Originally published, January 24, 2013
With the impending release of the new and improved SimCity, I thought it would be good to pay an homage to the one that started it all. To me, the grandfather of all city/civilization simulation games.
I spent hours playing this game on my parent’s IBM 386 (Yes, we’ve already covered, I’m that old) trying to lay out the perfect city on that little flat grid. It wasn’t hard as far as layout went either. The landscape you had to work with was flat, everything went in straight lines, so you could easily set down the most angular city in the world. Perhaps analytically pleasing, but certainly not aesthetically. That’s where the ‘easy’ ran out though. Figuring out how to get everything your sims needed, within easy reach, was difficult to say the least. You had to balance work, shopping, living, and traffic factors to make sure your sims had the easiest life you could give them. A neighborhood that had easy access to jobs and shopping tended to grow fast, while many neighborhoods were bulldozed because they couldn’t get that one element they needed to expand.
After all of that, getting your city set up and planned just right. Zoning for the perfectly angular utopia for your imaginary citizens, here comes a fire, or a tornado, earthquake, or monster! All your hard work going down the drain right before your eyes. I was so happy when they let you change disaster settings in later versions.
SimCity was published by Maxis in 1989, based on the ideas and design concepts of Will Wright. It went through 4 years of turbulent trial and error before this release however, a name change, a couple of different publishers, but finally ended up as we know it today. The player acted as mayor of a clean slate, beginning the planning of a city from absolutely nothing. The goal was to manage the city, planning, taxes, and resources in order make a profit so you can expand your city. Later games would add ever increasing levels of detail, all of which effect your city in some way. Since the beginning SimCity has stayed true to one firm rule. Everything you do, every decision you make, and everything you build, effects your city in some way. Build too fast and your decisions might come back to haunt you all at once. Build too slow and your city will stagnate to the point where you might not be able to catch up.