"Not many companies can do this you see"
In a previous job, I worked for a London based games company called 'Elixir'. They did Republic : the revolution, and 'Evil Genius'. At one point, they started work on a kind of people management sim style game. One of the guys working there explained to me that "everyone is trying to do a game like the sims. It's such a big hit. But its horribly difficult. The things is, WE can do it. Not many companies can do this you see.."
I'm beginning to see why. It's not a matter of code. Code is easy once you've done a few big games. It's partly a matter of Design, and partly a matter of risk.
The design bit comes in because unlike a simple shooter, RTS, or RPG, a life sim games has this big 'elephant in the room', which is the thought of ' Who cares?'
Now clearly the answer is 'Lots of people', because the sims was HUGE. But why? what's attractive about a life sim game? I know that I love them, but I can't really explain why.
I think the scariest question you can ask yourself about anything creative you work on is 'Who cares?'. Its a question tht makes you step back and evaluate the big picture.
The design for 'Milo' is very fuzzy (Milo is my life sim game). I'm finding myself coding bits of simulation, living with them for a bit and seeing what I like, and what I don't like. I quite like the rough 'look' of the game, but I'm still flailing a bit design wise. This is one of the strengths of doing a game on your own. With a big 100 man company, you can't do it like that. (In fact, you can, and I worked somewhere where they did, but it wastes MILLIONS of dollars that way)
Now I see why people clone Zuma or Quake. It must be much easier design wise, and feel a lot safer. The problem is, I'm pretty sure 'safe' does not equals sales. Democracy taught me that,
Here's to beating the sims sales figures :D I really do NOT want to have to go get some boring job doing database programming.