SimGuruGraham on The Sims 3 Community, Feedback, Games and More…

I do love it when the Gurus answer our questions on Twitter and the occasional post on the forums. That’s where we find Graham today. You can find his entire post below, just click more!

Hey everyone,

Some interesting posts in this thread… I thought I’d jump in and give my own personal perspective on a few things, although I can’t respond to everything for what I hope are obvious reasons. The other challenging thing to address is that people always want answers about why certain things are the way they are, and there’s no all encompassing answer I can give you; for every compliment or complaint you can levy at the game, there’s a unique reason why each aspect of it is the way it is.

First off, people shouldn’t think of the Ideas & Feedback section as some corner of our forum that never gets read. It’s one of my favorite places to check, the name alone is indicative of exactly the type of posts I find helpful to read around here. Just to give people a general idea of what I personally do, I browse through the forums at least once a day. I like to read this board, the board of the most recently announced product to see people’s reactions (aka Sweet Treats), and the board of the most recently released product to see what parts of it people enjoy or what they’re struggling with(aka Showtime). On a less frequent basis I also check out the General board, the Technical Discussion board, and the boards that focus on player creations.

That being said, I don’t post here too often. It isn’t that I want to avoid chatting with Sims fans as that couldn’t be further from the truth; it just isn’t practical a lot of the time. As some in here have pointed out, I (along with other gurus) enjoy using Twitter to chat with fans. Ultimately, it’s just much easier for me to see a tweet notification pop up with a quick comment, and immediately write a short reply to it. Those tweets can be anything from chatting about the game, trying to help someone who is having trouble, talking about upcoming Sims stuff, or just discussing various aspects of game design and development. Alternatively, it’s a much larger time commitment to come and post on the forums. Coming hear means looking at the different boards, sifting through the various topics, determining what’s new and what I’ve read before… and then if I want to respond it means writing a somewhat substantial post; and making the commitment to respond to the inevitable ten additional questions that will get posted in response to what I say. Then people wonder why I respond to some posts and not others, or misinterpret what I say, and it can all get to be a bit much All of that eats into my time, and I don’t get a break from my development responsibilities to come post on here. What I’ve come to learn is I can’t do everyone’s job, but when you’re a more public figure for the game people will throw every manner of topic at you and expect you to respond. For example, when people have a problem with the game… I’d love to help, but I just don’t have that level of understanding of the game. I’m not a programmer, so I don’t know what might be going wrong in the code – but I can recognize a problem and bring it to others attention to make sure it gets addressed.

I find it difficult to respond when people say that we don’t listen to the fans. When we talk about the “fans” and “community”, a lot of the time that’s in direct reference to the people who frequently post on these forums; you’re our most vocal subset of fans. In reality though the forums are a fraction of our overall fan base, and we have to take everyone into account when we develop products and respond to consumers. Even within these forums there may be a majority consensus, but that doesn’t mean it’s what everyone wants for the franchise. You can look at our most popular expansions – Pets is always a theme that tons of people want – and you’ll find those who have absolutely no interest in adding that to their Sims games. Quite frankly I think that’s perfectly alright. The Sims encompasses a ton of diverse themes, and each one will appeal to people in different ways. When we announced a pack like Pets, nobody says… “oh, they’re listening to what the fans what”, they say “oh well that was their plan all along”. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are a lot of different things that impact the decision of what to make and when to make it, far too many to go into detail within this post, but everything is done for a reason; we don’t haphazardly decide on things. Over the course of Sims 3, we knew there were some things we wanted to do like Pets… other expansions were more of a direct response to player feedback. We knew Pets was a theme that everyone wanted, yet it ended up being the 5th expansion, and people say… why did we have to wait so long? To be honest, it would have been impossible to do Pets as the first expansion, it had significant technical hurdles to overcome for that expansion to exist. And that’s just an example of one expansion; each one we release has its own challenges or oddities that made it make sense to release when it did. Look at Generations… it was made directly in response to a lot of what the community was asking for with more social interactions, more emphasis on families, more content across all age ranges, etc. That one was a challenge for our marketing team, but we were really happy to get to do that theme for our fans. Look at the most recent release of Showtime, it’s packed with a lot of fun interactive objects that fans have been asking for for a long time. Elements of fan requests show up in every single game that we release. Anavastia mentioned how you haven’t seen many new rabbitholes lately. She’s right, that’s a direct response to fan feedback, and I do hope we’ll have the chance to open up more of them. We have to walk a fine line sometimes though. A lot of people here really love Sims 2 (and that’s awesome if you do!), but we’re not trying to release the exact same game with Sims 3. We incorporate elements from the past, but we’ll continue to evolve and refine them, and hopefully add fun new aspects to them in the process. We’ll do familiar themes like Pets, and brand new things that you’ve never played in The Sims before like World Adventures.

In response to those who want changes to already released expansions, and to have more changed based on your feedback… well, it’s something I’m pushing for. I have my own list of things that I take directly from these forums, and when we have small gaps in our schedule or a little extra time, I try and get some of those things in there. It’s an ongoing process and it won’t happen all at once, but over time I hope you’ll see more things get addressed. Things on my list range all the way from adding new options to opt out of the celebrity system, to something as mundane as tweaking the ice cream truck so it doesn’t show up at 3am. We don’t go out and talk about this sort of stuff commonly, because as soon as we say something about it there’s an implied expectation that we will change it, and I can’t promise you that. Sk8rblaze you mentioned Vampires previously… it’s another thing that’s on my list, but I honestly can’t tell you what will happen with it. It’s something that we technically can change, but I don’t know when we’ll have the chance to change it, and that’s why you don’t specifically hear about it. It’s the same reason we don’t talk about patches in advance; game development in the Sims Studio is a very fast paced and fluid environment. Plans can and will change, and we don’t like to discuss things until we’re 100% sure we’re going to deliver on it; you’d be amazed at some of the last minute emergencies that can disrupt the best plans at times I can assure you that myself and others are paying attention though and do what we can to improve the game while creating great new content as well.

It’s also difficult because people have the expectation that something should be a simple change or an easy fix, and that often isn’t true or we would have done it. The mod community can skew these perceptions as well… people think, well if a modder can do it, why can’t EA? Ultimately, someone creating a mod doesn’t have the same responsibility that we do when it comes to implementing and testing changes, and doesn’t have to deal with scheduling, budgeting, and the wide variety of people’s work that is impacted by any change we decide to make. That’s not an excuse, but it is a reality of what we do. In a perfect world, I’d love if people felt they only needed to get mods to add content to their game, and not need to get mods that changed aspects of the game we created that they don’t like. It’s something I think about often when we’re implementing new designs (what can we do to provide players options where they feel they don’t need to go get a mod to change it).

It’s always interesting to me when people say that we don’t care, or that we’re only out to get your money. I really have to thank SimGuruShannon, because she was one of the first to step up and get more actively involved in reaching out to the community directly, and that came from a desire to open more communication with fans like the Sims team has had in the past. It sparked my interest in it as well, and I love interacting with the community. Personally I love to see our games sell well because I’m proud of the products we put out – there are a lot of talented people on the team who go above and beyond with personal effort to do amazing things. I think many devs who are used to traditional game development would find it very challenging to put out the amount of content we do at the pace we do to keep up with continued demand for more things from awesome fans like all of you. As Jarsie so aptly pointed out, there’s nowhere in my job description that says I need to interact with the community or post on the forums; it’s my own personal choice to get involved (along with the other gurus you see on the forums and twitter) because it’s something we enjoy. I wouldn’t be reading these forums and writing a long post on a Sunday if I didn’t have an interest in what I do that goes beyond my paycheck. I make games because it’s something I’m passionate about, and I want to make games that people are thrilled with – and that’s a sentiment shared by many members of the team.

I know this post is long, but hopefully it didn’t ramble too much. What I really enjoy is being able to have conversations with Sims fans, and openly discuss some of the things that are interesting to you all… not just as a company rep with an official response, but as people who enjoy the Sims and want to know more about what goes into it. At Gamescom this past year I had the great chance to just converse with some Sims fans at a party, and it was really nice just having a frank discussion about the game. I like that about twitter as well, where we can be a bit more casual. So please… come talk to me on there, I respond all the time. You’ll see me on the forums as well, just less frequently. And I can’t prove it to you, but I promise myself and many others on the team are reading your posts here as well

One final note; I’m totally welcoming of constructive criticism. It’s an opportunity for us to learn as developers and make better products before we release them, as well as improve the games that have already come out. As players of our game, I feel like all of you have every right to voice your opinions of the game. Thank you to those of you who take the time to write posts that go beyond saying you do or don’t like something, but also explain why you feel that way.

-Graham

Thanks to iSims for the tip!

28 Comments

  1. Dentface says:

    It’s good that they’re responding to our “they don’t listen complaints”. But I’m not buying most of that until they explain they’re thinking behind KPST.

  2. Chad says:

    I consider myself a sensible person, I realize Sims appeals to people of all all ages both male and female. Some packs I like some I don’t you can’t please everyone and you have a very diverse audience. But seriously it seems EA it targeting the younger females with the Katy Perry stuff. All the packs and all the store content have very little things added for guy sims. The Sims is becoming a little girls game.

  3. DaBoogadie says:

    I wish that SimGuruGraham had explained the working process behind leaving the diving board out of the game. I would have loved to be in on that meeting.

    Other than that, this is all just damage control and that is not very important to me.

  4. GlossyGem says:

    Tl; dr. xD

  5. Vstarr says:

    Here’s what I got out of it:

    Why haven’t you fixed all the bugs, and why do new ones keep coming up?

    “people have the expectation that something should be a simple change or an easy fix, and that often isn’t true or we would have done it. The mod community can skew these perceptions as well… ”

    Why did you make such a sucky, stuff pack with Katy Perry Sweet Treats?

    “You’ll find those who have absolutely no interest in adding that to their Sims games. Quite frankly I think that’s perfectly alright. The Sims encompasses a ton of diverse themes, and each one will appeal to people in different ways.”

    Why has the diving board or other important objects not been added to the recent expansions?

    “It would have been impossible to do Pets as the first expansion, it had significant technical hurdles to overcome for that expansion to exist. And that’s just an example of one expansion; each one we release has its own challenges or oddities that made it make sense to release when it did.”

  6. Vstarr says:

    So to further add on this.

    Will we see Seasons?

    Who knows? It’s the most popular expansion, but they have technical hurdles to overcome. Maybe it’s possible, maybe not.

    Will we get our diving board?

    See above.

  7. Jeff says:

    Sweet treats is going to be awesome. Watch Jennifer Lane’s chat Thursday and you’ll see.

  8. Jeff says:

    Diving boards will either be added in the store or in seasons.

  9. I hate to say it but his words seem hollow. Friendly, but hollow. I don’t dislike this man – but I feel like he’s saying this just to calm fans and try and keep them with the series so his superiors make more money.

  10. Erick-Origin says:

    Ok, I’m very Happy for this, and my dream are work with The Sims, I love this game! Thanks Simprograms, and Thanks Graham!! =D

    My question: How do I work it?

  11. funnykid says:

    He’s friendly and likeable, but TS3 is an absolute mess. It is buggy, and even when it is not buggy, the game design itself is poor. The fact that we are six expansions deep into the generation and the open world still seems hollow is a testament to the damage resulting from their decision to make shops, theatres, etc. rabbit holes. They invite us to explore the seamless world, then slaps us in the face with rabbit holes.

    Then they entice us with concepts and ideas of innovative gameplay then slaps us in the face by diluting the EPs (LN & SHT, really they should’ve been one) and ripping out content to sell on the Store. Now they’re charging us the price of an EP for a thinly veiled brand crossover in KPST stuff pack. I know Graham does not decide these things, it’s the C-Suite up top that is pushing all this down our throats, but he is still a representative of the company and will still be seen as responsible since he is the Lead Producer after all.

    Good try, but I’m still going to keep my money in my pocket to spend elsewhere. Call me when Will Wright and Maxis are back in the series.

  12. pulversoppa says:

    I’m so glad I don’t know where to start. This is what my hope I cling on to hoped and will keep hoping for.

    Maybe things can turn out brighter, and maybe all the stuff needing to be changed actually will be changed…! =)

    Though I’m worried/concerned about that fast pace they need to have, since there really isn’t a need for that. 1 game/year would be completely fine, and the improvements that could be made to it in that time would so be worth it so I wish they could relax a while and take in us players to test it in all the various ways we use to play and discover more of the bugs.

    It’s funny like how the magic bozes, fire ring and such gets duplicated if having travelled abroad since showtime came for example, and how that didn’t get noted when bug testing is still a huge “huuuh?” in my head.

    Anyways. I feel very cheered up by having read it all, and feel there miiiight still be hope for a better game in the end.

  13. josh says:


    Jeff:

    Sweet treats is going to be awesome. Watch Jennifer Lane’s chat Thursday and you’ll see.

    Hope your not suggesting that the Diving Board will be in the Katy Perry Sweet Treats? I wont be buying that just to get the diving board. Will be more like me sending a complaint into EA about this! All they care about is making money.

  14. deedee says:

    They should call Graham the bullshtter, because that’s what I got out of it. Fact remains, the core of this game is flawed, and they cannot fix it, no matter how much duct tape they wrap around it. Too bad they didn’t kick Humble’s butt to the curb a lot sooner, but the harm was done. And Jeff/Catloverplayer-Please, you’re making me ill with your fanboy crap. Just stop.

  15. Stopit says:

    Deedee- leave Catloverplayer alone, you self-righteous bitch

  16. Jeff says:

    No Josh what I’m saying is the store will probebly release the diving board as premium content. It was mentioned in a store survey.

  17. Don’t start slagging people off in the comments people – it isn’t productive and is inconsequential.

  18. Tom says:


    deedee:

    They should call Graham the bullshtter, because that’s what I got out of it. Fact remains, the core of this game is flawed, and they cannot fix it, no matter how much duct tape they wrap around it. Too bad they didn’t kick Humble’s butt to the curb a lot sooner, but the harm was done. And Jeff/Catloverplayer-Please, you’re making me ill with your fanboy crap. Just stop.

    Yea, it’s actually super annoying. He’s just a brainless yes man who eats all the shit up that EA throws in our face.

  19. bshag says:

    I appreciate Graham’s long comment. For one, sure he’s doing damage control, wouldn’t you if you were in his shoes? I don’t hate EA and it was my choice to buy the games but the hate that has been flung around is incredible. Sure he was doing damage control…someone had to. Oh and stop with the nasty comments about catloverplayer…just because you hate the games and EA doesn’t mean everyone has to.

  20. Jeff says:

    True at what bshaq said. You if you can’t disagree in an adult matter don’t even bother replying.

    Some people like this stuff pack some people don’t. I do. I have seen positive post on it on the sims 3 forum.

    Also Graham is an awesome nice guy.

  21. funnykid says:

    bshaq, I would agree with your normally, but EA’s had it a long time coming. This anger has been building up for the past 5 years.

  22. Andrew says:

    Hate is to be directed at EA – not these Sim Gurus. Simple.

  23. uknortherner says:


    Jeff:

    True at what bshaq said. You if you can’t disagree in an adult matter don’t even bother replying.

    Have you suddenly been made a mod on here or something? People have a right to call bullshit on this damage limitation exercise, regardless of what the sheep on the official forums lap up.

    EA has done nothing over the last few years except buy up successful developers and run them into the ground for a quick buck, whilst chipping away at consumer rights and even installing malware on gamers PCs (SecuROM) without any form of consent.

    The hatred towards EA is 100% justified.

  24. DaBoogadie says:

    If you ‘hate’ over a game, you either have an addiction problem or a hormone problem. So, if you’re 12, you’ll out grow it.

    Save hatred for things (people) that actually do harm to you.

    Aside from that uknorthner, your assumptions are all wrong and/or exaggerated.

  25. Niekibear says:

    Good for him for responding but I won’t believe a word of it until I see results which is what we have yet to see. Sims 3 is fun but it’s buggy and I feel expansion packs are watered down compared to what it used to be in Sims 1 and Sims 2. So yes. fans are going to complain, especially since we’ve been begging for certain features since its release and bugs that have yet to be fixed.

  26. Spon1Player says:

    When I see this it makes me think “Oh, things may turn out okay..” then we get Katy Perry Sweet Treats. And it’s getting near the end of The Sims 3.. The Sims 4 about 2014..

    They are slowly realising what fans want, and I just hope EA learn what they did wrong with Sims 3 to attract people back to The Sims 4 – otherwise I think that’ll be the last we hear of The Sims. I love the franchise, but The Sims 3 just has so much charm missing, the core is bugged and EA aren’t sitting the team down for a while to fix the game – which they could do – but don’t want to spend the money doing that.

  27. EA never says:

    I wonder what drugs SimsGurus usally consume…

  28. jadedliz says:

    Hey I have a question… Recently my vampire died. and it shows its still in my active household. how do i get rid of them? It is taking a space… I want to have more kids It still counts as a member so I can only have 7 instead of eight. If I just delete them it doesn’t register as being gone and I can still only have 7. Anyone know how to deal with this?

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