Posts Tagged ‘simulation’

Medieval Sims Go Questing

Posted: August 18, 2010 in PC
Tags: , ,

If you were expecting EA’s newest Sims game – The Sims Medieval — to be just a re-skinning of The Sims 3 set in ancient times, you’re in for a surprise. Taking the Sims out of the modern world is only one new aspect of the spin-off; now, you’ll send your Sims on quests, and they’ll even level up.

Yes, The Sims now has some RPG elements to help give players direction in the new atmosphere. Instead of following the lives of the Sims you create, you’ll be using those Sims to complete quests and achieve a “kingdom ambition.” Starting a kingdom requires you to pick some sort of aspiration for it – anything from being the healthiest kingdom to being the kingdom with the most buildings — and you’ll complete quests to achieve that overall goal.

Questing is a big change for the Sims, but it seems like it actually fits in the world. Once you accept a quest, you’ll pick which hero Sims you want to control to complete the objectives. At first you’ll only have a few Sims to choose from, but as you build your kingdom, you can choose from a wide array of Sims professions such as a blacksmith, wizard, knight and more. The solutions will differ depending on the profession of Sim you choose, so you don’t always have to use the straightforward approach. The example I saw started off with an ailing king and charged two Sims with handling situation. Now, you could potentially just kill the king and put him out of his misery, but the demo took a different turn with a physician as the main hero Sim and a priest fulfilling the secondary role.

Before the physician was able to journey to the castle and see the king, she had to fulfill her duties and tend to the sick townsfolk. Failing to fulfill a profession’s daily requirements (physicians must heal, blacksmiths must make weapons, etc.) can lead to your Sim being fired from his or her job. That’s not the only punishment, though — if your Sim is fired, they can be thrown in the stocks where other Sims can humiliate them further by throwing tomatoes and eggs.

In the physician’s case, she positioned her patient onto a “medical” device that looked like it belonged in a torture chamber. The leeches came next, and the player had to drain just the right amount of blood before administering medicine. The patient wobbled out of the clinic, not looking much better than when she came, but the doctor avoided the stocks for the day. Finally, after a hard day of work, she was able to take some time off and diagnose the king with blood poisoning. Although it moved much faster in the demo, the quest would normally require the physician to complete research on the cure for blood poisoning and then how to obtain the ingredients (either purchasing at a shop or by harvesting in the world), make a potion and cure the king.

As the secondary hero Sim in this particular quest, the priest played a small role– traveling to the castle’s small worship area and praying for the king’s well being. In theory, you could have used the priest more to try and cure the king through some sort of miracle, which shows you how many possibilities there are for completing missions.

Completing the quest leveled up the physician and accrued some points to use toward adding more buildings to the kingdom. As your hero Sims level up and become more proficient in their professions, they’re more likely to successfully complete quest objectives. Failure is an option, especially if your Sims aren’t a high enough level or if they have a low Focus level, which essentially governs a Sim’s concentration and replaces the Mood meter from The Sims 3.

Unlike The Sims 3, hero Sims that you create in Medieval will age but not die from Father Time. Things like a plague or murder can lead to the demise of mature Sims, but because this game actually has an ending, your Sims don’t fade away as time goes on. Created Sims will also have two specific traits and one fatal flaw that dictates their personalities. Don’t be too worried about the flaw – there will be quests specific to your Sim that can transform his or her negative attribute into a positive one.

Because medieval folks were a rowdy bunch, EA has also included dueling in this version of the Sims. The altercation I saw was between the king and one of his knights. I’m not sure what they were upset about as they both jabbered in Simlish, but eventually they pushed each other around and drew their swords. A 2D side-view of the fight popped up, and the demoer skillfully bested the king without killing him, though murder is always an option.

The Sims isn’t just about the people you create – it’s about constructing your own buildings and customizing a town you can be proud of. When you place a new building or new castle wing in Medieval, it unlocks the ability to create a new hero Sim with a unique profession. So adding a church will allow you to create a hero Sim that’s a priest, and if you upgrade your castle to have secret chambers, you can house a spy Sim.

I’m sure we’ll see more on creating structures later on, but for now all I saw was the ability to customize the interior. This is largely the same as The Sims 3, only the furniture and decor is designed to reflect the period. Also indicative of the times, your Sims will reside in the same building they work in. Outside the walls of your home, EA added a clever fix for easily communicating with other Sims around the township via carrier pigeons. These faithful birds will await your bidding outside of homes and workplaces to communicate with other Sims your character is friendly with. Not too shabby.

It’s unclear how this new formula will pan out for The Sims Medieval, but it is a refreshing take on a game that was getting re-hash after re-hash. We’ll keep an eye out for new details on this title and keep you updated when we know more.

(ign)

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Did It Myself ABC123 ScreenshotDid It Myself ABC123 ScreenshotDid It Myself ABC123 opens with an explanation – a heartfelt little text readout that lets you know that it was completed as a labor of love, by a parent, who noticed that there wasn’t anything else out there on DSiWare that was age-appropriate for the toddler crowd. Lots of kids of that young age are experiencing gaming on DSi, probably through their parents’ or older siblings’ systems, so it’s nice to have at least one piece of software made just for them.

Consequently, I think this is the first “Early Childhood” ESRB rated release I’ve ever reviewed. And it’s not that bad.

Did It Myself is a very, very simplistic and lighthearted touch screen activity collection that offers easy number, letter and music games the likes of which you might see on-screen during an episode of Sesame Street. The interactive graphics are big and brightly colored, perfect for little fingers to poke at. And the sound is spot-on, too, with vocal recordings of other kids’ voices saying words like “blue” and “yellow.”

The included music design is especially neat for your littlest ones, as it presents a rainbow-colored digital xylophone and a handful of nursery rhymes like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to play along with.

Did It Myself doesn’t go much further than that, though, only offering a total of five different activities and then just remixing them a bit on each replay, so this won’t be the most robust and varied experience you put in front of your three-year-old this year. It’s also not going to hold any real value at all for anyone who doesn’t have a young kid to share it with – which is probably a big portion of IGN’s audience. But I like the heart behind it, and it’s presented well for what it is. So if you do have an ankle-biter hanging around, hand them this and see what happens.

(ign)

The Sims 3: Late Night Preview

Posted: August 14, 2010 in PC
Tags: , ,

Sims players have to be accustomed to EA’s franchise business model at this point. Following the release of the next numbered entry in the franchise, a slew of expansions are released. It’s like an optional subscription fee, but buying into it also nets you a ton of content to keep your Sims busy, whether it’s going to school, heading out on vacation, or turning into witches and vampires. For The Sims 3, EA has so far produced two expansion packs. The first, called World Adventures, let you travel to Egypt, China, and France to get away from the routine of everyday life to quest and find artifacts and occasionally run into mummies. The second, called Ambitions, gave you more control over your sims in the workplace. The next is called Late Night, which gives your sims the opportunity to dive into night life and downtown living, secure a fancy apartment in a flashy high rise, and if you’re willing, turn into a vampire. It’s something that anyone who checked out Sims 2: Nightlife should be very familiar with, but still features a number of features Sims players will likely appreciate.

Heading into the downtown areas of the city will let you explore a section of town filled with skyscrapers and loft apartments. Accessing these swanky living spaces can be done via elevators, and once you’re up to the right floor you can poke around the pad and maybe walk out onto the balcony where a hot tub is installed, complete with color-changing lights. With dartboards, laser machines, arcade cabinets and a bizarre bubble bar featuring multiple fruit flavorings, it sounds like it won’t be too hard to set up a good place for a party, assuming bubble bars and lasers are your sort of thing.

Should you decide to head outside your apartment there’s a lot to do. Those with notions of grandeur who seek personal fame can attempt to achieve celebrity status, by doing things like bragging about your mixology skills, which basically means bartentending, or through getting a band together and rocking out on drums, bass, keyboard, and guitar. As with most things in life, it’s all about who you know, so it helps to keep an eye out and strike up conversations with sims who are already celebrities, who have gold stars floating over their heads. If things go well with the conversation your sim could then leech off the celebrity’s fame, which comes with benefits and disadvantages.

The plus side is you’re on your way to high class living – with enough celebrity status you can access a housing development across a bridge where giant houses sit in low lying hills. It also helps if your sim’s wish happens to be to act in or direct a film, which can be done on at the city’s movie set. Being famous also nets you free drinks and access to exclusive bars and clubs where other celebrity types hang out. It’s great for massaging your ego, but potentially not as excellent when a horde of paparazzi start harassing your sim. Are you willing to put up with the nuisance? You could just dive into a nearby subway station to quickly traverse Night Life’s cityscape. Just be careful, because you might get mugged. The subway tunnels aren’t explorable locations, but it’s entirely possible that you’ll see a notification about a bandit making off with a certain amount of your Simoleons once you duck into the entryway to the underground.

When you’re not trying to mix drinks or achieve wide-reaching fame, you can always just go hang out in a bar normally. It’ll be a bit of an adventure finding out which bars happen to be popular on a given night, since the density of the clientele isn’t always the same, and you can choose to check out fancy lounges or more dilapidated establishments. If it’s a dive, it’s possible a bar fight might break out. As with the rest of the content in The Sims, these aren’t violent, but instead represented as cartoon-like clouds of smoke with arms and legs and ampersands shooting out. Maybe it’s a better option to just dance by yourself, but what’s going on with that pasty white sim in the corner?

Well, in Late Night, it’s probably a vampire which should please True Blood and Twilight Sims players. They aren’t fearsome or scary, really. In fact, you can’t bite anyone without their permission. You can hunt, which colors the Sims around you with a Predator-like thermal vision, but you can only bite your friends. Just like in real life, right? No? If Sims are willing you can also offer to turn them into vampires as well instead of just biting them. Depending on the level of the relationship (for example if you’re married to a vampire), you’ll also see different, more intimately-styled animations for the bites.

Due to their supernatural nature, vampires get different meters than regular sims – you’ll need to manage thirst, for example, which can also be taken care of by chomping on plasma fruit. They can make other Sims think about them, read minds to tell which traits a Sim might have, as well as leverage their vampiritic status to get into exclusive vampire bars. Also, it’s probably not the best idea to venture out into the sunlight, which they obviously don’t like. At least you can put together a vampire band.

Sims 3 players in search of fame and the occasional encounter with creatures of the night should find a lot to enjoy here, but is it enough to warrant a purchase? That’s something we’ll have to wait on. Look for more info on IGN as the fall release date approaches.

(ign)

Enjoy Your Message! (Wii)

Posted: August 13, 2010 in Wii
Tags: ,

Canadian developer Microforum’s WiiWare debut has turned a lot of heads already, but that’s not too hard to do when your first Nintendo game is full of naked ladies. Enjoy Your Massage! lets you go hands-on with a half-dozen different nude women, using the Wii Remote to rub up on them — if you can remember the proper sequence, that is.

Though you might have expected this one to be most similar to those sexually-charged DS games where you’re groping underaged witches or toweling off sweaty jocks, Enjoy Your Massage! is actually just using the imagery of women’s bare bodies as a thin veil placed overtop a very simple core gameplay design — Simon. You know, the memory game. The one that lights up a sequence of buttons and makes you repeat them, in the same order, and gradually gets tougher over time.

Enjoy Your Massage! is the exact same thing, and segments each of your muscle-tense clients’ backs into nine sections that flash and play musical notes. Then, you just use the Remote to point and click on the sections in the same order. That’s it. The women never move or respond to your actions. You never massage anywhere other than their backs. And the art never even changes, from one client to the next — each women has the very same body, just a different hairstyle.

  • Published by: Microforum
  • Developed by: Microforum
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: US: August 9, 2010
  • MSRP: $5.00
  • E10+ for Everyone 10+: Mild Suggestive Themes
  • Also known as: Enjoy Your Massage

(via ign)

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
Tags: , ,

If there was anything that Face Pilot was good at, it’s showing that developers should not rely on the DSi’s camera to take the place of a good ol’ accelerometer for tilt control. This game feels like it was developed just to prove a point to the Nintendo R&D department that the next DS system absolute needs some sort of motion chipset, because the camera just doesn’t cut it. Face Pilot is absolute proof of this fact: if it works it’s a victory, but mostly it’s just one big frustrating mess getting the game to know where your face is and where you want your hang glider to fly. This is one dreadful DSiWare game, and a terrible tech demo of the system’s capabilities. This was published by Nintendo?

Imagine a segment of Pilotwings where you control the hang glider around the environment by tilting the system. Makes sense, right? But here, because the DSi lacks accelerometer features like the Wii remote does, the controls are your face. That’s right, your face. This isn’t the first time the face has been used as in-game controls on the DSi: Looksy’s Line-up used the camera and the player’s face to move the 3D environment, and even here it wasn’t perfect. A nice tech demo, sure, but definitely a game that should convince developers to stay away from those cameras for face recognition control.

Come on, the Nintendo DSi cameras are far from the most sensitive of optical devices for full motion control: the game’s looking for a traditional face: two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a general round shape, but good luck finding the optimal lighting conditions in making this happen. Your skin tone has to be so far extreme from your choice of background that it’s nearly impossible to find an area where the game can lock onto your face and not something else, like a crack in the wall or a leaf formation in the trees. Even a flat white can baffle the facial recognition and cause your hang glider to go all spastic.

If the controls worked Face Pilot would have been a nice, albeit dull, relaxing flight over a variety of locations. But the controls do not work, and it’s just one frustrating experience that feels like a total waste of Nintendo points.

  • Published by: Nintendo
  • Developed by: HAL America
  • Genre: Flight Simulation
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: US: July 26, 2010 , Japan: July 28, 2010
  • MSRP: $5.00
  • MSRP: JPY ¥500.00
  • E for Everyone
  • Also known as: Face Pilot

(via ign)

We Farm

Posted: August 10, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: , ,

We Farm Picture

Despite it’s recent slide, FarmVille is still a mega-hit — 62 million Facebookers can’t be wrong, right? So it should be no surprise that other developers would want a piece of that action, including ngmoco. After sorta-aping FarmVille with We Rule, ngmoco makes no bones about it in the freemium farm sim We Farm for the iPhone and iPad.

While not a straight-up clone of FarmVille, We Farm certainly borrows about 97-percent of its DNA. That leftover bit accounts for the smart social strategy of We Farm where gamers place orders at each other’s properties, thus encouraging the connections with friends over Plus+, ngmoco’s iPhone online service.

I was not a big fan of We Rule. I thought it was boring, especially compared to ngmoco’s other social game, GodFinger, which possesses much more personality. The underlying system is the same as We Rule. You have a small parcel of land that you populate with crops and businesses that other players can place orders at and keep the local economy going with cash and experience payouts. You may also click on ads to generate a little in-game gold.

We Farm Picture

The main businesses in We Farm, though, are animals like pigs, cows, and ostriches. However, instead of just building a pen and leaving it out there for other players to place orders at, you must raise that animal to the best of your ability — read: check in on it often — before sending it off to be judged at the state fair. Petting your animal when it needs attention results in happiness. If the animal is completely happy when it matures, it comes back to you permanently and becomes a business. Otherwise, it is sold for cash and experience.

I like this system in theory, but not in practice. It just doesn’t seem possible to naturally make an animal totally happy before going to the fair — only if you hovered over your goat for 17 hours and petted it whenever it needed attention. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to go do things. However, you can use Gro to max out the animal’s happiness. And that’s how ngmoco makes money. You see, every time you level up, you are given a few units of this special juice that instantly completes tasks, like raising crops, maturing animals, or finishing orders. But only after gaining several levels do you amass enough Gro to affect an animal, and it’s hard to gain levels on a regular basis (beyond the initial interactive tutorial) without the benefits of Gro. So, ngmoco also sells it. For real world cash.

We Farm Picture

Now, I am not against ngmoco making money one bit. But this happiness mechanic is stacked against you and unless you want to part with cash to buy enough Gro to satisfy your animals, you rarely get to enjoy the benefits of livestock that comes back from the fair.

To be fair, you are absolutely not required to participate in this virtual economy. Unlike ngmoco’s Eliminate, which used a similar virtual goods system to reward cash-happy players with superior gear and potentially unbalanced the shooter, the lack of competition (save for keeping up with the Joneses) means you can opt out of buying Gro without gameplay consequence. You just won’t get as much out of We Farm as other players.

  • Published by: ngmoco
  • Genre: simulation
  • Release Date:US: September 30, 2010
  • Available on : iPhone, iPad

(via ign)

SimCity Deluxe

Posted: August 9, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,

Games do many things for us, such as stroke our egos, let  us indulge our fantasies, and offer the escapism we so  often crave. One franchise that’s been particularly  fantastic for this is SimCity, which even after 20 years  still manages to engage us for countless hours. The  newest iteration, Sim City Deluxe for iPhone, shows that  no matter what system the game is on, what irksome  quirks the game might have, or how many times we’ve  played it, SimCity is always a fun way to kill some time.

If you’ve failed to play a SimCity at some point over the  last two decades, allow me first to chastise you for  missing out on one of gaming’s most iconic franchises,  and then explain to you what the heck this game’s all  about. SimCity is, unsurprisingly, all about constructing  and managing a city. To make your city function you  have to plan and develop roads, mass transit, power and  water circulation, and a host of other services. Good city planners have to do all this while paying close attention to the needs of their citizens, whether or not they’re balancing the budget, and adapting as natural disasters occur with the changing seasons.

That’s right, SimCity Deluxe has seasons — one of the changes that this version has over the previously released SimCity for iPhone. Along with seasons, this version of SimCity offers several scenarios as well as a starter city if you don’t want to start from scratch. Scenarios are a nice addition for players who either want a change of pace or who are intimidated by the game’s lack of a win-or-lose style of objective. Starter cities are also a welcome bonus because they give you the option to alter a pre-made world. Basically what you have with SimCity Deluxe is largely the same core experience as the last iPhone version, but with considerably more options. And yes, my friends, more options are definitely a good thing.

I enjoyed my time with SimCity Deluxe, but let me get this out of the way: I reviewed this game on my original 8GB iPhone. I experienced some pretty glaring performance issues when loading menus or when zooming in and out of the map, sometimes making the game unwieldy to control. Generally this was a minor annoyance, but it could feel like a major nuisance when slowdown was keeping me from being able to make the precise placement I needed to with my city’s infrastructure. Still, it’s telling that despite the slowdown — which sometimes got so bad that the music was skipping — that I still found it easy to lose myself to the grind.

  • Published by: EA Mobile
  • Developed by: EA Mobile
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Release Date:US: Q3 2010

(via ign)

The virtual denizens of EA’s life simulation series The Sims have no doubt suffered midlife crises. However, they’re about to endure a Middle Age crisis. EA today announced that a new entry in the series, The Sims Medieval, will arrive for the PC and Mac in spring 2011.

The title, the first in a series, will have players create heroes, venture on quests, build and control a        kingdom, and play every “Hero Sim” character in the game. Additionally, The Sims Medieval gives players  the chance to control persons from all walks of life including kings, queens, knights, wizards, blacksmiths,  and bards.

The game’s quests will include of an array of tasks, including crafting a legendary sword, arranging a royal  wedding, protecting the kingdom from an evil sorcerer, and finding the fountain of youth. Additionally, EA promises quests will play out differently depending on which Hero Sim is in action.

As is expected of the franchise, The Sims Medieval will feature a plethora of customization and moral  options. Players can erect and expand their kingdoms either by internal growth or outward imperial  domination. Additionally, players can choose to embark upon quests for personal fame or for the well-  being of their constituents and can personalize their characters’ physical appearance, intangible traits,  and fatal flaws.

The Sims Medieval is currently in development at Electronic Arts’ The Sims Studio.

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: The Sims Studio
  • Genre:Simulation
  • Release Date:Q1 2011
  • Visit Electronic Arts web site at: http://www.ea.com
(via gamespot)