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Games Entertainment

Sim-Dud? 355

Posted by michael
from the simulated-profits dept.
Lumpish Scholar writes ""The Sims Online" was one of the most anticipated releases of 2002; but (according to this Los Angeles Times story in the Baltimore Sun, "'The Sims Online' sold 105,000 copies, or only about a quarter of the initial shipment in December," and (as quoted in this article in the New York Times), "the company's president, John S. Riccitiello, said the number of subscribers was half what Electronic Arts expected." (Check out Google News for more articles, and a registration-free partner link to the New York Times story.) Meanwhile, the game's customer reviews at Amazon.com have an average rating of only two (out of five) stars."
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Sim-Dud?

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  • Buyer Beware (Score:5, Informative)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@phata[ ]o.org ['udi' in gap]> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @01:33PM (#5232697) Homepage Journal
    I bought the Sim's online about a month ago, because of all the hype surrounding the release. I played it for about 2 days, and came to the conclusion that it is just too time consuming except for the die-hard Sim's fan. Another problem with the game is the replay-ability factor. The secret to any online game is replay-ability. The Sims online gets boring real quick and I can't imagine only having one computer to play this game. If you only have on computer, Sim's online prevents you from web surfing, iming, or any other activity while playing the game.

    BUYER BEWARE, I purchased the Sim's online under the notion that I could try it out, cancel my account, and sell the game used on ebay or amazon. Even after canceling my account, the person who bought the game told me that EA said the game was registered to another user. EA is trying to strongarm the used market, and force everyone to buy the game new.

  • Developer Chat (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bruha (412869) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @01:39PM (#5232745) Homepage Journal
    We had a devloper Chat over on www.warcry.com You can find the transcript right here. [warcry.com]

    For the amount of people that attended it they did ask some good questions and the team that's working on SO are a good fun bunch and answered a lot of questions I was surprised they skipped over like other publishers tend to do. Ala Microsoft on any hard question about Asheron's Call or Asheron's Call 2 during their dev chats.
  • by SteveX (5640) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @01:48PM (#5232824) Homepage
    Is that in the Sims you can fast-forward through the boring parts. Okay, you're tired and you have to pee.. tell your dude to sleep, tell him to pee, and then fast forward until it's done and you can get back to doing what you want to do.

    In the Sims Online, you have to sit there and watch while your avatar naps, showers, eats, etc. For me, anyway, that's what made it not fun.

    - Steve
  • What turned me off (Score:2, Informative)

    by ihistand (170799) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @01:55PM (#5232888)
    I purchased the game for my kids for xmas, they seem to like it ok and I figgered I'd give it a try, I popped in the CD and installed, but they wouldn't set me up a new account because the serial number had already been used. I called them on the phone and they will not even sell me a new serial number, all I can do is buy a new CD.

    This is poor marketing, and they just lost a potential customer. I'm not shelling out another 50 bucks for something I already have.

  • by UberOogie (464002) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:09PM (#5232999)
    1) Maxis SEVERELY over-estimated the demand. Because of this, there are too many shards and not enough players.
    2) Skills dominate the game too much. Everyone has got to keep their skills up, the skills houses dominate the game, to the detriment of other types.
    3) The economy was crippled from the get-go. The only real way to make money with a property is to be a money, skill, or cybersex property. Selling isn't implemented, so sales properties are useless. Casino games have been on the back burner forever, so games properties are useless.
    4) Wrong priorities. Instead of getting out fixes that can make the other property types useful or fixing the bugs, they spend time on their corporate sponsorships. The ads don't work if there's no players to see them.
    5) Ignoring the core audience. Everyone loved the Sims because you got your own house to mess around with. The fact Sims Online is specifically geared AGAINST that model is insane. All the newbies try to start up their own property, so you get UO all over again. The bar for property ownership needs to be much higer. What is needed is a core group of houses and services, instead of thousands of closed or abandoned houses.
  • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:24PM (#5233154) Homepage
    I've played Simcity 4 on the PC, and was horribly disappointed. I mean horribly, I haven't found anything this disappointing since Diablo 2.

    The region system they came up with doesn't work anywhere near as well in practice as in theory. The game constantly wants to "reconcile" the edges of the screen to match other regions, even when it doesn't need to be done. This regularily destroys anything near the edge of the screen.

    Want to put a power plant in a neighboring city and buy power from it? If you figure out how to actually do that, let me know.

    Want to spend time building neat stuff? First you need to individually adjust the funding for every school, hospital, and police station in your city. Not doing this makes it much harder to get anywhere at the beginning, and its just a pain in the ass.

    Changing cities is slower then hell.

    And so on, so forth. Looking at one message board, there is a person who discovered that the transportation model is based on people driving at 6mph. Thats just lovely.

    It looks beautiful, but the game just ends up being more like work and not any fun.
  • by Dolemite_the_Wiz (618862) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:30PM (#5233220) Journal
    I Beta Tested the Sims Online and didn't think it was anything special.

    Here are my comments:

    - I spent over 60% of my time downloading updates. There were always updates I had to download. At one time Players had to download a 70MB update. This update came from one source (EA). When updates come out

    - The Sims world seems to be too homoginized, too politically correct. If you want to add some fun, let players choose if they want to be crime lords. Let players be whomever they want to be.

    - The UI isn't too intuitive. People who don't play the Sims have a huge learning curve.

    - Finding a place to start isn't easy. There should be some sort of 'want ads' or gathering place for new people.

    - Their monthly prices are not worth the minimal gameplay you get in return.

    - The game can consume too much of your time. This can become very adicitve for some people.

    - What am I working towards? Nirvana? CEO? President? Playing this game is like a cross between watching fish in an aquarium and watching grass grow.

    - If this game is to be a Simulation of real life why can't there be variables to have sucess and failures? I'm not able to gather a bunch of investors for a business venture and see if I can used the pooled money to become a mega conglomerate. I want to sell stock! I want to sell junk bonds!

    Dolemite

  • by Dolemite_the_Wiz (618862) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:46PM (#5233363) Journal
    EA has a history of stopping services of an online game community when a new verison of a given game has been released to the masses.

    For example, I used to play NHL 2002 pretty religiously. However, when NHL 2003 came out, all Online methods (within the game) for NHL 2002 players to play against each other stopped and EA focused on NHL 2003 MP efforts. In addition, all other game updates stopped as well.

    Fortunately, there is a Huge community of NHL 2002 players that took it upon themselves to produce up-to-date roster lists, uniform updates, and other tweaks for each season. I also saw that someone created their own Online program to connect players together for NHL 2002 from scratch.

    Ever since, I've not been able to play NHL 2002 online (within the game). After seeing EA's stance on producing new games every year and seeing EA screw owners of previous versions of a given game out of being able to play MP Games, I haven't been a fan or bought any more of their sports products ever since.

    I'm also investigating something in Battlefield 1942 (another EA game) as well. On the bottom back of the box, there is a blurb that says something to the effect that there will be no more Multi-player support after September 3, 2003.

    I'm wondering if this is a NHL MP ploy being used on another product. I've been hesitating buying BF 1942 for this reason. There is a huge community in BF 1942 that is continually growing and will probably be pretty hacked off if EA yanks the BF 1942 master MP servers.

    Dolemite
  • On Simcity 4.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dfenstrate (202098) <{dfenstrate} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:14PM (#5234329)
    Yeah, when I first got it, I screwed up about 5 cities in a row, and it sucked hardcore. Then I figured out how to play, and it's pretty sweet once you get going.

    As for the things you brought up:
    Reconcile edges- do all your terraforming, reconcile the edges and just accept any undesirable areas. Then name the city and start it. If you still have a problem, reconcile the empty neighboring landmasses to your existing city, or just ignore it altogether. Honestly, I've covered about 1/4 of the region, and it hasn't really been a problem. Also, i've noticed that cities with neighbors do better, especially the commericial sector, than stand alone cities.

    Power from a neighbor- could be better, I agree. You need empty space next to the edge of the map with the plant, and you need to run the otherwise unneeded powerlines to the edge of the map, then approve a connection. Go to the map where you want to buy the power, and find the power lines. Zone next to them, do not zone on top of them. Go to neighbor deals in the budget panel and make the deal. Yes, it could be better.

    Local funding- keep it simple to start- only build a power plant. (and maybe a fire station after 500-1000 people) Spread over the map. You should be able to get to 3000 people or so by just giving them electricity, and nothing else. Build low density residential, med density business, and med density industry, or farms. Farms get you some neat gifts, and make the map pretty, but don't give you any revenue, so keep that in mind.
    You'll be raking in the cash if you follow that plan, and then growth will start to slow. At this point, add water to the entire map, and businesses and industry will pick up a little again. Now that you've got the map laid out, start adding academic institutions and health facilities. Position them for maximum coverage, as either of them are only good for residential areas. Then adjust the funding for a 50% buffer over whatever their users are. Keep an eye on the funding; every few years go back and adjust it on all the structures to make sure the capacity isn't overflowed and the workers strike.
    Don't reduce the fire fighting budget, because even a small change reduces their radius and competency significantly. Police are okay to take to 80% funding. They won't like it, but they won't strike either.
    But if you try and give them all the services right from the start, you'll drive the city into the ground. Add services slowly.
    After things get rolling, go over the map and raise everything to high-density, then keep an eye on all funding levels as the city grows.

    Changing cities is slower then hell. agreed.

    If you get the hang of it, it really is fun to play, and i've had three hours pass on me while I was perfecting a city- and I didn't notice.

    my 2 cents anyway.

    (Also, introducing individual sims into the city is cute- for about 15 minutes. Then their status updates just clutter all the other news in the ticker box, and you'll want to kick them out.)

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