Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Sims Social
Many years ago I played The Sims Online, which was not a big success. EA badly mangled the rather obvious idea of "The Sims as MMORPG" and created a game which wasn't all that much fun. But that never killed the general concept of transforming The Sims into a new game following the latest fad, so this month The Sims Social on Facebook was released. That fortunately turned out to be a better fit and easier to accomplish. While I only played a short while yet, I can already say that The Sims Social isn't all that bad for a Facebook game.
Basically the game takes many concepts from The Sims, like your avatar living in a house and having to take care of his needs for food, sleep, hygiene, and so on. And then adds many concepts from typical Facebook games, like the bar with your friends on the bottom of the screen, or planting and harvesting stuff in your garden. That mix works reasonably well.
The main problem is that the standards for Facebook games evolve over time, and EA obviously copied earlier iterations of Zynga games, which aren't top notch any more. For example there doesn't appear to be a filter in the gift / game request sending interface that would allow to only show your friends actually playing The Sims Social. Unless you don't mind spamming friends that don't play the game with game mails, you'll have to write down the names of your The Sims Social friends on a piece of paper, and then manually pick them from the list of all your friends whenever you want to ask your friends for help with something in the game. And as asking for help or exchanging gifts is a major part of social games, that gets annoying rather fast.
Just like in most other social games, your interaction with your friends in The Sims Social is asynchronous. That is you can visit your friends house and have social interactions with their avatars while your friends are offline. The gifts and help requests are actually the only part where in input of your friend is required. I haven't explored that concept further yet, but I wonder how the game handles the relationships between avatars in the long run. There appears to be options for romance and marriage, which seems odd to me if you pursue these options with a friends avatar without your friend having any input on this. I can't imagine you logging on and finding that your sim is now married or romantically involved with the sim of one of your friends without you even having been asked.