Interview With Roxy Wolosenko - Designer on The Sims

vrijdag, oktober 22, 1999 - 23:00

Check it out at, or click read more to read the interview on our website.

Roxana Wolosenko, a Designer of The Sims at Maxis/EA

You've been mayor, you've built towers, driven copters and who knows what else but have you ever designed a family? The Sims makes that possible. From the creator of Sim City comes what looks to be another massive hit for EA. You can do everything from designing your house to throwing parties and holding a job. What to know more? Without further delay here's our long awaited interview with Roxana Wolosenko!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what your role is on The Sims, and what the team's ultimate goal for this project is?
Roxana Wolosenko: My name is Roxana Wolosenko and I've worked at Maxis/EA for 7 years. I am one of the designers on The Sims. The team's ultimate goal is to create a game that can stand proudly on its own but has an open design that allows it to be transformed by upcoming additions from Maxis as well as by new content from players.

For those unfamiliar with The Sims could you give us a brief synopsis of the premise?
RW: The Sims is a simulation of people in their most familiar environment, their home. The Sims have basic "human" needs and desires: hunger, energy, fun, social, etc. You first have to figure out how to get them to satisfy all their needs so that they stay in a good mood. When you master that, you start to have a little time left over in the day. Then you have to choose whether you want them to pursue money (get a job, work on getting promoted) or develop social relationships (friends and romance) by having neighbors come over for dinner or parties. Or balance the two which, as we all know, is quite challenging.

What do you think the attraction is to The Sims? Is it the control, the voyeurism, or something else entirely?
RW: I think that people are fascinated by the idea of watching other people and being able to control them, trip them up and torment them. What's even more fun is modeling your own household, complete with characters that look and possibly act like you and then trying to make certain social situations happen. The magic is in the unexpected that happens all the time in The Sims.

The AI is obviously the one of the most important aspects in a game like this. What research has been done to ensure that The Sims will react as humans would?
RW: Humans are incredibly complex and so we can really only attempt to simulate a tiny fraction of real emotion. The Sims are driven by a complex interplay of their eight needs: Hunger, Hygiene, Bladder, Energy, Social, Fun, Comfort, Room (environment) and five personality traits: Nice, Active, Neat, Playful and Outgoing. We read a lot about the different theories of how people perceive the world and what really motivates them and then we used our own personal experience of being human in deciding how to apply these theories.

The Sims seems to have an incredible amount of depth. Can you explain the game's interface and how you've made it easy for players to find out where they stand in relation to friends and family, etc.?
RW: We've iterated the interface more times than we'd like to admit because it is so crucial to the gameplay experience. There's so much information that is critical in the game but we have tried to design it so that the information is delivered in layers. When you need the info, you can easily get it but it's not in your face all the time.

Life is often unpredictable; what random events have been incorporated into The Sims?
RW: Stuff breaks, events happen at work, calls with good and bad news come in. And there are other surprises too.

I don't think anyone expects The Sims will simulate all aspects of life (even just at home) so what have you chosen not to simulate for gameplay reasons or otherwise?
RW: Sex. Birth. Teenagers. Growing Old. Dirty clothes. Dustbunnies. Grocery shopping. Driving. Seasons. Sickness. Roaches. Glass ceilings. Religion. To name a few.

Can you tell us how the architectural aspect has been incorporated into The Sims? What can and can't you build (as in the number of floors, items such as doors, columns, etc.)?
RW: You can build a one or two story house. Beyond that it's up to you. You have at your disposal walls and wall coverings, doors, windows, columns, staircases, fireplaces, pool tools and outdoor landscaping plants. There are tools for players (on the Web now!) that allow them to create their own floor and wall patterns and even some of their own furniture.



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