The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs expansion pack is coming November 10. To get prepared, we sat down with JM Sudsina, the lead producer for world design for The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs to learn about how the team designed the coastal town Brindleton Bay.
How did you decide on the type of world you wanted create for The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs?
The awesome thing about working on a constantly evolving game like The Sims is that our team gets regular opportunities to try new things with every new world that we create.
When we’re deciding on what a new world will look like, our Art Direction and Design Team ask themselves ‘Where haven’t The Sims gone yet? What styles of clothing and architecture do we think we can use?’ And most importantly, ‘What kind of world will really showcase the key features in this new pack?’
The idea of a smaller coastal town offered large open spaces for walking dogs, docks and fishing so we could highlight some activities for pets. A coastal town setting would also let our Art Team explore new aesthetics when it came to architecture, clothing, furniture and pre-made homes.
Did any real-world locations help inspire Brindleton Bay?
Of course! The Sims 4 is a game with the unique advantage of having worlds rooted in reality. This means drawing tons of inspiration from real places!
Our Art Director would send photos to our Environment Artists of everything from town centres, to beach houses, to fishing shacks based in the American Northeast. One of our Environment Artists grew up in a seaside neighbourhood, allowing him to offer valuable insights about what felt “real”.
Was the inclusion of a veterinarian business a natural choice?
After all the positive fan feedback we received for ownable restaurants in The Sims 4 Dine Out, we wanted to create another ownable business, and the vet business was a perfect fit.
We’re always trying to offer our players new experiences, and something we had never done in a Sims Pets expansion before was to allow players to run their own vet clinic.
What was the hardest part of developing a big coastal town?
The thing we struggled with the most was finding the proper balance of Sims goofiness and realism to create a world that felt like it was for pets, without being totally unrealistic.
We wanted to make sure the Sims who built this town were absolutely crazy for their four-legged friends. We were conscious to avoid creating what felt like an amusement park for Pets, but we didn’t want to remove so much of the fun that the world didn’t feel pet-centric.
I think we landed on an aesthetic that captures everything we were going for: a beautiful coastal town, the occasional cat-shaped mailbox, a pet obstacle course, a ghost-infested pet cemetery and a feline mayor.
Who decides what types of activities or storylines players should experience?
Our Lead World Designer for this pack, Aaron Houts. He did a fantastic job making sure Brindleton Bay was full of new activities that showcase the stars of this pack - your Sim’s cats and dogs.
This included everything from mapping out dog-walking paths, designing objects like spots where your dogs can dig for treasure and bushes that your cat might go hunting in.
Senior Game Designer Daniel Hiatt, myself, and our awesome video team Plumb Bob Pictures, teamed up to design the pre-made Brindletonians and their backstories.
We purposefully don’t create too much story, but rather, create a toolbox of locations and characters for our players to use in their own storytelling.
I like to think of it like the beginning of a script; we write the first act, and our players create, build, and play the rest of the story.
Are you excited about players exploring Brindleton Bay and the objects that populate it?
Absolutely! There is nothing more satisfying than seeing players react to a world that we’ve created for them. I can’t wait to see what they create in Brindleton Bay!
What was your favourite part of the development process?
When it all starts to come together and you get to see the concept art and written designs translated into 3D models and playable gameplay.
A few big decisions, followed by months of small decisions coalesce into a meaningful experience and something that players will adore, and the team gets to see all their hard work pay off.
Of course, as cheesy as it sounds, the next part is even cooler: getting it into the hands of our players and seeing how they react to it.
Want to know your Perfect Pet? Find out here.
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