Well, I guess it's official. Two years and a mere meager two true expansion packs in, and it would appear that Sims 4 is not recovering at a promising rate. We've all heard the usual criticisms of Sims 4:
- No toddlers
- Can't reposition Sims themselves with a cheat
- Can't manipulate poses without a third-party pose pack and pose player, that don't work as well as the one in Sims 3, and not nearly as many cool poses possible as with Sims 3
- No Master Controller possible
- Animations don't allow for effective romantic interactions with varied heights, which are only possible with 3rd-party sliders
- No more open world
At the rate the sales have been plumetting, one would think Sims is finished as a franchise. But does this really have to be the end? Will there truly be no Sims 5?
I believe part of the problem with Sims as a whole as a franchise, is it tries to fit too much into one game. And there is no way to please everyone. Sims 3 tried, really hard. And what it became was a bloated, poorly-optimized game with lots of lag and shortcomings galore. With cars that act nothing like real cars.
So for the fifth generation, I would dare to suggest something radical: Multiple games that can use the same map system, but are still separate games in and of themselves.
Each of them make changes on saves to the same map files, but you can only be playing one of those games at a time. (Though, depending on which you are playing, you can have characters being controlled while running one game visit characters that you would typically need the other game to control directly.)
So how would this new franchise be structured?
Sims World Cartographer
This tool would let you build your own Sims worlds, which could be broken up into districts.
So while it won't be as open-world as Sims 3 was, it will still allow more freedom of movement within a world than you had in Sims 4 (or 2 for that matter.)
With numerous presets (and more being added as free DLC updates via Origin), you would have gazillions of options for creating an entire civilization just like you would in SimCity, but without all the hassle of managing city politics and logistics like SimCity.
The graphics would be GTA 5 quality, because we want a gritty Sims game that looks like Batman v. Superman as a game.
Whether planting the basic presets and tampering with them, or building from scratch, you could have hours of fun just by designing an entire world. You get to be a world developer, for only $40. Only downside: your world has no population.
But that's okay! That map you created? You now get to edit to your heart's content, to add whatever you need to your city.
You can also create multiple maps, and even "realities," deciding which maps share a universe with each other and which don't!
Want to be a machinimator, but don't want your Dr. Who fanfic characters getting mixed in with your Walking Dead fanfic cast, or walking onto the set of your original tale by mistake and ruining everything?
Now you can ensure that all the maps you need connected can be connected, while keeping your continuities properly separated. Be the master of your own multiverse / megaverse, in style!
Sims Family Planner
Using the best and most realistic tools so far, this would play the most like a traditional Sims base game. Using the same GTA5-quality graphics, play would be similar to all prior Sims games. Thing is: what happens to your characters in story progression could have long-term consequences for other games that use the same map. I will discuss that in my other game ideas.
Let's say we used Cartographer to make the worlds, and designed one particular house to be the Mumbaloodie family house. In Family Planner, we created Joe and Betty Mumbaloodie, and their kids Ryan, Anna, and Kari. After we progressed sufficiently, the kids grew up enough to move out of the house.
Ryan now has an apartment and is working a regular job. But a troublesome friend made trouble for his sisters Anna and Kari. Framed for a horrible crime, Anna goes to prison. She all but effectively disappears from the Family Planner game for a simulated five years. Her boyfriend dumps her, etc.
But Kari, who was also at risk, decides to run away to evade the law. So she joins the circus.
Kari has now effectively become impossible to control from Family Planner. But she can (with great personal risk) still visit her parents that live in a house in that shared map district.
In World Carnival, we can now control Kari as she tries to stay one step ahead of the law and clear her name, while also learning to be a circus performer. Will she become the new owner of the carnival? What new attractions will she come up with or be a part of?
Outside of actually going into the Cartographer, we cannot edit anything outside the designated carnival district, nor determine where else that district should be. But we can edit the carnival itself. The map is big enough, that we can allow for this. An entire neighborhood, of just carnival stuff, as a sub-neighborhood of an even larger overall map.
Lions, tigers, elephants, cotton candy, air shows, etc. Love clowns? Hate clowns? Be a clown? Up to you! And because it is an entire game devoted just to the circus, you can benefit from all that it adds to the greater shared universe that builds on Cartographer.
Will Kari Mumbaloodie succeed? Will she get trampled by an elephant and become a ghost? Will she develop superpowers (more on that in a bit)? Or will the law catch up to her, and throw her away like they did to Anna?
Sims Mean Streets
Think of the TV show Gotham, a Batman world minus Batman himself. Your Sims can become superheroes of various types - or supervillains! They can have homes, yes, but don't expect them in the designated Mean Streets district to be living out the day-to-day of their lives like you would have them do in Family Planner. Instead of Needs bars and toddlers, you are dealing with their hero / villain careers. Just assume that all that toilet and "nooboo" and woohoo talk is happening somewhere else when you aren't looking. Of course, you could open them up in Family Planner, if you wanted to control all that.
This game would allow you to control them just like Family Planner, and the controls would include positioning Sims themselves, like with Sims 3. If you choose to play with superheroes and supervillains, then gameplay could be similar to City of Heroes, just offline and in a Sims world.
What sort of powers do you get? Do you become a discount Flash or Superboy? A bug-themed hero? Or a more supernatural type of character, like a vampire or fairy? There would be dozens of choices for power and mortality state combinations to mix-and-match. Tell Underworld your way!
You could also do the beat cop / detective thing from Sims 4: Get to Work. But with grittier crimes than just vandalism to address. Or you could be a judge or lawyer, trying to make sense of all this insanity while handling cases that defy logic.
Remember Anna? She got arrested for being mistaken for Cindy, who drove Anna's car into a statue of the mayor and wrecked it. Now, it's your job, you discount Saul Goodman, to make sure Anna doesn't do time. Will you save her bacon, or is she going to the big house? Will the real reckless driver ever face justice? Can court day proceed without the latest abomination from beneath wrecking Central Ave.?
You could also be a fireman, paramedic, preacher (local religious teachings and symbols up for your discretion), or even a criminal mastermind or small-time crook. The closest this series will get to being GTA.
Sims Getting Educated
Follow students to school, and manage the politics of junior high. Employ the mechanics from the prior titles to make your school as strange or as realistic as you please! Just keep in mind that when running Mean Streets or Carnival, you can't control students in Getting Educated.
You can control students in Getting Educated and have them visit downtown or the carnival district, but you won't be able to switch control to characters specific to that region. Or, take the kids back home in Family Planner to manage their home lives, and ensure they get their homework done just right!
Handle the high schools and universities too. Decide just what type of subculture exists at each, and run wild with the consequences! Will Brad become a grade-A student? Or will that no-good Cindy do to him what she did to Anna?
Also, follow around the teachers, or even the school board. Or the Department of Education. Is school too political? You have no idea! But you will. An immersive game that lets you tell your own tales of school life at all levels of learning.
Well, Anna fears her life is officially over. And so does Brad. That good-for-nothing Cindy got them both in trouble, and the jury would not be swayed! Will Cindy ever be brought to justice? No matter. You get to follow along Anna and Brad on their way to the Big House.
You can control the warden, the guards, or the inmates, so long as you are only in control of one at a time (but switching which one you control will be a breeze.) Will this be a whimsical containment / research center for extranormal societal misfits, a-la Camelorum Correctional (see DeviantArt)? A more serious SCP-type center? Will it be a PG-13 OitNB? Or a total hellhole right out of 1970s exploitation flicks? You decide the culture!
Is the facility co-ed? If not, will you on any given day control the men's or women's center? How many perks are possible? Jobs on the inside? Who can visit whom? And under what terms? What is currency?
Will you be navigating a Xomified Altered Human of the Fruit Fairy designation, like Candace "Lemon Witch" Mason from Camelorum Adventures, as she seeks to right a wrong in her past and solve a mystery, all while reuniting her family? Or will you be controlling Bugsy McVillain, the meanest, most-tattooed monster anyone has ever mistaken for a warthog? Or maybe this is where your most diabolical supervillain is sent when defeated?
Then there's your guards. Brizzy is a corrections officer who believes Anna's story, but can't do anything about it. She sympathizes with Anna, and insists Anna play along until something can pop up as new evidence. However, they don't have much time to chit-chat. Brizzy has 300 or so others that need to be regulated, in order to maintain order.
The kitchen needs to be kept up to snuff, the menu could be tweaked to make the food better, the TVs could always use an upgrade, certain inmates have the privilege of viewing and others don't, etc.
Events in this game and Mean Streets will affect each other, especially depending on your story progression settings. So be mindful of details!
Will Anna ever be able to convince her mom that Cindy did it? Will her family ever accept her back? Will Brad still be himself after his time is served, or will he go off the deep end into depression? You decide!
Speaking of which, you can control mental asylums too! When they do finally catch Cindy, will she be culpable to stand trial, or a total basket case? Straight jacket time?
Sims Medical Ward
In the health district, a clinic needs to be run for little Perry or Jane, who had to skip school because of the latest disease going around. Will be like a much more sophisticated version of Get to Work. You can also run the local hospital, be a nurse or doctor or surgeon, or control a patient at the hospital. Take control of visitors too, but bear in mind that they are only there briefly.
By now, you get the idea.
There are multiple ways this could go. It'd take a LONG time to develop, but would be more than worth it. All the best of GTA, Sims 4, and Sims 3, in one game. Combined with the best of Prison Tycoon, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and a dozen other games. And the best part...continuity control!
What would you like for the future of the Sims franchise? Because I see this as a revolutionary step forward from the usual base game with expansion model. Separate games with a shared world and base world modifier. Like Sims Stories, but much more fleshed out. All with the emphasis on adventure and on storytelling. Why settle for watching TV, when you can take it to the next level?