The Sims 4 is putting a heavy emphasis on emotions, but the Sims Studio doesn't want to make those play out as broad cartoonish stereotypes. Instead, executive producer Rachel Franklin says the goal is to make the sims a more accurate reflection of real life, with more subtle touches based on human motivation and emotional states.
"At the beginning, The Sims was about needs," she told Polygon. "How are you going to manage your time to satisfy your needs, get more money to buy better things. We've evolved the sims over time, over generations."
For example, since people multi-task regularly now, the team has put work into making sure the sims can too. They might eat and talk or exercise and watch TV, at the same time. But the new focus on emotions also means that they might not do those tasks as well. "If I'm in a terrible emotional state I'm not going to perform as well," Franklin said. "If I'm inspired and driven, I'm going to do my job better and it's going to help."
In fact, the team is aiming to make even fantastical elements behave a bit more realistically. EA showed off a voodoo doll to shift a sim's emotions during the stage presentation at Gamescom, but Franklin notes that the effect won't work that quickly in the game. Instead, choices will influence the sim's mood over time.