To give a bit of perspective… each person who works as an object producer brings their own approach to how they handle object flagging, where each object appears in the catalog, and which objects go into buydebug. I was object producer on EP1 and EP2; it was my first position on The Sims and very much a learning experience, but I actually enjoyed object production quite a bit. My own personal approach was to make as many objects available as possible in the catalog, and to have things like reward objects hidden away in buydebug. Unfortunately this idea conflicts a bit with art direction on the project (and at times, other producers as well). Our art team does not want any non-complatable objects (objects that can’t be recolored or have patterns applied to them) to be made available in the normal catalog. I get the impression this was one of the early mandates as Sims 3 was developed due to the addition of Create a Style which was a big new selling point. That makes me uneasy as a producer, because as you rightly pointed out we’re spending resources developing a lot of content that gets hidden away despite us creating what is in concept a wide open sandbox game. Personally I want everyone to have access to everything and let them do with it whatever they choose. As other people have taken over the object production role, they bring their own style to it as well in terms of object flags, where things are sorted, and what’s hidden. The shell buildings from Late Night are a good example, where when we shipped the majority of them were completely hidden in the catalog (even in buydebug), and I asked them to unlock them in the next update. So, we are willing to update flags in cases where it will really benefit the community. I think having better consistency across products is something we could improve on in this area. You mentioned Misc Debug, and I agree there’s a number of inappropriate things in there. I’ve started to see functional objects show up in the Decor sort, which is never what that sort was intended for. The Statue tab was originally intended to help the Misc Decor sort as well, but things between them could be sorted better as well. If there was to be a post made about objects that could benefit from more appropriate sorting, I’d be happy to give it a look, but I can’t guarantee that any changes would be made. Ultimately object flags are a very low impact change (not including Store content), and it could be something I looked into during a lull on a project. I do like taking on little side projects at time to polish areas of the game, and a post that brought the most obvious ones to light would certainly be a time saver.
Some Info on Being a Sims 3 Producer