The Sims 5 hints at narrative development!

This is NOT an official Sims 5 picture! (read the article for context)

The Sims 5 is currently in development and while we don’t have any official announcements to go off in order to get our information on how it might be we do have job listings!

The most recent job listing for the next installment of The Sims franchise is for ‘Senior Narrative Designer‘. This is a great sign!

This is how the job listing reads: 

“At Maxis, we thrive on outrageous thinking. It’s the fuel that inspires the best games in the world. We’re creators and great storytellers. Our mission is not just about amazing our peers – it’s about amazing our fans. Taking risks. Collaborating with each other. Daring to dream big. Together, we can improve the way millions play every day.

As a Senior Narrative Designer on The Sims, you’ll report to the Creative Director and work with a team of enthusiastic industry craftspeople from all walks of life. You will use your passion and knowledge to lead the development of the narrative experience from initial prototypes through final design.

You will work with your engineering, design, XD, UXR and Production partners, along with using feedback and research insights to create experiences that surprise, delight, and invite millions of gamers around the world to Play with Life.

The Sims has a very unique player base with 60% of our audience being women between the ages of 18-24. We are looking for someone with deep insights on how to create the best stories and experiences for our players.

 

Responsibilities

Guide the delivery of the following:

  • Define and and maintain the narrative vision of the project. 
  • Explore new ways to bring characters to life and create emotional experiences in a non-linear simulation experience. 
  • Work with multiple disciplines to direct and implement the characters, settings, goals, and conflicts from drafts in game.
  • Work with the tools team to improve workflow and processes. 
  • Create design documentation to support prototyping efforts.
  • Partner with Development Directors to track tasks, identify risk, and clarify changes in work.
  • Partner with UX to design, research, and implement features, particularly for introducing narrative elements and decisions. 
  • Aid team leadership in gathering presentation materials. 
  • Playtest, attend UXR sessions, and participate in organizing feedback/insights.
  • Document findings for future use in Sims development. 

 

Qualifications

  • Significant Narrative Game Genre design experience, especially in the area of creating the production pipeline to integrate story with the gameplay.
  • Significant experience writing fictional stories, ideally interactive experiences.
  • Capability to lead cross-discipline prototyping and idea iteration, actively participating in the development of a feature from start to finish.
  • Experience with young adult fiction, pop-culture stories, in particular romantic narratives.
  • Hands-on implementation for an interactive experience or mod. 
  • Excited by and helping define new business and distribution models like live services through the lens of narrative elements. 
  • Knowledge of popular interactive story machinima or mod communities a plus (ex: The Sims, Episode, Grand Theft Auto Online).
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills required. “

Interesting!

This could mean that we will get some beautiful, humourous, and in-depth stories as we used to in The Sims. 

The previous Sims installments have delivered rich stories whilst also keeping the ability for the player to choose how their Sims lives will unfold. They have had the right level of spontaneity versus choice.

Personally, I think this is something The Sims 4 is lacking and has become more of a build mode simulator game on par with the mobile games.

Like the mobile games, The Sims 4 still has a narrative though. However it is delivered mostly via text on screen rather than animations and visual Sim responses.

This hiring of a narrative designer doesn’t necessarily mean that won’t be the case again but at least we know there will be a narrative and hopefully, they will deliver The Sims 5 as a true sims game should be.

It worries me that they have asked for knowledge of young pop culture specifically as I think the Sims is being targeted more and more towards a younger audience and forgetting all of its long-term legacy players, but I do understand the importance of keeping the game relevant.

Also, is the requirement for knowledge of Grand Theft Auto Online and ‘live services’ a clue for online gameplay?! Time will tell.

I do feel after seeing this listing that this new version of The Sims will be an online game (perhaps optional) with season passes for content, aimed at a young and fresh audience and the natural next progression from The Sims 4 rather than a fresh new Sims game that rights all the wrongs of The Sims 4 and takes the game back to its roots. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

I’m extremely curious and excited to see it!

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