I sometimes wonder if Will Wright and Maxis knew what was coming when they first put The Sims on the market sixteen years ago. Of course they hoped their new “life simulator” would be a success, but did they ever dream of it becoming one of the all-time great PC game titles? Or were they perhaps taken by surprise when players eagerly wanted more…more…and even more. Was “Living Large”, the first expansion pack, planned in advance, or was it created to meet the players’ demands?
This first addition to the game was truly an expansion pack in every sense of the word. It expanded our little world, allowing players to create up to five new neighborhoods for their sims.
Note: Actually computer-savvy players could create all the neighborhoods they wanted — up to a limit. I believe 99 was the maximum. It involved simply copying and renaming a particular file. I went crazy. I had entire neighborhoods devoted to my “entertainers”, other neighborhoods where a family could live only if their household had a certain amount of money. Oh, yes, Living Large allowed me to do a lot more with my sims and their world.
Players love expansion packs. I eagerly awaited the release of each new pack for The Sims and later, for Sims 2. I’m proud to say I have them all, and yes, I have my favorites among them. Back in those “old days”, the Sim bulletin boards were filled with excitement as players anxiously awaited the release of each new pack.
PEPS. That what we called our crazy, nervous bursts of energy and enthusiasm. PEPS. That was the malady that affected us, made us pull our hair out, kept us chattering away with each other until the big day finally arrived. Many of us had already pre-ordered, of course, and stood at the door watching for our package to arrive. Others gladly stood in those long lines at the stores, determined to get their hands on the latest expansion pack as soon as it hit the shelves.
PEPS. Pre-Expansion Pack Syndrome.
It’s a lot different today in the forums. We don’t know what EA has in the works. Players follow the gurus on Twitter, hanging on to every word, hoping to glean a hint. They post their thoughts; other players put them down. “The gurus are probably laughing,” is a commonly-heard remark. Well, yes, maybe they are.
It’s unfortunate that there’s so little real communication between EA and the players. Looking forward to the next expansion pack was always exciting. When vacation-themed packs were announced, my sims and I could start planning all the trips we’d be making. When we first learned we’d soon be getting pets in the game, I immediately began looking at my families and deciding who would want puppy dogs and who might be happier with a kitten. PEPS was a very real condition and sometimes the wait would seem interminable, but all in all, looking forward to the upcoming expansion pack was always a thrill.
So, let’s talk about some of those old EPs, sharing memories of the new delights they brought to our games, and let’s speculate about what we want — and don’t want — in future content. Will the Sims 4 expansion packs be repeats of favorite themes from the past, such as weather, pets, magic, dating, and college life, to name a few? Or will future expansion packs bring totally new and unexpected possibilities to the game?
I’ve had fun with all the expansion packs for The Sims and Sims 2. With Sims 4, I could have done without “Get to Work” since I’m not a fan of “active careers”. I bought it but I don’t follow my sims to work. It’s not the way I play my game. I do very much enjoy “Get Together”. It was, in fact, the reason I returned to simming after nearly six months away from the game. It suits my play style better, gives me lots of ways to use my imagination, and enables me to create more story possibilities.
What do I want next? Well, there’s always toddlers, of course, but whether or not they’ll be part of Sims 4 remains to be seen. EA’s silence, again, is discouraging. They’re taking away not only the crazy fun of dealing with PEPS but a lot of the in-game enjoyment, too.
I want weather. I want universities and a college-age sim. I want lots of hobbies like we had in Free Time. I want more romantic moments such as slow dancing, gift-giving, and a real attraction system.
On the other hand, I don’t care all that much for supernatural game expansions since I’m not a fan of those elements. I don’t play vampires, werewolves, or plant people. I have toyed with witches in the game, but on a very limited basis. Even with the game as it stands today, I don’t bother with ghosts or aliens. Those things just aren’t part of the world I want to create in my game. Other players can’t wait for supernatural fun, of course.
I’ve never been too fond of pets in the game either. Yes, they do make the game more realistic, sometimes maybe too much so. My sims and I have had fun with different dogs and cats. In Sims 2, I had an elder couple who had quite a thriving kennel business going, and I can still fondly recall the names of many of my sims pets, like old Gallagher, that big shaggy fellow Ian McKenzie owned.
Vacations? I can take ’em or leave ’em. I like camping vacations best, times when the family can get together around a campfire and experience the joy of being out in nature. From the original game, I loved the carnivals, the metal-detecting, and the old fishing docks. Vacations can be fun. They can be romantic. Usually, though, my sims are too busy with their lives and careers to take time off and go traveling.
For new packs, maybe it would be fun to have a “transportation” pack that brings back cars and adds in a mechanic NPC. Cars could break down. Sims with high mechanical ability could repair them, and sims could restore old cars like they could in the past. We’d have driveways and garages, and maybe we’d have streetcars that really work. Maybe that steamboat on the river could work, too, and our sims could go on romantic river excursions. Yeah, I think I’d like that.
How about YOU? What are your favorite and least favorite expansion packs? What new expansion back ideas would you like to see?