|Hello! What’s your name and what do you do on The Sims 2?
Hi, my name is Darren. I’m a producer, and like most everybody here, I do a bunch of different things on developing the product. I have my hands in The Sims 2 User Interface, custom content features, storytelling, Create A Family, and spent a lot of my time focused on The Sims 2 Body Shop…. coming soon to a download near you.
How did you become an Assistant Producer for The Sims 2?
Before I moved north to the Bay Area, I was managing editor at a television news Web site, writing articles and serving as the in-house movie and music critic. Free CDs! I initially got hired at Maxis to help build the SimCity 3000 Web site and have been here for over five years now.
What’s the best part of your job?
I think the best part of my job is taking screenshots and telling stories or when I meet someone who’s a fan of The Sims. I also love jumping into one of the houses I’m working on, playing with it, and seeing something new and unexpected happen. Watching the game evolve from start to finish is remarkable and new things pop up all the time.
Where do you get your ideas for your job?
Working on The Sims makes you laugh just about every day. You hear people calling out random things like, “Aww, my head’s stuck in the toilet!” or “Should my Sim be able to marry his cousin?” In what other office are you going to get that? Oh, and 25 cent candy bars ain’t bad either.
What’s your favorite feature about The Sims 2 Body Shop?
While playing it, I’ve found that creating custom skin tones is a kick. Sure, you can spend hours painting every detailed contour for all ages and genders, but I go for the quick dirty method: Open up all the textures and replace them with a bright green fill. It takes about two minutes and I have a radioactive Sim that can have little radioactive babies.
Any tips for folks who want to make content for The Sims 2?
Don’t be too critical of yourself. The Sims 2 Body Shop is a powerful tool that will probably take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you can really take advantage of its’ deep feature set and the content inventory that we will be releasing over time. Don’t worry so much about making something that’s going to get downloaded by thousands of players, just start out making custom content for your own enjoyment — slap your dog’s picture on a shirt … make some yellow eyes … stretch a Sim’s face into all directions. If it makes you laugh, or if you make something that you’ll enjoy seeing in the game when it comes out, that’s good enough.
What are your hobbies?
Playing The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King with my wife … watching obscure movies … building Web pages … mowing the lawn … playing with my nephews. I’m looking forward to getting back to some of those after we release The Sims 2 Body Shop!
What’s the first computer game you ever played?
That’s hard to pinpoint. I loved Adventure on Atari 2600. The first PC game I really got into was King’s Quest. My Dad drew up a big map of all the screens so we could remember where we’ve been and see how the screens connect. One time at E3, I had the chance to talk to Roberta Williams and ask her how to solve the one riddle I never got. That was a nice nostalgia moment for me.
If you could take 3 things with you to an island and had to stay there for the rest of your life, what would you take along?
- My wife, Annie.
- DVD/TV and the complete collection of Hitchcock movies (can we count that as one?)
- All the macaroni and cheese I can carry.
What’s it like working in the game industry?
There’s sort of a saying a lot of us use around here … Sure, it’s hard work, but at the end of the day, you’re making games! You get to sit around and talk about whether the toddler’s nose-picking animation is funny enough (it is), or whether custom content creators should be able to make makeup for men (you should), or does this Sim look cute enough (she does).