Can Project Vie Take the "Life Simulation" Genre by Storm?
When American game designer, Will Wright, created The Sims in 2000, it was the first game of its kind. The life simulation game gave users the ability to create a character (a Sim) and control nearly every aspect of their life—from getting married and having children, to the more mundane practices— eating food or using the toilet. The game was a smash hit and became one of the best-selling video games of all time; going on to have multiple PC spin-offs and console versions.
Throughout the years, The Sims has gone unrivalled in its domination of the life-simulation genre, mainly due to the fact that it's the only one available. There have been no other similar realistic (i.e. human avatars as opposed to animals) single-player life simulation games for PC; the best "imitations" have been browser-based games like IMVU, SecondLife, or Human Age—but even those have lacked the charm of The Sims series, and rely more on socialising than living a fully fleshed-out simulated life.
The most recent iteration of The Sims series (The Sims 4) has been met with controversy, as the game was released with several game play elements missing, which were typically included in the base game of the previous titles in the series. Though the developers have slowly been adding in the missing game play (things like pools, ghosts and toddlers), many Sims fans have been disillusioned by the game, in general, and have been wanting another option.
That's where Project Vie comes in...
What is Project Vie?
In mid-September 2016, a reddit user by the name of ProjectVie popped up in The Sims subreddit and made a few vague comments in a post titled, "How would YOU develop a competitor to the Sims if you were given the opportunity?" According to the user, they were in fact the community manager of an upcoming life simulation game named Project Vie. The game's developers and producers have not come forward yet, and the community manager has been frustratingly tight-lipped; offering only a few nuggets of information since the account popped up in 2016. There's also a Project Vie subreddit, which is currently locked to the public.
In early February 2017, the Project Vie Twitter account announced that there would be more information on March 15th, and the same community manager popped into the Sims subreddit again to share a bit of info.
Here's what we know about Project Vie so far*:
"Vie (stylized “vie”) is a life simulation game with managerial and role-playing elements. We’re currently in an early stage of development, but you’ll be hearing more from us soon."
Though the game is inspired by the Sims, it will not be "the same game"
The game is created by fellow (or perhaps former) Sims fans, who have been observing the changes in the series over the years
"If graphics are your thing, then we think you'll be pleased."
"The game experience will obviously be best on powerful systems. That's not something we can change."
"Vie is similar to The Sims in some ways, but totally different in some other ways. You will end up doing the same thing in both games, but you'll have a much better time in Vie!"
"Vie's target audience overlaps with The Sims', but Vie isn't for every The Sims player and The Sims isn't for every Vie player."
More information (including game play screenshots/images) will be released on March 15th.
*bullets in quotes are direct quotes from Project Vie's community manager. All information has been gathered from Project Vie's Twitter and Reddit account. More information will be added to this list as it's shared.
Based on the information avaliable thus far, would you be interested in Project Vie?
How can Project Vie differ from The Sims?
There's a few areas in which The Sims series has always been lacking in terms of a true life simulation game. This is all merely speculation on my part, as there's no way of knowing yet if Project Vie will attempt to fill these gaps, but here's a few ideas of things they can add to the game to make it more unique from The Sims and draw players who've wanted a different kind of simulation/role-playing game.
- First-person mode. As of now, The Sims games have only allowed players to control the characters in a God-like/third-person sort of mode. Maybe Project Vie will give us the ability to play through the eyes of the character, as if we were living the virtual life ourselves.
- "Grittier" game play. The Sims has always had child-friendly game play, with more realistic game play features involving sex or violence being censored out (for example, sex in the game is called "woo hoo" and is done under the covers, genitals are pixelated when clothes are taken off, any kind of violence is absent in the game; though Sims can die, it's really only through "natural" causes and they cannot be killed by other Sim characters). The game has always been for all ages, but some fans have wanted a more realistic game style- with murder, violence and of course, sex. Weapons are also absent from the games. Maybe Project Vie can add in a mix of Grand Theft Auto-style violence with the game play of the Sims and tap into the audience that desires a dangerous game style...
- Adult themes. As I touched on above, any mention of sex is watered down in the Sims games. Many fans have wished the game would have take a more adult-orientated route, and have user have long created sex mods (and censor removers), dating all the way back to The Sims 1. Whether or not Project Vie will touch on the sexier side of the game play is unknown, but it's likely they'd have an audience for it.
- Open world. The Sims 3 is the only iteration to date to include an open world. Fans have wanted an open world in the game for years, and now with games like the GTA series and the Fallout game series showing that a vast open world can be done, can Project Vie manage to replicate the same?
- Better graphics. The graphics for the Sims have changed throughout the years; it's not fair to even say anything about The Sims 1 as it was the first of its kind, but the Sims 2 had cartoon-y graphics, the Sims 3 went for a more realistic style, and the Sims 4 returned a cartoon-esque graphic style. It's 2017, and it's likely that Project Vie could deliver a really stunningly-beautiful realistic graphic approach. I'm sure fans would love something that looked a bit more like real life.
What's something that you think EA/Maxis has missed in the Sims games that you'd like to see Project Vie pick up? Tell me in the comments section below!
Can Project Vie Really Pull It Off?
This leaves the final question at the moment: does Project Vie really have what it takes to be a competitor to The Sims series?
We won't know until more information is released or until the game comes out, but the market is definitely there. And it's been proven in recent years that gamers are hungry for new and fresh ideas, even when compared to classic gaming favourites.
A great example of this occurred in 2015, when Finnish company, Colossal Order released their city building game, Cities:Skylines. Within a month of its release, 1 million copies had been sold- making Cities:Skylines a giant in the city building game genre- a genre previously topped by EA's SimCity series.
Likewise, the release of Frontier Development's simulation/tycoon game, Planet Coaster, in 2016 saw similar results. The game sold 400,000 copies in it's first month of sales, and boasted a 94% rating on Steam. The game went head-to-head with the third installment of the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, RollerCoaster Tycoon World, which ended up getting a 34% (mostly negative reviews) on Steam. Again, the RollerCoaster Tycoon series had previously been the main series in the Tycoon/Park-Building genre, but Planet Coaster came along and showed fans that there was more to enjoy.
So can Project Vie do the same to the Sims? They've got a good chance. With the drawbacks and disappointments around The Sims 4 and the fan base growing and wanting different game play, in general, there's a lot of room for improvement, and if EA doesn't jump to the wishes of the consumer, maybe Project Vie can.
We won't know until we see what the game really has to offer, but we'll definitely be watching and waiting until then.
© 2017 Brittany Doherty