EA has released an official Q&A which should answer many of the questions fans have been desperate to ask.
Q: After all these years of creative thinking, Sims Fans have made many interesting Sims, houses and other objects. Will it be possible to transfer Sims from previous version to The Sims 3? And what about other objects like house and furniture designs?
A: There are so many innovations in The Sims 3 so it's really not possible to transfer items or Sims from previous games. The level of detail in The Sims 3 is so high that any conversion from older games would not be satisfying for players.
Q: Also many Sims fans have gathered a huge pile of CD's with add ons for 2nd version of the game, which will turn into junk once 3rd version comes out. And what add ons will be included in The Sims 3? Can we expect pets, seasons and magic in the initial release? And what of additional extras for previous version we will have to re-purchase for new one?
A: At the moment, we're only thinking about The Sims 3. We have a huge team devoted to making the best possible game and we're not going to think about anything else until it's perfect.
Q: Also there are many questions about 'living neighbourhood'. Before Sims 3, player-made families just waited patiently until someone plays them, now it appears to be that they will live on their own. Let's assume that player created two families: "Mary and Bob" and "John Smith". Then he played with "Mary and Bob" for long time, almost forgetting about that other family. It's quite possible that when the player returns to John Smith, he'll find no one there, since he could live his entire life, get old and die, so there will be no opportunity to play with him. Is there any solution already?
A: There are lots of options in The Sims 3. In the example that you just presented, the families that you don't control will develop along with the household that you are controlling. However, you can switch between families at any time. You can also move families between save files, so you can develop one family to a specific point and then merge them with another save file. Story tellers will do that a lot.
Q: We've already heard that there will be 'Hand of the God" in the game, that allows to pick up and move Sims and other objects. Also it will be possible to feed and clean Sims with one click of the mouse. Which other simplifications should we expect?
A: There isn't a feature that works exactly like you describe. However, players can do something that we call "live dragging". In simple terms, you can manipulate some objects directly with your mouse. In the past, The Sims had to clean up everything for themselves. Now you can grab trash and throw it away, or grab an item from the floor and put it in your Sim's inventory.
Q: And what about robots, Aliens, Vampires and others? Will be they available in the initial release or we will have to wait for them to appear in outgoing expansions?
A: We have some tricks up our sleeve...
Q: Since there will be quite big virtual universe on player's disposal, are there any plans for minigames like car driving? And what about dance simulators, which are so popular on consoles?
A: There are some really interesting collection games and skills have a lot of rich detail.
Q: Are there any plans of extending Sims' vocabulary, e.g. will their words really mean something? Or they will keep mumbling some meaningless Simmish like before Sims 3?
A: The Sims always speak Simlish. We've tried to teach them the languages of the world but they don't want to listen.
Q: Some years ago The Sims Online was started. But we didn't heard about this project for a while. Are there any plans to include some online components in Sims 3, like chats or minigames where players can use their Sims as avatars?
A: The Sims 3 players will have unprecedented freedom to customize the look of their game. A player with creative aspirations and no technical training or knowledge can make changes to the look of just about everything in their Sims life, right in the game. We call the technology Create-a-Style. In the past, fans made their creations outside of the game and then shared them on the exchange. We wanted to give the power that our artists have to the players.
The process of getting creations online is easier than ever. The Sims 3 launcher helps you install and manage custom content so that you don't have to hunt around for directories or anything like that.
Finally, The Sims 3 community is completely new and there are some incredible tools, including a web-based video editing tool so that players can make movies from the videos they capture in the game.
Q: What kind of player activity have you planned for The Sims 3?
A: Sims can do things that they couldn't do before, like ride bikes, work out at the gym, go to the beach, grab a snack at the bistro and more!
Q: What about the game has been upgraded and what is completely new? Also, can you explain a bit about how the new 'boundaries' work? What kind of activity will be opened up for the Sims?
A: The first thing that people will notice about The Sims 3 is the world around them. If you see it, you can go there. In the past, The Sims players were confined to playing on little levels that we called lots. Now there are now boundaries. The technology is incredible because we can show you the tiniest detail of your home, like the petals on a flower. A few seconds later you can look at the tiniest freckle on a Sim on the other side of town. This all happens in real time. We're in a great place as developers these days: Realism has been achieved...check. We can just focus on style and delivering seamless experiences so that the player can be completely immersed in their story.
Q: How, if at all, has the customisability of The Sims evolved for The Sims 3? How will players be able to integrate this into their Sims experience?
A: We're going to give the player unprecedented control over the visuals in the game so that they have the same control that our artists have, right in the game. The new Create - A - Sim allows players to make just about any person they can imagine, and there are tools in the game that let you change the look of almost any surface on your Sim or in their home.
Q: Can we expect to see our favourite Sims families return, having grown, as they did between The Sims and The Sims 2?
A: Yes! You will see many of your favourite things from past games in The Sims 3.
Q: How has player feedback impacted changes you have implemented for The Sims 3?
A: We're all fans of The Sims, and a lot of our team worked on The Sims and The Sims 2, so player feedback is built into our team. We also spend a lot of time interacting with members of The Sims community around the world. I don't think the game would be what it is without The Sims community. Fans have always wanted more interaction with a community of Sims. If you think about it, The Sims is the most detailed depiction of contemporary life to be presented in a work of fiction, but half of life was missing. In The Sims 3, we'll let you explore the other half of life that happens when you are not at home.