All games have bugs. In The Sims, some were left in to become features. We asked senior producer Lyndsay Pearson to run down some of Electronic Arts’ developers’ favorite programming errors in the long-running life simulation game.
“There are definitely cases where we see things after the fact, unintended side effects of things we didn’t plan,” she said. Some are trashed immediately because they get in the way of gameplay. But others are intriguing, or funny, and if they work well enough, developers leave them in.
Take The Sims 3’s cheats that could, if used in a precise order, make curved structures like arches or curved walls, she said. “People were able to use them to craft these really cool, much more organic shapes. We never thought to try that. That was a case of seeing it after the fact.”
In many cases, they rely on the users who discover the bugs to help them figure out how they work. For the arched walls, there’s a whole series of videos that give you the instructions to make it happen, Pearson said. “We often have to do the homework ourselves to see, wow, how did they put that together. We build these amazing puzzle pieces, these crayons, and then we give them to people and they do things we never thought about.”