It's been eight years since EA shut down The Sims Online, the MMO spin on is popular family simulator. But, if the recently launched fan version of the game is anything to go by, its old players are as keen as ever to spend their time in a giant community of Sims. FreeSO was up for a day before its servers had to be taken offline because it had pulled in so many players.
Basically, FreeSO is exactly the same as the original Sims Online, using the original game code and assets. The differences is that there is no subscription fee and it not longer runs on EA's servers. However, because there is no initial payment there is one big quirk to how the game works. In The Sims Online you would start the game with enough cash to buy your own private space to build a house and train your skills. In FreeSO you arrive in the world penniless so you are unable to access any of the items in the game where you can train up your skills. To that end, FreeSO's creator has made one shared location filled with training stations and job stations that let you train up your skills and make some cash with which to buy your own place.
This quirk creates the first issue with a large player count. When FreeSO went live on January 6th, the opening area was only built to cater to 200 people maximum and even then it would be quite a crush. Five times that tried to get in.
The game was heaving with players making it a confusing muddle.
The next issue was that a large number of players were coming from a Brazilian fan site, meaning very quickly there was a large Portugese-speaking population filling up the chat channels. In a post from FreeSO's creator:
Our English discord even gained a Brazilian-Portuguese channel and voice chat for a short duration of time, since they were talking in Brazilian-Portuguese in the normal channels. This caused a small scale language divide, and only with a few members. With an equal number of Brazilian and English speaking users, the game’s city would experience a harsh language divide very quickly, and the quality of moderation and gameplay would be severely degraded, with half of the community expecting the other half to speak their language.
The final problem from this influx of players was that the servers couldn't handle all the input and had to be taken offline.
The creator hasn't been disheartened but there is a lot more work to be done before The Sims Online can be resurrected. This includes more servers and better code to support that many players, a closed beta with limited invitations to manage the population, and tools to prevent people creating loads of accounts to cheat the game's systems.
These early problems make for fascinating reading, though, and it's good to see the creator hasn't been put off by these early problems.