The Sims’ first real competitor is coming at the right time

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The Sims is a popular and enduring franchise because it taps into such a simple yet fulfilling fantasy: playing with imaginary characters in a dollhouse. The player is ultimately in control, but the story can manifest itself in twelve different ways – or maybe there’s no story at all, and the joy comes from crafting the perfect little house.

Sims developer Maxis recently revealed a preview of the next title in the franchise, which is tentatively called Project Rene. Maxis hasn’t shared a release window, but we know it’s likely to be a few years before we can give The Sims 5 a lap. Despite the wait, it’s still an exciting time for the Life Sim genre, especially as competition looms on the horizon in the form of Paralivesmade by a much smaller studio.

The Sims fanbase has never been a monolith; some people love the drama that arises in a neighborhood, while others are there to obsess over the furniture and layout of the perfect office. Sims fans can’t even agree on which game to play; a significant number of fans stick with previous games in the series like The Sims 3 or even The Sims 2. The Sims 4 also becomes long in the tooth; with its initial launch in 2014, this game is approaching a decade, while its predecessors had lifespans closer to five years. Expansion packs are another controversial topic – in order to collect all the DLCs for The Sims 4a player has to shell out hundreds of dollars.

It’s no surprise that when a true competitor to the Sims franchise emerges, it piques the interest of gamers. Alex Massé started the project in 2018 after realizing that the life simulator genre was filled with games like Stardew Valley, but there was nothing else like The Sims. Massé is now lead developer on the Paralives team, which is funded by a highly successful Patreon that, at the time of writing, is bringing in $40,000 per month.

Paralives - A character creator screen with a young man standing against a screen.  The player puts a tattoo on the man's arm.

Image: Paralives Team

“The project started with small prototypes to showcase new ideas for the house building portion of the game, which has always been my favorite in The Sims,” ​​says Massé. “I was immediately overwhelmed by the positive reception on social media which helped me raise funds on Patreon to turn the project into something more ambitious, growing from solo to a team of 10 people.”

The Paralives the team was share your progress along the course on social networks, sharing the process of creating customization, creating custom characters, and now the life simulation elements that make up the day-to-day of a character’s life. Some awesome features are on display, such as height differences for characters and custom color pickers for furniture. Some of these features even appeared in the Rene project preview, which focused on tools for build and buy mode.

“Everyone on the Paralives The team was really excited about the revelation of Project Rene,” says Massé. “We liked that they brought back some customization items that we liked in The Sims 3, such as the ability to freely recolor objects and select different patterns and textures. For Paraliveswe wanted to offer a high level of customization because we think that’s really important for making games and as gamers we’re happy to see that Project Rene is going in that direction too.

With a sequel to The Sims 4 always a way out, Paralives has a chance to shine – but there’s still room for both simulation games at the table. Massé speculates that day-to-day simulation will do Paralives distinct, not just building and creating. Now that the developer has shared the character and build customization on social media, the team is excited to start showing their take on social interactions and life simulation.

“If you think about it, managing your characters in The Sims works a lot like managing your characters in an RPG. There are so many RPGs out there, but people keep coming up with new ideas and game mechanics, keeping the cool kind.

He adds, “As for people comparing The Sims to Paralives, we understand this will always happen as there are no other games in this specific genre. It’s clear that there will be similar features between the two games, but in the end, I’m sure they’ll feel quite different in their own way and people can both enjoy them.

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