SimCity 4 > Miscellany > Opinions


sim assumptions

The basic assumptions behind the Simcity 4 simulator have not changed since Will Wright's masters dissertation in the 1980's. This assumes certain behaviors both from your sims and from your environment. If you do a good job as mayor, the sims will be happy and grateful.

Naturally, this does not happen in real life.

The simulator does not assume sims to be full of pride or envy, although it does allow enough badness for them to commit crimes. In real life the most law-abiding citizens are apt to shoplift, drive cars while pickled or talking on cellphones, bad-mouth each other and be offended when you are doing better than they. They are also likely to vote you, O mayor, out of office for the most trivial of offenses, no matter how well you have governed.

The simulator also does not work under any of the assumptions of our modern popular political sects. In SimCity 4 you can be neither a neo-con nor a socialist — unless you're eager for impeachment.

— aw, 26 june 2006.

simcity societies

SimCity Societies, despite the title, is not a continuation of the SimCity series. It is a totally new simulation game. It dumps the key SimCity feature of control over zones, power lines, highways and other aspects of urban planning in favor of handling something called societal energies. There are six such energies, and how they are balanced determines the nature of the city. The game can be customized to a high degree for those with C# and XML skills. This experiment in sociology sounds very interesting: But it deserves to have a name of its own, not the name of something other than what it is.

This in itself would not be a detriment to purchasing the game. True, reviews of the game by IGN and GameSpy, while liking the video and sound, have pronounced the gameplay mediocre. Still, it would be an interesting game to buy once the game enters on-sale mode at BestBuy.

And I would buy it under normal circumstances. But the game has had an abnormal and disturbing birth.

An article in Games for Windows magazine (issue 15, February 2008, page 36) brings up an issue about the game's corporate sponsorship. It reveals that the petroleum concern BP struck a deal with EA, where BP provides development funds in exchange for promotion in the game of not just the logo of the company but also its ideology. Gas stations bear the BP name with the game, as do the various clean and renewable power sources …. The game also shifts emphasis on sources of CO2 pollution from fuel-burning vehicles to power plants. In fact, vehicles are the greatest source, since there are more of them; however, [t]aking the heat off of gas-guzzling transportation and focusing it on power plants is in BP's interest.

This makes SimCity Societies a badly disguided corporate propaganda tool. It is possible for hackers to remove the logos from the gas stations and power plants, and even to reprogram more realistic parameters into the game. But that takes considerable effort. And ordinary players have neither the skill nor the time to exercise such an option. They are the ones who will find themselves playing what is at best a commercial and at worse a cynical deception from a company with a poor environmental record.

Needless to say, I will not touch SimCity Societies. And, given that Will Wright's energies are being spent elsewhere, I will consider SimCity 4 the final chapter in the simulation game's saga.

— aw, 3 February 2008.

simcity 2013

I have given this a separate page.

Written by Andy West on 14 October 2003, and updated 10 March 2013.