Tuesday, June 26

SimCity: A New Society

I am sorry about the gap in posts. I ran through several posts that read like mud, so scrapped each one. Here is a post I'm actually proud enough of to post. Enjoy.SimCity was released in 1989 by EA Games. SimCity was lated succeeded by three games, the latest being Sim City 4, released in 2004. That was three years ago, and in due time, a new additions to the franchise is finally being released. SimCity as you've known it will become SimCity Socities.With Maxis hard at work on "Pure Awesomeness," also known as Spore, a new pair of wings has undertaken the SimCity brand. Tilted Mill Entertainment in the development seat this time, drawing from previous experience on simulator titles, Caeser IV and Immortal Cities. Game design is a fascinating topic, but so is sequel design. Tilted Mill Entertainment saw SimCity 4 and wanted to do something different. In an interview with 1up, VP of EA Rod Humble had this to say:
We thought that SimCity 4 was a brilliantly executed point of the simulation track of urban planning and it really nailed all those physical attributes, but we were sort of fearful that any design we did might start veering back towards that territory and we definitely wanted to do something different. And so, placing it with a different developer made a lot of sense and was a lot of fun as well. And when we showed the concept, the Tilted Mill guys got ahold of it and said, 'Hey, this is great. Let's change it here, here, here, and how about this and this?' and we sort of got the fire hose of creativity from them. And it was a great fit. It's been such a pleasure working on this project.
I haven't played SimCity 4, but from what I've read it pretty much perfected the city building simulator. EA is being very logical, they simply didn't want to retread on broken glass. Societies is a sort of branch off of what SimCity has given us before. Put bluntly, the game is completely different from previous iterations. This is not a bad thing. I'll be honest though, as a gamer, I'm having trouble coming to terms with the new SimCity, its just so different from the greatness of the franchise. However, as a game designer, I really like some of the ideas Tilted Mill is throwing into the cog.SimCity Societies is less a simulator and more of a sand box. Comparisons can be made more easily to RollerCoaster Tycoon than to traditional SimCity gameplay. One immediate example is that players now plot down individual buildings as opposed to zoning areas. Societies is about creating a unique society all to its own. This is represented in many ways: graphically, governance, economy, and people. There are three types of buildings in Societies: housing, work, and venues (entertainment). All are necessary in creating a thriving society with productive citizens. Additionally, each building brings with it certain attributes, called "societal energies," which contribute to defining your particular society. The six energies are creativity, devotion, industry, knowledge, obedience, and wealth. A venue tied to devotion may be a church. An industry venue, meanwhile, may be a bar or club.
Societies is customizable. Players can take to any energy they prefer, or mix or match for perhaps unexpected results. An obedience focused city will eventually become very "big brother" in style. A city built with creativity will be more like the board game "candy land." And of course, players can mix and match any buildings with any other, creating a montage of societal energies.

What I like most about this design is that the energies are a web. The six energies criss-cross and connect with one another. The means to creating a city on any given point is building the energy types that the player desires. Because players have placement control over individual buildings, they are able to construct a blueprint for any city layout they please. And not only physically, but societally as well. This is where SimCity Societies really shines: organic gameplay.
Players are simultaneously constructing a city and a society. Both develop organically according to the players' decisions. Placing buildings serves multiple ends, similar to how the factory mini-game in Chocolatier affected the meta game. Buildings are not only physical entities, they are also a piece of your society. Players build a city of brick and mortar which then creates a society of laws and individuals. Socities takes the gameplay of SimCity one step further. It does change much of the content from previous games, but thats ok, because this is a new game, with cool new ideas. I'm looking forward to it.

IGN preview
IGN video demonstration
1up preview
1up video demonstration

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