Interview with Tim LeTourneau
We still had a couple of questions on our mind after Tim’s* presentation, so we grabbed hold of him for a private session:
*Tim LeTourneau is Senior Producer at Maxis and the main man behind The Sims franchise.
Fragland: “Is it possible to cheat on your exams?”
Tim: “No, simply because you don’t really go to lectures or class or exams. You can’t really cheat on your exams, but you could use the ‘mainframe computer system’ to hack your grades .”
Fragland: “Huh ? So how can you hack your grades?”
Tim: “You have to get in the Secret Society. Once you joined them you have access to their computers wihch have a direct connection to the college computers.”
Fragland: “Can your Sims get drunk or high ?”
Tim: “No, It is important to keep in mind that The Sims is a story-telling game. I’m not the story-teller, the player him- or herself is the story-teller. As the developers, we create the ‘pieces’ to tell ‘a story’, whatever story the player want to tell.
The ‘bubble-blower’ for instance, is a perfectly innocent object, it blows bubbles. The Sims-Students sit around it, blow bubbles and laugh – no more than that. Whatever your perception of those giggles are, are entirely part of *your* story.
Another example is the Bar. We only serve juice there, so the Sims cannot display any drunken behaviour when they drink something from the bar. We don’t want the Sims to act drunk because not everybody wants that element in ‘their’ story.”
Fragland: “Did you guys think about adding sports into the game?”
Tim: The problem with adding sports into the Sims is that you can’t control the players in the game, for example: if you play volleybal, you can tell your Sim to play volleyball, but you cannot control the game or the ball – and that’s not a satisfying gameplay experience.
Fragland: “Is it not possible to add sports in an add-on pack?”
Tim: “It is, except we have to figure out what the gameplay is. It’s not that simple as: let’s get the
Sims to play soccer. Sure, we can get them playing soccer, but we have to figure out what the added-value would be to the player. Why would a gamer play this, would it be fun gameplay. Questions like that are our guide in creating more possibilities in the Sims ”
Fragland: “You can also ad AI to the game and improve your own sports-skills to become a real star player and get a sponsor-contract to earn lots of money.”
Tim: “Yeah, that’s a possibility too. I mean, these are all things that we talk about all the time over at Maxis. But it is my job to keep in mind what not only the average, but the majority of the gamers would like to play.
If I’d have to visualise our work, it is like creating a large bubble with lots of area’s. An add-on can focus on one particular area of the bubble, but we cannot ‘leave’ the bubble, we have to stay ‘in’.
You get it ?
Fragland: “Sure, we’re smart Now, aren’t you scared that this expansion pack won’t sell, simply because not everyone went to college.”
Tim: “You can say that about any expansion pack concept. I don’t really like vacations, so i’m not going to buy On Holiday. I mean, any expansion pack has that potential. Am I concerned about it? No, I’m not, because for me we added more experiences to the sims lifetime. I think if you look at the box and you look at the new objects and the new gameplay and other new stuff, people will say: this looks cool!”
Fragland: “Last question: Will we be seeing Maxis at E3?”
Tim: “EA usually have big major releases at E3, it’s not that expansion packs aren’t big releases but it’s usually the big christmas titles. I’d like to see the next expansion pack be on the floor on E3 or behind closed doors. I don’t know if you see me personally though, but you might see Maxis. It’s good to see you guys again and I’m sure I’ll be back in the summertime to get you excited about the next expansion pack.
Fragland: “If we do run into each other, we’ll buy you a beer ”