Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint about rewiring things and punching people, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.
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The closed beta test of the new SimCity is out, for those in on it. I am! There’s the city I built!
You can see and read about Tyler’s city, built in a different region to the beta, here.
It’s a very demo-y beta: you only get 1 hour before you have to start from scratch. My first one was a single long road, but I quickly discovered that having industrial stuff anywhere near your residential zones poisons everyone and, more importantly, reduces the land value.
So my second town was designed solely to keep industrial and residential stuff as far from each other as possible, to maximise land value. Land value is also higher near the coast, so I put all my first houses there, and put all my value-increasing buildings like town halls and schools a little way inland, to extend the area I could build houses in and still get the most tax out of them.
It seemed to work. I had more demand for new housing than I could ever keep up with, and if there’s any disadvantage to having your garbage and sewage facilities miles away from your homes I didn’t run into it. Since lots of people wanted to move here but couldn’t afford it, I had to intentionally build one housing district in a shittier area: you don’t get to choose house prices, so masses of ideal housing is no use to poor people. Here’s a guide:
It’s been a long time since I played a pure management game, and I wonder if I’ve lost the urge somehow. I built a fair bit more than this before my time ran out, but about 5 minutes before it did, I quit. I built my thing, my theories were right, it seemed to go fine. I’m sure it could be massively improved, but maintaining it and gradually expanding it to fill this arbitrary square wasn’t all that interesting to me.
Fin C: Looks really dull! I personally prefer the grid-based system of classic Sim City games - you felt like you had more control of everything, which in turn increased immersion.
Tom Francis: I didn't do a great job of showing it off - some people have made very cool cities, like this one: http://imgur.com/a/f... ...Zfxu#34
I do wonder if the restricted area is part of what made me feel less inspired, though. Not because I have some grand plan, but because I feel it's saying, "What's the best thing you can make in this limited space?"
And the answer is, "Eh, I dunno, something worse than most people I guess. Sorry."
When it's a huge canvas, it's more like "Draw whatever you like here".
Jason L: There's always the commentary that the rules of a sim game must necessarily dictate a worldview. Thus, the stereotypical 'efficiently' districted American city, organized utterly around an automotive commute to anywhere, rediscovered through a short casual tweaking session. I wonder if drive times are factored into property values or Sims' happiness at all.
Chris From Poland: The game looks interesting. Too bad I won't be playing due to the always-online DRM requirement.
Jarenth: I've actually had similar experiences with the older Sims City: I'd be really engrossed in figuring stuff out for an arbitrary amount of time, but as soon as I felt I had a handle on things, that interest just sort of dried up.
I like these games for figuring out the mechanics. After that's done, I don't have nearly enough of an artistic streak to build beautiful fancy cities or what have you, and the typical challenge-based scenarios have never appealed to me.
eydryan: I'm massively hyped about this but, like most awesome simulators (think KSP and to a lesser extent Minecraft) it makes me wanting for more inspiration and a very easy way of exploring everything the game has to offer and then punishes me for it, for not playing the game "right".
I want to make a pretty city, and I want it to be fun. I don't want to be a simulated mayor and I don't want to have to calculate taxes and file paperwork. And that's kind of what you have to do with these games. It's made for the hardcore guys, who post saves which took 5 years to evolve on youtube and make the cities the game was made to build. Mind you, I say build because all these amazingly impressive games are just compilers for the recipe the designers envisioned, which usually strips you of most of your freedom.
What if I want to build a smallish town with just a few shops and no industry? Tough luck, it's unbalanced. Well yeah, but I want to a) have fun and b) simulate real cities, which are like that. I don't want the burden of games like this, I just want the claimed freedom.
Case in point: Traffic Giant; I fell in love with the demo a long time ago, when it came on one of those magazine CDs because pirating cost money back then! And the demo was great, I had to develop the transport infrastructure of a town, and it felt fun, with no arbitrary punishments and a rather low difficulty. But when I got the chance to actually play the game I was profoundly disappointed. All the fun simplicity of the demo was stripped away, making me face this huge world where I didn't just have to focus on large areas in order to stay in business but had AI opponents who effectively just made it frustrating to play the game at my pace.
Ramble over, point is I think Sim City will be an awesome game, with great graphics, an ok interface, some game-breaking bugs, but it probably won't be fun for anyone who isn't planning on spending months on building the "perfect" city.
Caleb: I was so pumped for a new Sim City!
And then it turned out it has always-online DRM.
I live in an area with inconsistent internet. So great. I can't play Sim City.
Maybe companies will someday wise up and realize not all of their customers live in major US cities like they seem to think we do.
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