PC World sits down with the Sims 3: Supernatural assistant producer, Megan Myers to talk about the expansion pack, the popularity of the franchise and future plans.
Before Megan Myers came to Electronic Arts, she worked as an educational technologist at a college in New York, where she created learning tools for professors. Myers’ experience in educational technology, along with her educational background in Computer Science, eventually brought her to Electronic Arts’ studio in Salt Lake, where she came aboard as assistant producer on The Sims 3 franchise. Myers has been with EA and at The Sims Studio for a little more than a year, and most recently worked on The Sims 3: Showtime expansion Pack.
What is it like working on what is arguably the biggest PC franchise, the Sims?
Sims 3: Supernatural assistant producer, Megan Myers (MM): I love it. Working on The Sims has been like a dream come true for me. I love playing The Sims and it’s been a really fun game to work on. The Sims has a very active and supportive fan community, and working on a game with such a rich history has given me the chance to work with some really amazing people and teams.
Are you surprised that a game such as Sims 3 continues to outsell big releases on the PC by other studios such as StarCraft II and Star Wars: The Old Republic?
MM: The Sims has a very diverse cross-platform portfolio that that delivers current, compelling and entertaining gameplay experiences to one of the broadest audiences in gaming. With a variety of unique gameplay themes, engaging content and collaborations with top brands and artists, there is truly something for everyone to love in The Sims.
What do you feel has made the Sims franchise so popular, even now at its third iteration?
MM: The Sims is a game about life. It’s a theme that is accessible to everyone, and it gives people a chance to explore real life themes and situations with a lot more freedom and control than they would have in real life. It’s a great storytelling tool, and it has an aspirational aspect, allowing players to live lives or build houses that they might not be possible in the real world.
You recently worked on the Showtime expansion for the Sims. How was your experience on that?
MM: The Sims 3: Showtime was the first expansion pack that I worked on for The Sims and I really learned a lot throughout its development. The team took on a lot of really interesting challenges, like SimPort and the new social features, and I think we did a great job in delivering a brand new experience for The Sims players.
Although it has only been on the market for a few months, what has been the reaction to Showtime by the player base?
MM: Players seem to really like it. On the forums and Twitter, I hear players talking about how much fun it is and how much they’re enjoying the pack. When it first came out, we all tried to take some time each day to play ourselves and host people’s Sims in SimPort, so I can say from a first-hand experience that it’s really fun, and players seem to really be enjoying the new experiences that The Sims 3 Showtime offers.
What did you see people do in the Sims 3 that you didn’t imagine that they would be doing?
MM: I’m always impressed by the lots and houses that people build. When I play, I make a really basic house. A lot of our players, though, will make Sim replicas of famous houses, such as San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, or of their favorite fictional houses, such as Game of Throne’s Winterfell, or even just houses that look like other things, like a house that looks like a sandwich when viewed from above. It’s always amazing to see how players will use the tools within the game to create very original buildings, homes and Sims.
The next expansion, Supernatural, is coming out and is the seventh for Sims 3. What do you see fueling this unprecedented demand for new content by the Sims 3 user base?
MM: Basically, The Sims offers something fun for everyone to love on the platform of their choice. Having so many gameplay options and possibilities available as it is already, I think the demand for new content from The Sims 3 drives players to want to extend their creativity and build all new experiences to share.
With so many expansion packs coming out, it may cause some to wonder if the “law of diminished returns” applies to the Sims franchise. Does it?
MM: I think it’s all about what themes and content resonate with the current players and new players alike. What’s great about The Sims is it’s a creative canvas. We build worlds, objects, and new situations for players to build their worlds, stories and experiences. There are so many possibilities and hours upon hours of entertainment for gamers around the world with The Sims.
How did the idea for a supernatural themed expansion pack come about? Were there any key influences behind it?
MM: Fans have been really excited about a magic theme since The Sims’ Makin’ Magic expansion pack. It’s been a theme that fans have been asking for in The Sims 3 for a while. It’s also a theme that’s pretty current right now with all the supernatural themed books, movies and TV shows. And, honestly, it was a theme that the team was really excited about. For a lot of us, this was our dream pack.
What aspect of the expansion pack do you feel is shaping up to be the most interesting?
MM: I’m really excited about the Alchemy system. Alchemy is a new skill in The Sims 3 Supernatural that any Sim can learn. In learning Alchemy, you can create a number of elixirs that will do various things, from giving your Sim a boost in his/her career to turning another Sim into a zombie. There are just so many different things you can do with the elixirs.
Has anything come out of testing of the expansion pack that has surprised or impressed you?
MM: We added a number of new face sliders and skin colors in The Sims 3: Supernatural, and in testing them, we started to get testers sending around the ugliest Sims that they were able to make. That was really awesome to see. We got some pretty monstrous looking Sims!
Are there already plans in motion for another expansion for Sims 3 beyond Supernatural?
MM: We recently announced that The Sims 3: Seasons expansion pack is in development and will release this November. We are looking forward to bringing new content and gameplay experience to The Sims 3 player community with the release of both these expansions.
Finally, any chance of the original The Sims maybe being re-released as a smartphone/tablet app?
MM: The Sims has two mobile versions available. The Sims 3 on mobile released to players in 2010 and is a great experience for creating and building a robust life for your Sim. The following year, The Sims released on iOS in a free-to-play version of the game called, The Sims FreePlay. With The Sims FreePlay, you can build a community of up to 16 Sims simultaneously in an environment that follows the same 24-hour clock as players. Both these games bring unique experiences within The Sims franchise to players who play games on multiple devices and systems. Aside from these two mobile offerings, we have nothing further to announce.