SimGuruGraham & Forums Part 3…

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I get the sense that people think I would slam EA if I got the opportunity to, but as a whole EA is quite supportive of The Sims. The Sims Studio has been a real highlight for EA over the years, and with that comes more trust from executives and upper management. Nobody here is forced to work extended hours for weeks on end, in fact I don’t recall anyone ever telling me that I had to work late or come in on a weekend. Generally speaking people are very self sufficient here. They know what work they’re responsible for and when they need to get it done by, and they’re trusted to manage their time in the way that works best for them. SimGuruMeatball mentioned how there are hundreds of people across different teams within The Sims Studio. I don’t have any hard numbers in front of me, but I’d say that the amount of people actively working on The Sims 3 at the moment is about the same if not more than what we had from the time we started making expansions with World Adventures. Regarding customer service, I’ve seen a couple of notes from them before that made me shake my head, but I think it’s really impressive that at pretty much any time you can almost instantly be speaking with a live person who will try and help you. I don’t know of any other company in the industry that provides that service for comparable products. I’m sure they’ll continue to improve through additional training and knowledge transfers with dev teams.

I’ll actually share a personal anecdote about myself and EA that maybe people will appreciate and get a laugh out of. When I was finishing college, I’d already known for years that I wanted to work in the game industry as it has always been a passion of mine. With EA being such a large publisher and having a presence in Florida which is where I was at the time, it had long been my assumption that I would probably get my first job in the industry at EA. The problem was, this was a period of time when I really disliked EA; I disagreed with some of their business practices and didn’t care for their titles that were being released. I saw EA as a stepping stone for my career, and that’s something I heard from other people as well at the time. EA would snatch people up out of college, and I could spend a few years here building my resume, then move on to where I really wanted to be.

Well… that didn’t happen. I spent my first couple of years in the industry working for THQ; and when it came time for me to go job hunting again due to unforeseen circumstances, my perception of EA had already started to change. I didn’t know a lot about how they operated internally, but as a gamer I saw how they were investing in new IP, putting a much greater emphasis on quality, and I’d heard about how they were improving the work/live balance for their employees. It was really encouraging, and these were all things spearheaded by our current CEO, John Riccitiello. So I ended up getting hired here, and it has been a fantastic experience. During my time here I’ve been presented numerous opportunities for career growth, I constantly feel challenged and engaged by the work that I’m doing, and I take pride in both The Sims and many of the other games that EA puts out each year.

So the funny part is, I told everything I just mentioned to John Riccitiello’s face. At our company holiday party two years ago, he came over to me and asked if I was enjoying myself, and we just struck up a conversation where I started spilling all of this  Thankfully he didn’t fire me on the spot when I told him there was awhile when I boycotted purchasing anything from EA  I have a ton of respect for what he’s done to turn EA around since those days.

If anything, I think EA makes a lot of forward thinking moves in how our products impact consumers, and our approach to game development. People may question some of those things in the present, but I believe it will be looked back on favorably years down the road as they become standards in the industry.

Anavastia wrote:
If I remember they are working on something for the vampires and maybe celebrity take overs that occur in town. I know what was mentioned somewhere in this thread.

I hope you won’t mind me using your post Anavastia, but this is an example of why we don’t typically talk about work going into upcoming patches. Earlier in the thread I mentioned how I keep my own list of issues that I see the community talking about… not just technical problems, but design tweaks that would improve the game. I gave the celebrity system and vampires as an example of the type of stuff I track, and talk about how I want to try and get those things changed. Unfortunately when we say stuff like that though, too often the message gets changed as it’s discussed. The goal posts get moved from being something we acknowledge is important to the community, to a misunderstanding that it’s being actively worked on. Then the next update comes out and people are upset because they remember hearing about it in some context, and they feel like they were lied to when it isn’t changed. That isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just the nature of the internet when information is passed second hand through lots of different people. It’s why we feel like we have to be careful in what we say, because we don’t want to set unrealistic expectations for things we can’t promise will happen. I’ll keep pushing for us to make updates to those sorts of things, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get them until that work is actually scheduled and completed.

Marzupial wrote:
Somthing doesn’t ad up here:

In your first post, you talked about your development responsibilies and then a bit further, you say “I’m not a programmer, so I don’t know what might be going wrong in the code”. In your post we’re discussing, you said “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.”

That tells me that you seen to have a lot of experience with development and programming. Can you explain this to me because the statements above seem (keyword here: seem) contradictory.

As for modders, they have great life and career reponsibilities of their own: They perhaps study, have full time jobs, families… It’s not their responsibility to fix errors in the code. It’s EA’s! If I want a mod from a third party, it’s not so it fixes my game: I only seek those mods to give a whole new dimension to my game play. I hope EA has the guts to give the best modders out there some kind of perk! As it is, the modders are fixing The Sims 3 bugs for free on top of greatly enhancing the game replay value!

Trust me, I couldn’t write code to save my life  A lot of the work I did in the mod scene over the years was as a level designer. It’s work along the same line of someone downloading Create a World for The Sims 3 and creating brand new environments to play in. I’d typically work within a mod team – a group of people working towards a common design goal, and some of them would be programmers. The one game play mod I completed on my own for Rainbow Six is what I would call scripting, but not in the modern programming sense that people refer to scripting as. It involved tweaking a lot of values in .ini files to change rules, win conditions, object locations, etc. As for your other point, I completely agree with you that the mod community shouldn’t feel the need to spend their time correcting any issues with the game. I hope that as we continue to update the game, that people will feel less of a need to get mods that help them with issues they may have, and can concentrate on the creative content that mod communities are always so great at making.

Anyway, a few more random thoughts… a high-five for Pepperbutt; I was born and raised in Miami as well  I haven’t been back since Hurricane Andrew slammed through our neighborhood, but it’ll always be home. Unfortunately (and I saw Maripy mention it as well), I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. Maripy; glad to hear you enjoy the humor in the past games. Trying to find the right balance between humor and simulation can be a bit tricky at times. That’s generally more of a design thing, but whenever I’m writing text for the game I generally try to either be clever or be funny. Who knows, maybe it’s just funny to me  Do people out there actually take the time to read stuff like the object descriptions in the catalog?