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Will Wright’s “Soul of the Sims”

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I found an interesting tidbit this evening. It gives a look into how Will Wright wrote his first pass at the Sims’ AI back in 1997. It’s a scanned printout which makes it kind of annoying to read. According to Don Hopkins’ description:

This is the prototype for the soul of The Sims, which Will Wright wrote on January 23, 1997.

I had just started working at the Maxis Core Technology Group on “Project X” aka Dollhouse”, and Will Wright brought this code in one morning, to demonstrate his design for the motives, feedback loop and failure conditions of the simulated people. While going through old papers, I ran across this print-out that I had saved, so I scanned it and cleaned the images up, and got permission from Will to publish it.

This code is a interesting example of game design, programming and prototyping techniques. The Sims code has certainly changed a lot since Will wrote this original prototype code. For example, there is no longer any “stress” motive. And the game doesn’t store motives in global variables, of course.

My hope is that this code will give you a glimpse of how Will Wright designs games, and what was going on in his head at the time!

Despite what Don asserts above, I wasn’t terribly impressed since this is really something that can be written in an hour or so. I figure that is simply because it was an early pass. Of course, the Sims behavior AI is not terribly complex so it really wouldn’t need to be anything much more complex than what you see here. Oh well… worth a look anyway.

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