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SimGuru's, Where Are You? The Sims 3 is Failing.  XML
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SimGuruSemedi


Joined: 05/26/10 12:18 AM
Messages: 398
Location:EA Headquarters
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I don't want to get in a tit for tat exchange; but I will talk about some of the broader topics that people have brought up in response to my post.

Perhaps most importantly is this perception that we pay more attention to the people on Twitter and Facebook than those of you on the forums. That simply isn't true. Twitter is a great tool for quick communication and interaction with fans; it lets me chat with people and get immediate feedback, even have a real time conversation at times. What Twitter isn't good for is getting in-depth information - for that I come to the forums. If I tried to talk to people on the forums the same way I do on Twitter, I simply wouldn't get any work done. The talk about Facebook is intriguing as well; I have absolutely no idea where the perception comes from that we value our fans on there more than the ones here. Do people assume we implemented the new My Page and the in-game social stuff due to requests from Sims fans on Facebook? Realistically it's something that EA is interested in implementing across all of our games. There's stuff like Autolog in Need for Speed, Battlelog in Battlefield, and the new social features that got introduced in Showtime are part of that whole movement. It's an effort to emphasize and build communities, connect people with their friends, and ultimately provide deeper game play experiences. Outside of our main Sims 3 Facebook page, there isn't any direct developer interaction there that I know of, in contrast with how we have our own individual Twitter accounts. On another note, I don't point out that it isn't my job to be on the forums with the idea that people should be grateful that I post here, I just want people to see that those of us who get involved with the community do so because it's something we genuinely want to do.

We have community managers who interact with the community here on the forums, on the official Sims Twitter, on our Sims Facebook page, and our Sims Youtube channel. One of the aspects of their job is to gather feedback from fans in all of those locations, and compile it in reports that get sent out to everyone else, to draw our attention to hot button issues. If you think the forums are intimidating for a dev, imagine trying to sift through thousands of comments within a single thread on some random Facebook topic. That's what's great about the forums, due to their format they're the absolute best place to read topics about serious issues; to see others respond and contribute to those topics, and to get an overall sense of the state of the hardcore community.

It's interesting seeing people bring up other game developers and directly compare them to us. I have the utmost respect for other studios throughout the industry, but the idea of the perfect game, the perfect dev team, or the perfect community management... it's a fallacy. There are always things that can be improved, mistakes are made and then learned from. Evil_One, you mentioned Bethesda and Epic. Speaking strictly as a gamer for a moment, I think Skyrim is an absolute achievement in gaming, but have you payed attention to what many of their customers who purchased the game on the PS3 are saying? They're none too happy with some of the problems they're experiencing. Epic is a studio whose games I've played for many years now, but they're constantly accused of being sellouts to Microsoft for developing console exclusives and abandoning the fanbase on the PC who built them into the studio they are today. Is that a fair criticism? What about their loyal long time fans?

I don't want anyone to think I'm making light of the amazing work that modders in the community do. I have a long history of working on mods for popular games as well; and I know how much hard work people pour into them for nothing in return other than the enjoyment of seeing others use it. I started out scripting my own mods for the original Rainbow Six, adding new competitive multiplayer modes for the game. I've worked on all sorts of mod teams for first person shooters over the years as a level designer; most notably I was part of the original Counter-Strike team before it was purchased and released commercially by Valve. A healthy mod community is not only great for players; I think it's great for us as a business as well. Its been shown time and again that games that have good community tools and an active mod community extend the shelf life of a game and give people reasons to keep coming back. What disappoints me is when people feel they have to make mods that fix something that's bothering them about the game... be it an invasive design flaw or a bug; either way I wish it wasn't necessary. Having worked on mods before though, I know the benefits of mod development that let them get to things more quickly than we can patch them as a studio. A mod developer doesn't really have to be accountable to anyone... they work when they want, they test as much as they want, and they release when they want. If something goes wrong, they can immediately fix it and release again, or if they want they can just leave things as they are. In a development studio, there's just tons more that goes into any "simple" fix. To give a very rough idea of the process, we first have to find someone that can fix it who has time in their schedule to work on it... if they're currently committed elsewhere, any time they take to fix an issue is time lost or delayed somewhere else. Depending on what we're changing, that can mean any number of programmers, modelers, animators, UI artists, etc working on something. They can't just make a change and add it to the game either, we have different code channels that developers work out of depending on the work they're doing, and each new update means a new code channel. QA has to go in and test the changes they made, and not just those changes, but to try and determine if anything else broke due to the change that was made - sometimes they cause something to break that you'd think would be completely unrelated. Each change goes through multiple rounds of testing... alpha, beta, and final release. The code channel then has to be integrated back into our main "retail" code channel, the one that you all play on when you launch the game. That code integration has to be tested. There are variations for each update we release as well... we have to do one update for disc versions, one for players who purchased on Steam, one for people who play on Macs. We have a patch matrix that we test against that accounts for the different versions of the game a player may be updating from to get to the most recent version... do they need the full patch that contains every update we've ever done, or do they need an incremental patch that only contains the most recent changes? The store and web team have to prep the website for release. Patch notes have to go out to Europe and Asia for translations. Once all of that is accomplished (and the hundred other little steps in between) we can release an update. As I'm sure you can imagine, that all takes time - it's a significant commitment each time we release an update That doesn't dissuade us from making updates to the game, it just means that we can't always immediately change things that on the surface seem like a simple fix. We'll continue to support products we release post launch - you saw some updates for Showtime that had very quick turn around times to address issues ASAP that we felt were vital for player's experiences.

People wonder if I truthfully enjoy talking to Sims fans; and why I'd want to come here and throw myself into the fire on various occasions I can honestly say it's one of my favorite aspects of my job. First and foremost I'm a gamer; I have been for a really long time. I understand what people express on this forum because I've been in your shoes doing the exact same thing with games I'm passionate about over the past 15 years. The first online game I played was Interstate '76, a great old auto-combat simulation game. It was right around the time when message boards were starting to become more common on the internet, and there was a very healthy community around that game. The devs would talk to us, we'd give feedback, they'd do cool things for us... it was a great time, and it was how I formed some of my very first contacts within the industry. Eventually those devs released a sequel called Interstate '82; there was a lot about that game that upset many long time fans. When I look back on that now, I think about the perspective that I lacked... as fans there were things that mattered to our community; and as paying customers that was our right to voice our concerns. But the reality of game development went beyond just us, and there were all sorts of factors that go into the final game that makes it to store shelves. Seeing things from both sides gives me a really unique perspective; I can look at other games and think, "huh, that seems odd... but I bet I know why they did it".

All of that leads to me wanting to chat with fans and pull back the curtains where I can to give you a better perspective on why we do some of the things that you ultimately see when you play the games. Ironically the majority of my posts in the forum are when I jump into a delicate situation and try and let people know what's going on; I care about our players and don't like to see anyone feel like they're intentionally being left in the dark. I have absolutely never lied or purposely misled fans of this game. If anyone asked me to do that at work, it's something I would have a serious grievance with. Thankfully I've never been placed in that situation; I don't think anyone on the team is interesting in deceiving fans to make a quick buck. Unfortunately there have been a couple of situations where the information I shared ended up being incorrect, and all I can tell you is that I felt absolutely awful about it. I want to be both an advocate for the community within the team, but also someone that Sims fans can trust to give them the straight truth when you get an answer from me. In the instances where I've been wrong, I've done everything I could to track down the people who I gave bad info to, personally apologize, and do what I can to set things right.

Not everyone is going to trust me or even like me, and that's fine. I'll admit I roll my eyes at the conspiracy theories that crop up, some of it can get a bit outlandish. The live chats are one example... people post their criticisms and then get upset when it doesn't get commented on in our own chat that we're producing. Do you really expect us to blindside our own devs on our own broadcast? That's what game journalists are for The live chats are a chance to get a look at upcoming games and learn more about them. I push for as much openness and transparency in those chats as we can provide, and I gather questions beforehand so I can be sure that we address some serious ones (the people on camera don't get to select the questions from the live chat themselves - the chat window moves by FAR too quickly for us to both be on camera and keep up with everyone's comments), but that isn't the time and place to try and grill us. I'll keep interacting with the community in one form or another I hope that overall I can have a positive impact and share some unique nuggets of info about what goes into each game that you wouldn't normally hear without talking to a dev.

One final note; I saw a few people making an assumption that I'm the lead producer. That's not the case... I'm one of approximately 15 or so producers that are actively working on Sims 3. There are many people on the team who have years of seniority within the Sims and years of experience with the game industry as a whole on me. SimGuruMeatball talked about it before, but for those of you wanting Maxis back... it's really the same people who have been working on The Sims for years that are still here I wasn't around during that period of time, but the team used to operate out of the Maxis studio on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. EA has a great campus that houses their headquarters and multiple game studios, and the team that was working on The Sims moved over to this newer location, and the growing team that was working on Spore stayed at the old location. So we got a new studio name, and a somewhat new location, but the people are the same. Other than natural attrition and new hires (like me!), there are people in our studio who have been with the franchise since the beginning.

Whew! Definitely time to catch some sleep after all that, goodnight

Sims Producer Graham Nardone - Follow me on Twitter @SimGuruGraham
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sam123


Joined: 06/05/09 10:33 AM
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SimGuruSemedi wrote:Hey everyone,

Some interesting posts in this thread... I thought I'd jump in and give my own personal perspective on a few things, although I can't respond to everything for what I hope are obvious reasons. The other challenging thing to address is that people always want answers about why certain things are the way they are, and there's no all encompassing answer I can give you; for every compliment or complaint you can levy at the game, there's a unique reason why each aspect of it is the way it is.

First off, people shouldn't think of the Ideas & Feedback section as some corner of our forum that never gets read. It's one of my favorite places to check, the name alone is indicative of exactly the type of posts I find helpful to read around here. Just to give people a general idea of what I personally do, I browse through the forums at least once a day. I like to read this board, the board of the most recently announced product to see people's reactions (aka Sweet Treats), and the board of the most recently released product to see what parts of it people enjoy or what they're struggling with(aka Showtime). On a less frequent basis I also check out the General board, the Technical Discussion board, and the boards that focus on player creations.

That being said, I don't post here too often. It isn't that I want to avoid chatting with Sims fans as that couldn't be further from the truth; it just isn't practical a lot of the time. As some in here have pointed out, I (along with other gurus) enjoy using Twitter to chat with fans. Ultimately, it's just much easier for me to see a tweet notification pop up with a quick comment, and immediately write a short reply to it. Those tweets can be anything from chatting about the game, trying to help someone who is having trouble, talking about upcoming Sims stuff, or just discussing various aspects of game design and development. Alternatively, it's a much larger time commitment to come and post on the forums. Coming hear means looking at the different boards, sifting through the various topics, determining what's new and what I've read before... and then if I want to respond it means writing a somewhat substantial post; and making the commitment to respond to the inevitable ten additional questions that will get posted in response to what I say. Then people wonder why I respond to some posts and not others, or misinterpret what I say, and it can all get to be a bit much All of that eats into my time, and I don't get a break from my development responsibilities to come post on here. What I've come to learn is I can't do everyone's job, but when you're a more public figure for the game people will throw every manner of topic at you and expect you to respond. For example, when people have a problem with the game... I'd love to help, but I just don't have that level of understanding of the game. I'm not a programmer, so I don't know what might be going wrong in the code - but I can recognize a problem and bring it to others attention to make sure it gets addressed.

I find it difficult to respond when people say that we don't listen to the fans. When we talk about the "fans" and "community", a lot of the time that's in direct reference to the people who frequently post on these forums; you're our most vocal subset of fans. In reality though the forums are a fraction of our overall fan base, and we have to take everyone into account when we develop products and respond to consumers. Even within these forums there may be a majority consensus, but that doesn't mean it's what everyone wants for the franchise. You can look at our most popular expansions - Pets is always a theme that tons of people want - and you'll find those who have absolutely no interest in adding that to their Sims games. Quite frankly I think that's perfectly alright. The Sims encompasses a ton of diverse themes, and each one will appeal to people in different ways. When we announced a pack like Pets, nobody says... "oh, they're listening to what the fans what", they say "oh well that was their plan all along". The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are a lot of different things that impact the decision of what to make and when to make it, far too many to go into detail within this post, but everything is done for a reason; we don't haphazardly decide on things. Over the course of Sims 3, we knew there were some things we wanted to do like Pets... other expansions were more of a direct response to player feedback. We knew Pets was a theme that everyone wanted, yet it ended up being the 5th expansion, and people say... why did we have to wait so long? To be honest, it would have been impossible to do Pets as the first expansion, it had significant technical hurdles to overcome for that expansion to exist. And that's just an example of one expansion; each one we release has its own challenges or oddities that made it make sense to release when it did. Look at Generations... it was made directly in response to a lot of what the community was asking for with more social interactions, more emphasis on families, more content across all age ranges, etc. That one was a challenge for our marketing team, but we were really happy to get to do that theme for our fans. Look at the most recent release of Showtime, it's packed with a lot of fun interactive objects that fans have been asking for for a long time. Elements of fan requests show up in every single game that we release. Anavastia mentioned how you haven't seen many new rabbitholes lately. She's right, that's a direct response to fan feedback, and I do hope we'll have the chance to open up more of them. We have to walk a fine line sometimes though. A lot of people here really love Sims 2 (and that's awesome if you do!), but we're not trying to release the exact same game with Sims 3. We incorporate elements from the past, but we'll continue to evolve and refine them, and hopefully add fun new aspects to them in the process. We'll do familiar themes like Pets, and brand new things that you've never played in The Sims before like World Adventures.

In response to those who want changes to already released expansions, and to have more changed based on your feedback... well, it's something I'm pushing for. I have my own list of things that I take directly from these forums, and when we have small gaps in our schedule or a little extra time, I try and get some of those things in there. It's an ongoing process and it won't happen all at once, but over time I hope you'll see more things get addressed. Things on my list range all the way from adding new options to opt out of the celebrity system, to something as mundane as tweaking the ice cream truck so it doesn't show up at 3am. We don't go out and talk about this sort of stuff commonly, because as soon as we say something about it there's an implied expectation that we will change it, and I can't promise you that. Sk8rblaze you mentioned Vampires previously... it's another thing that's on my list, but I honestly can't tell you what will happen with it. It's something that we technically can change, but I don't know when we'll have the chance to change it, and that's why you don't specifically hear about it. It's the same reason we don't talk about patches in advance; game development in the Sims Studio is a very fast paced and fluid environment. Plans can and will change, and we don't like to discuss things until we're 100% sure we're going to deliver on it; you'd be amazed at some of the last minute emergencies that can disrupt the best plans at times I can assure you that myself and others are paying attention though and do what we can to improve the game while creating great new content as well.

It's also difficult because people have the expectation that something should be a simple change or an easy fix, and that often isn't true or we would have done it. The mod community can skew these perceptions as well... people think, well if a modder can do it, why can't EA? Ultimately, someone creating a mod doesn't have the same responsibility that we do when it comes to implementing and testing changes, and doesn't have to deal with scheduling, budgeting, and the wide variety of people's work that is impacted by any change we decide to make. That's not an excuse, but it is a reality of what we do. In a perfect world, I'd love if people felt they only needed to get mods to add content to their game, and not need to get mods that changed aspects of the game we created that they don't like. It's something I think about often when we're implementing new designs (what can we do to provide players options where they feel they don't need to go get a mod to change it).

It's always interesting to me when people say that we don't care, or that we're only out to get your money. I really have to thank SimGuruShannon, because she was one of the first to step up and get more actively involved in reaching out to the community directly, and that came from a desire to open more communication with fans like the Sims team has had in the past. It sparked my interest in it as well, and I love interacting with the community. Personally I love to see our games sell well because I'm proud of the products we put out - there are a lot of talented people on the team who go above and beyond with personal effort to do amazing things. I think many devs who are used to traditional game development would find it very challenging to put out the amount of content we do at the pace we do to keep up with continued demand for more things from awesome fans like all of you. As Jarsie so aptly pointed out, there's nowhere in my job description that says I need to interact with the community or post on the forums; it's my own personal choice to get involved (along with the other gurus you see on the forums and twitter) because it's something we enjoy. I wouldn't be reading these forums and writing a long post on a Sunday if I didn't have an interest in what I do that goes beyond my paycheck. I make games because it's something I'm passionate about, and I want to make games that people are thrilled with - and that's a sentiment shared by many members of the team.

I know this post is long, but hopefully it didn't ramble too much. What I really enjoy is being able to have conversations with Sims fans, and openly discuss some of the things that are interesting to you all... not just as a company rep with an official response, but as people who enjoy the Sims and want to know more about what goes into it. At Gamescom this past year I had the great chance to just converse with some Sims fans at a party, and it was really nice just having a frank discussion about the game. I like that about twitter as well, where we can be a bit more casual. So please... come talk to me on there, I respond all the time. You'll see me on the forums as well, just less frequently. And I can't prove it to you, but I promise myself and many others on the team are reading your posts here as well

One final note; I'm totally welcoming of constructive criticism. It's an opportunity for us to learn as developers and make better products before we release them, as well as improve the games that have already come out. As players of our game, I feel like all of you have every right to voice your opinions of the game. Thank you to those of you who take the time to write posts that go beyond saying you do or don't like something, but also explain why you feel that way.


-Graham


Wow, thanks for your reply Graham. I read the whole thing and solely agree to all of it, I'm glad you know what everyone is having issues with and showing everyone that EA do listen to their loyal fans here on the forums. Your post has sparked a lot of positive threads and feedback and I think it also sparked a little hope to the TS3 franchise. e.g The celebrity and vampire issues and popular EP's such as seasons! (Hopefully)

Thanks for everything SimGurus! This post made me feel like playing Sims now. Anyone else?

Let there be OFB. We've waited long enough.
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christine400


Joined: 12/19/09 05:32 PM
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SimGuruSemedi wrote:I don't want to get in a tit for tat exchange; but I will talk about some of the broader topics that people have brought up in response to my post.

Perhaps most importantly is this perception that we pay more attention to the people on Twitter and Facebook than those of you on the forums. That simply isn't true. Twitter is a great tool for quick communication and interaction with fans; it lets me chat with people and get immediate feedback, even have a real time conversation at times. What Twitter isn't good for is getting in-depth information - for that I come to the forums. If I tried to talk to people on the forums the same way I do on Twitter, I simply wouldn't get any work done. The talk about Facebook is intriguing as well; I have absolutely no idea where the perception comes from that we value our fans on there more than the ones here. Do people assume we implemented the new My Page and the in-game social stuff due to requests from Sims fans on Facebook? Realistically it's something that EA is interested in implementing across all of our games. There's stuff like Autolog in Need for Speed, Battlelog in Battlefield, and the new social features that got introduced in Showtime are part of that whole movement. It's an effort to emphasize and build communities, connect people with their friends, and ultimately provide deeper game play experiences. Outside of our main Sims 3 Facebook page, there isn't any direct developer interaction there that I know of, in contrast with how we have our own individual Twitter accounts. On another note, I don't point out that it isn't my job to be on the forums with the idea that people should be grateful that I post here, I just want people to see that those of us who get involved with the community do so because it's something we genuinely want to do.

We have community managers who interact with the community here on the forums, on the official Sims Twitter, on our Sims Facebook page, and our Sims Youtube channel. One of the aspects of their job is to gather feedback from fans in all of those locations, and compile it in reports that get sent out to everyone else, to draw our attention to hot button issues. If you think the forums are intimidating for a dev, imagine trying to sift through thousands of comments within a single thread on some random Facebook topic. That's what's great about the forums, due to their format they're the absolute best place to read topics about serious issues; to see others respond and contribute to those topics, and to get an overall sense of the state of the hardcore community.

It's interesting seeing people bring up other game developers and directly compare them to us. I have the utmost respect for other studios throughout the industry, but the idea of the perfect game, the perfect dev team, or the perfect community management... it's a fallacy. There are always things that can be improved, mistakes are made and then learned from. Evil_One, you mentioned Bethesda and Epic. Speaking strictly as a gamer for a moment, I think Skyrim is an absolute achievement in gaming, but have you payed attention to what many of their customers who purchased the game on the PS3 are saying? They're none too happy with some of the problems they're experiencing. Epic is a studio whose games I've played for many years now, but they're constantly accused of being sellouts to Microsoft for developing console exclusives and abandoning the fanbase on the PC who built them into the studio they are today. Is that a fair criticism? What about their loyal long time fans?

I don't want anyone to think I'm making light of the amazing work that modders in the community do. I have a long history of working on mods for popular games as well; and I know how much hard work people pour into them for nothing in return other than the enjoyment of seeing others use it. I started out scripting my own mods for the original Rainbow Six, adding new competitive multiplayer modes for the game. I've worked on all sorts of mod teams for first person shooters over the years as a level designer; most notably I was part of the original Counter-Strike team before it was purchased and released commercially by Valve. A healthy mod community is not only great for players; I think it's great for us as a business as well. Its been shown time and again that games that have good community tools and an active mod community extend the shelf life of a game and give people reasons to keep coming back. What disappoints me is when people feel they have to make mods that fix something that's bothering them about the game... be it an invasive design flaw or a bug; either way I wish it wasn't necessary. Having worked on mods before though, I know the benefits of mod development that let them get to things more quickly than we can patch them as a studio. A mod developer doesn't really have to be accountable to anyone... they work when they want, they test as much as they want, and they release when they want. If something goes wrong, they can immediately fix it and release again, or if they want they can just leave things as they are. In a development studio, there's just tons more that goes into any "simple" fix. To give a very rough idea of the process, we first have to find someone that can fix it who has time in their schedule to work on it... if they're currently committed elsewhere, any time they take to fix an issue is time lost or delayed somewhere else. Depending on what we're changing, that can mean any number of programmers, modelers, animators, UI artists, etc working on something. They can't just make a change and add it to the game either, we have different code channels that developers work out of depending on the work they're doing, and each new update means a new code channel. QA has to go in and test the changes they made, and not just those changes, but to try and determine if anything else broke due to the change that was made - sometimes they cause something to break that you'd think would be completely unrelated. Each change goes through multiple rounds of testing... alpha, beta, and final release. The code channel then has to be integrated back into our main "retail" code channel, the one that you all play on when you launch the game. That code integration has to be tested. There are variations for each update we release as well... we have to do one update for disc versions, one for players who purchased on Steam, one for people who play on Macs. We have a patch matrix that we test against that accounts for the different versions of the game a player may be updating from to get to the most recent version... do they need the full patch that contains every update we've ever done, or do they need an incremental patch that only contains the most recent changes? The store and web team have to prep the website for release. Patch notes have to go out to Europe and Asia for translations. Once all of that is accomplished (and the hundred other little steps in between) we can release an update. As I'm sure you can imagine, that all takes time - it's a significant commitment each time we release an update That doesn't dissuade us from making updates to the game, it just means that we can't always immediately change things that on the surface seem like a simple fix. We'll continue to support products we release post launch - you saw some updates for Showtime that had very quick turn around times to address issues ASAP that we felt were vital for player's experiences.

People wonder if I truthfully enjoy talking to Sims fans; and why I'd want to come here and throw myself into the fire on various occasions I can honestly say it's one of my favorite aspects of my job. First and foremost I'm a gamer; I have been for a really long time. I understand what people express on this forum because I've been in your shoes doing the exact same thing with games I'm passionate about over the past 15 years. The first online game I played was Interstate '76, a great old auto-combat simulation game. It was right around the time when message boards were starting to become more common on the internet, and there was a very healthy community around that game. The devs would talk to us, we'd give feedback, they'd do cool things for us... it was a great time, and it was how I formed some of my very first contacts within the industry. Eventually those devs released a sequel called Interstate '82; there was a lot about that game that upset many long time fans. When I look back on that now, I think about the perspective that I lacked... as fans there were things that mattered to our community; and as paying customers that was our right to voice our concerns. But the reality of game development went beyond just us, and there were all sorts of factors that go into the final game that makes it to store shelves. Seeing things from both sides gives me a really unique perspective; I can look at other games and think, "huh, that seems odd... but I bet I know why they did it".

All of that leads to me wanting to chat with fans and pull back the curtains where I can to give you a better perspective on why we do some of the things that you ultimately see when you play the games. Ironically the majority of my posts in the forum are when I jump into a delicate situation and try and let people know what's going on; I care about our players and don't like to see anyone feel like they're intentionally being left in the dark. I have absolutely never lied or purposely misled fans of this game. If anyone asked me to do that at work, it's something I would have a serious grievance with. Thankfully I've never been placed in that situation; I don't think anyone on the team is interesting in deceiving fans to make a quick buck. Unfortunately there have been a couple of situations where the information I shared ended up being incorrect, and all I can tell you is that I felt absolutely awful about it. I want to be both an advocate for the community within the team, but also someone that Sims fans can trust to give them the straight truth when you get an answer from me. In the instances where I've been wrong, I've done everything I could to track down the people who I gave bad info to, personally apologize, and do what I can to set things right.

Not everyone is going to trust me or even like me, and that's fine. I'll admit I roll my eyes at the conspiracy theories that crop up, some of it can get a bit outlandish. The live chats are one example... people post their criticisms and then get upset when it doesn't get commented on in our own chat that we're producing. Do you really expect us to blindside our own devs on our own broadcast? That's what game journalists are for The live chats are a chance to get a look at upcoming games and learn more about them. I push for as much openness and transparency in those chats as we can provide, and I gather questions beforehand so I can be sure that we address some serious ones (the people on camera don't get to select the questions from the live chat themselves - the chat window moves by FAR too quickly for us to both be on camera and keep up with everyone's comments), but that isn't the time and place to try and grill us. I'll keep interacting with the community in one form or another I hope that overall I can have a positive impact and share some unique nuggets of info about what goes into each game that you wouldn't normally hear without talking to a dev.

One final note; I saw a few people making an assumption that I'm the lead producer. That's not the case... I'm one of approximately 15 or so producers that are actively working on Sims 3. There are many people on the team who have years of seniority within the Sims and years of experience with the game industry as a whole on me. SimGuruMeatball talked about it before, but for those of you wanting Maxis back... it's really the same people who have been working on The Sims for years that are still here I wasn't around during that period of time, but the team used to operate out of the Maxis studio on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. EA has a great campus that houses their headquarters and multiple game studios, and the team that was working on The Sims moved over to this newer location, and the growing team that was working on Spore stayed at the old location. So we got a new studio name, and a somewhat new location, but the people are the same. Other than natural attrition and new hires (like me!), there are people in our studio who have been with the franchise since the beginning.

Whew! Definitely time to catch some sleep after all that, goodnight


people (such as myelf) get the impression that you reply more to twitter pages is b.c you yourself said it was easier and most of us have never seen gurus post here. and as for the socials that comes with it too i personally never once saw it really requested on here i saw request for sims onlinebut not alot of people said it. but nothing that is similar to your current social features and simport concept and i think thats why most assume you either chose to do it without caring if 3% of people wanted it according to your poll or more people responde dmore positivly on twitter/FB.

I'm glad you've responded for a second time but once again doesnt happen alot. I have never seen these community mangers you speak of in the ideas and feedback forums. the only guru im really aware that post is nichademus who tries to help people out in the tech section( i think its great just saying i dont see other posters in any other section) yes you speak of how the sims forums are one of the best ways to get in depth info but we never see it or feel like you really take it seriously since you use this section as the "dumping thread" for example post that i will see in general discussion section ALWAYS get moved here. If you guys dont like what's being posted then why not just completly remove it instead of just dumping on the ideas section?

Yeah you talk about other companies but every company from a simple fast food place to a company like your will ALWAYS have complaints or issues. bethsheba didnt get worst american company award just saying. The fact that the store in my opinion is overpriced and that you sold not 2 but 3 different versions of ST in which katy's was an extra 10 bucks for a few items and the fact that her new SP is extra thats where the whole "EA is in for the money comes in "

maybe if you guys went more in depth on why prices were raised then people would be more understanding(just a thought)

and apology accepted i've seen things posted by gurus that didnt quite but hey things always change in gaming company im sure.


and i personally think the live chats are great. The only thing i had a problem with is when you guys really talk too much in depth about the socials (on here atleast) i know there were alot of negative responses and ill admit i was negative and still dont really like the idea i do wish it was still explained better though.


and i get the change thing. Change takes time some people just dont relize.

and i knew maxis workers stayed. but it really seems like they arent since alot of things have been taken out of past games such as changing and bathing babies/toddlers. LOTS has been taken of those two stages sadly.


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To7m


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SimGuruSemedi wrote:I don't want to get in a tit for tat exchange; but I will talk about some of the broader topics that people have brought up in response to my post.

Perhaps most importantly is this perception that we pay more attention to the people on Twitter and Facebook than those of you on the forums. That simply isn't true. Twitter is a great tool for quick communication and interaction with fans; it lets me chat with people and get immediate feedback, even have a real time conversation at times. What Twitter isn't good for is getting in-depth information - for that I come to the forums. If I tried to talk to people on the forums the same way I do on Twitter, I simply wouldn't get any work done. The talk about Facebook is intriguing as well; I have absolutely no idea where the perception comes from that we value our fans on there more than the ones here. Do people assume we implemented the new My Page and the in-game social stuff due to requests from Sims fans on Facebook? Realistically it's something that EA is interested in implementing across all of our games. There's stuff like Autolog in Need for Speed, Battlelog in Battlefield, and the new social features that got introduced in Showtime are part of that whole movement. It's an effort to emphasize and build communities, connect people with their friends, and ultimately provide deeper game play experiences. Outside of our main Sims 3 Facebook page, there isn't any direct developer interaction there that I know of, in contrast with how we have our own individual Twitter accounts. On another note, I don't point out that it isn't my job to be on the forums with the idea that people should be grateful that I post here, I just want people to see that those of us who get involved with the community do so because it's something we genuinely want to do.

We have community managers who interact with the community here on the forums, on the official Sims Twitter, on our Sims Facebook page, and our Sims Youtube channel. One of the aspects of their job is to gather feedback from fans in all of those locations, and compile it in reports that get sent out to everyone else, to draw our attention to hot button issues. If you think the forums are intimidating for a dev, imagine trying to sift through thousands of comments within a single thread on some random Facebook topic. That's what's great about the forums, due to their format they're the absolute best place to read topics about serious issues; to see others respond and contribute to those topics, and to get an overall sense of the state of the hardcore community.

It's interesting seeing people bring up other game developers and directly compare them to us. I have the utmost respect for other studios throughout the industry, but the idea of the perfect game, the perfect dev team, or the perfect community management... it's a fallacy. There are always things that can be improved, mistakes are made and then learned from. Evil_One, you mentioned Bethesda and Epic. Speaking strictly as a gamer for a moment, I think Skyrim is an absolute achievement in gaming, but have you payed attention to what many of their customers who purchased the game on the PS3 are saying? They're none too happy with some of the problems they're experiencing. Epic is a studio whose games I've played for many years now, but they're constantly accused of being sellouts to Microsoft for developing console exclusives and abandoning the fanbase on the PC who built them into the studio they are today. Is that a fair criticism? What about their loyal long time fans?

I don't want anyone to think I'm making light of the amazing work that modders in the community do. I have a long history of working on mods for popular games as well; and I know how much hard work people pour into them for nothing in return other than the enjoyment of seeing others use it. I started out scripting my own mods for the original Rainbow Six, adding new competitive multiplayer modes for the game. I've worked on all sorts of mod teams for first person shooters over the years as a level designer; most notably I was part of the original Counter-Strike team before it was purchased and released commercially by Valve. A healthy mod community is not only great for players; I think it's great for us as a business as well. Its been shown time and again that games that have good community tools and an active mod community extend the shelf life of a game and give people reasons to keep coming back. What disappoints me is when people feel they have to make mods that fix something that's bothering them about the game... be it an invasive design flaw or a bug; either way I wish it wasn't necessary. Having worked on mods before though, I know the benefits of mod development that let them get to things more quickly than we can patch them as a studio. A mod developer doesn't really have to be accountable to anyone... they work when they want, they test as much as they want, and they release when they want. If something goes wrong, they can immediately fix it and release again, or if they want they can just leave things as they are. In a development studio, there's just tons more that goes into any "simple" fix. To give a very rough idea of the process, we first have to find someone that can fix it who has time in their schedule to work on it... if they're currently committed elsewhere, any time they take to fix an issue is time lost or delayed somewhere else. Depending on what we're changing, that can mean any number of programmers, modelers, animators, UI artists, etc working on something. They can't just make a change and add it to the game either, we have different code channels that developers work out of depending on the work they're doing, and each new update means a new code channel. QA has to go in and test the changes they made, and not just those changes, but to try and determine if anything else broke due to the change that was made - sometimes they cause something to break that you'd think would be completely unrelated. Each change goes through multiple rounds of testing... alpha, beta, and final release. The code channel then has to be integrated back into our main "retail" code channel, the one that you all play on when you launch the game. That code integration has to be tested. There are variations for each update we release as well... we have to do one update for disc versions, one for players who purchased on Steam, one for people who play on Macs. We have a patch matrix that we test against that accounts for the different versions of the game a player may be updating from to get to the most recent version... do they need the full patch that contains every update we've ever done, or do they need an incremental patch that only contains the most recent changes? The store and web team have to prep the website for release. Patch notes have to go out to Europe and Asia for translations. Once all of that is accomplished (and the hundred other little steps in between) we can release an update. As I'm sure you can imagine, that all takes time - it's a significant commitment each time we release an update That doesn't dissuade us from making updates to the game, it just means that we can't always immediately change things that on the surface seem like a simple fix. We'll continue to support products we release post launch - you saw some updates for Showtime that had very quick turn around times to address issues ASAP that we felt were vital for player's experiences.

People wonder if I truthfully enjoy talking to Sims fans; and why I'd want to come here and throw myself into the fire on various occasions I can honestly say it's one of my favorite aspects of my job. First and foremost I'm a gamer; I have been for a really long time. I understand what people express on this forum because I've been in your shoes doing the exact same thing with games I'm passionate about over the past 15 years. The first online game I played was Interstate '76, a great old auto-combat simulation game. It was right around the time when message boards were starting to become more common on the internet, and there was a very healthy community around that game. The devs would talk to us, we'd give feedback, they'd do cool things for us... it was a great time, and it was how I formed some of my very first contacts within the industry. Eventually those devs released a sequel called Interstate '82; there was a lot about that game that upset many long time fans. When I look back on that now, I think about the perspective that I lacked... as fans there were things that mattered to our community; and as paying customers that was our right to voice our concerns. But the reality of game development went beyond just us, and there were all sorts of factors that go into the final game that makes it to store shelves. Seeing things from both sides gives me a really unique perspective; I can look at other games and think, "huh, that seems odd... but I bet I know why they did it".

All of that leads to me wanting to chat with fans and pull back the curtains where I can to give you a better perspective on why we do some of the things that you ultimately see when you play the games. Ironically the majority of my posts in the forum are when I jump into a delicate situation and try and let people know what's going on; I care about our players and don't like to see anyone feel like they're intentionally being left in the dark. I have absolutely never lied or purposely misled fans of this game. If anyone asked me to do that at work, it's something I would have a serious grievance with. Thankfully I've never been placed in that situation; I don't think anyone on the team is interesting in deceiving fans to make a quick buck. Unfortunately there have been a couple of situations where the information I shared ended up being incorrect, and all I can tell you is that I felt absolutely awful about it. I want to be both an advocate for the community within the team, but also someone that Sims fans can trust to give them the straight truth when you get an answer from me. In the instances where I've been wrong, I've done everything I could to track down the people who I gave bad info to, personally apologize, and do what I can to set things right.

Not everyone is going to trust me or even like me, and that's fine. I'll admit I roll my eyes at the conspiracy theories that crop up, some of it can get a bit outlandish. The live chats are one example... people post their criticisms and then get upset when it doesn't get commented on in our own chat that we're producing. Do you really expect us to blindside our own devs on our own broadcast? That's what game journalists are for The live chats are a chance to get a look at upcoming games and learn more about them. I push for as much openness and transparency in those chats as we can provide, and I gather questions beforehand so I can be sure that we address some serious ones (the people on camera don't get to select the questions from the live chat themselves - the chat window moves by FAR too quickly for us to both be on camera and keep up with everyone's comments), but that isn't the time and place to try and grill us. I'll keep interacting with the community in one form or another I hope that overall I can have a positive impact and share some unique nuggets of info about what goes into each game that you wouldn't normally hear without talking to a dev.

One final note; I saw a few people making an assumption that I'm the lead producer. That's not the case... I'm one of approximately 15 or so producers that are actively working on Sims 3. There are many people on the team who have years of seniority within the Sims and years of experience with the game industry as a whole on me. SimGuruMeatball talked about it before, but for those of you wanting Maxis back... it's really the same people who have been working on The Sims for years that are still here I wasn't around during that period of time, but the team used to operate out of the Maxis studio on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. EA has a great campus that houses their headquarters and multiple game studios, and the team that was working on The Sims moved over to this newer location, and the growing team that was working on Spore stayed at the old location. So we got a new studio name, and a somewhat new location, but the people are the same. Other than natural attrition and new hires (like me!), there are people in our studio who have been with the franchise since the beginning.

Whew! Definitely time to catch some sleep after all that, goodnight


Look, while I really do appreciate your work on the TS series and I enjoy the games immensely, what I want to know is if you are working on fixing the bugs and glitches and errors that the simming community is currently experiencing?

We have all these EP's and SP's coming out and we are still experiencing errors that came with Generations. It's got to a point that when I feel like playing my game I think 'is it worth it'.

I don't want to feel like that. I no longer get excited about playing the game as I'm too worried about whats going to go wrong.. what's the point of me buying future EP's when I can't even play the game?


This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 04/10/12 01:22 PM

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Evil_One


Joined: 06/05/09 11:28 AM
Messages: 3385
Location:Inside your head

SimGuruSemedi wrote:Perhaps most importantly is this perception that we pay more attention to the people on Twitter and Facebook than those of you on the forums. That simply isn't true. Twitter is a great tool for quick communication and interaction with fans; it lets me chat with people and get immediate feedback, even have a real time conversation at times. What Twitter isn't good for is getting in-depth information - for that I come to the forums. If I tried to talk to people on the forums the same way I do on Twitter, I simply wouldn't get any work done. The talk about Facebook is intriguing as well; I have absolutely no idea where the perception comes from that we value our fans on there more than the ones here. Do people assume we implemented the new My Page and the in-game social stuff due to requests from Sims fans on Facebook? Realistically it's something that EA is interested in implementing across all of our games. There's stuff like Autolog in Need for Speed, Battlelog in Battlefield, and the new social features that got introduced in Showtime are part of that whole movement. It's an effort to emphasize and build communities, connect people with their friends, and ultimately provide deeper game play experiences. Outside of our main Sims 3 Facebook page, there isn't any direct developer interaction there that I know of, in contrast with how we have our own individual Twitter accounts. On another note, I don't point out that it isn't my job to be on the forums with the idea that people should be grateful that I post here, I just want people to see that those of us who get involved with the community do so because it's something we genuinely want to do.


The trouble is, with the odd exceptions... we rarely get any responses and the few responses we do get don't answer much.

Surely a better solution would be to add a 'developer' section in the MyPage that would allow the users of this forum to post remarks, comments and suggestions to SimGuru's in general and also to get a response.

SimGuruSemedi wrote:We have community managers who interact with the community here on the forums, on the official Sims Twitter, on our Sims Facebook page, and our Sims Youtube channel. One of the aspects of their job is to gather feedback from fans in all of those locations, and compile it in reports that get sent out to everyone else, to draw our attention to hot button issues. If you think the forums are intimidating for a dev, imagine trying to sift through thousands of comments within a single thread on some random Facebook topic. That's what's great about the forums, due to their format they're the absolute best place to read topics about serious issues; to see others respond and contribute to those topics, and to get an overall sense of the state of the hardcore community.


From what I can tell, the community is a mixture of those who still like the Sims 3 no matter what, and a number of angry, annoyed and seemingly neglected fans who are seeing things like a Katy Perry stuff pack as an outright slap in the face.

There are an ever increasing number of long time 'hardcore' Sims 3 fans leaving the game, because of various bugs, and the seeming disassociation between SimGuru activity on the forums and that which is on Twitter and FaceBook.

SimGuruSemedi wrote:It's interesting seeing people bring up other game developers and directly compare them to us. I have the utmost respect for other studios throughout the industry, but the idea of the perfect game, the perfect dev team, or the perfect community management... it's a fallacy. There are always things that can be improved, mistakes are made and then learned from. Evil_One, you mentioned Bethesda and Epic. Speaking strictly as a gamer for a moment, I think Skyrim is an absolute achievement in gaming, but have you payed attention to what many of their customers who purchased the game on the PS3 are saying? They're none too happy with some of the problems they're experiencing. Epic is a studio whose games I've played for many years now, but they're constantly accused of being sellouts to Microsoft for developing console exclusives and abandoning the fanbase on the PC who built them into the studio they are today. Is that a fair criticism? What about their loyal long time fans?


I'm aware that perfection doesn't exist, and that Bethesda have had problems on the PS3, but at least they came out and apologized not only admitting that there were bugs, but that some of them may never be fixed... That sort of thing does a massive amount for community morale, as does Bethesda having developers actually chatting to fans on the forums.

Epic themselves don't do PC games much any more, that's true (it's a shame too, but their PC games were never 'that' good anyway), however while they may be accused of being 'sell outs' to microsoft, it surely can't have escaped anyone's notice that many of todays PC games are run off of the Unreal Engine.

The BioShock Series for one, the current Batman Arkham series as well.

SimGuruSemedi wrote:I don't want anyone to think I'm making light of the amazing work that modders in the community do. I have a long history of working on mods for popular games as well; and I know how much hard work people pour into them for nothing in return other than the enjoyment of seeing others use it. I started out scripting my own mods for the original Rainbow Six, adding new competitive multiplayer modes for the game. I've worked on all sorts of mod teams for first person shooters over the years as a level designer; most notably I was part of the original Counter-Strike team before it was purchased and released commercially by Valve. A healthy mod community is not only great for players; I think it's great for us as a business as well. Its been shown time and again that games that have good community tools and an active mod community extend the shelf life of a game and give people reasons to keep coming back. What disappoints me is when people feel they have to make mods that fix something that's bothering them about the game... be it an invasive design flaw or a bug; either way I wish it wasn't necessary. Having worked on mods before though, I know the benefits of mod development that let them get to things more quickly than we can patch them as a studio. A mod developer doesn't really have to be accountable to anyone... they work when they want, they test as much as they want, and they release when they want. If something goes wrong, they can immediately fix it and release again, or if they want they can just leave things as they are. In a development studio, there's just tons more that goes into any "simple" fix. To give a very rough idea of the process, we first have to find someone that can fix it who has time in their schedule to work on it... if they're currently committed elsewhere, any time they take to fix an issue is time lost or delayed somewhere else. Depending on what we're changing, that can mean any number of programmers, modelers, animators, UI artists, etc working on something. They can't just make a change and add it to the game either, we have different code channels that developers work out of depending on the work they're doing, and each new update means a new code channel. QA has to go in and test the changes they made, and not just those changes, but to try and determine if anything else broke due to the change that was made - sometimes they cause something to break that you'd think would be completely unrelated. Each change goes through multiple rounds of testing... alpha, beta, and final release. The code channel then has to be integrated back into our main "retail" code channel, the one that you all play on when you launch the game. That code integration has to be tested. There are variations for each update we release as well... we have to do one update for disc versions, one for players who purchased on Steam, one for people who play on Macs. We have a patch matrix that we test against that accounts for the different versions of the game a player may be updating from to get to the most recent version... do they need the full patch that contains every update we've ever done, or do they need an incremental patch that only contains the most recent changes? The store and web team have to prep the website for release. Patch notes have to go out to Europe and Asia for translations. Once all of that is accomplished (and the hundred other little steps in between) we can release an update. As I'm sure you can imagine, that all takes time - it's a significant commitment each time we release an update That doesn't dissuade us from making updates to the game, it just means that we can't always immediately change things that on the surface seem like a simple fix. We'll continue to support products we release post launch - you saw some updates for Showtime that had very quick turn around times to address issues ASAP that we felt were vital for player's experiences.


If you can't fix it yourselves within the development studio, Then why not simply integrate the mods into TS3 (Twallens are the most stable), get someone to chat to these modders and see about integrating their coding into the game (or even as a semi-external fix)...As you said yourself, we shouldn't need to rely on modders for this sort of thing.

At the very least it couldn't hurt to analyse the coding of the mods, find out what they fix and how and then see why that thing is broken.

SimGuruSemedi wrote:People wonder if I truthfully enjoy talking to Sims fans; and why I'd want to come here and throw myself into the fire on various occasions I can honestly say it's one of my favorite aspects of my job. First and foremost I'm a gamer; I have been for a really long time. I understand what people express on this forum because I've been in your shoes doing the exact same thing with games I'm passionate about over the past 15 years. The first online game I played was Interstate '76, a great old auto-combat simulation game. It was right around the time when message boards were starting to become more common on the internet, and there was a very healthy community around that game. The devs would talk to us, we'd give feedback, they'd do cool things for us... it was a great time, and it was how I formed some of my very first contacts within the industry. Eventually those devs released a sequel called Interstate '82; there was a lot about that game that upset many long time fans. When I look back on that now, I think about the perspective that I lacked... as fans there were things that mattered to our community; and as paying customers that was our right to voice our concerns. But the reality of game development went beyond just us, and there were all sorts of factors that go into the final game that makes it to store shelves. Seeing things from both sides gives me a really unique perspective; I can look at other games and think, "huh, that seems odd... but I bet I know why they did it".


Heh, I don't doubt that a great deal of the 'fire' emanates from my direction, and I truly am sorry for that, but I hate to see a much loved series like the Sims fading like this... I do know that no-game is going to please everyone, that's impossible, but a little more forethought during brainstorming sessions could change a lot in the game, it's not just a case of how something is implemented into the game, nor is it merely a case of how each component interacts with the present EP.

Don't just think of how something may or may not affect the game code, think about how it's going to affect someones game (both long and short term), for example (and I know you've already mentioned that this is on a list of things to be fixed), the Vampire and Celebrity plague problem... Surely someone must have noticed that without limitations the vampires and celebrities would get out of control and start to ruin peoples games?

Not everyone likes vampires and celebrities, so when combined in a large EP (along with houses on a stick AKA apartments) it becomes difficult for those who want 'apartments', but don't want vampires or celebs.

This is just one example where I would ask that please, for the sake of TS3, think about how something implemented will affect the game in the long term... People sometimes play many generations of a sim family during a legacy and it would be nice to know their not going to suddenly find that all prospective mates for their sim, are all vampires.

(Please tell me that for the magic EP, there's going to be restrictions!)

SimGuruSemedi wrote:All of that leads to me wanting to chat with fans and pull back the curtains where I can to give you a better perspective on why we do some of the things that you ultimately see when you play the games. Ironically the majority of my posts in the forum are when I jump into a delicate situation and try and let people know what's going on; I care about our players and don't like to see anyone feel like they're intentionally being left in the dark. I have absolutely never lied or purposely misled fans of this game. If anyone asked me to do that at work, it's something I would have a serious grievance with. Thankfully I've never been placed in that situation; I don't think anyone on the team is interesting in deceiving fans to make a quick buck. Unfortunately there have been a couple of situations where the information I shared ended up being incorrect, and all I can tell you is that I felt absolutely awful about it. I want to be both an advocate for the community within the team, but also someone that Sims fans can trust to give them the straight truth when you get an answer from me. In the instances where I've been wrong, I've done everything I could to track down the people who I gave bad info to, personally apologize, and do what I can to set things right.


A 'The Sims 3' developers post wouldn't go amiss... Sticky it into the ideas and feedback section, and only allow SimGurus to post, just to let fans have some idea of what is going on, and what's being developed.

And I don't think you or any SimGuru can be blamed for bad info, you're just going on what you've been told... But in the case of Simport (and I assume that this is what's being posted about), why beta test, when legitimate concerns of the beta team were ignored?

yoshi_dragur2012 wrote:On the beta test period: what bugs me the most about the beta testing was the fact quite a few of the European beta testers posted some critical feedback about issues & concerns they had with Simport. I think these were featured in a review posted a while back by SimsVIP after the beta test period ended. Several testers had some really important questions regarding Simport's functionality.

These were NEVER addressed by the Gurus in any of the talks they had about ST and Simport. In fact, the Gurus began downplaying simport after all the overwhelming negative response in these forums to it being required to access content in ST So the fanbase was basically left in the dark until ST came out. That's when simmers were finally allowed to discover just how much of a toxic migraine Simport really is.


This sort of thing doesn't help matters.

SimGuruSemedi wrote:Not everyone is going to trust me or even like me, and that's fine. I'll admit I roll my eyes at the conspiracy theories that crop up, some of it can get a bit outlandish. The live chats are one example... people post their criticisms and then get upset when it doesn't get commented on in our own chat that we're producing. Do you really expect us to blindside our own devs on our own broadcast? That's what game journalists are for The live chats are a chance to get a look at upcoming games and learn more about them. I push for as much openness and transparency in those chats as we can provide, and I gather questions beforehand so I can be sure that we address some serious ones (the people on camera don't get to select the questions from the live chat themselves - the chat window moves by FAR too quickly for us to both be on camera and keep up with everyone's comments), but that isn't the time and place to try and grill us. I'll keep interacting with the community in one form or another I hope that overall I can have a positive impact and share some unique nuggets of info about what goes into each game that you wouldn't normally hear without talking to a dev.


Surely someone must release that with an increasingly hostile fanbase, more open live chats that address both serious concerns and answer the 'not so' EA loving questions would be a great way to win back support?

I'm not suggesting you need to answer the 'I hate EA they didn't give me Seasons' types, but those of us who predicted Simport being problematic and had genuine questions about it were similarly ignored... Again that sort of thing is rather damaging to community morale.

SimGuruSemedi wrote:One final note; I saw a few people making an assumption that I'm the lead producer. That's not the case... I'm one of approximately 15 or so producers that are actively working on Sims 3. There are many people on the team who have years of seniority within the Sims and years of experience with the game industry as a whole on me. SimGuruMeatball talked about it before, but for those of you wanting Maxis back... it's really the same people who have been working on The Sims for years that are still here I wasn't around during that period of time, but the team used to operate out of the Maxis studio on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. EA has a great campus that houses their headquarters and multiple game studios, and the team that was working on The Sims moved over to this newer location, and the growing team that was working on Spore stayed at the old location. So we got a new studio name, and a somewhat new location, but the people are the same. Other than natural attrition and new hires (like me!), there are people in our studio who have been with the franchise since the beginning.


However the team actually working on The Sims 3 itself is smaller then it used to be, much smaller in fact... That's sure to have an impact (as well as 'Rod Humbles' input on the base game).

SimGuruSemedi wrote:Whew! Definitely time to catch some sleep after all that, goodnight


While I do flame a lot, I do certainly appreciate the more personal response, and I also appreciate that you chose to respond to the concerns of myself and others on this thread.

I would ask that you please take into consideration my idea about adding a developers post to the Ideas and Feedback section or a developers chat in the MyPage (it'd be nice if we knew at least some of what was going on and then maybe the more knowledgeable among us could perhaps post our concerns about what may go wrong, and it could be fixed 'before' an EP or patch is released).

EDIT - One possible alternative idea (maybe slightly crazy) is to choose fans that are rational, reasonably well spoken and can post clearly and succinctly (the last two of which pretty much rule me out) to act as a additional moderators, to make it so that people understand what is going on, exactly what a SimGurus post may or may not mean, and to make sure the forum is kept constantly and consistently moderated... Community SimGurus as it were.

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To7m


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Evil_One wrote:

EDIT - One possible alternative idea (maybe slightly crazy) is to choose fans that are rational, reasonably well spoken and can post clearly and succinctly (the last two of which pretty much rule me out) to act as a additional moderators, to make it so that people understand what is going on, exactly what a SimGurus post may or may not mean, and to make sure the forum is kept constantly and consistently moderated... Community SimGurus as it were.


Great Idea!!

Your entire post was well thought out and presented, if we can vote for these... Community SimGuru's, you have mine

I completely agree with your view on things, well said.
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MckenzieMember


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Wow Well that was an interesting thread to read. There's a lot I could say but in all honesty I'm too tired to besides many of my own points of view have already been raised espcially the ones by: jarsie, evil one, Happy Simmer and To7m. Obviously others of you made some good points but I found myself frequently nodding in agreement with posts made by the aforementioned users. If only we had benes again.



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Pepperbutt


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beaglelover2008 wrote:Aren't gurus supposed to be neutral? I don't think they can answer everything, and I don't think they honestly should... sometimes I feel lime people cry to them to fix their problems but it doesn't seem like they can fix everything. Maybe I just don't get what the guru's job is...


They're walking a fine line. They can't be all OMG I HATE MY JOB!!!1!, but they also don't want to come off as pacifying us by saying it'll be alright, because that'd get a crapton of backlash.

This thing was on like, page 9 when I left it last night. Still reading through everything, so sorry if this was replied to more.. informatively.

Mental health issues aren't a joke. Knock it off.

http://simmeringsims.forumotion.com/ or @Pepperbuttz
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To7m


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MckenzieMember wrote:Wow Well that was an interesting thread to read. There's a lot I could say but in all honesty I'm too tired to besides many of my own points of view have already been raised espcially the ones by: jarsie, evil one, Happy Simmer and To7m. Obviously others of you made some good points but I found myself frequently nodding in agreement with posts made by the aforementioned users. If only we had benes again.


OMG BENES!!!!

I remember those... I miss the benes!

Bring back the benes!!!
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Kryst51


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SimGuruSemedi wrote:Hey everyone,

Some interesting posts in this thread... I thought I'd jump in and give my own personal perspective on a few things, although I can't respond to everything for what I hope are obvious reasons. The other challenging thing to address is that people always want answers about why certain things are the way they are, and there's no all encompassing answer I can give you; for every compliment or complaint you can levy at the game, there's a unique reason why each aspect of it is the way it is.

First off, people shouldn't think of the Ideas & Feedback section as some corner of our forum that never gets read. It's one of my favorite places to check, the name alone is indicative of exactly the type of posts I find helpful to read around here. Just to give people a general idea of what I personally do, I browse through the forums at least once a day. I like to read this board, the board of the most recently announced product to see people's reactions (aka Sweet Treats), and the board of the most recently released product to see what parts of it people enjoy or what they're struggling with(aka Showtime). On a less frequent basis I also check out the General board, the Technical Discussion board, and the boards that focus on player creations.

That being said, I don't post here too often. It isn't that I want to avoid chatting with Sims fans as that couldn't be further from the truth; it just isn't practical a lot of the time. As some in here have pointed out, I (along with other gurus) enjoy using Twitter to chat with fans. Ultimately, it's just much easier for me to see a tweet notification pop up with a quick comment, and immediately write a short reply to it. Those tweets can be anything from chatting about the game, trying to help someone who is having trouble, talking about upcoming Sims stuff, or just discussing various aspects of game design and development. Alternatively, it's a much larger time commitment to come and post on the forums. Coming hear means looking at the different boards, sifting through the various topics, determining what's new and what I've read before... and then if I want to respond it means writing a somewhat substantial post; and making the commitment to respond to the inevitable ten additional questions that will get posted in response to what I say. Then people wonder why I respond to some posts and not others, or misinterpret what I say, and it can all get to be a bit much All of that eats into my time, and I don't get a break from my development responsibilities to come post on here. What I've come to learn is I can't do everyone's job, but when you're a more public figure for the game people will throw every manner of topic at you and expect you to respond. For example, when people have a problem with the game... I'd love to help, but I just don't have that level of understanding of the game. I'm not a programmer, so I don't know what might be going wrong in the code - but I can recognize a problem and bring it to others attention to make sure it gets addressed.

I find it difficult to respond when people say that we don't listen to the fans. When we talk about the "fans" and "community", a lot of the time that's in direct reference to the people who frequently post on these forums; you're our most vocal subset of fans. In reality though the forums are a fraction of our overall fan base, and we have to take everyone into account when we develop products and respond to consumers. Even within these forums there may be a majority consensus, but that doesn't mean it's what everyone wants for the franchise. You can look at our most popular expansions - Pets is always a theme that tons of people want - and you'll find those who have absolutely no interest in adding that to their Sims games. Quite frankly I think that's perfectly alright. The Sims encompasses a ton of diverse themes, and each one will appeal to people in different ways. When we announced a pack like Pets, nobody says... "oh, they're listening to what the fans what", they say "oh well that was their plan all along". The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are a lot of different things that impact the decision of what to make and when to make it, far too many to go into detail within this post, but everything is done for a reason; we don't haphazardly decide on things. Over the course of Sims 3, we knew there were some things we wanted to do like Pets... other expansions were more of a direct response to player feedback. We knew Pets was a theme that everyone wanted, yet it ended up being the 5th expansion, and people say... why did we have to wait so long? To be honest, it would have been impossible to do Pets as the first expansion, it had significant technical hurdles to overcome for that expansion to exist. And that's just an example of one expansion; each one we release has its own challenges or oddities that made it make sense to release when it did. Look at Generations... it was made directly in response to a lot of what the community was asking for with more social interactions, more emphasis on families, more content across all age ranges, etc. That one was a challenge for our marketing team, but we were really happy to get to do that theme for our fans. Look at the most recent release of Showtime, it's packed with a lot of fun interactive objects that fans have been asking for for a long time. Elements of fan requests show up in every single game that we release. Anavastia mentioned how you haven't seen many new rabbitholes lately. She's right, that's a direct response to fan feedback, and I do hope we'll have the chance to open up more of them. We have to walk a fine line sometimes though. A lot of people here really love Sims 2 (and that's awesome if you do!), but we're not trying to release the exact same game with Sims 3. We incorporate elements from the past, but we'll continue to evolve and refine them, and hopefully add fun new aspects to them in the process. We'll do familiar themes like Pets, and brand new things that you've never played in The Sims before like World Adventures.

In response to those who want changes to already released expansions, and to have more changed based on your feedback... well, it's something I'm pushing for. I have my own list of things that I take directly from these forums, and when we have small gaps in our schedule or a little extra time, I try and get some of those things in there. It's an ongoing process and it won't happen all at once, but over time I hope you'll see more things get addressed. Things on my list range all the way from adding new options to opt out of the celebrity system, to something as mundane as tweaking the ice cream truck so it doesn't show up at 3am. We don't go out and talk about this sort of stuff commonly, because as soon as we say something about it there's an implied expectation that we will change it, and I can't promise you that. Sk8rblaze you mentioned Vampires previously... it's another thing that's on my list, but I honestly can't tell you what will happen with it. It's something that we technically can change, but I don't know when we'll have the chance to change it, and that's why you don't specifically hear about it. It's the same reason we don't talk about patches in advance; game development in the Sims Studio is a very fast paced and fluid environment. Plans can and will change, and we don't like to discuss things until we're 100% sure we're going to deliver on it; you'd be amazed at some of the last minute emergencies that can disrupt the best plans at times I can assure you that myself and others are paying attention though and do what we can to improve the game while creating great new content as well.

It's also difficult because people have the expectation that something should be a simple change or an easy fix, and that often isn't true or we would have done it. The mod community can skew these perceptions as well... people think, well if a modder can do it, why can't EA? Ultimately, someone creating a mod doesn't have the same responsibility that we do when it comes to implementing and testing changes, and doesn't have to deal with scheduling, budgeting, and the wide variety of people's work that is impacted by any change we decide to make. That's not an excuse, but it is a reality of what we do. In a perfect world, I'd love if people felt they only needed to get mods to add content to their game, and not need to get mods that changed aspects of the game we created that they don't like. It's something I think about often when we're implementing new designs (what can we do to provide players options where they feel they don't need to go get a mod to change it).

It's always interesting to me when people say that we don't care, or that we're only out to get your money. I really have to thank SimGuruShannon, because she was one of the first to step up and get more actively involved in reaching out to the community directly, and that came from a desire to open more communication with fans like the Sims team has had in the past. It sparked my interest in it as well, and I love interacting with the community. Personally I love to see our games sell well because I'm proud of the products we put out - there are a lot of talented people on the team who go above and beyond with personal effort to do amazing things. I think many devs who are used to traditional game development would find it very challenging to put out the amount of content we do at the pace we do to keep up with continued demand for more things from awesome fans like all of you. As Jarsie so aptly pointed out, there's nowhere in my job description that says I need to interact with the community or post on the forums; it's my own personal choice to get involved (along with the other gurus you see on the forums and twitter) because it's something we enjoy. I wouldn't be reading these forums and writing a long post on a Sunday if I didn't have an interest in what I do that goes beyond my paycheck. I make games because it's something I'm passionate about, and I want to make games that people are thrilled with - and that's a sentiment shared by many members of the team.

I know this post is long, but hopefully it didn't ramble too much. What I really enjoy is being able to have conversations with Sims fans, and openly discuss some of the things that are interesting to you all... not just as a company rep with an official response, but as people who enjoy the Sims and want to know more about what goes into it. At Gamescom this past year I had the great chance to just converse with some Sims fans at a party, and it was really nice just having a frank discussion about the game. I like that about twitter as well, where we can be a bit more casual. So please... come talk to me on there, I respond all the time. You'll see me on the forums as well, just less frequently. And I can't prove it to you, but I promise myself and many others on the team are reading your posts here as well

One final note; I'm totally welcoming of constructive criticism. It's an opportunity for us to learn as developers and make better products before we release them, as well as improve the games that have already come out. As players of our game, I feel like all of you have every right to voice your opinions of the game. Thank you to those of you who take the time to write posts that go beyond saying you do or don't like something, but also explain why you feel that way.


-Graham


Thank you Graham for posting here. I have not read the entire thread, I read the first few pages and think I have the general gist of it. I have enjoyed the Sims 3 so far, I have all of the EPs and most of the SPs. There are things about it that I wish were different, like in showtime I wish there were a way for me to send my Sim off into La La land, as I don't have many friends right now who are at the level of Simporting as I am since I only got the EP recently. That being said, The ideas you guys come up with are creative, I am not thrilled about another Katy Perry based pack, but think that it is cute and will probably buy it nonetheless. I would like to see some bugs worked out, and some more options in place with the EPs we already have (I know you touched on this in your post). I look forward to seeing where this is going. Your post leaves me being optimistic, so again, Thank you.

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sam123


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Oh and one more question SimGuruSemedi, Could you please answer this?

Is it possible to implement seasons in the TS3 franchise?

This would make my day if it is at least answered.

Let there be OFB. We've waited long enough.
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Glic2003


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sam123 wrote:Oh and one more question SimGuruSemedi, Could you please answer this?

Is it possible to implement seasons in the TS3 franchise?

This would make my day if it is at least answered.


SimGuruMeatball already said it would be possible to have seasons. He didn't say they were going to do it, he only said it was possible. I wish I had the exact quote, but that was quite a while ago...


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Glic2003 wrote:
sam123 wrote:Oh and one more question SimGuruSemedi, Could you please answer this?

Is it possible to implement seasons in the TS3 franchise?

This would make my day if it is at least answered.


SimGuruMeatball already said it would be possible to have seasons. He didn't say they were going to do it, he only said it was possible. I wish I had the exact quote, but that was quite a while ago...


Yeah, I know they can't really give us an exact answer so I went with "possible", instead of will you". I'm hoping Graham would give us a more recent answer.

Let there be OFB. We've waited long enough.
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Pepperbutt


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Glic2003 wrote:
sam123 wrote:Oh and one more question SimGuruSemedi, Could you please answer this?

Is it possible to implement seasons in the TS3 franchise?

This would make my day if it is at least answered.


SimGuruMeatball already said it would be possible to have seasons. He didn't say they were going to do it, he only said it was possible. I wish I had the exact quote, but that was quite a while ago...


They also said they considered putting it in LN, but changed and said they'd rather give it it's own expansion.

Mental health issues aren't a joke. Knock it off.

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Anavastia


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Graham high 5, I love he braved to post again that's just so awesome. Thanks so much. I believe the same that even if the comments of the live chat are all positive the topics addressed a lot of the questions in the forum. That is the main importance in those live chats, it showed to many of us you were listening. >.< though honestly im not sure what damage control you can do for KPSP. Because simmers generally are not happy about a price hike, we know why it occurred. Though i like the stuff pack, i still am saddened that the venues are recycled venues and not something new. I don't know players seemed to be looking for those venues with this stuff pack more so than a park, pool and hangout. I don't know making 3 registers for each shop does require time, cause you'd have to program food to it and then program it to have a clerk, and then sims to buy from it, but it would seem the coding is already there like in WA. Anyway i just felt if those 3 venues where in that stuff pack you know the icecream shop, candy store, and bakery it really wouldn't have been an argument with the fanbase, people would buy more apt to buying it. Maybe in the live chat instead of showing the open venues and a candyland map, you can show other creative uses for the stuff pack to players, like a teen bedroom, kids room, a silly fashion show, a christmas type house like a gingerbread house. A wedding venue, etc so that players can be more apt to figuring out what use they could use for such a stuff pack and i think that would soften people more to it.

Anyway been a long time on this forum wanting more in my neighborhood to do and wanting more complete concepts. I think generations was my frustrating moment because kids and younger seem to get the short end of the stick in the game as it is. I noticed as im watching and reading that things changed a lot of Pets, the game became more hands on and players like me who are more hands on players like that kind of stuff. Then there was showtime, though i was scared about simport Cryon and the last live chat helped me feel more at ease and so i got it along with master suites. So yup i liked showtime a lot because it added a lot to the game it was like to me you had listened to me. Because it wasn't just 3 new venues, they were open venues but they created the possiblity for me to do more and create more in my open neighborhood. So to me that was a huge win, because you guys listened to what we wanted and put it in. I haven't felt that fun for along time with sims 3 but when I am happy I spend money and i was very happy.

Then i just noticed so many things that we asked for you guys have been trying to change and do. Even Magic, and imagine everyone suprise for that one. I'm like omg i can't believe their doing magic even they said they weren't. Hmmmm, so even if we didn't hear from you guys much I knew you dev's were reading the forums. I never would have posted my ideas, or even speak out about how i felt, if I believed you didn't read them. So I never believed that you didn't care. Honestly I wish the team was a lot bigger so we can have more in the game, so that bug fixes can get out quicker. That isn't a fight players should take up with the simteam's dev's they have no control over that, it's a fight we take up with EA. So as angry as Ii am with EA at times because of poor customerservice, because of the cuts they do, etc. I know that's not the dev teams fault and I just wanted to say that. Many times us fan are addressing EA the company and not the dev team though we know you work for them. Sometimes this company can be frustrating for us to because it's customer service is so bad. When fans need help we have to come to a forum that honestly is barely moderated.

Then we are upset and need help, and there are people on this forum who make it their aim to kick people who are already down. Then those people are told you guys don't care, which is not true. When that customer doesn't hear a dev response, and this too affects customer relations with the company. That's why I think the site needs forum moderators that can help keep things organized, under control, and also assist in helping players when they can, especially when they know a lot about the game and what's going on. I think it will create a better atmosphere on this forum, rather then leave it like this. I think this would be a good gesture from EA and a good gesture from dev's to show players you are thinking of us, even though you posting was just as good a gesture.

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