Community Blog: “Building Together: How the Community Helps Shape The Sims”

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There’s a new blog post on the official Electronic Arts website titled “Building Together: How the Community Helps Shape The Sims”.

The article talks about how creators are part of the creative process that decides what is going to happen to The Sims 4. You can read it below.

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Building Together: How the Community Helps Shape The Sims

The Maxis team explains how they collaborate with creators and the community in the development process for The Sims.

Like any good game studio, we at Maxis want our team to feel empowered to let their creativity flourish. But in our case, it’s just as important for our community to feel the same. From the beginning, we’ve worked hard to make games that give players the tools they need to tell their own stories. With The Sims 4, community creations have become an absolutely vital part of the whole experience, so it’s become even more important for us to ensure players have the tools to experiment and find inspiration. And that means making sure we’re consistently connecting with the community and always aware of what’s inspiring our players.

THE LINES ARE OPEN

In order to maintain that crucial connection, we rely on committed Community Managers like Mindy Day and Shawnee Hale, who help us stay in touch with our fans in various ways.

“We heard through player surveys that they want to hear more from us more regularly,” says Senior Manager of Community Management Mindy Day. “So we’ve been busy experimenting with new ways to provide more transparent updates, through things like our Laundry List blogs and Behind The Sims video series. We also do live streams on Twitch and YouTube, and we recently launched The Sims Discord server, which has grown to 45 thousand members and supports five languages. This new space lets us host fun challenges, chat with members directly, and celebrate community creations in between more traditional updates.”

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Of course, even though we make the games, we’re also fans—so we’re part of the community ourselves! That means a lot of our communication also happens when we’re geeking out about a game we all love in whatever forum we happen to be in. “We’re players too, so we love to see what the community is sharing and join in,” Mindy says. “The memes, the chaos, the challenges; we’re here for it all!”

EXPERT INPUT

These are all great ways to share new developments and get general feedback. But there are times when the team is looking for input about very specific features. In cases like these, we turn to our Community Councils – groups of superfans we call on when we need knowledgeable folks outside the studio to give us new perspectives.

“These are some of the most passionate Simmers out there!” says Global Community Manager Shawnee Hale. “We consult with storytellers, world builders, save file creators, system modders, and custom content creators from all over the world throughout the process of developing Packs. They get early looks at things like new gameplay mechanics, Create A Sim features, and Build/Buy items and provide feedback.”

One of the benefits of our Community Councils is that we can turn to them for lots of different things. “Sometimes it is as simple as sharing some images and getting feedback,” Shawnee says, “but other situations require a full playtest—or even putting a meeting together where we can talk out new things!”

CO-OP PLAY

One of the most exciting ways we get to interact with the community, though, is when we work with creators to bring their work into the game itself.  “We love to collaborate with players directly to develop gameplay,” Mindy says. “Some of our first creator collaborator Kits included the First Fits Kit with XUrbanSimsX, the Desert Luxe Kit with Aveline and the Pastel Pop Kit with Plumbella. We have also been working with talented lot builders in our Expansion Packs since then.”

These collaborations can take a few different forms.“For Kits, we do full collaborations where the creator shares their ideas and our team makes them in-game,” Shawnee says. “We take the creator through the journey, from the concept stage to the final assets, to make sure the creation is matching their vision.”

With the larger Packs, there’s room for a broader range of collaboration. Some creators focus on items, like ArethaBee’s jewelry set in the Crystal Creations Stuff Pack. Others put their architectural skills to work building lots to include in a Pack, like Chrissie YT, Simproved, Ninnster, and Doctor Ashley did with the Horse Ranch Expansion Pack.

“Building in The Sims 4 is pretty advanced,” Shawnee says, “so it’s very helpful for players to have pre-built lots. So when we’re planning a new Pack, we work across our teams to identify the best of the best builders out there who align with the current Pack’s theme. We give them early access to the game to build their lots, and then we work with them on revisions to make sure their work fits with the Pack theme.”

WIN-WIN-WIN

We consider ourselves pretty lucky to have the wonderful community we have, and even luckier to be able to involve that community in our games to the extent that we do. And we think doing things this way makes the Sims experience better for everyone.

“Engaging with the community is a win-win-win,” Mindy says. ”The community gets to directly talk to the people who are making something they enjoy, and have the chance to influence what gets made. And the studio can experience the passion the players have for what we build, and ensure we’re delivering what the community is looking for in the game.”

And this kind of open communication can pay dividends in the future. “I’ve seen these types of interactions push community members into making a career of game development,” says Mindy. “And a strong bond with the community can definitely provide meaningful motivation for anyone interested in contributing their own creations to the game.”

“We know we’re not the only studio with a strong relationship with their community,” Shawnee adds, “but I think this is something every studio should do! It just leads to a better time for players in general!”

If you’d like to be a part (or a bigger part!) of this amazing community, our Twitch and YouTube channels are a good place to start—and don’t hesitate to come say hi on The Sims Discord server.

 

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