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The Maxoid Tom Letters, part 1

I could have sworn I'd posted these earlier. MaxoidTom visited MATY and wanted to know why everyone was so pissed off about SecuROM being bundled in with Bon Voyage. He then asked for feedback, and got it in spades. He never knew what hit him!

Dear MaxoidTom:

On a non-game-construction / bug front, some of us are also weary of Maxoids and EA Legal giving mixed messages about the paysite problem.

If the EULAs all state that no one can make a buck off of EA's IP but EA, which is what "noncommercial use" appears to refer to, as EA Legal has verified on many occasions, then linking to paysites on the Sims website is a mixed message.

Either it is cool by EA for users to leech off of other users and sell content that requires the game system from EA to work, or it's not. Obviously, it is not in EA's best interest to have users buying unsupported custom content rather than SPs and EPs. With a finite amount of money out there that can be spent on a hobby like the Sims, the wise business practice would seem to be to actually enforce the EULA and level the playing field for customers of EA who can't or won't pay for non-EA content. Given that a primary draw to the game is the customizability of it via CC, freesites are your biggest income generators, and you don't have to pay these folks to make your game even more fun and interesting.

It would behoove EA and Maxis to get their party lines straight and determine whether the legalese in the EULA is worth protecting or not. It's your property and your choice, but seems like it would open up a huge can of worms to allow the defiance of the EULA to continue unchallenged.

As for bugs, how and why does it keep happening that every single product is shipped with a major flaw of some sort? Why on earth would a patch break a previously-repaired issue? Most of us here on this forum play CC-free and hack- and mod-free games when new EPs/SPs are out. Therefore the only code /objects present are all EAxiod things, and inevitably stuff is borked. As has been said here, we like a lot of things about the games, but it is not unreasonable for us to expect to receive a product that works out of the box. We'd prefer more testing and bug-fixing and a delayed launch to getting yet another borkinated game issue (or ten) every six months. You do more right than wrong as far as making the game appealing; it is the actual functionality of the game that seems to have issues. Note that most of us thought Seasons was a strong EP, with few technical issues. Conversely, Pets was a mess, just like Unleashed was. If you have the time to hunt through the archives back to where Seasons was discussed, you'll see that credit is given when it is due, and most folks rate Seasons as the best and "sturdiest" EP, even though it did require patching and tweaking. The level of borkination was far less troublesome than previous borkinations.

My suspicion is that you're caught between a rock and a hard place. Maxis is not the independent entity it once was, and changing the rules to correspond with your new Electronic Overlords is surely an adjustment. Maybe I am wrong. Much of the frustration in the community stems from a lack of consistency when a problem or question needs resolution. Ask one Maxoid one day about a topic and get one answer, ask another on another day the same question, get a diametrically opposed response, ask EA or any subsection of EA the same question and get put on hold indefinitely and / or a partial response. The assumption that it is always User Error when a user has a problem also gets old. Some of your users are actually fairly savvy, and don't need to be fobbed off with a cut and paste response and routed through several levels of bot-like non-help before getting an issue resolved. I've had issues blamed on my computer, the assumption made that I was lying about having CC / hacks installed when I'm running a freshly uninstalled, reg-cleaned, reinstalled game, and blame flung at NVidia for my graphics card which was on your approved list and accompanied by the correct drivers. I could go on.

Removing posts that discuss problems is rarely a good tactic. It makes it look as if you are hiding or covering up a valid complaint, especially if the complaint is not being addressed adequately.

Why do I keep buying Sims products? Frankly, without modders like JMP, I wouldn't. I have other things to spend money on that cause less stress. Right now I have had BV since it arrived, uninstalled, because I don't have time to deal with the tweaking and bug-fixing right now. I am not happy about the new loading screen, and I have never once received any of the so-called bonuses promised for giving EA/Maxis any personal data / registration info (nor any from stores with pre-order bonuses, but that isn't specifically your problem), so I stopped bothering.

When you KNOW that installing a new EP of your fave game is going to drive you crazy, eventually the urge to play is going to lose out to the desire to avoid the hassle. You've got a few more products to release before Sims 3, and my advice to you is that they ship as bug-free and well-tested as possible, or you will not be able to push as many units of Sims 3 as you hope. A game just should not be so darn fragile and fuxxored, and more so with each EP.

Again, what you do right is what made The Sims and The Sims 2 so addictive and fun and entertaining. We love the concept and the game (when it works). What we don't like are the mixed messages and constant shipped-with-problems products. Try missing a deadline (if necessary) in order to iron out flaws better next time. Also, people on dial-up really think having to download a nearly 45M patch file sucks rocks, especially when the same issues were fixed by community members with a series of files that averaged less than 2k in size each. Why couldn't EA/Maxis bundle similar fixes and offer a non-bloated patch this time?

Heck, JMP has all of his fixes available for free. Avail yourself of them and use them if it makes your life easier. Working with Edith has to be a nightmare. Consider it a goodwill gesture.

It would also be nice if we could back away from clashing personalities and frustrations on both sides and work together. It benefits you, as you get free but invaluable consulting from users of all skillsets and with all kinds of abilities and time to actually playtest various configurations of computer+game EP/SP groupings, and it benefits the community because we get a less aggravating game to play with. You attempt to communicate with the community. The attempt would be improved if you listened, had some way to try and get a consensus and make sure all Maxoids / EA people were even somewhat consistent when answering concerns and questions, refrained from censoring discussions about game problems, and put away the hurt feelings. If we didn't like the game, why would expend so much time and effort discussing it and continuing to purchase new updates for it? Keep the aggravation to a minimum for your paying customers and it will behoove you in the long run, and being sniffy when customers are frustrated is not the smartest tactic to adopt here.

Just some thoughts.

Do you agree? DIsagree? Let me know.


Milla Harper

March 2008



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