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Let’s Play SimCity 4! (Part 1: Meet the Team)

August 5, 2011

 There is audience participation in this part! 

I remember it started on New Years Day, 2000. I was hung to the over because I, like every person on the face of the Earth save a few, drink heavily during New Years Eve. In fact, the phone call came at about five in the morning, at which point I’d been asleep for about two hours.

: Wha…wazza…ugh…hello?
: Yes, is this Kevin Dixon?
: Not for at least another three hours. What is it?
: You’ve been chosen by the Berlin State Counicl to develop a plot of land north of Konradshöhe into a new city. Don’t you remember us calling last week?
: Last night was New Years Eve. You’re lucky I remember my name.
: Well, your flight leaves in an hour. Your car should be there in twenty minutes.
: …
: Hello?
: I hate you.
: I know, sir. I’ll see you in about sixteen hours.
: Tell your driver he may need to wake me.

I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I grabbed a bunch of clothes and threw them in a suitcase. I figured I’d have time to iron anything that got wrinkled when I got to wherever this new city was.

: Mr. Dixon? It’s time to go.
: Alright, alright. I’m coming.
: Need some help with your bags?
: Yeah, sure.
: *grunt* What have you got in here?
: About a weeks worth of clothes, a couple of suits, a few pounds of coffee, a coffee maker, my laptop and accessories.
: So where are you going at such an ungodly hour?
: Berlin.

Diary Entry #1 – Somewhere over the Atlantic, Jan. 1, 2000, 1:48 PM EDT
Now I’m on a private jet, heading to a country I’ve neve been to before, to build a new city from scratch. Piece of cake. How do I get myself into these things? I’ve got to stop clicking on every free thing I find on the internet. Or at the very least start using Chrome. At least it translates the pages for you. I thought I was just getting ready to download some kind of weird German porn involving city planners.

: Mr. Dixon! Welcome to Germany!
: …
: Why are you touching my face?
: Oh, good. You’re real. I though I might be hallucinating from lack of sleep again. What time is it here?
: About four in the morning.
: Does the car we’re taking have a bench seat in the back?
: I think so, yeah.
: Good. I’ll be asleep.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Well, here we are.
: Hmm…Oh. Where’s *yawn* where’s here?
: This is what will eventually be Henningsdorf.


: Hnngh…looks nice. Where am I going to sleep tonight?
: Don’t worry, we brought along tents and diesel geneerators for you and your advisors.
: Well, that’s…convenient. Wait, advisors? Who are these advisors?
: Meet them yourself. They’re just now pulling up.

And sure enough, an old M35 left over from the cold war pulled up and a man in his late forties hopped out the back with a briefcase. He was wearing a nicely tailored blue suit and starting to gray a little, and he seemed infinitely enthusiastic.

: Ah! So I assume you’re the new mayor! I’m Neil Fairbanks, your new city planner!
: Nice to meet you, Neil. I’d be more enthusiastic, but I’m running on naps. Any advice for me?
: Well, you’re probably going to want to get some residential and industrial areas zoned. Be sure to give them some space, but not too much so the commute isn’t too long.
: Thanks for the advice. You might want to go get your tent set up.
: Hot damn, a tent!

He rushed off to start with his tent, and my focus was drawn back to the truck, where a dark haired woman was getting out of the passenger side. She, too, was wearing a well-tailored suit, dark gray, and was carrying a pair of ledgers. She carried herself confidently, with just a hint of pretention.

: Would you happen to be the one in charge of this madhouse?
: I…don’t know? Maybe? I’m the appointed mayor but-
: Wonderful. I’m Monique Diamond, your new finance advisor. I’m here to keep you in line when you start to get a little too pen happy with the checkbook. Now where can I set up?
: Well, we have tents…
: I guess that will have to do. Come find me when you find out what our budget is.

She brushed by me and I saw someone new hop off the truck. He must’ve been in his late thirties, but he still had a youthful air around him. He had a tube full of blueprints around his shoulder and a toolbox under his left arm. When he shook my hand, it felt like it was going to pop right off.

: Well, nice to meet you! I’m Jonas Sparks, utilities.
: Your accent sounds so familiar. Are you from Texas somewhere?
: Damn straight, Bee Cave, Texas! Uncle of mine, Dell, invennted a teleporter.
: So, any advice for starting from scratch?
: You’re gonna want to get up a power plant soon, and then run lines to the zones. You won’t have to worry about water for a while ’cause they’ll drill their own wells at first. You’ll need it for higher density buildngs though.
: Good to know. You should probably get your tent set up.
: Heh, can’t see that being a problem.

He pats his toolbox and heads off to the tents as someone else hops from the back of the truck. He’s clearly a police officer, with his hair high and tight and just enough moustache to give him authority.

: I assume you’re in charge here?
: I…guess? No one’s really given me any specifics.
: Sam Armstrong, public safety. I’m here to make sure the people don’t get robbed and the houses don’t catch fire.
: Nice to meet you Sam. Any thoughts?
: Start with firehouses. Crime should stay low for a while, what with people getting settled. Speaking of which…
: We have tents until we can get some proper houses built.
: That’ll work.

Something from the truck caught his eye, and mine as well. A young doctor was struggling to get off the truck.

: I should probably go help her.
: Alright. I’ll be over talking to our benefactors if either of you need me.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Hey, whatever your name is, I have a few questions.
: Anneliese Kirschner. Mrs. Kirschner to you.
: Yeah, whatever. Is there anything you might have neglected to tell me?
: No. But there are a few things that I was waiting for the right moment for. Here.

She handed me an odd-looking PDA that had apps like “Mayor Rating”, and “RCI”, whatever that meant.

: Ar-se-ee? What the hell does that mean?
: That’s R-C-I, you blithering dolt. It measures demand for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings based on factors like regional population growth, local unemployment, world and local economics, and the like.
: What kind of money is this?
: They’re simoleans. It’s an experimental new currency introduced by the EU for large transactions, like between cities and corporations, or in inter-city trade.
: What about this one that looks like a skyscraper?
: That’s an opinion poll. It measures how the people feel about various factors in the city. Anything else?
: No, that should about cover it.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Monique? I found out how much is in the treasury.
: Great. How much?
: Five hundred thousand.
: Euros!? We can’t possibly be expected to start a city on that! A power plant with the capacity we need would cost on the order of trillions of Euros!
: It’s not Euros. It’s a new experimental high-value currency the EU is trying out. Here, they gave me a price list.
: Oh. Well, could you give me a few minutes? I need to study this.
: Sure. I should probably go meet the rest of the team.

Sure enough, the moment I stepped out of her tent, there wer another three people milling around, waiting for me. The first one to approach was the doctor Sam went over to help out of the truck. She looked to be in her late thirties with brown hair and a lab coat.

: So, you must be the one in charge of this experiment. Bettina Dean, double major in health administration and education.
: Kevin Dixon. Shouldn’t assume things about the German language.
: What does that mean?
: It’s a long story. I assume your advice is to build hospitals and schools?
: Well, clinics. And you’re going to have to build a high school eventually.
: Eventually. Do you know about the tents?
: Sam-Mr. Armstrong told me the situation. He offered to help set mine up.

Next was a Middle Eastern man in a light blue shirt, bald with a goatee. He had a laptop bag with a slide rule sticking out, and went straight for my hand.

: You must be the mayor of this plot of land. Jamil Herd, transportation advisor.
: Kevin Dixon, nice to meet you. Where are you from?
: Jordan, by way of Chicago. Studied pre-engineering at Loyola Chicago and civil engineering at University of Illinois Urbana.
: Can you put up a tent?
: Is the space pope reptilian?
: Good. See you in a bit.

The last advisor…well, she looked like a park ranger, what with the hat, the khaki shirt and close cropped hair. I assumed that she was the environmental advisor. Also, the hiking backpack and sleeping bag were a dead giveaway.

: You would be my environment advisor, correct?
: Yes. How did you know?
: Your manner of dress, the hiking backpack, and the fact that environment advisor is the only position left.
: Well. I must say I was quite ready to take on a new challenge.
: What part of England are you from?
: North Yorkshire. Camile Meadows, doctorate in environmental studies.
: We have a tent for you if you need it.
: Really, now, I did prepare to sleep outdoors for a time.

Well, this is going to be fun. I can tell already that I’m going to regret clicking on that link.

Diary Entry #2 – North of Konradshöhe, Jan. 2, 2000, 6:21 AM GDT
If nothing else, at least I’m not in this alone. I’ve got seven advisors with me, and they’re…uh…unique. The city planner is happier than any man should be in the early morning in the woods in Germany, my financial advisor is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, my utilities man is a good ol’ boy from Texas whose uncle invented a teleporter, there’s something going on between my public safety advisor and my health and education advisor, my transportaton manager is a Jordanian from Chicago and by far the most normal of the bunch, and my environment advisor is a Yorkie who is ready to camp out at a moment’s notice. If I survive this, I’m giving up German porn forever.

: Neil? We’ve got a common tent set up. Could you meet me there in five? There are some things I want to go over.
: Sure thing, bossman.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Monique? Could you meet me in the common tent we’ve got set up in about five? I want to go over some things with everyone.
: I’ll only come if I can bring my books.
: …Okay? You can bring whatever you want.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Hey, Jonas, I wanted to ask if-what in God’s name is that thing?
: First of all, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. It ain’t proper. And this is one of those gadgets my uncle cooked up. It makes metal fer me to upgrade things with.
: Oh. How’s it work?
: Not a clue. What’d you come in here for?
: Oh, right! I wanted to know if you can meet me in the common tent in about five minutes.
: Sure, I’ll be there.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Sam, I-
: What? I wasn’t spying on anybody, honest!
: …Wasn’t going to ask, but okay. We’re having a staff meeting in the common tent in about five minutes to discuss how we’re going to set up the town.
: Oh, yeah. See you there.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Hey, Bettina, we’re-Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were changing!
: That’s all right, I should have put up a sign or something. What do you want?
: We’re havng a staff meeting in a few minutes about how to set up the town.
: Where?
: In the common tent, right in the middle of all the rest.
: All right.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Jamil, we’re-Oh, I’m sorry. Am I interrupting?
: No, no, it’s fine. Just finishing up the morning prayer. What’s up?
: Staff meeting in the common tent in five, all about getting this place up and running.
: Great. I’ll meet you there.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Camile, staff meeting in five in what would have been your tent. Camile?
: What is it?
: YAHHH! Geez, where’d you go?!
: I went for my morning hike. What do you want?
: Staff meeting in five, out in the common tent.
: Fine.

________________________________________________________________________________

: Looks like everyone’s here. Where do we start?
: The obvious place is with a power plant. You’ve got a few options: there’s wind power, natural gas, coal power, or oil power. Natural gas is probably the best bet: that way we won’t be generating power we’re not using.
: I don’t know if I can agree with that. Yes, it’s less of an initial outlay, but it’s nearly double the monthly cost of coal.
: Wind is only fifty a month. For the same cost as coal we could get a thousand megawats with none of the pollution.
: The wind plants take up a lot less space, as well. Think of everything we could fit near one!

Well everyone? How do we want to generate our power? The options at this point are:

 
Wind power, inexpensive and clean, but not much output.


 Natural gas, more expensive monthly than coal, but lower pollution and output.

 
Coal power, inexpensive and powerful, but belches smoke like a 70s record exec.

 
Or oil power, expensive and polluting but generates like a pro.

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