Sunday, September 27, 2009

The tenacity of spammers in WoW

Last Monday I took the screenshot below of the spam in Stormwind made from dead bodies but waited so long to write about it that The Ancient Gaming Noob beat me to the punch with his story Corpse Spam in Stormwind.

I'd seen such spam in Stormwind before, but since I've not been around when when it was being created I'd wondered how the bodies were placed so accurately. TAGN answers that question:
I’ve sat and watch these URLs get spelled out. It looks like these bodies are just dropping out of the sky.
Obviously the spammers are using software to position the characters. I vaguely recall reading something about the WoW servers trusting the position information reported by the client; if true, the software can simply position a low level character in the air over the spot where the corpse is to be left and rely on falling damage to kill it.

At the time I took this screenshot I noticed that all the corpses have different names. The accounts being used may be filled with low level toons who are killed sequentially to produce the writing. If the number of characters per account is maxed out, not many accounts will be needed.

With all the recent discussion of impact in games, this corpse spam is an excellent example of the downside. The more ability a game gives a player to alter the game world, the greater the possibility for misuse. It's striking that WoW, which is the leading example of an unalterable theme park game world, still allows for this tiny bit of impact (a character's death leaves a corpse) which can be exploited by spammers. WoW is so popular that it's worthwhile for the spammers to spend the time and trouble to develop specialized software needed to create corpse spam.

On a related note, for the past few days I've been getting whispers from spammers pretending to be offering new free mounts. The spam attempts to send people to a website apparently purporting to be a Blizzard site in the hopes that players will log in using their game accounts. Of course their passwords are immediately stolen, their game character's stuff is sold off and the gold sent to another character operated by the spammer.

So anyone thinking about buying gold in World of Warcraft should consider this: Since Blizzard doesn't permit gold sales, the companies you buy it from get it through fraud, theft, and other illegal means. In buying gold you are endorsing and encouraging crooks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free Realms demographics

We learned a few things about Free Realms from John Smedley's keynote at GDC Austin last week. While he didn't give numbers for the number of concurrent players or how many people make up the fifty percent of in-game store users who make a purchase, he did reveal some user demographics.

From Xemu's blog, AGDC 2009: Smedley on Free Realms:

Free Realms player age
Under 13

More after the jump.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WoW: Patch 3.2.0 tries to segregate twinks

With all the talk about twinked alts in WoW at We Fly Spitfires (Twinking Is Just Another Form Of Cheating) followed by Welcome to Spinksville (Twinks, Heirlooms, and Morality) and Tobold's MMORPG Blog (Twinking and the economy) I was a little bummed out. My main is only level 70 and so doesn't yet have access to heirlooms for the alts. But then as part of preparing to play after more than a year away, I saw this in the notes for WoW's patch 3.2.0:
  • Players with experience gains turned off who compete in Battlegrounds will face off only against other players with experience gains turned off. 
Blizzard is trying to segregate the twinks! And why will twinks have XP turned off?
  • Players will now be awarded experience for completing objectives and actions that yield honor in Battlegrounds (honorable kills not included).
By boosting the XP awarded in Battlegrounds, Blizzard has created the incentive for players with twinked characters who want to remain in a certain tier to pay the 10 gold to shut off the XP gain (which stops gains from any source, not just battlegrounds). Once the XP is shut off, Blizzard knows which ones to isolate into separate BGs. And they'll want to be separate, with competent teammates rather than clueless PUGs. Pre-mades without having to be pre-made!

I'm pretty pumped, since after my time in Warhammer Online I wanted to use BGs more for leveling the alts. Not only has the XP awarded in Battlegrounds been increased, but if the other changes work then the worst of the twinks will be gone. And even if they don't move to their own twink leagues, the changes are a clear sign that Blizzard recognizes that twinks are an issue in battlegrounds.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Return to WoW: It's a lot of work!

Barriers to re-entry

It's in some ways much easier to start a new game than to return to an MMO after a long absence. I've been away from WoW since May, 2008, so of course a lot has changed due to an expansion and major patches in the interim. And one forgets things, too.

With a new game you just install and start playing. All fun and no work. Of course, since you're just learning the game, you don't always do things in the most efficient manner. And if the game is still in beta or has just launched, there won't be as much information around to help as there is for a more mature game.

But an old game, wow, it's work! Blizzard doesn't delete your characters in order to make it easier to pick up where you left off, but still it's taken a few hours just to get ready to play! Why? Here's a list:
  • Check the main and alts. What are the classes, levels, and professions. What's in the bags and banks? Talents have been wiped, oh joy. Need to re-talent. At least most of my action bar settings were saved!
  • What changed with the expansion? What's this about glyphs? Do I have an alt that can become a scribe? Should I start a Death Knight?
  • I can't bear the default UI; install addons. I didn't keep a list, what addons did I used to run? Some are abandoned, which ones do I use instead? What new ones does everyone use? What functionality is now in the native UI? What was the name of that addon with the boat schedules? (Nauticus.) Configure the addons.
  • Cool, I wanted to see Stormwind harbor. What's this portal in Ironforge leading to Blasted Lands? What else has changed in the transportation network? Hmm, maybe I should read the patch notes. Wow, a lot has changed. I'd heard about the earlier mounts, but being able to swim while mounted rocks! Dual-spec, hmm, may need to save up for that.
You get the picture.

And this is a game that's known as an easy, mainstream MMO.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Missing Kotick's Point: The resurgence of PC gaming

GameSpot has an article Activision games to bypass consoles covering CEO Robert Kotick's presentation in San Francisco. The article quotes him as saying that his goal "was to take all the fun out of making video games."

I've seen several references which conflate that quote with another in the article:
"We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression."
But taken in context the meaning is different:
The executive said that he has tried to instill into the company culture "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" of the global economic downturn, adding, "We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression."
The depression he refers to isn't the lack of fun, it's the economy, stupid!

If this wasn't bad enough, by focusing on the "fun" remark, an even bigger point is missed:
"expect many of our products to be playable independent of a console," specifically saying he'd been impressed with media hub functionalities shown by 1080p TVs that let users stream content from their PCs.
That's right, PCs.! The CEO of major publisher is stating that contrary to the common wisdom that PC gaming is dead, he intends to start moving products off consoles to PCs.

There's a long history of friction between game developers and console companies. Not only has access been limited (Nintendo approves just a few third party developers) and development costly, but the console makers collect hefty royalties on each unit of the game sold.

Add in the cost to sell downloadable content through the console's online stores (and in Sony's case, the PlayStation Network Bandwidth Fee) and Kotick's motive is clear. By moving to the open platform of PCs, Activision Blizzard can control the distribution of its DLC and reduce cost by selling in its own online store, 2.0 was announced in August at Blizzcon and covered very thoroughly by Gamasutra in The Man Behind Greg Canessa Speaks. Canessa worked previously at Microsoft where he was "one of the executives over Xbox Live" and speaks with firsthand knowledge of the limitations of the one-size-fits-all online platforms offered on consoles.

Canessa discusses the opportunities inherent in deeply integrating online services into each game in a custom-fitted way, starting with StarCraft II. Matchmaking, ladders, and leagues will be implemented and the mod community will be supported. He goes on to say:
"What we're doing with the marketplace -- and that's again a post-ship future -- is to provide a common aggregation point like the iPhone's App Store..."
As shown by SOE's experience with Free Realms, microtransactions work best when buying is tightly integrated into the game, which can be done better on PC than consoles. Compared with the online and DLC possibilites available on the PC, consoles start looking restricting and outmoded.

Returning to the original Kotick article, the big news was the resurgence of the PC platform at the expense of consoles. Even though bypass consoles was in the title, that point was missed by many.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

John Smedley on Free Realms at GDC Austin

Cherry-picking the coverage of Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley's keynote at GDC Austin. Most of the bulleted items are text from the articles; the direct Smedley quotes are in italics.

From GameSpot, Free Realms PS3 due mid-2010, EyeToy support 'likely':
  • The biggest surprise to the developers is that while two-thirds of the audience is made up of boys, two-thirds of the [microtransaction] purchasers are girls.
  • 75 percent of the game's traffic is driven by TV.
  • The company is so pleased with the product that it's preparing another product along the same audience-expanding lines
  • Quote: "There are some upsides to kids. They don't call customer service, almost ever. And they don't talk on the forums."
From Gamasutra, GDC Austin: Free Realms And The Attention Span Challenge:
  • Free Realms players now play for about 20 minutes per session.
  • "We found very quickly that kids had their own way of playing a game, but we also need a way to monetize them" said Smedley. "...Commerce to kids is hard -- a lot harder than we thought it would be."
From Virtual Worlds News, a preview written before the keynote, Free Realms Tallies 5 Million Users; No, Really:
  • "Because kids' mind [s]hare is so constantly inundated with new games, new things on TV, it's literally necessary to remind them [about the game] on a daily or weekly basis," Smedley says.
  • "We've instrumented literally every single aspect of Free Realms in ways that few if any game has ever done," Smedley says. "We report every click every person does when they register."
  • [The collected data is analyzed by a] team of five full-time data crunchers
  • 51 percent of Free Realms gamers are under 13, with around 75 percent under 18.
From, Sony Online president talks kids, women and MMOs:
  • the company erred early on in giving too much free content away when the game launched
  • the company is working on a PlayStation 3 console version of “FreeRealms” due out sometime in the middle of 2010 and is also planning a Facebook-based online game.
From Xemu's blog, AGDC 2009: Smedley on Free Realms:
  • Peak pop around 5:30 PM. Huge spikes when TV commercials run. Commercial = 5 mins later in game. These are not just new customers but returning ones, need to remind them to come back!
I'm still waiting on the coverage teased by Massively, and will edit to include anything significant.

Update 1: Added a few bullet points.
Update 2: And another.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do casual gamers care about fairness?

The Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks nerf

Do players of casual games care about fairness and equal treatment? Or are they so blasé that they remain unaware of any disparity in treatment that might give some players an advantage? Can publishers of casual games get away with deliberately withholding information in order to keep players ignorant and happy? With the case of the Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks item nerf in its game Free Realms, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) may be on the way to finding out.


A somewhat hard to get item, Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks offers a speed boost to a player wearing it. SOE reduced the speed boost on the item, and then after the predictable complaints, restored the original speed boost, but only for players who already had the item. Thus players with the old item have an advantage in all the timed minigames where it may be used. Among other disadvantages, players with the inferior version of the item will never be able to reach the top spots on the leaderboards for those minigames.

Subsequent posts from the Community Relations Manager (CRM) for Free Realms revealed that it was a deliberate decision to create two classes of players: those with the faster original item, and all other players who will receive the new slower item. While complaints from disadvantaged players have caused the CRM to avoid conducting events that might involve use of the item, the relatively mild uproar hasn't caused SOE to resolve the issue and restore fairness and the equality of players.

SOE sells items within Free Realms via microtransactions that confer advantage to the buyer. Players seem to have accepted this since any disadvantaged player can opt to spend real money to buy the item. In the case of Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks, players with the inferior version have no recourse. As the issue is still being played out, it's too early to know how customer satisfaction will be affected.

One of the benefits of paid membership is getting ranked on the leaderboards. Making top spots on the timed minigame leaderboards unavailable to the majority of players won't help membership numbers. Zam's wiki has over 60 entries in its timed minigame category, but some are job-related and thus preclude wearing Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks. The large number of timed minigames indicate that they are an important component of the Free Realms experience, and at least several dozen are affected. Since timed minigames are just one of the activities affected by the speed disparity there is ample potential for unhappiness.

The changes to Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks were not listed in the update notes, and were only acknowledged by the CRM in response to player inquiries. SOE has a policy for Free Realms of limiting information about updates to a brief summary of highlights. This stands in stark contrast to the detailed information about updates made available by SOE for its other games (which follows standard practice in the online game market).

The broader issue is not that a specific class of players is being disadvantaged by this particular change, but that by witholding details about changes to the game, all Free Realms players are disadvantaged compared to players of games with full disclosure. It's as if casual gamers are to be kept fat, dumb and happy: that by offering many distractions in the form of activities and new content (fat) while hiding details about game changes with negative impacts (dumb), players can be kept happy. It remains to be seen if such a policy can succeed.


To get Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks, a player must complete three collections. These collections, Postman Packages and Envelopes, Postman Postcards, and Postman Stamps, are completed by gathering items from resource nodes that spawn in a limited number of locations and remain invisible unless the player is doing the Postman job. (Free Realms currently offers 15 jobs for subscribers, 10 of which, including Postman, are available to free players).

Due to the difficulty of finding the item spawns (called Mail Supplies and Mail Supplies <Rare Collection>), it's common to reach level 20 of the Postman job (the level required to wear Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks) before completing the collections needed to acquire the shoes.

On 8/14 SOE released an upgrade to Free Realms which nerfed Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks. In keeping with SOE's policy of hiding the detailed information about Free Realms updates from players, no indication of this was given in the update notes.

On 8/18 the original speed was restored. Again, no mention was made in the maintenance announcement, but in response to a player-created topic heralding the restoration of the former speed, the CRM posted [reqires login]:
Those with Speedy Kicks have the speed boost back. We may make it so any future versions of the kicks will be at the reduced rate, but your's are good to go.
On 8/19 a topic was created that confirmed the reduced speed of new Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks and in that topic kadewolfspotter noted that [reqires login]:
...the referee confirmed that this is the policy moving forward.  New kicks are level 11 speed boost vs. the originals which are level 13 speed boost.
Within just a few hours posts were added to this topic discussing the fairness of the change and its impact on disadvantaged players, as well as the lack of disclosure by SOE about changes to Free Realms.

Also on 8/19, kadewolfspotter posted [reqires login] a link to the video below which shows the speed difference between players using the two versions of Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks:

Video showing comparison tests of the old and new versions of Rudolfo's Speedy Kicks. As of this writing it had 1,333 views.

Discussion continued over the next several days in both of the previously-linked topics. On 8/25 the CRM posted [reqires login]:
We did allow those players who already have the shoes to keep them. There aren't that many of them out there when compared to the number of people who play on a regular basis.

The biggest issue was that the change was not announced or explained properly. FR is not a typical adult MMO and we don't post every change that gets added to the game like other titles.
On 8/26 the CRM posted [reqires login]:
...I was going to do a postman run as a community event, but given all the Speedy Kick uproar changed things.
There have been no developments since 8/26.


SOE has admitted to a policy of treating its casual gamers differently than other MMO players. This affects not only current players of Free Realms but also potential players of its forthcoming casual Star Wars MMO. Its actions make clear that it's unconcerned by the potential business ramifications of disadvantaging the great majority of Free Realms players in favor of a tiny minority, since if the disadvantaged are kept ignorant they won't know any better and so won't complain. An assumption has been made that equal treatment isn't important to casual players and those in younger demographics, but anyone with kids knows that children can be particularly sensitive to unfair treatment, so this policy seems counterproductive for a game heavily marketed to younger players.


Thanks to FreeRealmsInsider for the video on YouTube, and ZAM's Free Realms Wiki was a handy reference. While I've specifically quoted and linked kadewolfspotter's comments on SOE's Free Realms forums, several other posters provided information and insights; see the topics linked above.

I've refrained from mentioning by name SOE's Community Relations Manager for Free Realms since they are simply communicating policy decisions made by others.

Update on 9/17: This post was written before the GDC Austin keynote in which SOE president John Smedley said:
"There are some upsides to kids. They don't call customer service, almost ever. And they don't talk on the forums."
For a summary of his remarks, see John Smedley on Free Realms at GDC Austin.

It's all Tolkien's fault

Yesterday in Game worlds and geographic realism I talked about the overuse of mountains as zone borders. A quick look at this Google image search shows that it's all Tolkien's fault.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Game worlds and geographic realism

One of the things I've always disliked about Warhammer Online is its game world. There are two problems with it:

First, the way the game zones are laid out is quite artificial. Each faction's quest hubs are strung along roads that wind through the zones in a completely arbitrary way. The RvR "lakes" are plopped down in the middle, with terrain barriers to prevent entry except at a few select locations.

The second problem with WAR's game world is that each campaign, i.e. Dwarfs vs. Greenskins, stands alone: that is, they aren't part of a larger continent. As a result, there is no world map of WAR. What's worse, even within the campaigns the way the zones themselves are arranged is essentially a graph: nodes (circles) connected by edges (lines).

For example, a dwarf in the starting zone of Ekrund follows the Order road east through Mount Bloodhorn and further east through a zone portal to Marshes of Madness. There the road turns north and leads into Barak Varr, where the road forks. If the left fork is taken, and the Destruction road is followed northwest, a zone portal is reached leading west. Go through the portal and poof! you're back in south central Ekrund, heading east!

The end result is that while on a small scale the graphics strive for realism, the contrived layout of the medium and large scale geography in WAR ruins any realistic effect.

In contrast, World of Warcraft's game world is consistent with the exception of the Deeprun Tram, which runs northwest from Stormwind when it should run north-northeast. WoW does suffer from overuse of bottlenecks and view blocks at zone boundaries, but these result from technical issues like palette switching and scene complexity. The believability of the original WoW continents is enhanced by the several zone boundaries without mountains or other obvious bottlenecks or view blocks: Elwynn Forest/Westfall/Duskwood, Hillsbrad Foothills/Alterac Mountains, and Darkshore/Ashenvale. Even traveling from The Barrens through Thousand Needles through The Shimmering Flats to Tanaris, the transitions didn't seem too contrived.

Perhaps a bit surprisingly, the Free Realms game world has a fairly believable geographical layout. It's far better than WAR's, and at least the equal of WoW. While it overuses mountains as zone borders, it does have some rather large contiguous areas without mountains. But FR's geography may need to be re-evaluated after the expansions. There are instances on the borders of the current game world which extend pretty far and may overlap the expansion areas.

To sum up: nothing breaks suspension of disbelief and says game more than geographic inconsistency in the game world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Free Realms adds Take Me There

Free Realms keeps on removing the tedium. The latest innovation in yesterday's update is the Take Me There button in the quest tracker, which when clicked automatically runs you to the next location in the quest. It's for overland travel to major quest stages, not for during quests like the ones that have you track down a few items.

While the pathing is a bit inefficient and doesn't make use of warpstones, it's still useful as you can be chatting or making other use of the time during travel. Also added: any icon in the Atlas now is a teleport destination!

Take Me There brings back memories of WoW's AutoTravel addon, which worked until patch 1.6. It was a great addon which let you define paths and waypoints which it would automatically follow when you selected a destination.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Return to WoW: First disappointment

WowAce Updater is gone. Bummer. My return to WoW starts on a down note and I haven't even logged in.

When I last played WoW I came to favor the WowAce mods. Unlike monolithic addon bundles such as Cosmos and CTMod, WowAce is a mix and match collection of addons. WowAce doesn't force an entire UI change on a player, instead you choose just the addons you want.

Another advantage of separate addons happens after patch days: a monolithic project often waits to release until all its components are updated, while individual addons allow you to install updates as they are released, so at least you have some functionality.

Back in the day, the WowAce Updater allowed one to pick the addons one wanted and it would install them while checking the dependencies to ensure you had the common libraries needed by the addons. It kept the addons up to date too, downloading new versions when needed. WowAce Updater simplified the whole issue of managing many individual addons down to just a few clicks. It was slick, and free.

And that was the problem. WowAce Updater (WAU) was so easy to use and good at its task that the bandwidth costs grew to exceed what the supporters of WowAce could afford. WowAce is a development community and repository, not a release site. So WAU was disabled and the Curse Client substituted instead.

Not only was WAU the better program, but the free version of Curse Client is both adware and crippleware. To even approach WAU's functionality with Curse Client one must be a Premium member, at a base cost of $4.95/month. When I was actively playing Warhammer Online I used Curse Client for my addons. I went back recently to update them and first had to update Curse Client only to find that it no longer updates all addons with a single click. That feature has been moved behind the pay wall.

Finally I get to the point of this post: companies that leave in the hands of intermediaries aspects of a customer's experience that could easily be brought in-house. While outsourcing functionality often makes sense, the game industry has cases where the goals of game companies and their intermediaries aren't well aligned. Typically the intermediary's goal is to make a customer's experience worse before making it better. is making making the free Curse Client as bad as it can possibly get away with in order to maximize the contrast with the paid client. While this makes sense for Curse, it doesn't make sense for Blizzard. Blizzard would be well served to incorporate addon management functionality into its forthcoming improvements to This would provide support to all Blizzard's games and offer the best experience to customers at the lowest cost.

Game industry intermediaries whose revenue is derived from a two-tier scheme where bad service is free and good service requires a paid subscription have a problem: this isn't a viable long-term business model.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fallen Earth beta quick impressions

I made it into the Fallen Earth beta shortly before it closed and am finally posting my impressions of the short time I spent in the game.
  • The tutorial intro sets up the story well, but the high-end weapons and armor disappear once the game starts, which is a bit of a disappointment.
  • Mounts seem only to have a cash requirement, and it's low. Since there is no level minimum they can be purchased early. I got a mount easily at level 4 without really knowing what I was doing, and saw level 2 characters with mounts.
  • Combat is not smooth. It feels laggy, either due to server issues or unoptimized graphics in the client. This is a major issue due to the FPS nature of combat with the need to aim.
  • Jumping: are physics used at all? The way jumping works it seems like there are no physics in the game.
  • The game has two modes: normal and Aim mode. You can't really fight in normal mode, and you have no mouse cursor in Aim mode, so while in that mode you can only interact with objects by aiming at them and clicking. In normal mode the camera is usually third-person, and first-person is best for combat in Aim mode (although the camera can be adjusted to be one or the other at any time). Transitioning between normal and Aim mode requires a keypress; the camera can be set to autoswitch at the same time between third- and first-person. As someone who hates all things modal in user interfaces, I found the need to switch modes inconvenient and clumsy. The modal interface was my main dislike in the game.
  • With six weapon slots added to what appear to be numerous combat abilities, it looks like high level characters will have overflowing action bars and hotkey assignment issues.
  • As a whole quests offer nothing new. One quest supplied a bunch of NPC companions for a squad fight. There seemed to be too many timed quests at the starting quest hub which were a pain to do before getting a mount. Solo questlines can culiminate in group quests which block progress until you can find a group.
  • Crafting seems deep and interesting. My impression was that almost every useful item in the game can be crafted. The crafting interface and mechanic is good: multiple items can be queued up and crafting takes place simultaneously while you do other things. This is necessary because the times to craft items are much longer than in MMOs where you must remain stationary while crafting. Crafting is also useful, I was able to craft items for my character that were upgrades.
  • Resource gathering is easy to level once appropriate nodes are found. This was a bit of an issue in the starting area as the non-crafting quests lead to areas with resources nodes that are too high for new characters to harvest. There are numerous low-level nodes for new characters, but they were concentrated in just a couple of areas which were away from the locations used by the standard quest lines.
  • Abilities are skill-based, one assigns points to abilities. Experience seems to be gained from using any ability, including crafting and harvesting.
  • The world is large. Getting a mount as soon as possible is a must.
  • Away from roads the world is fairly empty. Once I had a mount I immediately headed out into the wilderness to explore a bit of the game world. It was mostly empty, with only the occasional mobs to avoid or nodes to harvest.
  • The graphics are in need of tuning, some towns would kill the framerate. They're also a bit drab. It's the desert, yet not sunny due to a dull gray overcast.
  • The implementation of the post-apocalyptic scenario in the sparsely-populated desert makes far less sense than Fallout 3's metro-D.C. setting. For example, there are the remains of a monorail system which meanders around the desert like an amusement park ride instead of running in relatively straight shots between (the ruins of) population centers. Remains of railroad lines terminated for no apparent reason. As a result I found Fallen Earth's game world far less believable than Fallout 3's.
  • With just one server the beta was very active. You'd run into lots of other players in the world, and there was so much chat traffic it was a problem; the random chitchat would obscure real discussion of the game.
  • The support for Fallen Earth seems decent. Patches seem frequent and GMs are available, although one of the GMs I chatted with couldn't tell me the meaning of one of the symbols on the minimap, or even how to find the key (it's in the filtering function of the main map.)
While it's nice to see new MMO ideas from an independent company, in my case the cons outweighed the pros, so instead of jumping into Fallen Earth at release I'll sit back to see if the cons are addressed.

Pros: Crafting; ability system; XP and skill-based leveling; cheap mounts; not another fantasy scenario
Cons: modal UI; jerky, unresponsive combat; quests

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Sims 3: Pre-made Sims Explained

I picked up The Sims 3 recently, and not long after I started playing I found myself asking a FAQ: how does one get a Sim from the Library back into Create a Sim?

It turns out not to be that hard, but the relationship among the game components and the various storage sites for Sims is hard to understand at first. To clarify, I made this graph to show how Sims can be moved around the various parts of The Sims 3 (click for full-size image):

Graph showing how Sims and households can be moved between Towns, the Library, and the Bin
To get a Sim from the Library into Create a Sim without using a mod:
  1. Put a copy of the Sim into a house, play the game as that Sim.
  2. Click on a dresser and select Plan Outfit. This enters Create a Sim in single Sim mode.
  3. In Create a Sim, click Save Sim to Bin.
The Sim will now appear in the Pre-made Sims list (AKA the Bin).

The Bin stores single Pre-made Sims. Towns, the Library, and the Clipboard in Edit Town mode all store households of Sims. The Clipboard is temporary storage; apparently Sims stored only there can be lost if not saved elsewhere before quitting Edit Town mode.