Posts Tagged ‘simcity’

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SimCity Retrospective: SimCity 3000

September 1, 2012

This is the post I was writing when I decided to spin off the Todd Akin stuff into a new category, which means I’m about a week or so behind on this one, and this head cold sure isn’t doing me any favors.

SimCity 3000…it’s complicated. See, this is the point in the series when Electronic Arts took over as the publisher. I’m going to go off on a little bit of a tangent here, so if you’re not interested in my opinion on EA, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. EA has…well, they’ve got somewhat of a spotty record in taking over publishing for established series, the biggest example I can think of  being the rush job they made Origin do on Ultima VIII, shipping a product that was basically unfinished and damn near unplayable, but I’ll get deeper into EA when we hit SimCity Societies.

Now, as for SimCity 3000 itself, I don’t know. It’s-the game isn’t bad, it’s just a big shift from where SimCity 2000 was. The best way I can think of to describe it is that it’s cartoony. Let’s just quickly touch on some of the things the game introduces. First, starting with this game you had advisors for each of seven different matters, and they would give a detailed  account of situations in their field rather than just a short summary. Secondly, it is much, much more stylized, with the advisors being-

Moe Biehl

HOLY JESUS! WHAT ARE THESE GODDAMN ANIMALS?!

Er, yeah. That’s the transportation advisor, and the rest aren’t any better. The buildings are also more stylized. In addition, once your city gets to a certain size it starts producing trash, which has to be disposed of by either building incinerators or landfills, and now you can also deal with your neighbors, buying or selling water, power, or garbage capacity.

PROTIP: Never sell water to a neighbor, because you will eventually run out and when you do, you are going to be paying out the ass because of it.

SimCity 3000 came out in February of 1999, despite Maxis wanting it released in time for Christmas 1998. I’d say it came from the problems EA had with Ultima IX, but SC3K came out almost a year before. So there’s that theory shot down.

All things considered, SimCity 3000 isn’t bad. It’s different – very, very different – from almost everything else in the series, but…well, let me explain it like this. It’s the Temple of Doom of the SimCity series: Not bad, but the weakest until something worse comes along.

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SimCity Retrospective: SimCity 2000

July 30, 2012

This one was actually my first experience with SimCity on the PC. Back in the mid-90s, our local Wal-Mart had display computers set up, and one of them had SimCity 2000 loaded on it. I was back there constantly, and thinking back it may have been a contributing factor in petitioning my parents for a computer.

SimCity 2000 introduced some pretty significant gameplay mechanics, namely water and subway systems, new civic buildings (prisons, schools, colleges, libraries, museums, hospitals), connections to neighboring cities (named after Red Dwarf characters), and maybe more importantly, the zoning system was revamped, allowing for single tile zones and more flexibility in placement.

Also added were newspapers, which give important updates, telling you that your citizens are getting sick of the crime, or that your power plant is on the verge of collapse, or that no one will shut the fuck up about not having a stadium. I’LL GET TO IT WHEN I GET TO IT, YOU ASSHOLES!

Ahem.

Well, getting back on topic, the library in the game features an, I think, amazing essay by Neil Gaiman:

Cities are not people. But, like peole, cities have their own personalities – there are a dozen Londons, a crowd of different New Yorks.

A city is a collection of lives and buildings, and it has identity and personality. Cities exust in location, and in time.

There are good cities – the ones that welcome you, that seem to care about you, that seem pleased you’re in them. There are indifferent cities – the ones that honestly don’t care if you’re there or not; cities with their own agendas, the ones that ignore people. There are cities gone bad, and there are places in otherwise healthy cities as rotten and maggotty as windfall apples. There are even cities that seem lost – some, lacking a centre, feel like they would be happier being elsewhere, somewhere smaller, somewhere easier to understand.

Some cities spread, like cancers or B-movie slime monsters, devouring all in their way, absorbing towns and villages, swallowing boroughs and hamlets, transmuting into boundless conurbations. Other cities shrink – once prosperous areas empty and fail: buildings empty, windows are boarded up, people leave, and sometimes they cannot even tell you why.

Occasionally I idle time away by wondering what cities would be like, were they people. Manhattan is, in my head, fast-talking, untrusting, well-dressed but unshaven. London is huge and confused. Paris is elegant and attractive, older than she looks. San Francisco is crazy, but harmless, and very friendly.

It’s a foolish game: cities aren’t people.

Cities exist in location, and they exist in time. Cities accumulate their personalities as time goes by. Manhattan remembers when it was unfashionable farmland. Athens remembers the days when there were those who considered themselves Athenians. There are cities that remember being villages. Other cities – currently bland, devoid of personallity – are prepared to wait until they have history. Few cities are proud: they know that it’s all too often a happy accident, a mere geographical fluke tha they exist at all – a wide harbour, a mountain pass, the confluence of two rivers.

At present, cities stay where they are.

For now cities sleep.

But there are rumblings. Things change. And what if, tomorrow cities wake, and go walking? If Tokyo engulfed your town? If Vienna came striding over the hill toward you? If the city you inhabit today just upped and left, and you woke tomorrow wrapped in a thin blanket on an empty plain, where Detroit once stood, or Sydney, or Moscow?

Don’t ever take a city for granted.

After all, it is bigger than you are; it is older; and it has learned how to wait…

– Neil Gaiman

The best thing about that essay is that it fairly accurately sums up what SimCity 2000 is all about. As you play, your city is going to start to take on a life of its own. And it comes down to what kind of city you want to build. Are you going to build a metropolis? Or is a series of towns connected by road and rail more your style? Maybe you’re up for interconnected boroughs. Whatever your style, odds are SimCity 2000 can accommodate.

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SimCity Retrospective: SimCity

July 26, 2012

Occasionally, a gamer will come across a series that really grabs hold of them. For a lot of people, it’s the Final Fantasy series; others have Ultima or The Elder Scrolls series. As for me…well, since about 4th or 5th grade, my drug of choice has been SimCity. I used to have, and this is completely true, a copy of the DOS version’s manual. I did not own a copy of the game for DOS. No idea where I got it, and I probably lost it sometime in the last fifteen years or so.

Still, I really do love the SimCity series, and the original in particular because there’s a certain simple grandeur to it that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The series has primarily been about building yourself a city any way you want, but that isn’t to say that there are no objectives; in fact, the original came with seven scenarios: Traffic congestion in 1965 Bern, RoboCop-levels of crime in 1972 Detroit, dealing with the aftermath of the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco, flooding (or high crime rates on low-power machines) in Rio de Janeiro in 2046, Tokyo being attacked by Godzilla in 1961, and a nuclear meltdown in 2010 Boston.

But I think my favorite thing about the original game was the music in the Super Nintendo version. Just listen to this music from the starting screen:

Video by supersdf185, go check out their LPs on YouTube.

Just listen to that music. It may be the most calming music I’ve ever heard. I’m serious, if you’re having  a bad or stressful day, just listen to this song. It’s worked for me.

SimCity is a little outdated, sure. But it’s a classic, and it’s the game that introduced me to the SimCity series, and by extension, The Sims. The original is a game I still love to play, even some two decades later.

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Review: SimCity Societies

March 31, 2012

So Tuesday was wasted watching an utter crapload of Zero Punctuation, Wednesday was spent on getting The Sims 3 installed and updated, and so today I finally get back to work. And we come back with SimCity Societies, and before you accuse me of choosing it for today because the first time I saw a review of The Ugly Truth (Film Brain’s review, incidentally), I could only make it five minutes in before I found something in the film that pissed me off to the point of not wanting to watch it anymore, and I’m trying to put it off for as long as I can, you’re right.

Well, on to the topic at hand. I’ll be honest, when I first saw SimCity Societies, I was furious. When I explain this, you have to understand, I’ve been a SimCity player since old times. I still have SimCity for the Super Nintendo. I had two specific problems with Societies: The first was that Tilted Mill Entertainment, not Maxis, was developing it, and the second was that it entirely changed the feel of the game. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Let’s Play SimCity 4! (Part 3: Power and Pipes)

December 21, 2011

And now, the long-awaited part three of the SimCity 4 Let’s Play!

The front door slammed, and that was just enough to jolt me out of my best coma imitation ever. I pushed myself
up from the couch, wondering whose house I was in and when I’d got there when the past year of my life came flooding back to
me. Moving to Germany, setting up a city and becoming de facto mayor, working with seven complete strangers,
all of them completely insane in their own ways. The last eighteen hours, on the other hand, were a complete blur.

: Oh, stone me bloody crows…what happened last night?
: Mornin’, boss.

It took a few moments for my eyes to focus and tell me that was Jamil, offering me a glass of water and two anti-
inflamitories for my throbbing head. I took them with a weak smile, appreciating the gesture, and started surveying the
room. Besides Jamil and myself, there were at least eight other citizens; Some completely passed out, others groaning, and
one was actively vomiting.

: What time is it?
: About half past seven.

Can’t I get just one New Years Day where I can sleep in?

: Can’t I get just one New Years Day where I can sleep in? What happened last night?
: Well, after the festival, you invited everyone there to watch the ball drop and celebrate with champagne.
: And then what?
: Well, when we ran out of champagne, you decided to break out the vodka and whiskey. And when those ran out, you broke out the tequila.
: That would explain a lot of this, yes. Where’s Bettina? I need to get her phone book.
: She and Sam went upstairs about three this morning.

I let out a heavy sigh. If there was one thing I didn’t need it was this hangover, but if there was a second thing I didn’t
need, it was an intra-office romance.

: Well, where’d she leave her purse?
: I think it’s in the kitchen.

I went to check, and I’ll be damned, there it was. I pulled out her phone book, and most of the rest of the purse came with
it. I now had gum, car keys, and a huge stack of pay stubs scattered all over my floor. And the noise sure didn’t help
matters.

: Ah, here we go. Dr. Mediziner…Yes, doctor? We’ve got a situation at the mansion. We need you to set up triage for a
bunch of drunks…I understand. When can you be here?…That’s fine. See you then.

I hung up and then bent down to pick up the purse swag, and I felt the throbbing in my head getting worse. Or that’s what I
thought at the time. It was a few hours later when I found out that a few of the locals had decided to start the party back
up. Say what you want about the Germans, they sure can handle their liquor.

: Doctor will be here in fifteen. So what’s the rest of the story? What happened last night? To everyone?
: Well, let me think. I already told you about Sam and Bettina…Jonas had two glasses of champaign, three shots of whiskey
and a shot of vodka before running off with his tool box…Camile didn’t partake, and just left for her morning walk…Neil
had two shots of whiskey, shouted “Woo” and passed out on the lawn, and Monique got drunk and decided to go in the back to
devise a new accounting method. Last thing I heard out of it was a thump and snoring. And you drank just as much as Neil,
but with more spinning around on office chairs and falling on the couch.
: Huh. Sounds like a hell of a party. How is it you remember all this?
: I’m Muslim. Don’t drink.
: Oh. Good thing you’ve got a good memory, too. I take it we’re on standstill until the doc gets here?
: Well, if you really want something to do, I do have some plans drawn up for a bus system.
: As exciting as that sounds, I think I’m going to get some more sleep before the doctor shows.

: Hey Kevin. Wake up, the doctor’s here.
: Ughh. How long have I been out?
: About fifteen minutes.
: Geez. Feels like three months.
: He’s started working on people already.
: Good. Get everyone else taken care of first.

The party had been over for about a month, but people were still talking about it like it’d just happened. It seemed like
every day I’d have people coming up to me on the street, telling me it was the biggest blowout they’d ever seen. Neil called
me in to his office to go over some plans for a new commercial district over by the church.

: Some party, huh?
: Yeah, it sure was. What have you got for me?
: Some of the churchgoers were telling me that they didn’t have anywhere to go to eat after services.
: I think we can do that.

There was a brief pause in the conversation. There was something I wanted to bring up to Neil, but I wasn’t sure the time
was right. Ultimately, I decided the hell with it, and went ahead.

: Neil, I’ve been thinking…
: Uh-oh. I’m not going to like this, am I?
: You might. I’d like to zone for some medium density housing on the west side of the river. Maybe get some apartments put up.
: That’s…actually not half bad. Maybe up by the residential and commercial towards the bridge.
: See, that’s why I wanted to bring it up. You always know exactly where to put things. Get some plans drawn up, and I’ll
sign them.

We spent something like two hours setting the whole thing up. It wound up being five blocks by three, surrounding the fire
station and near the elementary school and clinic. We ended up calling it the Greenbriar Estates. I’m still not enturely
sure why.

: Was that the only thing you had in mind?
: Well, no. If we’re being completely honest, I was thinking of starting the city on a more…industrial path.
: Are you telling me you want to pave over the farms and put up factories?!
: No! What? God no! I’m just saying that maybe it would be a good idea to zone some area for more heavy industry. I mean, it’s not like we can have everyone work on farms forever.
: I suppose you’re right. Where were you planning on putting it?
: I was considering near the power plant.
: Yeah, that could work.

Neil’s phone started ringing, so while he took care of whatever crisis was on the other end, I started sketching out the new
industrial park. I’d leave it to Neil to work out the fine details. By the time he was done, I’d finished and began doodling
pictures of solar flares and dinosaurs.

: We’ve got a problem.
: What is it, Neil?
: The dead.

I paused for a moment, unsure if I’d heard him right.

: I think the sun was in my ears, could you repeat that?
: There are too many dead people.
: All right; Soylent Green it is!
: Would you please take this seriously? The church courtyard is full and so are the mortuaries.
: Alright, alright. I’m sorry, the joke was too easy. What do we do?
: The best thing would probably be a municipal graveyard.

Before I had a chance to answer Neil, Jonas walked in with a serious look on his face.

: We got a problem.
: Take a number, Jonas.
: It’s important.
: Alright Jonas, what is it?
: I’ve been on the horn with the utilities man down in Konradshohe. Their mayor has offered to take some trash off our
hands.
: How much?

Suddenly, Monique popped around the corner.

: What are you spending money on now?

By this time, I’d had enough of the random interruptions.

: You know what, let’s just make this our monthly staff meeting.

I mashed the button on the intercom with my entire hand in sheer frustration.

: Everybody get in here!

Slowly but surely, Jamil, Bettina, Sam, and Camile filtered into the room.

: What’s going on here?
: We’re having the monthly staff meeting because half the staff was in here anyway. Jonas, I believe you were telling us how much Konradshohe is charging for garbage removal.
: A little less than one simoleon per ton per month.
: Monique, how’s the budget?
: Not too bad. At our current rate, we are bringing in slightly more than two hundred simoleons per month than we spend.

: Jonas, anything else you want to bring up?
: Well, there are reports of areas without water connections. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but apartments and cleaner industry can’t survive on wells alone.

: And we are generating far more power than we need. Besides being wasteful, what with all the natural gas we’re using
without benefit, it makes for a dangerous situation. The current could build up in the generators and if someone gets too
close right then, the shock could kill them.

It was the first time in a long time I’d been shocked into silence. Someone could die? Shit. I’d have to deal with the
situation, and soon.

: Shit. Jonas, what do you suggest?
: Well, we could either cut back on production and lay off a bunch of workers, or we could run power line out to the city
limits and shop out power.

: Okay, we’ll run line down to the border with Konradshohe. Talk to their utilities man down there, tell them we’ll send
them thirty nine tons a month. While you’re at it, ask if they could use some extra power.

: Neil, we’ll put the cemetary on the east side of the river, over by where the commercial area meets the farm land.

: There’s also a fair bit of demand for low-density residential, so I thought over on the other side of the farms.
: Sounds like a plan.

: Alright, that’s the major crises taken care of. Anyone with new business? Jamil?
: No, everything’s cherry on my end.
: Bettina?
: No problems in medicine or education.
: Sam?
: Everything seems quiet for the time being.
: Jonas, Neil, I believe we’ve covered your sections. Monique?
: No budgetary problems.
: Good. Meeting adjourned. Geez, it’s eight already?
: Mr. Mayor, I have some issues to take up.
: Oh, Camile. I’m sorry, I forgot all about you. What’s on your mind.
: Firstly, I’ve been contacted by local green activist Flora Fauna.

: Oh, no way is that a real name.
: Not by birth, no, but that is her legal name. She suggests that it would be in our best interests to take on a campaign of
city beautification by way of planting efforts and setting aside parklands. I would advise against ignoring her.
: Alright, once the issues with power and water have been take care of, I’ll get right on that. What else?

: Results have come back from the water test I ordered last week. All contaminant levels are well within federal and state
mandated guidelines.
: Good.
: Finally, I’m concerned by the increasing ratio of paved area to green space. Not only is it detrimental from the
standpoint of attractiveness to businesses and tourists, it’s also the cause of a recent spike in air pollution levels.

: Again, I’ll get on that after the critical issues are fixed. Meeting adjourned.

Diary Entry #4 – Restaurant Syrtaki, Hennigsdorf, December 13, 2001, 10:18 pm.

What a year.

We eventually got the troubles with the power plant generating too much. After we ran power lines to the edge of the city,
Jonas had the idea to hook the lines directly to the transmission tower and then ground it until Konradshohe gets back to us
about our offer. We just yesterday got the last of the PVC water pipes hooked up, and everything seems to be running
smoothly so far. Pressure is good and people are happy to be hooked up to the city water mains instead of relying on wells
and septic tanks. Jonas even gave me a before-and-after of the plans for me to hang up in my office.

Also, note to self: No tequila at this years New Years Eve party.