You know that saying about one man’s trash being another’s treasure? Well, it’s very much applicable to The Sims 4 game files, too. The fourth edition of the popular simulation franchise will celebrate its seventh birthday this year and shows no signs of ending its reign any time soon.
While there are some signs that suggest the fifth edition of The Sims franchise, which has now been around for 21 years, is in development, The Sims 4 looks set to stick around for the foreseeable future.
A new type of DLC called Sims 4 Kits will be launched on 2 March, with three of these seemingly ready to be released. And while The Sims 4 base game remains a bone of contention for many players for various reasons, seven years is a long time in game years.
Some of the features players feel are still missing from the base game include things like cars, babies freed from their cribs, burglar NPCs – actually quite a lot of NPCs – and a whole host of bug fixes.
In February, Maxis announced what they call a “Laundry List” – a monthly blog post to highlight some of the issues and requests the developers are busy working one. While this won’t be a comprehensive list, it does signal a move towards more transparency, hopefully on a more consistent level.
It is an open secret of sorts that one of the key reasons for the myriad issues with The Sims 4 boils down to the fact that the game was released somewhat haphazardly.
The very foundation of the game is built on shaky ground. Originally designed to be an online multiplayer game, development took several twists and turns before it was eventually released without many key features – some of which are still missing.
Breaking down those complexities would probably be better explored in a more nuanced article on another day. What we will do though – both in this article today and in a series of future articles – is explore some of the very early concept art of The Sims 4.
Some of these images exist in the game files to this very day while others are screenshots from early videos and some from the portfolios of artists who designed them.
The keyword here is concept. Not all concepts – be that in game development, design or even an idea you might conjure up in your own head – are seen through. There is nothing wrong or unusual about that specific process.
What we are interested in and intrigued by is how these concepts end up translating (or not) into the game we know and love today. And, of course, a little speculation about what we might expect from The Sims 4 in the future never hurt anyone.
The Sims 4: Early concept world maps
For many players, the game not being and open world like its predecessor is a big bone of contention. But let’s be real, The Sims 3 and its open world – blessed as its cotton socks might be – had some serious performance issues.
However, an open world might not be possible, but creating a world or at least the ability to make substantial edits is something that would go a long way to enhancing the Sims 4 experience.
Even the neighbourhood maps for The Sims 4 are somewhat underwhelming. Fortunately, custom content creators have conjured up some more aesthetically pleasing offerings than the existing ones.
The early concepts for Sims 4 world maps do share some likeness with what we have in game today, but they are far removed from the original ideas.
The screens below all exist in the game files to this day. Sure, many of the neighbourhoods in The Sims 4 are absolutely stunning while you are in them, they could do with a bit of a facelift when looking from a distance.
The first image is one you might have seen before. This map has existed in the game files since The Sims 4 first launched. You might recognise the river boat and the lighthouse from the neighbourhoods we now have in the game, but it certainly does not resemble any map currently in the game.
The next image has a stark resemblance to Windenburg, the neighbourhood that released with The Sims 4: Get Together expansion pack. While the pop up style has been popularised by builders recently, it is not a style used by The Sims 4 for world or neighbourhood maps.
The next set of images are a much closer depiction of what The Sims 4 looks like today. Indeed, many of the houses you see in these neighbourhoods are available as debug objects.
There are many more screens like this which remain in the game files with a few of them featuring the “shell buildings” now accessible through debug mode in The Sims 4. Whether that is a good or a bad thing – a sign of things that might still come or a reminder of what could have been – we have no idea.