The Sims 3 University Life Interview: Some last minute questions answered

The Sims 3 University Life Expansion is set to release tomorrow, March 5, on PC and Mac. The new expansion offers your Sim the ability to leave home and embark on a journey to higher education where they'll attend class, meet new friends, join social groups, and build new skills for future use. 

EA has already given us a brief look at the anticipated expansion, but we were still left with a few questions. Thankfully, Sarah Nelson, Producer for The Sims 3 University Life, was able to catch up with us in an email interview and answer a few of our questions just in time for tomorrow's release. While some of the questions relate to the development process of these expansions (of which there are many planned for 2013), we mostly wanted to clarify a few of the new features coming with University Life.

Gamezone: Why a University Life expansion and why now? What made this the best time for this expansion?

Sarah Nelson: In conceptualizing our next expansion pack as a team, we felt that is was time for Sims to move into a new chapter of their lives. University made so much sense. We also took in feedback from our community of fans and university was one of the most requested themes they wanted to see.

Gamezone: Watching the recent University Life producer walkthrough, I noticed the expansion takes advantage of some of the features implemented with Seasons (changing of weather that, for instance, signify the start of new semesters). Is this sort of cross-feature implementation planned when you map out the future expansions?

Sarah Nelson: When we build new experiences we always take into consideration the content that our players already have available to them. We absolutely wanted to implement the Seasons functionality into The Sims 3 University Life. Bringing the Seasons gameplay into The Sims 3 University Life adds an extra element of story-telling for players to live out their own college experiences the way they want to.

The Sims 3 University Life

Gamezone: How are the school terms divided, and are you able to visit your home when on break?

Sarah Nelson: In The Sims 3 University Life, players can customize Sim school terms to fit their desired gameplay. Sims will need to complete 48 units to earn a degree. Players can select the amount of units they want their Sims to take each term. Studious Sims can spend as little as three weeks at university by loading up on units – a max of 18 units per term can be taken. Sims that want to take a lighter course load may select six units per term – a minimum of six units per term has to be taken. Players can choose to have a quick university experience (three terms) or a longer one (up to eight terms). One term is classified as one Sim week. Sims return home after each term so they can spend some time with friends and family.

Gamezone: Will you be able to interact with the Sims you meet at school once you graduate?

Sarah Nelson: Yes, once your Sim has returned home from university, they may call Sims they met there and have them visit their home world.

The Sims 3 Juice KegGamezone: Not to answer your question, but I feel like The Sims franchise has always had a tendency of taking controversial topics and presenting it in an appropriate manner like beer pong being called juice pong. With hazing being a hot, sensitive topic lately (at least for my alma mater University of Central Florida), will we see any of this type of behavior?

Sarah Nelson: No, there is not an option for hazing in The Sims 3 University Life.

Gamezone: The original fact sheet mentioned that you decisions in University Life will carry on after college. How so?

Sarah Nelson: Going to university in the game is much like it is in real life. Sims will meet new people, make life-long friendships and leave university with a whole lot of new experiences. The relationships Sims build while at university will carry over to their home world. Additionally, Sims who earn a degree will get an additional trait slot. Adding in a trait slot will slightly adjust your Sims’ behavior when they return home – reinforcing that the time spent at university will have a lasting effect on Sims. 

Gamezone: What are the benefits of choosing a certain major and joining a specific social group? From what I've read, climbing to the top of the social ring will open up new careers aside from that offered with degrees. Is this correct?

Sarah Nelson: Yes! There are three social groups in The Sims 3 University Life: jocks, rebels and nerds. Sims can build influence with each of these groups that will unlock new interactions. Social influence can be tracked on Sims’ new smartphones which will also populate opportunities to build more cred with these groups. Once a Sim has reached the top of one of these social groups, they will earn a new Dream Career. For jocks, the Dream Career is a Sports Agent, for rebels it’s an Art Appraiser and for nerds it’s a Video Game Developer.

Gamezone: What sort of customization is offered with University Life? Will I be able to recreate my college campus from the building architecture to the university colors? Maybe even create a mascot? Is there only one university campus to attend or are there multiple universities to choose from?

Sarah Nelson: There is only one university campus to choose from but it’s a beautiful one and is full of housing options, hangouts and neighborhoods. The campus can be modified using edit town either from your home world or when you arrive in the university world.  There are also loads of themed decorations, with a variety of logos that players can choose from. These can be stylized to be any combination of colors.  Finally, and most exciting, you can learn to be a mascot from the NPC mascot! Once you are trained in the ways of the school spirit guru, you can choose to be a llama or gnome mascot, or even a nutty combination of both!

The Sims 3 school spirit

Gamezone: Is it true that you can die by making woohoo in the Murphy Bed?

Sarah Nelson: No, Sims cannot die from woohooing in the Murphy Bed. There is a new death involving the Murphy Bed dropping down on Sims though.

Gamezone: Is there any benefit to joining a sorority or fraternity?

Sarah Nelson: Sims looking to dabble in more of the social aspects of university may find their fit at a sorority or fraternity. Sims living here will experience more parties. Also, the new dare system in the game relates directly back to fraternity and sorority living.

The Sims 3 hacky sack

Gamezone: Lastly, how would you describe your college experience? And are you looking forward to doing it all over again in The Sims 3?

Sarah Nelson:  I actually went to a commuter college, so I never really ever experienced dorm life and what it’s like to have your whole world revolving around campus. So, it’s extra fun for me to create that experience for my Sim in The Sims 3 University Life.  But I think what I like best is reliving my college life as a rebellious nerd who loves to play juice pong and stay up all night cramming with energy drinks!! It may not be the most efficient way to get through school, but it sure is fun!!

Remember to check back tomorrow for GameZone's full review of The Sims 3 University Life. And be sure to visit regularly as we'll continue to provide coverage related to The Sims 3 and its lineup of upcoming add-ons, including Island Paradise in June.