EA Breaks Ground On New SimCity

By John Walker on March 7th, 2012 at 2:40 am.

concept art, admittedly

So while we all already knew, SimCity is back, and it’s being spelt like that. No number, no space. It’s going to be in 3D, resources are going to be finite, and technology pays a significant part. And it’s being made by Maxis, and it’s only on PC. More details, and a trailer below.

While EA have studiously avoided mentions of the dreadful Sim City Societies, the phrase, “SimCity is coming home to Maxis” was uttered, with some heavy tone.

The goal is to create a version of the game that has a lot more choice, and yet the most playful and most responsive game in the series so far. It’s going to be in 3D, and it’s obviously going to feature online components, but the emphasis at this announcement is on how much the spirit of the classic games is important to them.

“What you see is what we sim,” were told, stressing that everything in the game is there for a reason, with greater emphasis on detail, and greater impact from your decisions. And it seems that your city will be able to interact with the cities of your friends. For instance, if your city pollutes, you could lower their air quality in theirs.

And it has curvy roads. Which is emblematic of the whole design ethos shown in the few short clips we’ve been shown. A city not built on a grid. And what was shown looked beautiful, absolutely madly packed with microscopic detail.

This, remarkably, is a PC only game. While I don’t doubt for a moment that Facebook, iPhone and Teletext games will appear all around it closer to release, this isn’t an attempt to “update the game for the console generation”. It’s a PC game being made for PC.

I’m quite sure almost intolerable amounts of information about it will come pouring forth very soon, especially with the announcement coming with a 2013 release date. For now, let’s enjoy the possibilities that await.

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117 Comments »

  1. thristhart says:

    I am cautiously optimistic.

    • Voon says:

      Aye.

      Even the if it comes with Origin, I’m fine with it as long it’s an actually decent sequel to the SimCity games

    • jealouspirate says:

      My position as well. It could be quite the thing. Please, do not mess it up.

    • Metonymy says:

      Yep, promising art direction doesn’t automatically mean bad game design.

      Missing from this series is a clean transition between micro and macro levels of design. Being locked at the streets and zone level (police station goes here) could be too much of a rehash. A complex trade design, ie interaction with other cities and countries, choosing what types of industries you court, playing the part of private interests or state/national governments rather than the mysteriously all-powerful city government, and even controlling a tiny part of the city or a single business within the city instead of the entire thing, just an overall kit that allows you to choose what you simulate, has been missing.

      I want to run the entire fire department. And of course, the city’s secret political espionage branch.

    • Voon says:

      @Metonymy

      “A complex trade design, ie interaction with other cities and countries, choosing what types of industries you court, playing the part of private interests or state/national governments rather than the mysteriously all-powerful city government, and even controlling a tiny part of the city or a single business within the city instead of the entire thing, just an overall kit that allows you to choose what you simulate, has been missing.”

      To be fair, SimCity 4 had one or two of those mechanics you’ve listed there if I could recall. Though, not exactly fleshed out.

    • westyfield says:

      patonxb is a cunning spambot. Do not be fooled!

    • Khemm says:

      My feelings exactly. Societies was horrid, but this looks and sounds like a return to what I loved about the series.
      Cautious optimism!

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      1:09 “Images not representative of actual gameplay”.
      Still, the overview sounds good.

  2. Sarissofoi says:

    EA?
    No thx.

  3. Ashpolt says:

    They had me at “truckasaurus.”

  4. chesh says:

    Certainly that was the most joyful minute twenty two seconds I’ve had today.

  5. Jesus H. Christ says:

    ‘Maxis’ + ‘Only on PC’ = win

  6. Stupoider says:

    Aaaah the music!

    MAKE IT AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER THAN SIMCITY 3000′S MUSIC, PLEASE.

    Although my hopes and expectations from EA these days are at an all-time low. Maybe they won’t charge for extras? (They will charge for extras…)

  7. LimEJET says:

    I love how the “footage not representative of actual gameplay” disclaimer only comes up at the part of the video where multiple buildings are being placed at the same time.

  8. Dave L. says:

    Hopefully they don’t pull a Sim City 3000 and nix all the cool new features prior to release. I still want the version where you could zoom in to street level and walk around and conduct street polls.

  9. Examiner2 says:

    It’s the Bagger 288! A horrific leviathan of unimaginable power designed with merciless destruction as its sole purpose!

  10. ulix says:

    I like how some of the public buildings seem to be modular.
    Cool idea, and definitely better than building small, medium and big police stations. Instead you’ll have one kind of police station that is upgradeble with modules.

  11. Tychoxi says:

    *Images not representative of actual gameplay* huh?

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Yeah, I’m “cautiously optimistic”, but it seems like the trailer was probably pre-rendered. Might be in-engine.

      Game trailers!

    • cliffski says:

      I didn’t even bother watching the trailer. Not being released for a year, so what’s the point? It just encourages budget-wasting on CG production companies rather than actual game production.

    • pepper says:

      Cliffski, I think the trailer actually might be the introduction movie, atleast it appears like that when compared to SC4′s intro movie. Not too say I would be fairly happy if games just dropped all the silly intro movies and put me into a menu right away.

  12. danly says:

    It looks like it has more in common with {Whatever} Tycoon than any of the good Sim City games.

  13. shoptroll says:

    At least not slapping a number on this one doesn’t mean the game is shifting genres unlike some other “sequels”. Also, they spared the game the humiliation of a completely redundant subtitle. SimCity: Urban Planner anyone?

    Anyways. this makes me happy. Happy but also cautiously optimistic. But for now I’m bouncing up and down on the inside like a little kid for the rest of the night.

    I’m really hoping the multiplayer is optional along with the region play. Also hoping that they’re applying the Spore technology for seeding cities here. It’s going to be a real shame if they let that technology go to waste. However, I really want the option to build my city in a bubble free from the outside or just allow me to make neighbor deals with the AI.

    Curvy roads sounds cool, but hoping the rest of the game snaps to a grid of some sort.

    New website is snazzy looking. Very glad there was a new game behind the switch to Facebook for a few months and using Herman Cain’s flubs to get the brand back in the spotlight. Site’s a little glitchy with some CSS errors but very glad to see they’ve got the Simcity 4 patches back up as well. Now they just need to do the same with the old Sims site.

    A little nervous about simplifying the gameplay. If they dial the game back to 2000/3000 mechanics that’d be really awesome. I just don’t want this heading the way of Societies. We’ll see what they say.

    Lastly, really hoping Jerry Martin is doing the music again. That guy is the sound of the franchise.

    EDIT:

    There’s a bit more detail on the Origin pre-order site. I have a weird feeling someone was watching Anno 2070 with keen interest.

    • rockman29 says:

      From watching the video, it seems everything still snaps to a grid. The part where they lay the first zones seems to indicate this.

    • shoptroll says:

      Assuming that video is at all indicative of the final gameplay, sure.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      No, you can see angled plots as soon as they start laying down red industrial zones.

      I imagine that snap-to-grid remains an option, because grids are generally the best way to lay out cities. You can turn off snap if you want to fit to coastlines or create malicious traffic mazes.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “or create malicious traffic mazes. ”

      or “London” for short.

    • jamesgecko says:

      > At least not slapping a number on this one doesn’t mean the game is shifting genres unlike some other “sequels”.

      SimCity: The FPS. A figure known only as “The Planner” is causing natural disasters to occur, taking out large swatches of the city. Escape from a skyscraper as an earthquake shakes it to the ground. Fight through fires and through the onslaught of criminals whose rampage runs unchecked by the ruined police station. Turn the economy around. Escape from a tsunami by finding the hidden Apache copter and using it to take down Godzilla and the aliens.

      Good luck, soldier. If you fail, this city will be as real as… a simulation.

    • Bureaucromancer says:

      You know, Simcity: Urban Planner could be pretty good. Throw in real limits to your power, residents who actually respond to things, politics that actually matter.

      A city sim that’s less a construction set than a virtual pet.

  14. Geen says:

    Yay? I don’t trust Maxis so much after Spore, but I’m sort of optimistic on this one.

    • Apolloin says:

      That was more Will Wright exercising all the lattitude that being right about the Sims series all that time won him. Notice that he has been reeled the hell back in since the debacle that was Spore – a game that sounded SO good on paper and yet, in action, not so much.

      Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone being in a position to tell the man that he was plain WRONG about Spore after he spent the better part of his life trying to get them to believe that the concept of simulating little lives and giving cruel buggers the chance to mess with them really might sell.

    • sharkh20 says:

      Pretty sure it was EA’s involvement that ended up ruining spore.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Will Wright made SimCity and The Sims. I think his obsession with simulating the lives of virtual humans has paid off in one of the best games ever and one of the most profitable game series ever, respectively.

  15. starclaws says:

    Just hope it isn’t too resource hogging.

  16. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    I cannot wait to build cities composed entirely of coal-fired plants surrounding my friend’s New Eden.

  17. GamerOS says:

    Already a digital deluxe edition is up for pre-order, including extra buildings based on european monuments, and some new form of transit?
    Hope most of it is just cosmetic, otherwise this would make me feel really bad about getting it when it comes out.

  18. pilouuuu says:

    It’s not an FPS! I’m disappointed… What kind of game is this? Does it have QTE? At least I hear that this EA thing likes releasing DLC or else this would be like a game from the last century…

  19. P7uen says:

    Does the SIMCITY logo at the end make anyone else nauseous? That ‘C’ in the middle is making me go wrong.

  20. PleasingFungus says:

    Ahh, “images not representative of actual gameplay.”

    Thank you, tiny text!

  21. MythArcana says:

    I was hoping to see the Cloverfield creature smack the bridge over, but maybe in one of the 17 expansions…

  22. yurusei says:

    SimCorp and SimTech? Different looking cities build on opposite banks of the river is reminding me too much of Anno 2070′s Eco and Tycoon factions.

    • Cerebulon says:

      First thing I noticed was that those signs and things are in English, or at least a Latin alphabet, as opposed to the usual greek/cyrillic/basic from star wars mash which has been part of the sims for a decade.
      And of course the entire thing looks very much prerendered.
      Progressing blackouts will not be in the final game. Or such detailed or specific protests/riots. Or I’ll eat your hat.

  23. crinkles esq. says:

    A few thoughts:

    1) 2013…that’s a long wait, mate.
    2) I must point out amidst the hurrahs of “PC only!” that SimCity was first released for the Macintosh and Amiga. Not the PC. If they’re truly rebooting the series, it seems a bit disrespectful not to have a Mac release.
    3) The protestors on the bridge were interesting. Shall we see Occupy protests and fascist, pepper spray-toting police?
    4) I haven’t played SimCity since SimCity 2000. For some reason I’m really kind of excited about this one.

    • JaminBob says:

      Yes ages.

      As others said, this will really test my not wanting Origin :(

      I imagine it will be a terrible system hog and i’ll have to get a new laptop as well :/

      Wait.. why am i being negative!? Its a new SimCity!!!

    • Khemm says:

      I already have Origin installed, did it to test BF3 beta. It’s OK. Shameless Steam clone, so I hate it for the same reasons, but it has a better offline mode.
      If SimCity 5 proves to be great, Origin won’t prevent me from buying it, just like Steam isn’t enough to prevent me from buying games I really want to play.

    • c-Row says:

      4) I haven’t played SimCity since SimCity 2000. For some reason I’m really kind of excited about this one.

      Me neither. Is picking up SC3000 or SC4 a good idea to pass the time until next year or should I just wait and buy the new one?

      As for Origin… yeah, installed it to get my own opinion on it. Except for login problems on my initial install (though that was due to a general server problem) it’s gone pretty much unnoticed so far.

    • Xocrates says:

      @c-Row Good luck trying to run SC3000 in any modern windows, I have tried and failed since XP came out. SC4 is still awesome though, and absolutely worth getting.

    • Harlander says:

      2) I must point out amidst the hurrahs of “PC only!” that SimCity was first released for the Macintosh and Amiga. Not the PC. If they’re truly rebooting the series, it seems a bit disrespectful not to have a Mac release.

      I had the original on my Atari ST, but that aside, the “PC only” spiel here is, I suspect, being used to mean “not for consoles”.

      It looks like pretty much all of Maxis’ stuff gets a simultaneous OSX/Windows release.

    • pepper says:

      You could argue a Macintosh is also a PC, it means personal computer after all. I consider my Linux machine also a PC. Then again, it has become synonymous with a windows based operating system.

    • c-Row says:

      I am cautiously optimistic about a C64 version as well.

    • Kommander says:

      If my cities riot police can smash hippies in the face I’ll be all over this one!

    • Phasma Felis says:

      ‘Kipedia says the initial release was for Amiga, Atari ST, and DOS. Mac and everything else under the sun came later.

  24. Belua says:

    A new SimCity? There is a god!

  25. The Consul says:

    The day 1 DLC will be railroads and airports…

  26. RedViv says:

    Give us mods, put it between SC4 and SC3000 in terms of complexity, and don’t let it eat our machines like SC4 did. I don’t want to ask for more.

  27. Khemm says:

    PC only? Hope restored, there were rumors it would be multiplatform.
    Just forget Societies exists, look at 3000 and 4 for inspiration and it’ll be great.

  28. MannyCalavera says:

    If I ever had to a write a “Gaming Made Me” article it would be without doubt on Sim City 2000. I am therefore very excited.

    I just hope as well as being brilliant it is also fun *gives stern look to Sim City 4*

  29. piphil says:

    No mention of lamas or splines that are in need of reticulation. Worried.

  30. Bungle says:

    I think the only Maxis game I’ve played was Space Cadet pinball on my old WinME computer back in the day. I loved that game. If SimCity is anything like Space Cadet pinball, I’m in. Otherwise, no thanks.

  31. BobsLawnService says:

    My initial reaction was “HOORAY!”.

    Immediately afterwards I started wondering how EA are going to fuck it up by being greedy, heartless, customer hating bastards.

    Sometimes reality makes me sad.

  32. TwwIX says:

    “EA Breaks Ground”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  33. Puppetmast0r says:

    At 1:10 you can see an arcology taking off into space. That made me soft and wet.

  34. Nallen says:

    Great, now I have to not care about SimCity for a year.

  35. Gap Gen says:

    I miss the Space Age.

  36. cloaknite says:

    I am still playing simcity 4! Anyone else is playing??

  37. Milky1985 says:

    Prices up on origin take me from “this looks awesome” to “are you sodding kidding me”.

    Only pre-order version from what I can see is the digital delux and above, and £45 for that :/

    Hopefulyl a normal version with a more pc reasonable price will appear!

    • RedViv says:

      I’m fairly sure that it will be distributed on physical media too.
      But the content of Deluxe and Limited editions are upsetting again. European style cities? Not for the peasants with their “normal” game versions, oh no. Let that be DLC!

  38. MonkeyMonster says:

    Nice trailer! Made me consider putting some greens aside to do that. Questions though – will a large single eyed robot attack me and if i take two bonds out, then repay at .% will the game then give me a million a year :D

  39. Wang Tang says:

    Curvy roads in Sim City?
    Mad times, mad times.

    I only played SimCity 2000, but it was wonderful back then. Microwave power plants and arkologies…

  40. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Two pages and not a single joke made about the teletext reference? No hopes for Bamboozle Sim City version? For shame British RPS types.

  41. caddyB says:

    Only on PC? Day1 buy.

  42. itchyeyes says:

    Really hopeful for this. It’s been so long. On a side note, anyone notice, what appears to be, an arcology lifting off into space (ala Sim City 2000) at the 1:10 mark?

  43. MichaelPalin says:

    You people realize it’s going to be MMOized like EA is doing with all the PC games they can, don’t you? Darkspore and C&C4 required a permanent online connection, because “they’re like an MMO” and so will be Sim City 5.

    • hitnrun says:

      Sad, too, because if there’s one game that would be a candidate for a “casual” (read: portable and reliable and available and system-friendly) game experience that appeals to the broad spectrum of people who play games with a computer, it would be Sim City.

      I didn’t stay with SC4 too long because it was a resource hog and it seemed like it was trying to shoehorn the series into the state-of-the-art. It wasn’t a game that you could idly consider while checking your email and click around as easily as if it were a modern web app. I much preferred SC3000.

      It seems like they’re going back in that direction, plus the “MMO elements” to justify an always-on connection that won’t stop a single pirate but will collect marketing data and allow them to detour players into Origin or Simbattlefront or whatever where they can spammed and cajoled to upgrade.

    • Sangi says:

      The game site linked above already mentions that it requires a persistent connection to play. After the hulla-ballo with Anno2070 I am NOT happy about this.

  44. Bluebreaker says:

    3DLC on day -365. Yeah have fun.

  45. municipalis says:

    Alas, I did my undergrad degree in urban geography – no doubt partly as a result of playing a thousand hours of SC2K as a kid – and the more I learned about how cities actually work, the more I demanded from my city simulations. I think Wil Wright even said something to that effect – making people compare their urban experience with SC to get them to learn more about cities. I tried like SC4 and just couldn’t get into it with its over-emphasis on transportation planning and under-emphasis on social issues. From the trailer, I’m still gonna guess that SC5 will focus more on “fun for everyone” rather than a deeper simulation.

  46. Nadanova says:

    I have admittedly been waiting for this for a while, been playing sim city 4 again while the university network has downtime XD and @Cerebulon I’ll eat both my hat and yours if they manage to implement half of the features they are showing in this trailer.

  47. Nalum says:

    I could and probably will watch this teaser all day.

  48. S Jay says:

    Ì hope they have bikes and options for building sustainable cities

  49. MellowKrogoth says:

    Disappointed not to see any disasters. Fires? Earthquakes? Flying saucer with death rays? C’mon Maxis, those were one of my favorite things even way back in SimCity 2000.

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