SimGuruGraham always takes a good amount of time to answer our Questions on both Twitter and Forums (Official and unffocial ones). He answered a question on Mod The Sims regarding to that statement + an answer to why aren’t there news and info about The Sims 4. Big thanks to Honeywell’s Sims 4 Blog for the find!
TullyKat1 (ModTheSims Forum Member):
Again – love you Graham for being a spokesperson and coming onto the forums but got to ask, are you being paid to do this? Is it part of your job description?
Because I see lots of community feedback going on here and not even a hint of the next EA announcement? And I love your story about the bald scenario but got to feel it is reaching out and touching base but really it is saying nothing about nothing about the next series.
If you can get a bald head into TS3 can you not give us even a timeline for updates without revealing the taboo!?
Hah no, none of this is in our job description. When you see a guru chatting on twitter, posting on the forums, etc it’s usually of their own volition. Sure we sometimes do twitter takeovers or write a blog about a product that’s part of marketing, but by and large it’s just people doing it because they want to. For example, those big guides I wrote on the forums for the seasonal lot markers, or the houseboats, was just because I thought they were really cool (but complicated) features that I worked on that I thought fans would really enjoy learning the ins and outs of. Nobody told me to go write those up, the majority of it I do on my own free time away from the office. Something many people are likely unaware of is that most of the gurus that you get to chat with aren’t in leadership positions on the team… we’re just developers working on our assigned areas. That’s especially true in the case of disciplines that aren’t producers, they’re likely people in positions you would never hear from on other development teams. Something that I really love and appreciate about The Sims Studio is that everyone on the team is not only allowed, but encouraged to have a voice, be it in the design of the game itself, or being allowed to just go out and chat with fans about what we’re working on. Back when I started talking to fans I was an entry level producer with the least seniority on the team.
You can thank SimGuruShannon for getting us all involved in more community interaction. Back when I joined the team there was a general sense of frustration amongst the devs that we’d lost our close connection with the fans because so much of what we said had to become official statements that went through PR, got localized into the different regions the game is released in, get reposted by various community managers around the world… it just became a huge drag and could take weeks before something we wanted to say would actually get out there. She started up her twitter account to get back to directly chatting with fans and got a bunch of the rest of us involved and it just snowballed from there. It’s grown to the point where our marketing and PR teams took notice of it and wanted to loop back in on what we were doing, but I think everyone there recognizes the importance of trusting us and allowing some general autonomy in our posting. Why follow 20 different gurus on twitter if we’re all posting the same thing or just advertising to you?
I personally enjoy doing this because I’m very passionate about video games and the game industry itself, and I like discussing both of those things. I relate to Sims fans because I’ve done the same thing all of you do for other games that I’ve loved in the past. I try to share tidbits that give people a sense of our studio’s culture, or the weird things that happen during game development, or the rational behind some of the decisions we make that don’t seem to make sense on the surface. Sometimes when I see fans are upset about something I’ll go and talk about it with them as well… it’s easy for us to get a bad rap because there’s no way you can see the full picture of why things happen. We truly do have a fantastic team of developers here though, so I care about going to bat for them and defending them if people aren’t properly framing a critique. It helps me as well; I think it makes me better at my job. I get a good sense of what Sims fans are interested in, I get immediate feedback from people about what we’re doing right and what people want us to improve. Part of what a producer is responsible for is keeping us on budget and on time by making difficult decisions during development. We’re also responsible for driving quality while working within those parameters, and being an advocate for our players so that we deliver a great game. It’s that second part that staying in touch with fans really helps me with.
Now in regards to seeing more of Sims 4, people are just going to have to be patient for a bit. Being given the freedom to go out and just chat with fans on our own comes with the understanding that we post responsibly and don’t leak out information before our PR and marketing teams are ready to discuss it. It’s great that we can talk like this, but remember there’s still a multi million dollar marketing campaign behind this entire thing. Just like our friends in marketing need to work with us to present an accurate representation of what The Sims 4 really is, we need to work with marketing and allow them to unveil the game on the schedule they’ve researched and planned. There has to be that level of trust and respect between different departments for this whole shebang to work. Once they blow the lid off more features I generally get to come in and chat about all the little details of those features that wouldn’t get discussed in big marketing beats; they’re generally focused on a broad reach across a wide audience, so they stay pretty high level so that their message is easily digested. I know that all those little details comprise exactly what the big Sims fans love to know about though, so I’ll be happy to answer more questions about the game once we get to that point