The joyful representation of The Sims

first_img 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. The joyful representation of The SimsEA Maxis senior producer Michael Duke on creating studio longevity, improving representation, and building a lasting franchiseRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterFriday 23rd August 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleEA MaxisJust like The Sims itself, my chat with EA Maxis senior producer Michael Duke was full of silly, surprising stories.He told me about how he used the game’s customizable buildings and houses to connect with his wife over interior decorating — something he normally finds inaccessible. I shared how seducing the Grim Reaper on senior night at a club helped me feel more stable after a major life upheaval. He offered the tale of some developers who cheekily programmed an automatically flushing toilet to sometimes obnoxiously flush while your Sim was still sitting on it. Highly relatable.Duke says he loves swapping these kinds of stories about a series he’s worked on for 13 years, starting as a gameplay engineer on The Sims 3 and sticking with the game through four expansion packs before moving to The Sims 4 team and a production track just a few years ago. Personal, emergent narratives like these are a major factor in the long life of the franchise, and the player response to them is, he says, part of what makes working on The Sims stay fun over a long period of time.Despite what sounds like a hefty tenure, Duke says he considers himself more of a “mid-term retention” in a studio that values keeping its talent for the long haul. It’s a challenging goal in an industry currently in the midst of some harsh self-reflection on issues such as crunch, toxic workplace culture, and high turnover.Michael Duke, EA MaxisAnd it’s a goal that Duke acknowledges can be especially tricky for a studio like Maxis, which has a fanbase that likes frequent, detailed updates, and has thus far put out nearly 30 pieces of DLC content for The Sims 4. With each new piece of DLC, Duke says, the QA process especially grows more rigorous, as every new system added to the game must be tested to function with every other pre-existing system, and the likelihood of issues slipping through the cracks increases.But Duke says Maxis has historically been keenly aware of the perils of crunch culture, and continues to do its best to combat these issues as they arise.”Something I’m very proud of in Maxis is how much we work at trying to avoid [crunch],” he says. “It’s been a value in this studio for quite a while, and in some regards I think we were pushing forward early on. I won’t imply we never [crunch], but frankly it is very rare.”What we try and set out to do is make sure we have a space where if people are passionate about something or there’s something they just really want to get in, we want to have that space for them to work late one night and get it done and support that effort. We also don’t want our employees to be here late every night, all week. We see that manifest in bad ways in the long run.”We value the long tenure of employees. Those of us who are here just love being here, and our focus on quality of life and avoiding things like crunch is a big part of what makes retention possible in this studio. It’s a very high priority for us.”The Sims, though grounded in reality, frequently includes encounters with the extraordinary, such as the introduction of mermaids in a recent expansionDuke adds that there are also elements that make avoiding crunch easier for a studio like Maxis. One of those is the vocal community surrounding The Sims 4, which is quick to spot and report issues that QA might miss so that the team can fix them promptly. Another is that, after running a game like The Sims 4 for nearly five years, the team only improves at understanding the kinds of work and time commitments required for each new update, making it easier to plan ahead and manage their schedules.”What’s great about doing expansion pack after expansion pack is we can learn from the lessons,” Duke says. “The first expansion pack we did was not perfect, and we had some challenges where we had to work a little more. But at this point we understand the size and the scope and the effort involved, so we’re a lot better at actually building out schedules that mean our employees are always going to have their weekends and work normal work lengths. That’s been super valuable to making sure the experience stays in the studio.””When I sit down with my teams and we talk about what else we want to add to this game, we can still fill whiteboards with things we want to do” The Sims 4 turns five in September, and though we didn’t delve into specifics of what the team has planned for a hypothetical ‘Sims 5″ or similar, Duke’s impression is that it may still be a while yet before we see a new major entry. Even though five years is the longest gap we’ve seen between two numbered Sims titles, Duke says he still has ideas for content they can add to keep players busy for several more years at least.”We talk a lot about a three-year view,” he says. “What are we doing over the next few years? What do we have planned? When I sit down with my design and production teams and we talk about what else we want to add to this game, we can still fill whiteboards with concepts and things we want to do. I look at that and go, ‘Okay, we have plenty left to explore and add.’ My technical directors are terrified when I tell them I want to build DLC for five more years. But if our audience is there and our community is asking for more, we certainly have the ideas.”We’re still drawing more players than we’ve ever had, year-over-year, and the game is continuing to perform and players are coming in and loving it. For us, it’s exciting that we’re not heading into the next iteration right now. Instead, we’re talking about what we’ve never done, and themes no one has ever thought about. It’s inspiring, from a creative standpoint.”As the namesake of an entire genre (and one that’s constantly growing with new games and expansions), The Sims series encompasses a lot of what people like in simulation games broadly, which Duke identifies as the ability to experience the extraordinary within the ordinary. It’s something he acknowledges is tricky to explain to people who have never played a sim game before, and might not understand the entertainment value in a game where you can, say, take out the trash. But he adds that once you’ve played The Sims once, you’re in on the “secret.”At launch, one major criticism of the game was its lack of options for interacting with very young children. EA Maxis addressed this issue in a free update shortly after release”One of the values we take as a design and production team is ‘Surprise and delight,'” he continues. “The reason you hopefully watch your Sim take out the trash is, occasionally, something you didn’t expect is going to happen. And what we talk about is that the unexpected needs to happen far more regularly in our simulation than it actually occurs in real life.”If I take my garbage out every week for the next ten years, maybe once in those ten years something interesting will happen when I get out to the garbage can — like I’ll open it and a raccoon will pop out. In the game, we need that surprise moment or story to appear more like one in every seven or ten times. That is the magic of bringing the mundane to life a little bit more. “Our goal in this emergent design system is that even as you’re doing normal, everyday things, something else goes by that turns it into a story or triggers a story moment for you that you can now build on as a player. And they’re opt-in offers. If you don’t want your story to be about that fire truck that went by, it passed and you don’t care.””If I take my garbage out every week, maybe once in ten years something interesting will happen. In the game, we need that surprise moment to appear one in every seven or ten times” But key to selling the extraordinary to players, Duke says, is ensuring that at a fundamental level, players can be whoever they want to be. And The Sims has a better history than most games of allowing for that. Since the very first game, launched in 2000, The Sims has featured same-sex relationships and had a (for the time) solid range of racial diversity. It has only improved from there. The most recent iteration includes numerous appearance customization options, as well as gender identity choices broken down by clothing style, voice, physical frame, bathroom use, and pregnancy. Every one of these can be customized.Duke is proud of how far the series has come, but is firm that Maxis and The Sims are far from done.”Diversity and inclusion are things we care a lot about and there’s always work to be done, and I feel the same way about our game,” he says. “We’re not there yet. But we’re going to keep taking steps and I want to keep taking even more steps to be inclusive. Our goal is that every player in the world can come into this game and create themselves and create their friends and have a chance to explore their stories — whatever that looks like — and that story can be fantastical or mundane. We just want that place where we can all identify and find ourselves. “I can think of lots of things we don’t have covered; some are technical hurdles, some are a matter of time. One of the biggest challenges we run into as we try to do more things for diversity and inclusion is making sure we handle it in an appropriate way. I don’t want to add something like it’s a joke or humorous. I want to make sure we do it in a very respectful way and a very representative way. “When we did support for non-binary gender, we had a lot of conversations with GLAAD about the right way to represent that. How do we do it in a way that feels inclusive and welcoming and not dictating our viewpoint? It’s not about what we believe. It’s about encompassing how our players want to tell their story.The Sims 4 includes numerous ways to customize your sim, from choosing gender presentation to click-and-drag adjustable body types to numerous skin, hair, and clothing options”And it’s a very hard thing. More recently, we added a bunch of Pride flags to the game, and we did a lot of research and worked with the It Gets Better Project, but when it came out our community let us know that they thought we missed the mark. We got a lot of pushback over not including a lesbian Pride flag. We thought we had done the homework, but what we heard from our community was that no, that doesn’t cut it. Our lesbian players didn’t feel adequately represented.”I don’t want to add [representation] like it’s a joke or humorous. I want to make sure we do it in a very respectful way” “So we moved quickly to try and add one, but what we discovered was there isn’t a clear consensus on the lesbian pride flag. There’s actually a lot of debate. So we found ourselves asking, ‘What’s the right one?’ The last thing I want to do is choose one and alienate half of this audience I’m trying to make it right with. So we ended up adding three from our research that felt inclusive. And we spoke not only with our partner, but also with our internal group at EA, our employee resource groups. Our goal was to make sure no matter who you were or what your viewpoint on the subject, one of those felt right to you.”That’s how we ended up solving it, but it just demonstrates how difficult it can be to do this in a way that feels inclusive and welcoming. A lot of care goes into these, and it’s the reason we can’t add everything at once. And that may be part of why we don’t see a lot of people doing this, because it’s not easy.”Throughout our discussion, Duke is constantly looking forward — future DLC, future games, future improvements to representation. When I ask him directly where he sees The Sims (which is getting on 20 years as a franchise) in another decade, he cheerfully and immediately replies, “A billion players!”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Though it seems like an obvious response for anyone creating a lasting IP like The Sims, Duke’s reason for that desire is more heartfelt.”Frankly, I think everyone’s life would be better if they had the opportunity to spend some time in The Sims,” he says. “It’s a special place, and I think you learn something about who you are and a lot about other people and other stories. And as we keep working to be better at diversity and inclusion and more representative of the whole world, I think it becomes a more powerful thing for us to have an understanding of who else is out there in the world and their stories. I want that. I want to see us grow the reach and spread the joy to more people.”I want to put my effort into something that puts joy into the world. And when I look at this product and what we do and the way it influences people’s lives, it makes people happy. Putting effort into something that creates that impact is really rewarding. So when we hear from our players about the time it helped them in a tough spot in high school, or a time they felt bullied in middle school and played it out and it gave them the strength to deal with that issue or love themselves, those sorts of stories make it feel like we make more than a game. We make something that has a bigger impact than just a moment in time of entertainment. That drives all of us.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesCatharina Lavers Mallet takes over as Maxis bossJoe Nickolls steps down to spend more time with his familyBy Christopher Dring 18 days agoEA partners with TBS for four-episode The Sims reality showThe Sims Spark’d will see 12 community personalities compete in creative in-game design challengesBy Rebekah Valentine 10 months agoLatest comments (1)Chaton Pute team lead, Oasis GamesA year ago Interesting article, thank you.I would be very curious to know his opinion about mods and the communities around themHis game lived that long thanks to a big number of mods and specially the ones for adultslast_img read more

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Panel offers guidance to bring lawyers’ Web sites into compliance

first_img Panel offers guidance to bring lawyers’ Web sites into compliance Mark D. Killian Managing EditorThe Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising on December 29 approved guidelines to help lawyers meet the Supreme Court’s new rules regulating the content of lawyers’ Web sites.Chair Adam Schwartz said the guidelines allow lawyers to use disclaimers to designate parts of their Web sites as “information upon request” zones, which would mean that those sections would not be subject to the lawyer advertising rules.Schwartz said the guidelines were carefully drafted to balance lawyers’ First Amendment rights to advertise their services with the committee’s duty to protect the public.The activity follows a ruling by the Supreme Court in November that all Bar advertising rules, except the requirement they be submitted to the Bar for review, apply to lawyer Web sites.The court’s ruling means several common attributes of attorney Web sites — including testimonials, statements that characterize the quality of work, or information about past results — are not allowed under the revised Web site rule.In December, the Board of Governors voted for a six-month enforcement moratorium on new advertising regulations affecting lawyer Web sites, since the timing of the ruling makes it extremely difficult for lawyers to get their Web sites in compliance by the January 1 implementation date.In reaction to the court’s ruling, the board decided that the Bar will not review attorney Web sites, even if they are voluntarily submitted by lawyers seeking to comply with the rules, since the Web sites can run to hundreds of pages if printed out and can be changed several times a day. The Bar’s ethics and advertising staff will, however, provide guidance to lawyers asking specific compliance questions.Schwartz said the guidelines allow lawyers to use disclaimers to designate parts of their Web site as “information upon request” zones, which would mean that those sections would not be subject to the lawyer advertising rules. But first, the Web site visitor would have to view a disclaimer page that clearly indicates what information will be viewed. That page could include whether all results or client testimonials are provided; that the results or testimonials are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer or all clients’ experience with the lawyer; and that a prospective client’s individual facts and circumstances may differ from the matter(s) in which the results or testimonial are provided.The page would also state that the information behind the disclaimer is not regulated by Bar advertising rules, although it would be covered by other rules that prohibit the information from being false or misleading.The information would be considered “upon request” only if the lawyer sets up the Web site to block the area containing past results and testimonials from viewers who have not submitted acknowledgement of viewing the disclaimer page, and the testimonials and/or past results would only be shown upon submission of the agreement after viewing the disclaimer page.The guidelines read:“Lawyer and law firm websites must comply with the general lawyer advertising requirements set forth in Rule 4-7.2, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. Although websites must comply with these requirements, they are not required to be filed with The Florida Bar for review. Rule 4-7.8(f), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar Board of Governors has adopted a policy that The Florida Bar will not accept voluntary filings of the entire contents of a lawyer or law firm website, although staff of the Ethics and Advertising Department will respond to specific questions involving a specific phrase or image to be included on a website. To make such an inquiry, please call the Ethics and Advertising Department at (800) 235-8619.“Many law firm websites may contain information that is prohibited by the lawyer advertising rules, such as testimonials or endorsements from clients and others, past results of the law firm, and statements characterizing the quality of legal services (for example, the firm offers high quality legal services, or excellent legal services).“The Standing Committee on Advertising has determined that a lawyer or law firm can create a portion of the website which contains information that can be provided only at the request of a prospective client, and is, therefore, not subject to the lawyer advertising rules under Rule 4-7.1(f). Testimonials and endorsements, past results, and statements characterizing the quality of legal services may be included in such a section if the information provided is truthful and not misleading, either by itself or in the context in which it is given. If testimonials or past results are provided, sufficient information about the matter also must be provided to allow the consumer to evaluate the testimonials or results. Testimonials and past results may be included only with the informed consent of the client to which the matter relates (see Rule 4-1.6(a), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar). In order to be considered information that is given at the request of a prospective client, the information must be accessible only after viewing a disclaimer page and making an affirmative acceptance that the viewer has received the disclaimers provided below.“The disclaimer page must clearly and prominently indicate the following:• the type of information that will be viewed;• that the information is not reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.“If past results are provided, the disclaimer page must indicate:• that a prospective client’s facts and circumstances may differ from the matter in which results have been given;• whether all results are provided;• that the results are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer; and• that every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.“If testimonials are provided, the discliamer page must indicate:• that a prospective client’s individual facts and circumstances may differ from the matter(s) in which the testimonials are provided;• whether testimonials of all clients are provided; and• that the testimonials are not necessarily representative of all clients’ experience with the lawyer.“On the disclaimer page, the viewer must acknowledge receipt of the information before being given access to pages with information including past results, testimonials, or statements characterizing the quality of legal services. The lawyer should not require that viewers provide information about themselves in order to access the information.“Lawyers may use a disclaimer page, a pop-up, or any other technological mechanism as long as the above guidelines are followed, and the above information cannot be accessed without viewing the disclaimer page and making an affirmative acknowledgement of receipt of the disclaimer. For example, the website must be set up in such a way that the above information cannot be viewed as a result of a general search engine or site search without displaying the disclaimer page each time.“Alternatively, lawyers may provide a section of the website in which a viewer, at the viewer’s option, may provide contact information and make a specific acknowledgement that the viewer would like to receive specific information about the lawyer or law firm. After receipt of the contact information and acknowledgment, the lawyer or law firm may send the viewer information by either e-mail or regular U.S. Mail, as long as the information is truthful and not misleading, either by itself or in the context in which it is given. The lawyer or law firm must provide the same disclaimers to the recipient and follow the same guidelines noted above.” Sample Disclaimer PageIf you are interested in viewing information about the lawyer/firm’s past results and testimonials about the lawyer/firm, please read and acknowledge the information below. The information in this section contains information about the lawyer/firm’s past results, testimonials about the lawyer/firm, and statements regarding the lawyer/firm’s quality [ Note to Lawyers: you must also list the category of any other information provided that is not otherwise in compliance with Rule 4-7.2 here]. The information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. You should know that:The facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters in which results and testimonials have been provided. All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided and not all clients have given testimonials. The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits. I acknowledge that I have read and understand the above information and would like to view the information. [Hypertext link to the additional information.]I do not want to view the information. [Hypertext link to home page of website.] [Note to Lawyers: the viewer must check each box in order to reach the additional information on the website.] January 15, 2010 Managing Editor Regular Newscenter_img Panel offers guidance to bring lawyers’ Web sites into compliancelast_img read more

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TriQuint Becomes First Manufacturer to Achieve Manufacturer Readiness Level 9 for GaN

first_imgTriQuint Semiconductors announced that it is the first gallium nitride (GaN) RF chip manufacturer to achieve Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 9. This achievement means TriQuint’s GaN manufacturing processes have met full performance, cost and capacity goals, and that the company has the capability in place to support full rate production. To benchmark MRL 9, TriQuint applied the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s rigorous manufacturing readiness assessment tool and criteria to its high frequency, high power GaN production line. TriQuint’s ongoing development of GaN-based devices is leading to smaller, more efficient power amplifiers, typically used for military radar and electronic warfare programs as well as commercial wireless communications and infrastructure. Key to the company’s assessment, TriQuint has shipped more than 170,000 0.25 um GaN power amplifier devices in support of an ongoing international radar production program. During phased array radar field testing, approximately 15,000 devices have accumulated more than 3.67 million device hours, with no reported device failures. TriQuint continues to demonstrate industry-leading reliability with a mean time to failure (MTTF) of greater than 70 million hours at 200 degrees Celsius, substantially greater than the industry standard of 1 million hours MTTF. As an established GaN provider for domestic and international defense programs, TriQuint explored the potential of GaN beginning in 1999, and released its first GaN on silicon carbide (SiC) production process in 2008. Since that point, the company has continued to make significant investments towards maturing the technology. Today, GaN wafers are manufactured with yields that match our conventional GaAs technologies. Leading GaN research and product development for both defense and commercial applications, TriQuint continues to provide record-setting GaN circuit reliability and compact, high efficiency products, paving the way for more robust performance, lower maintenance and longer operational lifetimes. TriQuint is also accredited by the Department of Defense as a Microelectronics Trusted Source (Category 1A) for its foundry; post-processing; packaging and assembly; and RF test services. The Department of Defense’s Manufacturing Readiness Assessment (MRA) ensures that manufacturing, production and quality assurance can meet operational mission needs. This MRA tool assesses science and technology companies on criteria that provide guidance about the maturity and risk of a given technology – reviewing the industrial base readiness; technology development; and quality and manufacturing management. This process ensures that the product or system transitions successfully from the factory to the field, providing the best value for the customer. TriQuint demonstrated that its manufacturing processes met full performance, cost and capacity goals, with the capability in place to support full rate production.last_img read more

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Rain and Lightning Halts Play at NCAA Championships

first_img Share Kevin Ducros (Photo by Matt Rowley, UWF Sports Information) LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships Round of 16 match between No. 2 West Florida and No. 42 Nebraska Kearney in Louisville, Ky., has been suspended for the evening due to rain and later lightning. UPDATE: The NCAA has determined the schedule for Thursday at the Division II Tennis Championships.  All unfinished or unstarted first round matches will resume or begin play at 8 a.m. ET.  The second round women’s matches will be pushed back to approximately 11 a.m. ET, and the men’s second round matches will start at approximately 4 p.m. ET..Rain delayed the start of the match. The teams were introduced and players were warming up when the rain began. Play was delayed for an hour and 15 minutes. Once the rain stopped, the courts were cleared of water and the match began. Doubles got underway, and West Florida took early leads at all three positions. Lightning was detected in the area and play was halted again at 6:30 p.m. ET. Shortly after 7 p.m. ET, the decision was made to suspend play until tomorrow. The Top Gun Tennis Academy, where the match is being played, does not have lights.The winner of the UWF-UNK match will advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships to face the winner of the No. 12 Ouachita Baptist-No. 43 Bluefield State College match. This match was also suspended, and Ouachita Baptist was leading 1-0 when play was halted. Live stats, video, results and a recap of the UWF-Nebraska Kearney match will be available on www.GoArgos.com. For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com. — www.GoArgos.com –Print Friendly Versioncenter_img Rain and Lightning Halts Play at NCAA Championshipslast_img read more

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