Adding Pools To Sims 4 Isn't Easy, Claims EA

Adding Pools To Sims 4 Isn't Easy, Claims EA

The Sims 4 isn't going to launch with pools or toddlers, and people are pretty upset about that. But, you know, toddlers are complicated. Makes sense that the developers might want to put that effort elsewhere. Pools, though? They're just water. How hard could it be?

I asked producer Graham Nardone why it's so tough to dig a ditch and fill it with water in The Sims 4's new engine, and he attempted to break it down:

"It's easy to look at something and think, 'That looks pretty simple.' When you think about a feature like pools upfront, it looks like a square box on the ground and you put a shader on the top surface and have Sims jump in."

"But ultimately, it's more complexity in terms of what tech's there and what isn't there, what we have to build to support this. How do we cut down into the terrain, how do we get Sims going through portals across different levels of pools? There's so much that's going on in the background that you don't end up seeing just to have a Sim go swimming."

It's kind of wild that the engine doesn't easily allow developers to dig down into terrain or let Sims pass between different levels, but I suppose it's a bit less surprising when you consider that Glassbox, as the engine is known, was originally created with the most recent SimCity in mind — not The Sims. Very different needs and priorities, for better or worse.

Will pools get added in eventually, though? Based on all the Sim-trapped-in-pool-esque wailing and gnashing of teeth from fans, it seems pretty darn likely.

"It's not a matter of it not being important to us or our focus not being in the right place. As we chat with fans and they continue to inform us of what they want, they're obviously interested in pools and toddlers. They want those in the game. So we'll continue to listen to feedback, something we've always done with The Sims."

That, however, brings us to the one million Simoleon question: would EA charge money for pools and/or toddlers if they decided to add them back in as part of a post-release update or expansion? On that point, Nardone was somewhat evasive:

"I'd really just say look at what we've done in the past. We've had a variety of different ways we've delivered content to players, and I think we'll continue to support what they're looking for."

I further asked if the confirmed-but-not-really-explained Sims 4 Premium option might in any way be involved, but again Nardone declined to elaborate. "That's just not something we're really getting into yet," he said. "Right now we're focused on the base game. Once we're out on September 2nd, we'll start looking toward what's next."

So there you go. No pools for now, but they might (read: probably will) show up at some point in the future, and they may (or may not) cost money. Nardone skirted frustratingly close to offering a non-answer, but I guess now we've got a fraction of something to go on.

We'll see. I recently played The Sims 4and had a lot of fun performing evil experiments on my hapless household, but then I developed a conscience and became a real boy. That was a good time, but it's impossible to deny that Sims 4 will — at least initially — lack a lot of features both big and small from previous Sims games.

Fingers crossed for a good experience despite the small army of possible red flags just over the hill. At this point all that's left is to wait and see. And tell EA what you want, of course. They may or may not listen, but it never hurts to ask.


    That completely reads as 'Yes in an expansion pack' to me. *shrug*

    Last edited 12/08/14 12:42 pm

    neither is adding offline mode to sim city... *cough* :p

      The Xbone was designed with the internet always online, you can't simply flip a switch.

        Sigh. Do people actually think that when they announced the reversal it was actually ready?

        Did EA hire the same morons doing the same wishy-washy speak as the Xbone launch?

        They literally can not unbundle the Kinect from the Xbone - it's here to stay.

          untrue, Xbox one has no required kinnect for a while now, and can be purchased seperatly

    Yeah, it's so hard doing something you've done three times before in the same series-- something that other devs with other game engines have done repeatedly in the past 15 years alone.

      It was a fluke... They had no idea how they did it.

      Went home one afternoon, then the next morning.... BOOM!

      Pools programmed... Was amazing and a little scary.

    Well, here's an idea. How about, you delay the game until you finish it instead of releasing it unfinished?

      Surely you jest! That's clearly not conducive to the current business model.

        Yeah, how else will they release pools as part of the 'life aquatic' DLC pack, charged at 80% of the base game's price, and released somewhere along the bi-monthly-DLC-launch schedule, such that the full game including DLC ends up costing several thousand dollars?

          Just as long as it includes Steve Zissou.

          To be fair look at the expansion packs from the previous Sims games. It's not like including pools in the main release would stop them from releasing a 'Life Aquatic' expansion pack. Typically they'll release the game with basic versions of everything and then expand on it. So you'd get standard block based pools with nothing more than a diving board and ladder in the main release, and then things like more detailed shapes, water slides, pool accessories, etc in an expansion.
          On top of that they don't need big name features. It's easier to just phone in a pet pack than to add something as complicated as pools. So I'm actually sort of inclined to believe them when they say they couldn't get it in within a reasonable time period.

          I dunno, I think gamers treat The Sims like Battlefield rather than Barbie dolls or LEGO. Stuff like season passes and feature packs actually make sense with The Sims. It's one of the few game series that actually does traditional expansion packs rather than just content packs.

            Hm. Not sure if your well-reasoned, evidence-based conclusions conflict with my emotive hyperbole. Please let me know if I should be outraged and/or hostile, fellow Internet Warrior! ;)

              Goddamnit, there's a quote from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia sums this^^ up perfectly and my link won't work. Fuckin' EA, always breaking shit in threads.

      Yeah but then you'd make DLC redundant dammit! Think of the investors ok?!

    The hardest part about this is coming up with a plausible justification to release it as part of a dlc pack. And even then, the reason given will be something that took tens of minutes to devise.

    They'll be paid DLC on either day 1 or within a week - almost guarateed

      Maybe not that early... remember, they need to have something held in reserve to launch in monthly to bi-monthly DLC expansions which they charge at $50 each.

      Nope, they'll have DLC on sale BEFORE the game actually is.

        You mean like Rome 2 Total War? I actually had to go check if that game had anything to do with EA.
        And no, it doesn't.

          Really? I haven't bought Rome 2, but damn... That's pathetic.

            Yep. The Greek city states were a DLC that you only got free if you pre-ordered the game. Which I'm glad I didn't do, because even at $20 on sale I still regret buying that game.

    I second the comment regarding SimCity offline; it's hard to believe that adding in pools will be just as hard as making a game work offline.

    It would be hilarious if they included spas or bath tubs in the base game, but delayed pools to an expansion pack because they were too complicated to code in (but spas and bath tubs aren't). That would be a big insult to their paying audience.

    Mark my words: One of the neighbourhoods will have a beach.
    Your sim may be able to go swimming on that beach, in shallow water.
    Regardless, if I see a skerrick of water that can be interacted with, then all these comments by EA are just PR to cover a DLC.
    ...what am I saying. Of course their comments are just PR to cover a future DLC. I'll show myself out.

    I am honestly ok with those features being gone, The pool was only good for killing sims off (something that a decoration that shot fire replaced) and earning body skill, which was able to be gained from the TV, work out option. Toddler was a stage that took a lot of effort as well as you had to teach the walk and Talk to get the platinum aspiration, which took away from gaining skills on the adult. Do I think it should be DLC, no, but I don't really see what those parts of the games really added. I just use the sim blender in 2 to skip the toddler phase completely.

      The problem isn't the loss of game play features with this it's the loss of aesthetics. A huge portion of the community is all about recreating real life houses locations etc, pools being a major feature of most luxury houses is kind of a big gap to have for those people.

        I get that, but if it was just for aesthetics, that takes away from the david cage approved emotion from their budget. Chances are it puts focus on the supernatural aspect they are going to shoehorn in. I think there would be a bigger problem if cars aren't apart of the game on release.

          Cars also aren't available at launch.
          Nor are burglers, terrain tools, cemeteries, clothes shopping, basements (or more then 3 floors on any building), dreams, aspirations, ghosts, aliens, fear, dreams, aspirations, garage doors, repair men, repo men, resteraunts, dinner date/party invitations, cribs, dishwashers..... alright there's more but I've already given up.

            All the things you mentioned are at least crucial to game play. Pools & toddlers are arguably not. I should also point out that I agree that most of that stuff should be given on launch. I am content with my Sims 2 with all the mods, so I don't really see any reason for anyone to buy Sims 4 on launch. I have to say the idea of my sims having emotion doesn't float my boat but yeah, If it was just the loss of pools and Toddlers I wouldn't too upset. I can understand that they need expansions but Dishwashers is crossing the line.

    Come on, it'd be hella hard to add considering they didnt make the engine the games built on- oh wait...

    If their excuse is true this is extremely short sighted by EA, when someone as big as they are develops a brand new engine they have a rough map of what games they plan to develop with it and to have just missed the tools for a fairly major feature for a game they just had to know was going to be developed on Glassbox seems ludicrous.

    Pools are one thing and the tip of the iceberg, there is a community our there at the moment that are listing all the things that are missing from The Sims 4...

    Alot of them are little things, but there are plenty of bigger things also, but overall it makes the The Sims 4, kinda look closer to The Sims 1.0 or less...

    I wonder how many bridges they burned with Sim City. No matter, people will buy this regardless and then lap up the DLC. I really should buy EA shares, their business model is great: ignore customers, ignore everything included in previous games, put out a restricted gameplay base game with slightly shinier graphics, profit

    My mum pre-ordered the Sims 4. I wanted to slap her with my pimp hand. I didn't, but I did tell her to cancel her pre-order. She won't.

    See the thing is EA, nobody trusts you when you tell us a seemingly simple feature for a sim game is either impossible or very difficult to implement. You've been caught out on your bullshit before so nobody is really inclined to accept it this time around.

    This is becoming beyond laughable and just sad. Who do they think they're fooling with such an excuse?

    Even if this game engine was designed for Sim City - it should still have a water physics engine built in - hell free game engines 5 years ago had this down pat, it just seems like there's bugs with it they aren't happy about and instead of explaining why - or what the problem actually is - this is just very poor management from them yet again.

    A joke to the industry.

    Whether what they claim is true or not, I think after the whole 'always online' Simcity fiasco (where they claimed that it was vitally important for the game to always be online when in reality it really wasn't) I don't think I can take anything they say without a grain of salt now. EA have proven they they don't mind blatantly lying to their consumer's face if it will help stave off the questions and complaints.

    But ... they've modelled female sims, which according to Ubisoft are nothing short of a technical feat of miraculous proportions.

      Exactly, they've gone and blown their budget on that frivolous expenditure. If only they made the smart choice and spent it on a pool instead.

    looks like we are all excited for the sims 4 then!!!!!111!!!1

    So hard to add pool into the existing game.

    1 month later....

    Due to fan demand, we have finally added Pool into The Sims 4. Purchase the The Sims 4: Pool Party expansion pack now!

    I know when I play the Sims, I pretty much have Toddlers on an age cycle of 2 days, because they're useless and annoying. I also know that Pools are pointless unless you have the want to go swimming (which, with the introduction of Paradise Island, you can do in the sea anyway).

    So, lets imagine EA are doing software development correctly, and using some kind of Agile / Scrum methodology for their development. It's going to be an ongoing and updated product, so it's not inconceivable that they would.

    If you understand agile methodology, you'll know that you prioritise the most important features first - those which have the most business value to the product.

    In early discussions, various features are prioritised, and I imagine, given my own extensive experience of playing the Sims, that these features of pools and toddlers would have been deemed low on priority - they would have been too risky for too little value, considering they had a certain release date to hit.

    This does not mean that these will never get done. Nor does it mean that these were definitely not worked on (I imagine some snot nosed 14 year old will hack the Sims 4 code at launch and indeed find pool tech hiding in there somewhere and the internet will collectively explode with faux rage).

    It just means that they were not prioritised for launch, and they were not prioritised so they can offer the most business value to the product at launch.

    Last edited 12/08/14 6:16 pm

    I just cancelled my pre-order after reading that list that lists everything missing from the game and adds (hello loading screens from house to house, eww!)

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