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In Their Own Words: Miriam Wilson

Comedy writer Miriam Wilson loves the dark and gritty humor that exists in the Sims world

The Waterfront district has arrived!

We sit down with The Sims Mobile Game Designer and Comedy Writer Miriam Wilson to learn more about her career as a writer, and what has her most excited about the Waterfront update.

Hi Miriam, can you tell us about your role as Game Designer and Writer on The Sims™ Mobile team?

Sure! I write and review most of the text/copy/writing that goes into the game. The writing touches a lot of areas in the game, it can be anywhere from random push notifications, naming catalog items to writing the stories and tutorials. It’s a lot of cramming information and entertainment into small bits of text! And adding exclamation marks. I do love exclamation marks!

I also do character development, so, what kind of personality do they have, how would they react in a situation, what are their speech patterns? Izzy Fabulous has a huge backstory that isn’t even in the game, but I wrote it out anyway because it made writing his dialogue easier and it made him feel more “real” to me. 

Izzy Fabulous

How did you first get into comedy writing?

I have been writing comedy for twelve years, and I started with a non-profit San Francisco sketch comedy group called “Killing My Lobster” (side-note, if you live in San Francisco, go see their shows!). I wrote with them for about eight years. It really helped me learn how to collaborate with other creatives and taught me not take it personally if an idea doesn’t land. It also helped me see that sometimes it’s the “dumb ideas” that work the best.

One of my favorite things I ever wrote was this short film called “Space Wizards” that I co-wrote with my friend. We were in a diner when we first came up with the idea and then just couldn’t stop laughing because it was so pointless, and that was kind of the point.

For games, I started out writing for Zynga’s CityVille. After that I wrote the initial launch of TinyCo’s “Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff” in collaboration with Family Guy’s writing staff before moving on to EA.

What drew you to The Sims Mobile, and why did you want to write for the game?

I’ve been playing Maxis games since I was little! I loved SimAnt, SimTower, SimCity, SimLife, and the original Sims. I spent countless hours with them, so you might say I was raised on the original humor that was in those games. When I heard there was an opportunity to write for a new Maxis Sims game, I was super excited.

Something I have always loved about The Sims is the dark, gritty, humor that exists in the world. It’s packaged in a lighthearted way so everyone can enjoy it, but it’s still there. I think that’s what makes it closer to life and reality. When I first joined the team I played a lot of the earlier games just to re-acquaint myself with them, and just noticed how not everything is perfect. The car that picks you up for work is dented and rusty. You get into fights with spouses. Burglars steal your stuff. You can even buy ratty furniture. You can get fired. You can set yourself on fire.

Our creative team wanted to make sure we included similar storytelling elements that conveyed that feeling of “Oh, this world is fun and pretty and cute…but something’s a little off.” We have stories where things aren’t perfect. You can chisel gum off tables in the cafe, have a friend who’s a huge downer or fall in love with someone you initially hate. The list goes on.

What are some of the new features you think players will be excited about in the new The Sims Mobile Waterfront update?

The new venues are both pretty amazing. There’s the Wellness Center and the Science Center which I think players will be excited about. The art team did an amazing job with everything in the district. The water itself is hypnotically beautiful and I think players will enjoy the details in the world.

As far as career specifics go:

  • For the Wellness Guru career, I love that you can learn how to levitate, plus there’s a sensory deprivation tank item in the later levels.
  • For the Marine Biologist career, there’s a lot of fun decorations such as jarred specimens and one live specimen called Stacy the Mysterious Critter. You can also light yourself on fire in a lab explosion from a risky action.
  • The Space career (coming soon!) has my favorite story because it’s so silly in contrast to the super epic nature of the career. I mean…you’re getting a rocket ship. That’s pretty exciting, but we contrasted it against a story where you’re dealing with a bunch of setbacks and paperwork to launch into space.
  • The Dance career (coming soon!) has a ton of fun animations that I know people will enjoy. We also got to watch a lot of cheesy dance movies as “research” for the story. 

The Wellness Center

What are your top 5 favorite things to do in The Sims Mobile Waterfront?

  • Examining the rocket ship ruins outside the Science Center
  • Staring at the Waterfront tides
  • Interacting with the eyes in the sewer grate
  • Levitating at the Wellness Center
  • Playing the stories (I am biased!)

Do you ever draw story ideas from funny things that happen to you in real-life?

Yes, definitely! I’d say probably 60-75% of what I write about is based on something that’s happened to me, or partially based on it. The other percentages are mostly made up of instances where something will happen, and I’ll think “That was funny, but it would have been funnier if this had happened instead”, and that’s what I’ll write.

But some things are definitely just in there as is. For example, in the business career story, the plots were lifted from my experiences working in an office before I started my career in games. I worked a lot of temp jobs and in one of them, no one seemed to know what the company did exactly. It was just “something tech related” and not even my temp agency knew. In the story, the Sim tries to find out and just can’t, but keeps getting promoted anyway.

What other teams and individuals do you work and collaborate with in your role?

I work with a lot of different people on the team because text is everywhere. I work with every other member of the design team, production, localization, the art and animation team, UI, engineering, QA, and the product management team. The whole team is amazing, and I work with each discipline in a different capacity, which is fun. It’s never dull. 

From left to right: Loel Phelps, Miriam Wilson, Mike O’Connor, David Prior, Jaki Kimball

For Waterfront, I worked with the other members of the content design team—Loel Phelps, Jaki Kimball and David Prior. We also collaborated a lot with our Art Director, Mike O’Connor, who has an amazing sense of humor and always has a ton of creative ideas.

The stories themselves were a collaborative effort as well. Jaki and David had great concepts for stories, so I used those when I wrote the initial outlines and dialogue.

I’m really proud of what we came up with and I hope players enjoy it.

You’re trapped on a deserted island, what three Sims Mobile items do you bring with you?

  • Gluten Free Vegan fruit
  • A plant to talk to
  • Rocket ship (haha! I outsmarted this question! This is like the equivalent of wishing for more wishes, muuuahaha!)

 

Photos taken by Arjuna Ravikumar

______________________

Explore the Waterfront district in The Sims Mobile

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