Well I certainly created a chaos of mayhem yesterday with my Edith post. It all started innocent enough. Yesterday morning I sat down and found a thread on the TSR forums about the reality of releasing Edith to the world. After realizing that there were dozens of rumors and many, many untrue statements I thought I’d try to set the record straight from my POV about Edith and the book I’m working on. Unfortunately, this proved to open a bigger can of worms.

After realizing that discussions were getting out of hand with all this book talk, I decided that I would get some more info from EA about the book. I wasn’t sure if Prima was going to publish it or I would use my publisher. It wasn’t a big concern since I was planning to approach this subject in due time when I had more material ready. Anyways, I decided to contact the marketing guy I was talking to and firm things up.

Of course, he’s not employed by Maxis/EA anymore. Sigh. This I find out today and Will had found out a few days ago and was going to contact me about it. So now I have to retell the tale to a new marketing person and of course they’re swamped with releases right now so this is going to take some time. It would have been nice of him to email me saying he’s not with the company anymore. Of course, now I have my doubts about whether or not anything has been confirmed at the Maxis end. Now don’t go jumping on your high horses saying the project doesn’t exist. It certainly does, I’ve put a fair amount of effort into it already and Will (who I know won’t be leaving Maxis anytime soon) has been supportive of it. It wil become a reality one way or another. Perhaps it means I do a new dance with EA to work out the details. Who knows. We’ll see where things go from here.

I am grateful that this discussion took place now, otherwise I would have gone on merrily along writing, oblivious to the fact that the guy who arranged everything for the book isn’t there anymore. The discussion thread, as asinine as it was at times, prompted me to contact Maxis/EA to get more info

So like I said, the project is progressing and we’ll see where things go from here but I thought I’d update everyone on what’s happening so far.

Finally, last night Will Wright posted a message on the forum to try to calm the natives down. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for since the majority of the thread was a battle between people claiming I was a liar in the release plans for Edith as well as the book project, but it was good none the less. Again, people will leave this up to interpretation and also it doesn’t mention the book project, but I’m not here to say “Nyah Nyah” to those that don’t believe it. I know it’s moving forward and will become a reality at some point so the proof will be in the pudding so to speak.

Let me try to clear up a few things here. For some time now (since before The Sims was released) I have been hoping to release Edith to the public. Internally (at Maxis) there has not been total agreement on this idea. There are many valid concerns, primarily centered around the stability of player-programmed objects (imagine corrupt skins x10) and the amount of distraction from people emailing us asking how to use it . We’ve had many (way too many) discussions internally about whether the benefits outweigh the risks. It doesn’t look like we’ll ever reach a full consensus on this so we just need to make a decision.

I think we now have a plan that will involve cleaning it up a bit and trying to make it a bit less dangerous (though not watered-down by any means). It will still take some time to achieve this (too many things happening all at once around here) but I hope to have this done before Xmas.

A few points need to be made.

1 – As Bil points out, Edith is just a code editor for the object/sim behaviors in the game. It is not used to create animations, graphics or sound effects. It can just call these assets if they already exist.

2 – Edith is not simple by any means. It is a full programming language with variables, subroutines, stack frames, etc. The objects we release go through a very thorough design-production-testing cycle. It’s very easy to make a buggy object that will crash the game with unpredictable consequences.

3 – We cannot afford to support this tool in any way. If it looks like we’re going to get hundreds of people trying to contact us for technical support or programming help then we’ll be forced to abandon the effort. (I’m hoping that you’ll bug Bil about it instead)

I know this whole thing has been rather confusing to the sims community (it has been within Maxis also). We’re somewhat in uncharted territory here. But so far it seems that every time we’ve taken a risk with our fan community we’ve been surprised (in a good way) and amazed at what they manage to create. I really do want to see how far we can take this whole player-created content idea.

-Will Wright

So with the creation of the book as a reference, I am in agreement that you can barrage me with technical support questions on Edith. True, I’m not a Maxis employee and there are some (many) at Maxis that know far more than I do because they’ve been working with it daily for years but I have a good handle on how it works, what can or can’t be done with it and how to solve problems. It’s a learning process though and I learn new things everyday when looking at objects in the editor. However, the 99% of the people that will be using the tool I’m confident I can guide you through it.

Stick around. It’s going to be a fun ride.