the job performance for mood and each (required) skill, as well as the usual: working times, pay (per hour), which days your sim has to work, as well as the time left until the next shift. There's also a career history button which we didn't really get to see. Badges are gone, and they now work like all other skills. Skills also have certain challenges to achieve, though it wasn't clear exactly what we needed to do with them.

Home Improvement

The Sims 3 wouldn't be The Sims if you couldn't get your sims new furniture. In buy mode the objects are now by default sorted by room. The user interface then shows the subcategories of that room, set up in a (somewhat cluttered) way that slightly resembles a 2D layout of the selected room. You can click an object in the UI (e.g. Dining tables, chairs, plants, etc) and see all the objects in that category. All in all, not too much has changed. The classic sort by function capability hasn't left, so you can still just pick whatever you find most comfortable to use. Another nifty extra: chairs put next to a table will be moved along with the table if you move it around. Unfortunately, the amount of objects available from the start seems a little low. The Sims store will offer several sets and objects right from the start, but you'll have to pay extra for those. Those objects are quite expensive (roughly $1 per object, or a set of e.g. 35 objects for about $15), and may look familiar if you have the entire Sims 2 series in your collection - or even some specific expansions. Anyway, back to the game.

The Sims 3 provides more freedom to place objects. Objects can be rotated 45 degrees without using cheats (instead of 90), and without breaking their functionality. This is only a default though: during the November presentation it looked as if the simple press of a key (probably Alt) while rotating an object gives even more freedom in its rotation: just use any angle you like. Similarly, pressing Alt allows you to place objects anywhere. Also when placing objects on top of others, e.g. small plants on a cabinet, you can now choose where you place it, instead of the game just picking the next available place for you. You can also place multiple objects on cabinets, much like the displays known from The Sims 2 Open for Business. By default you're still confined to a grid, but as said, this can be turned off.

Building a home has also become a little easier. First of all, you can see the value of the home - furnished and unfurnished - at any time. If you're limited to a certain budget, this may help you stay within that limit. A bigger improvement is the wall tool. This allows you to drag walls around without having to delete them. This makes extending a room, or even an entire house, less tedious. You're no longer obliged to delete walls, build the new ones, place any objects you had back on there, repaint the walls and put a new floor back in the extra space. Instead just click and drag the wall, the rest will be done by the game. You may need to do a little extra work if you want to place new items (windows and such), but all in all this should save some time. Placing windows, especially on diagonals, seemed a bit tricky. All in all you may need to get used to the interface for a while.

The Sims 3 will not have curved walls, though ceilings will be available from the start. Cars are also available in the base game, even bikes. You can place the driveway for these vehicles anywhere you like on the lot. The car will just fade out when your sim leaves. If your Sim is more the green type of guy (or gal), they can also walk or run anywhere in town.

Written at 08:22 on Friday 22 May 2009 by ChEeTaH.

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