I think it is pretty safe to say this has been the reaction in Sim circles and on the forums regarding the possibility that Create-a Style may not be included in the newest addition to the Sims franchise, The Sims 4. With a tag line of "Customize Everything!", The Sims 3 introduced simmers to a whole new way to color and control their in game environment. And we loved it! The possibilities were endless.
And therein, I suspect, lies the problem. When you have endless combinations of colors and patterns...on hundreds of objects on the same lot, we are talking about a lot of memory space...a lot of function spent recalling and rendering all of those combinations. If you have spent any time creating within The Sims 3, then you know that the more "styles" you save, the more custom colors and texture combinations, the longer Create-a-Style takes to load and function. So much so that people with mid range or lower machines have often experienced crashes or loops attempting to use Create-a-Style under some of these circumstances. Even the console version of The Sims 3, which has a more strict allotment for space, had to limit the Create-a-Style function. On the console version, players are able to color shift, but not change textures or patterns in what one assumes is an attempt to control the amount of space Create-a-Sim is taking up in the overall game.
So Create-a-Style is a beast. It is a fact. But to the players, it is a beloved beast that adds an important element of creativity and customization that makes a game like The Sims the ultimate sand box. And players do not want to lose it.
At the recent Simscamp/Gamescom unveiling of The Sims 4, the world got a first look at the new system EA has been working on for Create-a-Sim. While everyone was excited to see the new ways they will be able to shape and mold our Sims like never before, the fact is that one of the first thing all the attendees noticed was the lack of Create-a-Style. Under clothing options we saw something like this:
Now, knowing what we do about the beast that Create-a-Style is when it comes to system usage, it is not a huge surprise that EA is looking for ways to cage the beast. Over and over we heard that one of the main goals of The Sims 4 is to enable strong, smooth performance on a majority of machines. And clearly, Create-a Style didn't make the cut. But it occurs to me that a compromise is possible that could make the players relatively happy, still make the game run well, and not interfere with the chosen UI for the game.
I would like to suggest this compromise in the hopes that something like this is possible. I know that as players, we don't have as much understanding on all of the myriad factors that affect development decisions. When features are cut or not included, it is surely done after much debate and arguing and research. But this particular feature is huge. It really matters to the fans in a deep way. While there might not be a way to include the whole thing....Create-A-Style as we know it now....perhaps here is a way to give us SOME of that functionality without sacrificing too much on the functionality of the game? So please, hear me out.
If we could at least shift colors, we could get tons of variety and customization. Leaving out all of the hundreds of textures would reduce the load immensely....and further limiting the number of colors that could be saved would further streamline the process. So what if when the swatches open up there is a "custom" swatch that leads to an additional UI:
To keep it streamlined, to keep there from being thousands of colors saved in our game and bogging things down, what if we limited the number of custom colors to a specific amount? A "Personal Palette", if you will:
Taking from the current Create-a-Style color wheel, this custom swatch would open to a color wheel that the player could use to select the exact shade they desire. When they have a color they like, they double click on one of the palette squares to save that color.
This way, we could have more saturated colors, less saturated colors...the exact shade of blue we love...the ability to make a completely pink and purple house if that is what our heart desires. Each person's palette would be different, but it would be limited...so it would not get too unwieldy. If you have all of the palette squares full, you have to delete one before you can add another color.
Any lot or asset you download that has a custom color would automatically over write a space in your personal palette. You could then have the option to keep the asset colored as the creator originally designated, or you can delete that color in favor of your own selection. Either way...you have some control over the look of your game.
Now look....I know this is not perfect. I am aware that in a perfect world, we would have a full Create-a-Style like we do in The Sims 3 in addition to all of the wonderful new innovations they are bringing to us in The Sims 4. But I am a realist too. If it is a choice between nothing at all and the ability to choose and save a limited number of custom colors, I am all for it. As a creator myself, I view building and creating in The Sims as painting. I never could draw to save my life...but I can create beautiful "pictures" with the lots I design in this game. And as such, I want as many crayons as possible to color with...because I can get a lot of mileage with color...more so that with texture or pattern. So I would like to suggest this idea to the powers that be at EA. A compromise. Something that might possibly give each side a little of what they want for The Sims 4. Please let me know what you think.