I was emotionally attached to the easel because I’d programmed it in The Sims 2. It was a great object. I may have been in love with it. So I wanted to design an easel and painting skill worthy of players’ lofty expectations in The Sims 3.
To add variety, there were 3 different canvas sizes. To add depth and collectability, some paintings were uncommon and rare (known as brilliant and masterpiece paintings). To add character, certain personality Sims would paint unique variations of paintings.
And I wanted players to barely ever see the same painting twice.
Creativity won out. Looking around, The Sims 3 team was filled with people that loved to make things, so why not tap into that?
We set up an invitation for everyone on the team to submit personal artwork with only a few guidelines. (1) It must look like art, (2) you must have rights to it, and (3) photographs are okay but only if they’ve been highly filtered and didn't have human figures.
The response was fantastic.
We had submissions from artists, modelers, producers, designers, gameplay scripters, world builders, and engineers. And the variety was wonderful!
For example, one gameplay scripter submitted some of his own childhood watercolors:
It was self-actualization.
Then to get variations for different personality Sims, I ran all of these through Photoshop filters. All Sims could paint the “normal” version of a painting, but if they had a specific character trait, then there was a chance they’d paint the modified version for that trait. Here are some examples:
And there are some art critics out there who have taken the time to replace the entire set of 1580 paintings with works from the web and deviantART. I love our community, and I’m constantly surprised about how much time and effort they put into modding The Sims 3.
This approach of appealing to the team worked so well that in our World Adventures Expansion Pack, we had everyone submit fortunes for the fortune cookie machine. It led to some gems like, Help me! I’m trapped in a game development studio! and Never trust rugs.
So if you could find one feature in your game that everyone on your team could contribute to, what would it be? If you can find something, you’ll get plenty of creative content, your game will be richer, and your team will be happier.
Your team would love the chance.