The Sims 3: Pets A REAL horse asks REAL questions about equines in latest expansion

GamesRadar’s senior wildlife editor gets down to business with assistant producer Ryan Vaughan

It seems that Electronic Arts has beat me to it, showing that the studio truly recognizes the importance of its non-human audience. The Sims 3: Pets, the fifth expansion for the series, puts players in charge of canines, felines, and most importantly, horses. And it’s about damn time. If you want to read an interview where a REAL horse asks REAL questions about EA’s latest pet friendly expansion for The Sims 3, read on.

Above: You can now play as horses in The Sims 3. Finally

Buttercup: I understand that horses were the most requested pet ever from Sims fans. Why Sims 3? Why didn’t you give us horses what we wanted with The Sims 2 pets?
With The Sims 3 Pets, not only did we want to include an animal that our fans have been requesting forever, but we wanted to feature a pet that could really take advantage of the vast open worlds that The Sims 3 provides. Because of their ability to explore and cover large distances in no time, as well as their special capacity for befriending other pets and Sims alike, we felt horses were a perfect choice to include in the game.

Buttercup: In the real world, horses are much more complex creatures than common canines and felines. I don’t mean to brag, but we never eat our own poop. Was introducing horses more challenging than everyday cats and dogs?
Being that The Sims 3 Pets is the first Sims game ever to include horses as pets, it presented some very unique challenges for the development team. One of the biggest challenges was getting Sims to actually ride the horses. For the first time in Sims history, we need to have two player controlled characters interacting and relying on each other to get from point A to point B. This meant all new interactions and animations needed to be perfectly synchronized between the Sim and the horse. Needless to say, we were very excited the first time we were able to see Sims riding horses!

Above: Humans have inferior jumping skills. You can prove this fact by visiting the Equestrian Center

Buttercup: So I’m a horse, playing The Sims 3 as a horse. What can I do?
The racing and jumping skills are two of my favorite new features for horses. Using the really cool variety of different horse jumps and training posts you can place on your lot in Buy Mode, but the coolest thing about these skills is that you can actually have your horse compete in equestrian competitions at the brand new Equestrian Center. If your horse has high racing and jumping skills you can actually win a lot of money. You can also build the new riding skill for Sims while practicing your horse skills as well!

Buttercup: Why stop at dogs and cats and horses? How did The Sims 3: Pets team decide which non-humans would make the cut?
One of our goals in creating The Sims 3 Pets was to get the player to think about what it would actually be like to be a cat, dog, or horse. What motivates a dog to dig holes? Why do horses like carrots so much? We wanted players to play with life as these pets and while we would have loved to make all of the animals in The Sims 3 Pets controllable by the player, we really wanted to create a focused experience and make sure that the three animals that are player controllable –cats, dogs and horses—are the best they can be. Players will be able to experience life as one of these pets, while still being able to interact with tons of different and unique animals like turtles, lizards, rodents and birds.

Above: A behind-the-scenes look at some of the horse tech that went into The Sims 3: pets

Buttercup: Horses actually don’t like carrots. We just recognize the value of beta carotene. But I digress. For the most part, horses appear to move and behave very realistically in The Sims 3: Pets. How did your team research my brethren?
Vaughan: We watched a lot of movies featuring horses – especially westerns – but one of the coolest things we did was actually go spend a day at a horse ranch! We got to watch and see how horses moved, what their different mannerisms were and how they interacted with each other. It was a great learning experience and a great way for us to really get the right feeling of a horse in the game.

Buttercup: What’s the deal with unicorns? Can you create one from the start?
Vaughan: We chose to include unicorns as The Sims 3 Pet’s occult creature because not only did they fit in perfectly to the game, but just like horses they’ve never been done before in a Sims game. Once in-game, the mystical unicorn will often appear around the world you’re playing in and your Sims will have the opportunity to invite the unicorn to join their household. Once under your control, unicorns have all these awesome special abilities like being able to teleport around the world, bless Sims, or even spark fires! They’re tons of fun to play with.

You may not realize it, but horses have been making important contributions to the games industry for years. So it’s refreshing to see an influential studio like EA taking equines seriously with The Sims 3: Pets. As a reward for both horses and non-horse Sims fans alike, EA is offering all kinds of platform specific exclusives to anyone who pre-orders The Sims 3: Pets before its October 18 release.

Sep 27, 2011


Who? B. Buttercup What? Senior Wildlife Editor How did I get here? After receiving an honorary degree from Brown University’s College of Science, I moseyed on to Pfizer, where I spent four years in the research and development department working on experimental treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Life seemed pretty sweet. I had all the sugar cubes, Adderall, and cash that an equine could want. That’s when I met GamesRadar’s Associate Editor, Chris Antista, a young human, who convinced me to leave the highly lucrative pharmaceutical industry with a large bag of feed. Stuff I done: The Top 7… sexy horses every stud should ride Loves: Sugar cubes, prancing, getting published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, National Velvet, salt. Hates: Spurs, jockeys, Elmer’s Glue, The Godfather. Now playing: Plants vs Zombies, BlazBlue, World of Warcraft
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