So Jungle Adventure just came out, and I think most of us know it recycles merchant tables and food stalls from City Living. This isn't the first time either, as Pets recycled those exact same assets.
My personal stance on recycling content goes like this: if a pack manages to deliver quality content, then recycling existing content can be warranted if smaller features are recycled. If someone pointed out content that Vampires recycled for example, I would hesitate to pass judgement because Vampires was a solid pack. I have no way of knowing why they chose to recycle it, but I believe in good faith and benefit of the doubt, so if the pack is solid and there's recycled content, I'll assume they needed
to recycle content so they could focus on putting more effort elsewhere.
However, the amount of content being recycled or how frequently they get recycled is at times....rather concerning. The food stalls and merchant tables as examples make sense to me to recycle because they serve as vendors and there's little to no benefit of remaking that system. At the same time though, I would also debate the value of giving us 237868 meals that are all functionally identical. While it's wise to recycle the food stalls themselves since their assets and coding all work, I also have to question why
food is supposed to be a decent chunk of a pack to begin with. Are we recycling it because there's a clear demand for it and we're trying to work efficiently, or are we recycling it because the development of Sims 4 prioritizes features that we can recycle just to save on costs?
Development should be about making a fun pack, not about reducing the development budget as much as possible. Sometimes it feels like the latter and like the team has development sessions where they ask "what would be cheap and easy to make given the assets that we already have?" I might be consider that understandable if this were a small indie company developing this game....but this is one of the largest development companies in the world with a top 10 best-selling game franchise.
There's similar cases with clothing styles and textures. How many times has a new top released and people have pointed out how outrageously similar it was to another pre-existing top? Do I even need to link the Bear costumes or the Super llama costumes? Reskinning textures continues with Jungle Adventures. This made the rounds on another Sims forum:
With that image? I feel like an argument can be made they had to do it since they cannot use content from Get Together or expect that all users have it; they MUST copy-paste it to be able to use it in the pack. However, I feel the problem with things such as above is just how frequently the recycling of assets and features occurs. It's one of those cases where the straw can break the camel's back, and seeing recycled content EVERYWHERE you turn can absolutely make you lose faith in the game and it's future. I would shrug at that above image normally and argue they NEED to copypaste it to be able to use it in this pack.....but that was the argument with the Superllama costume in City Living....and that was the argument with the bear costume in Parenthood. Eventually it hits a point where - as I said - I have to question if decisions aren't being made based on what saves production costs rather than on what makes sense or would be neat. The Superllama costume being recycled could've been seen as an opportunity to make a Batgnome costume for example, or Parenthood could've been seen as a chance to create pony costumes. Instead we didn't get that. We got more of the same. Not a big deal for the individual packs perhaps, but yes it adds up to long-term disappointment. And again, it's not just textures or clothing...
The vet career for example recycles many animations from the scientist and doctor careers, the Jungle puzzles themselves seem to try and incorporate existing animations, and don't even get me started on the amount of social animations that are visually/audibly/functionally identical. I remember being disappointed in Sims 3 when personality traits like Daredevil and Evil were mostly just changes to the text names of their interactions, but wow, Sims 4 is seriously putting those two to shame with a record high of recycled socials. There was a time when each new pack had ~2 new socials that were functionally unique with unique animations, but now...? I had to do a double take when I realized the dance in Jungle Adventures is ACTUALLY NEW and doesn't seem to be a re-hashed combination of existing animations in any way, shape or form, nor did it seem poorly done or basic. No, it felt like they went all out and gave that animation their all. I feel like this is the first time that's happened in a while, so kudos to that, it's just a shame it's an exception to the rule.
Even concepts seem to get recycled. With this it's less about recycling assets, but rather a lack of creativity. In Outdoor Retreat, there's basically nothing to do there and no motivation to go there unless you want to collect. Collect plants, collect insects, collect fish. Otherwise, the area is almost entirely devoid of any motivation to be there. Fast forward to Jungle Adventure, and once again Sims 4 thinks it's a collectathon. There's two collections, and both aspirations seem to more or less revolve around collecting. I feel like collecting things is their go-to activity for almost every pack these days, and personally, I hate it. Collecting is not something with a long-term benefit that helps flesh out my sim. It's just a time kill that has no effects whatsoever once finished.
To me, the biggest offender has to be the Vet Career and the entirety of the retail system.
It amazes me that there was not more outrage about this.
Get to Work released, people tried out retail, it was terrible. Complaints included that both customers and employees seemed to do nothing at all, basic interactions with customers took ages, and employees just simply weren't doing their job. Fast forward to today, they still haven't patched or repaired that system in any way whatsoever. That portion of Get To Work remains broken and an absolute chore to participate in.
A broken feature is one thing. Having the audacity to recycle a broken feature and demand $40 for it....? Whoa. I seriously cannot believe there was not outrage over this. Browse the forums and sure enough, you'll see very familiar complaints. "My Vet employees aren't working! They just stand around!" This is the exact same issue. They copy-pasted the retail system, bugs and all. They absolutely should've known this would've happened. This is a case where either they directly knew this might happen, or they should've known and the idea that they couldn't anticipate this is ridiculous.
Above I asked the question of whether assets are recycled because they make sense, or if assets are recycled because
content is planned out in such a way that allows for it. AKA, if we had a choice between a new pack revolving around Sumo Wrestling or a new pack involving being a caterer, they'd absolutely do the caterer pack strictly because they get to save on costs while the Sumo wrestling would demand new assets. That's my concern: that the person behind the steering wheel of Sims 4 isn't asking "what would be fun to play," but rather "how can I take this work I already did and extend it," with budgeting taking priority over fun and gameplay. Looking at how "new" (functionally identical) foods have become a theme since Dine Out and how the Vet career recycled retail despite how overwhelmingly obvious that wasn't a good idea, combined with all the other examples of recycled content above, I struggle to see how budgeting and cutting corners is not a company policy for this game.
I suppose my question at this point would be simple to word, difficult to answer: why?
Why does this game constantly feel underfunded, as if the upper management refuses to secure funds for it OR insists more profit can be made via cutting corners?
Why is content recycled so frequently? I don't recall this ever happening with any of the past Sims games. Recycling a single tidbit of content in past games was really noticeable since it was so rare (example, laundry being in both Ambitions and University Life), but here I feel like the only pack not recycling content at all since Get Together is - big surprise - vampires.
Why are concepts that we know to be flawed or buggy being recycled? If I ask myself this question, the only answer I can come up with is "money lol." There is simply no other motivation to recycle that Vet career and lo and behold the bugs weren't fixed at all.
And to the community itself: why are we not more critical of this? As I said, I can understand recycling certain assets. Sometimes it just makes sense and saves on time. I wouldn't expect new animations for excavation sites because we already have a perfectly good digging animation that suits it. However, I remain amazed they got away with recycling that Vet career (and all it's bugs) and I remain amazed how many of the animations/audio files/gameplay effects of social interactions are 100% identical.
Personally, I want more, and I doubt I'm the only one. I'd love to hear thoughts from others and how they feel about the recycled content, because I feel this seriously harms the quality of future packs and the game as a whole when future content seems HEAVILY reliant on what's easiest to copy and paste.