Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Build Mode Masterclass for The Sims 4

Summary of Build Mode in Sims 4 (will update as I remember more)

-Presented by Aaron Houts, director of Build mode and a genuinely all-around nice guy with true passion to make this the best possible experience for Sim fans and builders. He is an avid builder, himself, so he has a vested interest in making this tool as perfect as possible.
-Goal was to make build mode more accessible to players of all skill levels as before it was a part of the game that was felt to be too intimidating and not explored by many players
-Many features asked about were not commented on or are not part of the base game, and it was emphasized numerous times that their goal right now is to create a solid, intuitive, functional, approachable, and tactile base game. Once that is complete, additive features can be considered. A producer later explained to me that building the base game is the most complicated, time-consuming, and critical component when making a new game from the ground-up. The expansion packs and other off-shoots of the game will be simple by comparison.
-Building a home is as a simple as placing different room shapes anywhere on the lot and resizing the room as you see fit. You can also create rooms by building walls tile by tile (once they connect, they will create a room)
-Can move rooms, even between different floors, but moving the entire house on the lot currently not possible (have to move room by room)--may change with final game
-Three different wall heights with different doorways and windows that can be used for those wall heights
-Friezes can be applied to the taller wall heights
-Three floor levels maximum currently but may change
-Rooms may be moved anywhere on the lot, even to different floors
-Foundation may be applied after house built
-Different foundation heights
-Stairs automatically adjust to different foundation levels and wall heights
-Round fences available but round walls currently not a feature

-Windows can be applied in groups evenly spaced along the walls or individually
-CFE and MOO cheats (or any cheats) not commented on
-Able to move objects off grid and 45 degree rotation axis as usual with ALT key
-Able to apply roof trims along edge of roof
-Can manipulate roof shape in many ways to give it different curvature, height, width
-Chimneys and fireplaces not commented on
-Spandrels ("fencing" along the roof)
-Currently cannot paint ceiling
-Catalog of textures, patterns, and colors for walls and floors like Sims 3 grouped similarly (wood, brick, masonry, etc.)
-Catalogs can be filtered by colors or groups of colors
-Certain textures appear to have a reflective/shiny quality, but this was not elaborated on when asked
-No Create A Style currently for furniture/decor items
-Room decor set up by catalog-like sections where you can buy the entire room or individual objects from the room
-Again, decor has a limited set of color choices with no Create A Style at this time
-Can mix and match items from different catalog sections. They're just there to help builders know what looks good together.
-Lighting illuminates floors above and below if no obstructing floor tiles between them
-No comment on different light colors (e.g. flame, white, etc.)

-No need for support underneath upper levels. Can build rooms as far out above the ground as you want.
-Landscaping not commented on, but we saw different plants and trees you could use
-No comment on water like ponds or pools
-Environmental effects like trees swaying in the breeze and sunbeams casting down into the neighborhood
-Neighborhood inspired by Garden District in New Orleans
-Certain objects can affect Sim emotions--currently mostly pieces of art
-Painting is a way a Sim can decorate their home, but no comment was made on other types of art Sims might create such as photography or sculpture
-Buydebug menu and fog emitters not commented on
-Columns snap into fencing in appropriate places on decks
-Again, curved fencing allows for curved decks

-No diagonal or L-shaped stairs
-Mirrors reflect entire scene in the background for improved realism (no boxed out portions of the environment in the reflection)
-Paintings can be shifted up and down on the walls as in the Sims 3
-I believe he said mirrors could be shifted as well but only functional at certain heights? (still finalizing this when asked again)
-Shifting windows and curtains not commented on
-Adapting/adjusting curtains and window treatments to particular windows not commented on
-No comment on split levels
-Currently not able to cut away portions of the foundation--it is universal for the home
-No comment on attached garages
-No comment on basements
-No comment on Sims Store or Exchange
-No comment on unlockable content
-No comment on application of textures or colors to floor edges
-No weather or seasons with base game
-No comment on whether plants will need upkeep/maintenance by Sim or gardener
-Roof elements like ventilation systems and air ducts shown in pictures


  1. Not too excited about it right now ... Thanks for the list :) Damn casting is my friend....

  2. The lighting fix was HUGE! I've spent days trying to fix the cut-off lighting appearance with invisible lights on my lots.

    I think Create a Style is a big loss that we all tried to convey to the designers. It's one of the most important design tools at our disposal. We can make a couch look luxurious or dingy depending on how we style it. It's so key to how we create, convey moods, and even tell stories. A simple refrigerator can look sleek in a modern kitchen with a stainless steel texture or downright horrifying in a haunted house with a blood-spattered pattern. I think I'm struck most by what artists create with the Sims using the Create a Style tool--how they can create new looks for objects we know well. Reminds me of Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain by R. Mutt" where he describes his piece as such: “Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view — created a new thought for that object.” I'm very concerned that artists are losing this very essential, in my mind, artistic tool. That said, the designers and producers were so incredibly receptive to our feedback--to your feedback--and I have high hopes that the final product will be fantastic.

  3. I see a handful of vital extractions with no substantive additions. Three floors? I mean really! Sometimes I'm just getting out of the ground with three. They'ye going to make us wait months longer just to get back to five? They never did give us back the multiple floor cheat from S2. Dumbing this down for the architecturally challenged who can't build a tissue box to save themselves...what the hell? They need to heed the lesson of SimCity Societies. And if CFE gets nixed I'm out of business, end of story. I could rant on. Never mind. Maybe I'm prejudging too soon. I'll hold out a glimmer of hope in the phrase "as currently in development". I just feel like Last of the Mohicans at this point.If they would simply give us what we already have I'd be a happy Sancho. But thanks Bill for a very concise report, maybe I'll be joining you post S4.

  4. Thanks for sharing such a nice article on build a creative home..its really impressive.
    New Home Builder