Why multitasking in The Sims 4 makes characters feel 'more believable'

A sim's ability to perform more than one task at any given time helps make the character feel more natural, according to software engineer Peter Ingebretson during a recent Game Developers Conference 2014 panel.

In "Concurrent Interactions in The Sims 4," Ingebretson explained that Maxis' goal with the upcoming game was to make it "the most natural iteration" of the series. Part of this required implementing one of the series' most frequently requested features: multitasking.

"When we looked at the sims and tried to decide what would make them feel more natural and more believable, one thing that we realized is that in the real world, people do things at the same time all the time," Ingebretson said. "For instance, people stand around in a bar drinking drinks, sitting down. Sometimes people will stand and sit and talk to each other. It seems very natural when characters in a game can multitask."

According to the software engineer, multitasking gives the illusion of doing several things at the same time. It requires less complex demands than actually doing separate, simultaneous behaviors.

"It also turns out that it's in some ways realistic," Ingebretson said. "In the real world, people's brains work this way. There's a lot of psychological research that shows people multitask by switching between different things."

Multitasking, however, can be inhibited by several technical of the game, such as how the sim is positioned or what they're doing with their hands — this could keep a sim from drinking a soda, for example, or change their options when sitting or standing.

The Sims 4 is expected to launch this fall worldwide for Mac and Windows PC.

More from Polygon

The Sims 4 Gameplay Video

  • The horror of Five Nights at Freddy's

  • Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Old Iron King Overview

  • Spacecom: a fast 4X built for multiplayer

  • Pillars of Eternity builds on role-playing classics

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.