I think that about one year ago there were some rumors that TS4 is already being developed. If it's not too late (!) I'd like to suggest some things that EA should consider when building TS4 engine:
- make it a native 64 bit application (16 GB of good quality DDR3 usually costs less than 200 $ and we're still in 2011),
- skip DX10 completely and go straight for DX11 (and OpenGL 4.1),
- use tesselation to create round objects and 3D textures,
- consider physics (for both AMD and NVidia, of course),
- double the population density (there's no need to increase maximum world size) and
- eliminate all rabbit holes.
OK, the last two have "nothing" to do with the engine itself but can be useful as a guideline when it comes to targeted GPU preformance and RAM consumption.
Aim for graphics quality slightly above Crysis. If (IF) TS4 is released in 2014, then the games are 7 years apart and that's a lot - going from HD 2900 and 8800 GTX (low end by 2014 standards) to something with power at least three times of current Southern Islands and Fermi chips. High end 2010/2011 cards, mid range 2012/2013 cards and low end 2014 cards should play the game at medium settings 50/60 fps. High end 2012/2013 cards and mid range 2014 cards should be enough for all maxed out 50/60 fps. Of course, that's just a theory (= IMHO).
Avoid commercialism. The Sims Store is overhyped. Don't spam on the Facebook wall that often. It's nice to inform us about new releases, but nagging about what we are doing with our Sims is better left to be discussed on forums. Again, that's just my two cents. Not an attack. I'm trying to stay positive. Kind of.
Most importantly - focus on overall quality. Take your time, don't hurry too much. Make it as stable and glitch free as possible. And when it comes to gameplay itself, think of stuff that made each TS - TS1, TS2 and (to a lesser extent) TS3 so popular.
My list about possible features (after the engine is finished), however, is a bit longer and I'm still adding ideas to it. Just one more thing: bring back the beautiful piano music from TS1 (Build Mode). Main TS3 theme is a remake of some TS2 tunes, so I guess it's possible. Pretty please?
****, this post is way longer than I thought it would be. It's hot and humid outside - in the middle of the night (!). And I'm studying for my exams. BTW, pardon my broken English. And lack of emotions. And lack of writing skill that would make this post more fluent and readable. Right now I need to get an ice cold watermelon, grab my MP3 player with Beatles/Who/Pink Floyd/R.E.M. and drift away ... Get a grip ... Enjoy the rest of this relatively peacefull summer night ...