Live The Sims 3 interview

Bigwig Grant Rodiek on ghosts, fat Sims, new careers, naughty bits and much more.

The Sims 3 associate producer Grant Rodiek has been answering your questions live on Eurogamer this afternoon.

He's talked about everything from same-sex marriages and killing Sims to locking people in basements and toddlers immune to house fires. He thought us quite morbid, although you also asked plenty about the game.

Once again, thank you to everybody who took part and submitted questions. You make us happy. And apologies to those people who submitted questions we didn't have time to ask.

What follows is the transcript of the full live interview with Grant Rodiek. We've presented the earliest questions and answers at the top.

Our live coverage of this event has finished.



Super Moderating Hero: Hello Eurogamer readers. We'll be starting in just a couple of minutes. Keep those questions coming!


Super Moderating Hero: Hello Grant! First things first - could you please tell us a bit about yourself and why you are so famous?

Grant Rodiek: I'm an associate producer on The Sims 3 development team. I think reports of my fame may be slightly overrated. I've done a few interviews and our fans are very passionate about the game. I guess they remembered my name.


Super Moderating Hero: The Sims 3 is a game for girls and children. That's what my friend said. Is he telling the truth?

Grant Rodiek: Not really, he's only telling you a half truth. The Sims 3 has a huge player base that's split evenly between men and women. It's internationally successful and appeals to pretty much every age group.


How long has the idea of a seamless neighborhood been around? Was it something that was originally thought about for The Sims 2?

Grant Rodiek: It was never a part of The Sims 2. It's something you need to think about from the very beginning of a product and Sims 2 was focused on the transition to 3D from 2D and implementing lifetimes and generations. We always knew that The Sims 3 would have a seamless neighborhood, so the idea has existed as long as the game.


The Sims 2 was a bit lacking in ways you could kill off your poor, unfortunate Sims. In how many ways can you end your lab rats' lives in Sims 3? What? Why are you looking at me like that? [A very good question - Ed]

Grant Rodiek: We know players, or some of them at least (looking at you) like to kill off their Sims. We've got the classics - electrocution, fire, hunger, old age, drowning. The twist we wanted to make with The Sims 3 was not HOW they die, but what happens once they die.

In the Sims 3 you can have a playable ghost - as in after a Sim dies you can actually have them "re-animated" somewhat and play as a ghost. Ghosts also look ridiculously cool and have ghost babies.


Hello Grant, do you think The Sims 3 has new elements that will the more hardcore gamer. Could you give any examples of such?

Grant Rodiek: Oh certainly! We wanted to add several new goal systems to The Sims 3 to give existing players a little more direction, but also give new, more hardcore gamers a bit more strategy and depth. One system is Wishes, which are things your Sim wants. You can choose to do them or not, but by doing them you earn points to buy rewards that can give your Sim RPG - like perks.

Another feature is Opportunities, which are quest-like tasks you get from employers and neighborhood Sims. you may need to fix somebody's TV, throw a party for a political fundraiser, and do other things around town. Doing so can earn you side cash, better relationships, and other things.

There's a lot more to do for people who don't want to do the more traditional Sims gameplay!


In one of the trailers it showed a sim robbing various houses, can a Sim rob other players and how would this effect a neighbourhood which several players control?

Grant Rodiek: First off, just to be clear The Sims 3 is a single-layer game. Sims have up to five traits and one of which is the Kleptomaniac trait. Kleptomaniacs can steal things at night if nobody is watching. Cars, paintings, toilet paper, etc. are all up for grabs.


Is it true that death has been removed from the game because it was deemed to cruel and permanent? Does that mean my life long dream of collecting my neighbors in my basement jail can finally become reality? [You're a sick bunch - Ed]

Grant Rodiek: As for death - no, it certainly still exists.

Sims can die in a variety of ways. You have the option to make a Sim's life incredibly long by tweaking the age option that we ship. You can make a Sim's life incredibly short (25 days I think?) or incredibly long (several hundred days). The default Sim life is 90 days from baby to elder (give or take depending on when death finally comes for your Sim).


Finally we can run outside of our house into the traffic or unannounced into other people's houses without loading. It's a new avenue for The Sims. But does this theme of change carry over into expansions? What's the plan there?

Will it all be DLC, or will I see the expansions on shop shelves?

Grant Rodiek: The Sims 3 team is focused entirely on making The Sims 3 at the moment. We're not worrying about or discussing expansions, or how we support the game in the future. We don't want anything to distract us from making The Sims 3 an incredible game for our fans, new and old.


Judging from the many previews and trailers, it looks like the AI won't stand around and start kitchen fires while you're out seeing a man about a dog. Sounds good, at first, but what about the AI doing too much on its own? Will there be some sort of 'autopilot' switch? How will this advanced AI work without taking too much control away from the player?

Grant Rodiek: Players can disable, or tone down a Sim's autonomy if you want, though I think the game is best with it turned on at max. As for playing itself, Sims aren't TOO smart. We want them to eat, pee, and keep themselves entertained. What we don't want is your Sims getting married, having kids, or even spending money on their own. Furthermore, at its core our game is a strategy game and if it's auto-pilot this strategy is removed.

Sims will do funny and interesting things but you still must play the game.


The most annoying thing I've found about the Sims games is the fact that normally the timeline is compressed (And rightly so, to ensure it's not a borefest) but always the Sim gets up, complains about needing the toilet and wanting breakfast, but these actions run in pseudo real-time taking almost close to 30 minutes each.

Has anything been done to address the differences between the game time flow and the action time flow to make it more manageable?

Grant Rodiek: One of our core philosophies for The Sims 3 is to move up Maslow's hierarchy of needs and "move past peeing". What this means is we want the player focusing on what's interesting in life, not what's tedious. Sims still have to pee and eat and sleep, but it is faster and doesn't happen as frequently.

Furthermore, you can buy perks (the one's I mentioned above) that make it so your Sims never have to pee (Steel Bladder), rarely need to shower (Dirt Defiant), or barely need to eat (Hardly Hungry). If you want, you can cut it out of the game!


If you create a fat Sim, will he lose weight while you are training? Will he gravitate towards donuts and perhaps be teased by young Sims calling him "fatty fat-nose"? And how fat and ugly can we be?

Grant Rodiek: We wanted players to be able to make their Sims incredibly skinny or much more on the chubby side of things, or everything in between (you can also change their muscle tone). Doing a strength workout will make your Sim more bulky, whereas a cardiovascular workout will make them a bit lighter. If your Sim overeats they will eventually get fatter.

Your Sims will tend to always go back to their starting weight (out of Create-A-Sim, genetics) if you don't workout and just let them be. As for being teased, over-eating - we deliberately didn't want to make a comment about weight, skinny, chubby, or otherwise. Therefore, a Sim's body-size is purely superficial and has no further impact on the game. Being teased for your weight is not something we wanted.


Anything new in the careers paths? I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to make cash with my Sims!

Grant Rodiek: The careers have had a pretty big update. In Sims 2 almost all careers required you meet friends and get a skill to a certain level. In The Sims 3 almost every career is unique. In the music career (rock star branch) you must play concerts. In medicine you can get called in late to work, and in the law enforcement career you need to go around town and question people and write reports on them. Perhaps most interesting is the political career. You must raise campaign fund donations (which you can steal!), which you can do by going door to door or throwing a party for the neighborhood's wealthy folks. It's very fun and far more varied!


Can I increase or decrease the size of a female Sims' breasts in the Sims creation screens? Hey, I'm serious [And perverse! - Ed]

Grant Rodiek: We do not have a breast slider in Create-A-Sim. You can change a Sim's weight and muscle-tone which will impact that, but you cannot directly change them.


A lot of Simmers on the BBS are wondering about babies born in families we're not currently controling. Once they are born, are they assigned a random name? And if so, can we later change that name to something else? What about traits given to children born in families we are not currently playing, are they in any way genetic? Thank you Grant!

Oh and can you use a pram?

Grant Rodiek: Fun question. You can take control of other families by going to Edit Town. You can then send that Sim to City Hall to get their name changed. As for traits, one of the rewards allows you to change a Sim's traits. However, you'd need to play that Sim for some time to earn enough points to unlock that reward. Part of the fun of the new neighborhood is that Sims are growing up, moving in, dying, and reproducing all the time. It means your game won't be the same as my game and that's really special. The Sims 2 never did that. Yes, traits are passed down genetically!

What's a pram?

Super Moderating Hero: A push-buggy thing.

Grant Rodiek: For babies? No, we don't have prams in the game. You can carry your babies to take them places.


Super Moderating Hero: We've always been intrigued by the naughty, under-the-covers, side to The Sims. How naughty is The Sims 3? And who draws the line?

Grant Rodiek: The Sims 3 is a T-for Teen game in North America. I'm not sure what it is in the European territories, but I imagine it's something similar. Basically, we want players to be able to tell romantic stories and we want there to be a little mischief in our game. But, we're not that naughty. I'd say we draw the line at what you can see on basic TV, which I realize is different between the US and Britain, so that comparison may not be valid!


Will a career path affect the friends and people you surround yourself with? I mean, it's hard to image a politician hanging out with a bunch of rock band groupies. Although I don't hate the idea.

And will there be a plastic surgeon in the town in which you can augment your Sim's appearance part way through the game, can they end up looking as messed up as 'Wacko Jacko'?

Grant Rodiek: Some careers will impact other things. For example, rock stars will have autograph-signing sessions downtown. Sims at the top of the criminal career will have the "Aura of Evil" which impacts everyone around them. But, your job doesn't determine who does or doesn't like your Sim. Players determine that when they tell THEIR story.

As for a plastic surgeon - no, we do not have one in the game. Your Sims resemble their parents or what you made them as. You can change a Sim's hair and clothing, but skin and facial features never changes. You can make an insane number of unique Sims in the game. You can pretty much create any Sim you can imagine.


Will The Sims 3 allow crossdressing? I assure you, this is a very serious question.

Grant Rodiek: We have to create our outfits specifically for male and female character models, so unfortunately a female outfit won't work on a male Sim and vice versa.


A lot of the audience for Sims games, say people like my mum and sisters, use laptops nowadays because they prefer the convenience of portability. Unfortunately most laptops have pretty weak graphics cards. For the Sims: Life Stories game EA did a lot of optimisation to help the game run well on such hardware - will the Sims 3 also be practical and enjoyable on a laptop?

Grant Rodiek: It ultimately depends on how new and good your laptop is (doesn't it always?), but we've done a lot of work to make sure our game runs on a wide variety of systems. We've really worked to make our minimum spec work on low-end machines or laptops. We didn't optimise for laptops specifically like the Stories games, but we definitely work on a lot of machines.


Will there be pets in The Sims 3? And will the seasons and the weather change? Does this affect anything other than my eyes?

Grant Rodiek: You can catch and keep fish in The Sims 3 and name them. We have approximately 21 species of fish, so catching them all to create an awesome aquarium is quite the challenge. You can also name them, which I love. We do not have seasons or weather in The Sims 3, but we have gardening and lots of outdoor activities so it's great fun outside.


Can you please explain what the difficulty levels are and how they will change the experience for the player?

Grant Rodiek: The Sims 3 is a game that's designed to be played by a huge variety of people. I'd say it's not a "hard" game per se, but players can definitely give themselves a challenge if they want. Try raising triplets or have your Sim mooch everything from their neighbors (bathroom, food, place to sleep, entertainment). You can make the game as difficult or easy as you want.


Can you tell us a little bit about how transport works in The Sims 3? Can you visibly see Sims get in and out of cars? And now that they can into the road can they also be run over and have their legs broken off?

Grant Rodiek: The Sims have 3 ways to get around - walk, ride a bike or use a car. In the beginning Sims cannot afford cars, but you can use taxis for free. Sims cannot be run over by cars or have their legs broken. So morbid!


Although it's been said there will be no SecuROM in The Sims 3, will it be added in some expansions as it was in The Sims 2?

Grant Rodiek: The Sims 3 has no SecuROM, and instead uses a simple disc check. Like I said earlier, we're not worrying about or discussing expansions at the moment, because our entire focus is on The Sims 3.


Does your hair/facial hair remain static or will it grow? I like the idea of locking someone up in a door-less room and having them become Sasquatch.

Grant Rodiek: Haha, that sounds funny. Your Sim's hair and facial hair are static. You cannot make a Sasquatch that way, but we do have some thick beards and skeevy mustaches if you want to just make a hairy dude.


Not that a game like The Sims 3 needs it, but will there be any online functionality?

Grant Rodiek: Actually, there's quite a bit. We're not an online game, but you can upload houses, Sims, patterns, movies, and screenshots easier than ever to share with friends.

Furthermore, we're giving players awesome new tools like the awesome online video editing tool that lets you edit movies. It's really cool and so easy to use. I've made so many movies and I cannot wait to see what people with talent (our fans) come up with. Wow, that's a lot of "awesome".


The Sims are an open minded bunch, are they still firm supporters of same-sex marriage?

Grant Rodiek: The Sims most definitely supports same sex and heterosexual marriages. You can tell your story - that's really important to us.


What are the mod tools like and who will be able to use them?

Also, when will we get them?

Grant Rodiek: We're not discussing any tools at this point. Look for details in the future!

Super Moderating Hero: But will there be a toolset?

Grant Rodiek: I cannot discuss it at this time.


What can you tell us about the bonus neighborhood we may be receiving if we register our game online?

Grant Rodiek: We aren't yet discussing details on that - stay tuned!


Will we see a pre-release Create-A-Sim or Body Shop prior to the June 5th street date?

Super Moderating Hero: And on that point - will The Sims 3 interact with any other EA games. Sim City 5 perhaps?

Grant Rodiek: No, there will not be a demo for The Sims 3 prior to a ship date. There's a Sim City 5?! The Sims 3 is its own game - the tech is brand new and doesn't work with any of our existing games.


Super Moderating Hero: What's it like now Will Wright has left EA?

Grant Rodiek: Well, I work for (and have always worked for) the Sims division. Will has been on Spore for a really long time and stopped working on The Sims a long time ago. I think it's sad to see him go, but his departure hasn't impacted The Sims 3. We have some incredible design talent and I've loved all of their work on The Sims 3.


Apart from ghost Sims, are there any other special Sim types in the base game?

Grant Rodiek: On The Sims 2 we typically did one new weird Sim type per game, including the base game (aliens). Ghost Sims are an unruly bunch at times so we're pretty happy we finally got them to come to our world and behave.


What is the size of a default neighbourhood in The Sims 3? And if you create a family, is it possible to put them into a house and then choose to let them progress on their own, so you might interact with them and see them significantly change with a different family you're currently playing?

Grant Rodiek: It's a pretty large neighborhood. We've got several venues and destinations (park, bistro, beach, gym, movie theatre, more!) and lots of homes. We also have plenty of empty lots if you want to start from scratch. As for creating a family, you'll need to manage them a little bit. Sims are limited in some ways to not frustrate the player. BUT, families you don't currently control will completely live on their own. They'll get jobs, go to work, fall in love, have kids, and die. It's really cool to watch the neighborhood evolve.


Can your Sims suffer mental breakdowns from say the loss of another sim? Will there be a Sims asylum full of disturbed Sims? Maybe a straight jacket outfit?

Grant Rodiek: There are no asylums, but Sims will be very upset when a loved one dies. A Sim's mood, thoughts, and emotions are reflected by Moodlets. Sims will Mourn their loved ones, or be Heartbroken even for a few days. It's so sad.


What kind of NPCs other than the townies will be there? The mailman? Paperboy? Any others?

Grant Rodiek: Mailman, paperboy, pizza guy, repair guy, 'repo' man, burglar, cops - lots of old favorites to keep the neighborhood ticking.


I have read you will be notified when something important happens on the other side of town. Could you give an example of that?

Grant Rodiek: If a dear friend is close to dying or dies, you'll be told so. You can also read about neighborhood events in the newspaper, or gossip with other Sims.


Super Moderating Hero: Grant has to dash off, unfortunately. Let's make this the last one, then, and it's one we ask all of our guests. Would you rather have lasers for eyes or be able to turn invisible? And why?

Grant Rodiek: As awesome as lasers for eyes sound, I have to go with invisibility. I just think it allows for infinite possibilities. You can be the world's greatest spy, go anywhere, see anything. I mean, they have sea bass with laser eyes. It's just not THAT special.


Super Moderating Hero: Thank you, Grant, you've been brilliant. And sorry we're such a morbid bunch. At least we didn't ask you this one -

What would happen if I 'accidentally' left a baby Sim in a burning room? Heaven forbid.

Grant Rodiek: The answer is he won't die. Babies and toddlers won't burn to death. It's just too sad. we made the same decision in Sims 2 for the same reason.

Super Moderating Hero: Oh!

Latest comments

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    Skandalle 12 years ago
    Sounds good. i always look forward to a sim release, installed 2 to gear up to it...and dispite all its many feaures, i still spend most of my time starving them to death. =\
    Nameless-001 12 years ago
    After TS2, I realised this "serie" is by far too "T for teen" for my taste, therefore too boring and\or ridicolous and\or unrealistic. His answers and the tone he used confirm that, and I doubt we'll ever see a sims game aimed at an audience different from kids. NP anyway, I'll play something else.
    GP79 12 years ago
    Hmm - had higher hopes for this but it sounds exactly the same as the first 2 - probably a laugh for an hour or so but ultimately boring. Not enough new features for my liking. Oh and deliberately hamstringing games so you can rip the gullible off at a later date should be well and truly fucking banned.
    Lionheart 12 years ago
    LOL @ the last questions
    Notez 12 years ago
    I wonder if they've got some sort of implementation of a groin shot
    DFawkes 12 years ago
    Wahey, I got a question answered! Loving the opportunies for some nice machinma. I might even have this now instead of sticking with Sims 2.
    Pirotic 12 years ago
    He avoided the question really didn't he, the problem with the sims games are they add content using expansions, but then don't want to re-release the same expansion for future versions. So unless it launchs with pets, they don't feel they can release a pets expansion again else they'll be branded as conning the public.

    As Sims 3 seems to lack a huge amount of functionality that the expansions added to the previous games, it makes you wonder if they are planning to get that back in some way, such as a free service pack or something.

    edit: lol, and they go and use my joke question.. grr! ;)
    Evolution 12 years ago
    Woah you can name your fish, I call Lieutenant Shiny Sides.
    clean515 12 years ago
    How many thousand expansions are planned already ?
    TheStylishHobo 12 years ago
    There were like 5 questions asked...
    Pirotic 12 years ago
    Come on, ask some of my serious questions dammit, these ones are all silly :(
    jaywalker3010 12 years ago
    erm it started then vanished?
    szaba 12 years ago
    Hi! Is it available to use a pram?
    pocok14 12 years ago
    Hi! :)
    Will the UI change? :)
    butler` 12 years ago
    That bird in the mainpage picture has a right ol' black eye.

    He's not worth it.
    spekkeh 12 years ago
    Is the Sims 3 the real next gen Larry?
    DFawkes 12 years ago
    I'll be asking if they'll be sneaking in SecuROM in an expansion like last time. That screwed my computer right up last time.
    WickedDeeJ 12 years ago
    Ask them what copy protection they will use, please. I know Rod Humble has said no SecuROM and no online authentication, but I'm still curious as to what exactly they will use in its' place.
    Waffleaber 12 years ago
    A live interview followed by a free giveaway? You really are running a stress test on your servers tomorrow aren't you EG?