MySims News

Please note I'm currently working on the new site. I didn't want to take the site offline though, so you can still visit it. However me working on the site while it's still online means a lot of the pages will appear wonky. But not to worry, it won't take too long. Happy
30 Jan 2000 - 22:00

Check out the All Games Network for a video demo of The Sims. Maxis' PR Manager Patrick Buechner will explain it all!

All Games Network Demo

19 Jan 2000 - 22:00

Will Wright will be chating on January 20, 10 a.m., PST. invites you to" with Will Wright, chief game designer for Maxis, creators of SimCity, about his new game The Sims." Chat Calendar

6 Jan 2000 - 22:00

What a great SimDay! Luc Barthelet, General Manager of Maxis stopped by to talk, joke and answer your questions. Keep your eyes and ears open for more "Special Guest Chats." I see Will Wright in your future.

Go to Chat

7 Oct 1999 - 23:00

Strategy Gaming posted an Interview with Luc Barthelet, general manager of Maxis.
Read the interview with Luc on Strategy Gaming, or click read more below this post to read it here!

The Sims:
From Will Wright, the creator of SimCity™, comes a new strategy game that really hits close to home. You are in charge of a neighborhood of Sims and it is up to you to show them that they're livin' in your world now! Force them into a life of crime or help them live life in the fast lane. Build them a sprawling mansion or dump them into a dilapidated shack. Let them party like swinging singles or fall in love, get married and raise a family. They can live out your wildest dreams or experience your worst nightmares. It is up to you to decide... their fate is in your hands.

Interviewer: Anthony Micari
Luc Barthelet, the General Manager of Maxis

1. Maxis' line of Sim games have been known for their deep strategic gameplay combined with easy to use interfaces. How will The Sims go about providing a similar experience?
The Sims uses an object oriented interface. For most of the actions, the user clicks on objects like the Fridge or the TV and select an action from a pie menu. The other overall interface is a mode selection between "Build", "Buy" and "Live". I think this is the best UI to date for Maxis. As for the depth of the simulation, I like to think that we re building sandboxes, and that we mostly work on defining the physical properties of sand. The more interesting the properties, the longer the users will play. I think we have some real innovation in this game and I will describe some of them as I answer some of the questions below.

2. "Life" simulation games in the past, such as Dogz, Catz, and Creatures, have been viewed by many as mere novelties. How will The Sims elevate itself above that status, and provide a unique experience that will have gamers coming back for more?
The Sims is about people and relationships. I learned through the development of this game that when you create an environment with representations of human beings, and make those humans behave in a familiar fashion, that the user cannot help but create a story in his head to explain their behavior. I am convinced that people are more interesting that domestic animals.

3. The history of artificial intelligence has been a rocky one. Some games have been criticized for their lack thereof, while others have provided solid AI that really challenges players. The Sims, however, is trying to simulate the emotions of humans, something that is new to games. Has this been a great challenge for the development team?
One problem we had for a while was that our characters were too smart. They knew exactly what was best for them, and anything the user would do would lead to a negative impact. It took us a while to make the characters a bit dumber, but in a way that would be fun.

4. How much input will the player have in determining the events of the game? Will we be able to tell the characters what to eat? When to sleep, perhaps? Or does one just make bigger decisions and see how they turn out?
The user can choose among many options to feed its sims. Most of them are accessed by clicking on the fridge, but you can also order Pizza by selecting it from the menu on the phone.

5. What I have been wondering about the most is how the player goes about winning the game? Is there an end? Or do you just go on playing similar to SimCity 3000?
The Sims is like SimCity, you can play it forever.

6. Maxis' past titles have been appropriate for all ages. Will The Sims be the same? Or is there material that is recommended for older players?
It is for all ages.

7. This game has been in the works for quite awhile. As it nears completion, what has been the greatest challenge?
They were so many I have a hard time selecting which one. Probably turning the game from a set of interesting tools into a cohesive gameplay experience.

Thank you taking the time to answer these questions for our site. Your generosity is much appreciated.

2 Apr 1999 - 23:00

Yesterday, April 1st, was taken over by Sims promoting the upcoming game The Sims. Now Luc Barthelet has published a statement on the SimCity website. Click read more to read it!


As you may know, on April 1st there was a bit of a stir on Apparently a small group of Sims -- the people who live within SimCity -- took temporary control of the Web site while the employees of Maxis were out on their annual San Francisco Bay boat trip. The Sims thought it necessary to take this extraordinary step to press their demands for a new game … one that focused on their lives.

After an intense negotiation session with the group’s leaders, we regained control of the site. Apparently they did not know that over the past few years, Will Wright was busy working on such a project. In fact, he’s calling the game The Sims.

The Sims will put you in charge of an entire neighborhood of Sims. You’ll create a family and build them a home. Then help your Sims pursue a successful career, make friends and find romance -- or totally mess up their lives. Like Will’s other games, there is no right or wrong way to play this game. But you’ll put your skills to the test as you deal with life’s little disasters and real-world situations.

Needless to say, the Sims who hijacked were elated to learn about Will’s new game. A number of them said they would be moving to his new game as soon as they could. We will be providing more information about the game soon.

3 Feb 1999 - 22:00

Chat transcript February 3, 1999

MaxisDarren: Welcome to today's chat ...

MaxisWill: Hi everybody.

JoelBert: What made you come up with the idea of SimCity ...

MaxisWill: I was working on another game a long time ago and it involved bombing islands with a copter "Raid on Bungeling Bay" by Broderbund. I had more fun making the islands when I was working on the game so after I finished I kept developing the program I had written and after much research it turned into SimCity.

Comics: hi will, how do you feel about the success of the Simcity line? are you surprised?

MaxisWill: Yes, I was very surprised that SimCity had such a wide appeal. It was really my partner Jeff Braun that saw the potential and talked me into starting a company to market it.

SimLeader: Im a long time fan of sim city, and I was wondering when did you get interested in citys, and wondering how it would be to run one?

MaxisWill: When I started playing with my island editor from the 1st game I thought it would be really cool to have the whole scene come to life so I started reading about computer simulation and city planning. The work of Jay Forrester was particularly influential. And as I was reading about cities, I was also programming this little simulation and it was like having a guinea pig to test my theories and assumptions on it. It made the whole subject much more fascinating compared to just reading about it in books.

Anakin006: What difficulties did you encounter when making SimCity Classic?

MaxisWill: The hardest part was that certain parts of the simulation took very long to run (esp. traffic and power scans) this really argued for a multithreaded approach which didn't exist on current machines so I had to write a multi-tasking overlay that ran on the C64 and Mac to separate the simulation from the UI with pre-emptive multitasking.

Slattery: How much input did you have into the development of SC3000 ?

MaxisWill: I helped a little with the tuning and simulation design but for the most part this version was done by the SC3K team. They took it in many directions that I really enjoy. Over the last few years one of my big ambitions at Maxis has been to not be involved with SimCity just because I have spent so many years on it and have so many other ideas I want to pursue. Now I feel that I'm free of it, I'm very grateful to Lucy Bradshaw for that.

PinMaster1: How did you come up with the name MAXIS?

MaxisWill: Jeff's father came up with the idea. Jeff had about 4 rules that he wanted in a name: It had to be short, easily remembered, include a x, z, or q, and look good visually.

zeve: Who is Jeff?

MaxisWill: Jeff Braun and I started Maxis together about 10 years ago. We met at a pizza party thrown by some programmer friends. I showed Jeff my early version of SimCity and he said "Let's start a game company."

Funky: Before you used to make your own first simcity classic game what did you used to be for example student or different job before you decide to created your simcity classic?

MaxisWill: I did a game for Broderbund called "Raid on Bungeling Bay" on the C64, didn't sell too well here because of piracy, but did about 750,000 units in Japan on the Nintendo.

SMN_PlanetSimCity: Have you gone around the web and seen all the fan support for your games?

MaxisWill: Yes, I stay very tuned into that stuff. I think that's one of the coolest things to happen in the last few years and I'm really hoping to leverage that dynamic in upcoming games.

SimLeader: Who came up with the llahma thing? is it your favorite animal?

MaxisWill: Yes, I came up with the Llama thing (for reasons that shall remain mysterious), but I'd have to say that I prefer ants (the ant is a hexapod).

Donuthead: What kind of input did you have in SimCity 2000?....were you directly involved in the making?

MaxisWill: I did about half the coding and 2/3 of the design work on 2000 along with Fred Haslam.

tuvix: How do you decide whether a potential feature of the game will make the simulation better, or just unnecessarily complicate it?

MaxisWill: In simulations you need to think really hard about that. There's an old Japanese saying: "Your garden is not complete until there is nothing else you can remove." I think that sums it up rather nicely.

Jlkvm: What games do you play the most when you have the time?

MaxisWill: Oddly, I really like turn-based war games, maybe to balance out the time I spend making more politically correct games. I spent a lot of time with the Steel Panthers series I also like most of Sid Meier's games.

NickSimManny: How much did SimcityClassic cost for everything??

MaxisWill: I would guess it probably cost about $100,000 -- that's a very rough guess, and it's based on the fact that I worked on it for about 2 years with no pay.

SMN_PlanetSimCity: how can those interested in working at a software company like Maxis get a start?

MaxisWill: The best way is to actually make a simple game -- maybe shareware or in Java -- even it will give you insights into the real issues. It also teaches you how hard it really is and is much more impressive than a resume to most game companies.

MayorTeresa: Where did you get the idea for The Sims?

MaxisWill: I actually started on the Sims before I did SC2000. I then put it on the shelf for a long time after SimCopter. I decided that technology had gotten to the point where it was time to really do it. It basically is about people and architecture and my attempt at an odd RTS game.

JJacobs107: When is a new game called The Sims coming out?

MaxisWill: Sometime this year hopefully, I've been working on it quite a long time at this point.

Anakin006: Were you involved in the other sim games (SimFarm, SimAnt, etc.)?

MaxisWill: I worked directly on SimCity Classic, SimEarth, SimAnt, SimCity2000 and SimCopter. The others were done by other designers.

SuperMario: Do you want to make just simulation games, or other types of games?

MaxisWill: Yes, I'd most prefer to make games that don't fit into existing categories, but that drives the marketing people crazy.

Intrigue: What kind of computers do you use in the design work now? Still Macintosh? Or have you moved to Silicon Graphics?

MaxisWill: Sad to say I've mostly moved on to WinTel machines. Our artists mostly use PC workstations with 3D Studio Max.

Quidnam: Do you expect future SimCity products to increase in complexity? What elements of gameplay do you feel are fundamental and essential to the simulation?

MaxisWill: I don't think the gameplay should increase in complexity. I think it should increase in perceived texture. One of the cool things about SimCity is how each player makes up a story to describe their play experience, so I think we need to provide experiences that are more evocative to the players and help maintain the illusion that there is a real world inside the machine.

SailorUranus: How long did the first SimCity take to develop?

MaxisWill: I started work on it in about 1985 and worked on the C64 version for about 1.5 years. Later Jeff and I started Maxis and I put about 2 more years into the Mac version.

SMN_PlanetSimCity: How do you think new technology will enhance games in the next several years?

MaxisWill: Of course the graphics will get better and that's what most people obsess on, but I'm more interested in the depth of the computation that is opening up which will allow many components of today's games which are now static, to become dynamic: windflow simulations, real dynamic weather, time of day variations, social modeling, ALife subsystems, will all be as ubiquitous in future games as texture mapping and lighting are today.

Ba-shtad: In the platinum edition of SC2K, when did you film that interview?

MaxisWill: I have no idea, many years ago.

TheQat: Did SimCity start out (after C64) as a Mac-only project? ...

MaxisWill: Yes, around 1987 I redesigned the whole thing for the Mac and a few months later the Amiga (BTW, it was the 1st game on the Amiga to use Halfbrite mode) when the Mac was nearing completion we started on a PC version.

Anakin006: What stories do you have about playing your Sim games?

MaxisWill: I remember Fred Haslam and I working on SimEarth in our 1st office. We were debugging the routines which controlled the continental-drift in the game right as the Loma Prieta quake hit. The building started shaking and we ran out into the parking lot and gave each other a funny look and just shrugged.

Intrigue: What is your advice to young people into computers who are considering a career like yours? What kind of classes did you take and where did you go to college (if at all)?

MaxisWill: Don't do it, go back, danger ahead! You need to be very driven and really love the work. I took about 5 years of college but never got a degree -- studied architecture, Mech. engineering and aviation. Ended up teaching myself programming.

SimLeader: why did the origanal game have passwords? ...

MaxisWill: I was sort of torn between the challenge of gameplay vs. the open-ended, erector-set toy approach. Cheat codes let the people who want a challenge pursue it as such and the people who just want to build a train-set type thing do so without limitations.

Intrigue: What language did you learn first and which do you think are important in the gaming world today?

MaxisWill: My 1st language was PASCAL (actually that's not quite true I learned FORTRAN in college and thought it was a waste of time). In gaming today it's mostly C and C++. Still a bit of assembler here and there.

Funky: I remember that I first play SimCity classic way back to 1988, this time on BBC Master (British) computer, did you know that BBC Master used to have Simcity?

MaxisWill: I don't remember the Master, I do remember the Acorn as well as the Sharp and a few other odd machines at the time.

Funky: What are you dream of create an game that you wish to make?

MaxisWill: I like games that let me build things. There's something really fun about making something that's never existed before, especially if it does something or has behavior or dynamics.

MaxisDarren: And now, the final question for today ...

Lexus: what next for maxis?

MaxisWill: We've decided to leave the games industry and concentrate instead on screensavers with cute kittens and puppies and cool inspirational sayings like "there's no I in team."

Bye everyone, thanks for your time. Time for me to hit the rack again.

MaxisDarren: Thanks to everyone for coming in today -- next week, Michael Perry, the designer of SimCity Classic Live will be in @ 3:00 p.m., PST.

20 Jan 1999 - 22:00

Chat transcript January 20, 1999

MaxisDarren: SimCity Executive Producer Lucy Bradshaw's Live Event is beginning now in the Live Events room ... BONUS! with Director of Development Christine McGavran ... If you'd like to ask Lucy a question, type "/ask (your question)" ...

MaxisLucy: Hi everyone!

jjjd: how long have you worked at Maxis?

MaxisLucy: I've worked for Maxis for just over 1 year now. I had been working for Electronic Arts before the acquisition of Maxis, as a dir. of dev.

Hendrix: How did you feel when you had to scrap the 3-D Version of Sim City 3000

MaxisLucy: To tell you the truth, it was a really good decision. We knew that the target systems of today, even with 3D acceleration were not giving us the complexity of scene and the detail that we wanted. Once we made this decision, we really made progress on bringing together what you see in SimCity 3000. I really believe we went down the right path for now at least:)

For those of you who are budding engineers with a passion for coding games, feel free to ask Christine McGavran some questions too.

Hendrix: Did Will Wright assist in the making of this game?

MaxisLucy: Will Wright was involved as more of a mentor and of course provided great insight into how 2000 worked as well as giving tips for the tuning of 3000. He played many of the early versions, right up until ship, always giving feedback. Quite frankly after having finished 3000, I respect him even more, he did 2000 basically on his own and now that I know how many elements there are to juggle and get just right, wow!

Douglas121: Why did the beta testing of SC3K take so long?

MaxisLucy: The beauty of SimCity is that it reall is a very complex simulation, the goal of tuning and polishing the game is to make it fun. We do this during the Beta phase, as well as optimize the performance a great deal. So in this case, to get it all right, we took the time that we did.

rizzi: I'm so glad the executive producer of SC3K is a woman. What responsibilties do/did you have?

MaxisLucy: I am responsible for the overall production of SimCity 3000 as well as the future of the franchise. I oversee the production group, own the design and the team developing the product.

Conrail81: Will there be an actual help book instead of a flimsy 3-4 page brochure?

MaxisLucy: The game ships with a manual, but we worked very closely with Prima Publishing on the official SimCity 3000 Strategy Guide that gives a great deal more detail about how the game works. In fact, if you order directly from the EAStore, you get the strategy guide for free. It will be available at the same time the game ships!

Hendrix: What is it like to make a game with this much hype?

MaxisLucy: Whew! Pressure! Actually it's fun to be working on a product that has had so much success in previous versions, but at the same time, I wanted to make sure we did right by it.

MaxisLucy: To tell you the truth, I think I've gone overboard, I 'm still playing 3000 and in my spare time I find myself going in for Classic Live.

SimLeader: This question is for christine - What got you interested in games?

cmcgavran (Christine McGavran, SC3K directory of development): I played games a lot as a kid on my Commodore 64 and Atari. It was just what everyone else was doing. In college I got a job programming computer graphics because it brought in good money, and that led naturally to programming and playing games again.

Mr_____X: how do you feel abought the game getting out on warez ...

MaxisLucy: Personally, I'm really bummed out about it. We worked really, really hard on it and to see it pirated was a bit of a let down. I pretty much expected to see it on the pirate boards but not quite so soon.

william_t: What were the specs on the main development computer used to create SC3K?

cmcgavran: We each had a Pentium II 300, 128 MB of RAM, SCSI, and a LOT of hard disk space. Several people had two computers. And big monitors..

Conrail81: Do you consult with engineers from the real world for your building (civil engineers)?

MaxisLucy: We did quite a bit of research both on urban planning, reading books, talking to urban planners as well as a great deal of web surfing for information on topics like waste to energy incineration and water consumption by capita etc.

motor: what kind of addons can we expect for sc3000 in the future?

MaxisLucy: We'll be launching landmark buildings, terrains, then the Building Architect Tool. We have some other plans but it would be a bit premature to talk about them right now.

SimLeader: I am really interested in game programming myself and am going to college soon, and I was wondering what is a good major to take?, and what I should do to persue my dream?

cmcgavran: Computer Science or Engineering is definitely the right major. You should take a lot of math and physics classes as well.

cmcgavran: When you are in college, look for extra-curricular activities related to computers, such as part time jobs or research opportunities. Also, it's never a bad idea to take a wide range of liberal arts classes, as writing and other skills can be very valuable.

mutpup: Do you belive that this game is accessible to starting Mayors or will they have to have some background on older games?

MaxisLucy: It's one of the things we tried to make sure we did, make it even more playable than previous versions by both SimCity afficionados and those new to SimCity. Here's one example: You have the Advisor and newly added Petitioner feature. They give you some relevant facts about how your city is doing but the advisors also have briefings on issues related to their departments, you can access these very easily, while playing. So if you ever get stumped about what to do, that is a good first recourse.

zyx: Is SimCity 3000 spegatti code? Is it messy like SC2K DOS's?

cmcgavran: I'm a little offended! (just kidding). But yes, Sc2k's code was a little confusing. 3K's code is actually a lot more organized. I think it had to be, considering the size of the programming team - you can't get away with messy code with that many people maintaining it.

kerchen: How many people were directly involved in the creation of 3K? (ie., artists, producers, programmers, testers, etc)

MaxisLucy: Lots, I'll answer in part then let Christine add. We had 7 production people, 5 in house artists, plus outside art resources, that would be the direct team, then there was the site development

cmcgavran: There were about 14 programmers working on various things related to 3k during the most hectic month, but at other times the team was 10 programmers or fewer.

MaxisLucy: where we had 5 people working on it plus outside resources. Christine, how many on the engineering side?

zeve: What kind of bugs did you encounter?

cmcgavran: You name it!... There were your usual number of crash bugs. The editing network editing bugs were the most fun to track down - such as how to get pieces of highways floating in mid-air or going through terrain. There were some pretty funny vehicle bugs. Several times a trailer without a car would appear driving around the streets.

MaxisLucy: We even found some bugs we decided were fun enough to keep.

cmcgavran: There were also bugs where people thought graphics were something they weren't - a lot of people thought the policeman's baton was a briefcase gone crazy. Mine is the science center. It has a very very strange animation sequence and sound effect.

cadae: What is your favorite building?

cmcgavran: Mine is the science center. It has a very very strange animation sequence and sound effect.MaxisLucy: I like the Maxis Theatre and the Science Center, but the one that has the sound effect I like best is California Plaza, our building, in the landmark list.

Conrail81: What kind of bugs were fun enough to keep?

cmcgavran: There is one where you can get dozens of helicopters flying around the screen. They're really funny looking - kind of frantic.

sfoster713: what is the conversion rate from sim city 2000 dollars to simoleons? for example roads used to cost $10 per square, what do they cost now?

MaxisLucy: O.K., here's a brief rundown.... Roads now cost 10 simoleons, that's the same. Police stations and schools got quite a bit more expense, inflation, you see, Police stations now cost 500 simoleons. Schools cost 500 simoleons. In 3000 you get three starting choices, 50,000 simoleons, 20,000 simoleons and 10,000 simoleon loan. You see, the terrain editing costs more as the terrain is much more detailed and the maintenance costs for civic buildings is also more expensive. You've really got to watch how you build up your city services.

MaxisLucy: Hey, all, here's a tip. If you play with disasters on.... watch out for UFOs, they really like your power plants. You might want to invest in some farms:)

Jacob: What made you decide to use simoleons instead of dollars?

MaxisLucy: Simoleons vs. dollars. Well, this is SimNation after all...... but if you want a dull, truthful answer.....we will be shipping in 13 langages within one month. Going with simoleons allowed us to not have to deal with the currency exchange situation, and what with the Euro on its way....

mikey18: Are there cheats in the game?

cmcgavran: Ooooo, wellllll OK. To get to the cheat code entry window type Alt-Ctrl-Shift-C. Then try typing "fund".

sfoster713: a question about programming.......I heard there were problems with the way the roads fit together......could you elaborate?

cmcgavran: The roads were actually quite difficult to programming because of the combinatorics issues. There were several hundred network tiles which had to fit together in many different configurations. When we tried to program this we found it was too much to figure out on the fly. So our wonderful president, Luc, wrote a utility with "Mathematica" that allowed us to solve the problem visually. And then he wrote out data files which we read into the game. That made it a lot easier!

dgilmore: How many more ordinances are avaliable in SC3K? Any examples of new ones?

MaxisLucy: There's over 40 ordinances... One example of a new one is the farmers market ordinance, and there are more that deal with heavy industry that allow you to really tailor your city more

motor: can u explain how to convert grayscale bitmaps into terran for us in sc3000

MaxisLucy: I'm going to have our assistant producer Rick Marazzani answer that he is..... From Rick - Hi, I made a bunch of these terrains for the CD and the web. It is possibe to make a terrain out of any grayscale bitmap. You can convert a picture of your dog into a city terrain or, use USGS terrain data in the SDTS DEM format to make a realistic terrain of a real city. I use PaintSHop Pro to convert a screen capture into a format that SC3k can read. USGS has a great terrain data tool to display their data, it is called DLG. USGS data and software are available at no charge from the USGS web pages. The process is several steps, and we will publish the process on the web. Sc3k can read any bmp, as long as the bmp size is one tile larger on eac side than the city size you are using. Look for the link to the USGS site on

adamzx298: Have u guys already started thinking about a Simcity 4000 maybe?

MaxisLucy: You bet! Already working with the team on a design. You have to realize, these things take a couple of years from concept stage to completion so, yes, I'm working on it. In fact that's one thing I can ask back of you. Give me your top 5 of what you still want to see. Use the BBS. Thanks everyone for coming. Gotta get back to work!

cmcgavran: Bye!

MaxisDarren: Thanks for coming by -- and thanks to Lucy, Christine and Rick for stopping by! See you next week for SC3K software engineer Venkat Ajjanagadde ... SimCity 3000 is shipping on January 26 and will be in stores on February 2.



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