SimCity

Simcity 2013 limited edition cover
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is an open-ended city-building computer and console video game series

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maxis232 karma

[Ocean] We’re making SimCity, not some dopey casual game.

The most important thing is the integrity of the simulation underneath it, the stuff that represents the systems that make up a real city. I don’t want to enforce sustainable design principles in the game – I want them to emerge as natural consequences of your interaction with the simulation.

If you don’t deal with your sewage, with traffic congestion, with walkability & transit, with ground and air pollution – your city will reflect that! And there are lots of people who will want to explore the simulation and see what happens when they do. Making some polluted, congested, urban nightmare is a total win condition, as far as I’m concerned.

maxis204 karma

[Ocean] Maxis didn’t develop Societies – we did SimCity 2k, 3k & 4 (and the original of course!)

I’m not going to bash Societies, but I will say that this new SimCity was built from the simulation engine up, and is the one that I wanted to make after I finished working on SimCity 4.

maxis179 karma

[Dan] Great question! The integrity of our simulation is first and foremost – without a good simulation under the hood the game wouldn’t hold your interest. Yesterday Ocean, Andrew, and I gave a presentation at GDC explaining exactly how our new simulation engine, GlassBox, works. Here’s a recap of the talk that took place yesterday: http://www.1up.com/news/radical-transparency-simcity

maxis122 karma

[Dan] You have no idea how many email threads around the office were ended with that image :)

maxis103 karma

[Ocean] Look, if we do our job properly, the game will have the integrity that long-time fans require, and still be approachable by newbies. It’s not a casual game, but it can’t assume that you already know SimCity and have played it for thousands of hours. It can’t have a vertical learning curve.

maxis96 karma

[Andrew] Our paths (e.g., roads) are fully spline based. Thus, all you have to do is draw out a network of them, and you will have reticulated splines yourself. How awesome is that.

More seriously, thinking up those load screen items was a lot of fun on SimCity 4 for the whole team. I'm looking forward to that process already.

maxis95 karma

[Dan] There’s no lack of data present in our simulator, we’ve been experimenting with playful ways of representing that data to the player. That doesn’t mean you’ll have any less detailed data on your city, in fact, in a lot of ways you’ll be able to explore your city data along other dimensions that weren’t possible with previous SimCities. We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from modern data visualization techniques/style and we’ve built in the notion of ‘data layers’ into the game. For example, if you want to know everything about how power is flowing through your city, you can click on the power data view, you’ll be able to see electricity flowing down the wires, buildings will change colors representing power stored, plus you’ll get global stats about your cities power system (output/usage, etc).

maxis87 karma

[Andrew] We can support a much richer set of transport options this time around, in terms of what agents (cars/people/bikes) can travel along what kinds of routes. (Hilariously so sometimes -- due to forgetting a line in a data file we had cars driving in the air along power lines at one point.) What will be in there for ship, I honestly don't know at this point. I'd love to see you building that housing area for real though!

maxis82 karma

[Ocean] Yeah, I agree. You’re describing SimCity. It’s a live simulation that reacts to what you do. It’s a game of indirect control, and the Sims vote with their feet.

If (for some reason) you don’t want rich Sims in a neighborhood, plop down a sewage treatment plant or an incinerator, or just don’t pick up the trash. Trust me, they’ll leave. If you want rich Sims to move in, make sure that there is employment for them and that there are amenities to attract them.

The important thing to add though, is that a deep simulation is only valuable if it’s sufficiently transparent – if you can see what’s going on. (reminds me of the observation that there are 3 kinds of fun in games – things that are fun for players, things that are fun for developers, and things that are fun for the computer). If the player can’t see what’s going on in the simulation, if they can’t understand it and change it, then it’s merely fun for the computer. Rich simulation only matters if you can do something with it.

maxis79 karma

[Andrew] The news ticker was a great idea. We're trying to update it a bit for the new SimCity, move it from the era of print to today's online papers and blogs. But it's a great way to get a bit of personality and humour into the game, which I think is a lot of what makes a Maxis SimCity game.