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Sims was "The Toilet Game"

Wright says it almost didn't get made.

Will Wright has admitted The Sims might never have happened had it not been for his persistence.

Speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, he said getting suits at developer Maxis keen on the idea was a "battle" from the start, with early testing groups ending in disaster and eventually forcing him to abandon the project.

"It was a battle, the first few years, inside Maxis," said Wright. "It was referred to as 'The Toilet game'. It was the game where you clean the toilet.

"We had a product review meeting at Maxis where we had to decide whether we'd publish this thing or not...and the executive said 'No, let's do [something else]'."

So he decided to work on it in secret, the cheeky risk taker. And it was only after he and a tools programmer introduced the open-ended object and character interaction that things began to take off.

Then eventually it got the go-ahead, and apparently we could have even seen it a year or two earlier. But Wright wanted to make it expandable, and a good job he did, given the 29 million worldwide sales for The Sims series and add-ons to date. [Update: Or rather, at the time of the interview - apparently it's up to more than 70 million now. - Ed]

"I thought the game would either do a million units or... 50," Wright bashfully admitted. "I thought a million would be a hit. It would be a hit or a total dog."

Will Wright is currently masterminding evolution-inspired simulation Spore, which should be out sometime this year. Ambitious? Check. Elongated development? Check. Worried? Not on your life.

"If you really believe in what you're doing, don't be discouraged easily," concludes Wright. "Otherwise you're in the wrong industry".

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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