Under Construction: SimCity In-Game Footage Shown

Maxis’ Lucy Bradshaw (senior VP and GM) invites you into her living room to watch some Sim City on her enormous telly. Originally broadcast live at some point during last night, it’s an hour and seventeen minutes of all things Sims and SimCity. It’s below, and I’ve highlighted the parts you’ll want to watch.

It’s all rather awkward, really. Presented on a big theatre stage, but with no audience, it creates the atmosphere of a dress rehearsal that really isn’t going so well. And like a parent not letting a kid have their dessert until they’ve eaten their vegetables, we’re made to sit through the latest aesthetic tweaks that have been made to the aging Sims 3 – weather! – before we’re allowed to see the game that isn’t actually out yet. So desperate are they to make sure you didn’t walk off until they were done that they filled the broadcast with secret magic words that you were supposed to gather to win prizes. Well, that’s all yesterday, and we can skip ahead. Or you can watch two men being absolutely enamoured by the idea of cleaning up a pile of leaves in a pretend garden.

Skipping forward is quite the experience. Jump to a pie-eating contest… Jump to an alien sim telepathically draining the motives of NPCs… A magical weather stone… And don’t forget the Curtis Paradis Show! An over-rehearsed chat-show format, where the presenter has no mic, and the three ‘guests’ share one mic. I want to take them all aside and give them a cuddle. None of them asked to be TV presenters – they’re game developers and producers.

But, leap ahead to 37 minutes and you can finally find some content on SimCity. And at last it’s some detailed, in-game footage, showing running cities as well as the very basics of road and zone building. The core bit you’ll want to watch runs from then until 46 minutes.

Video streaming by Ustream

Also, jump to 1.05 to see the first revealed disaster. Or, er, watch the entire thing for another one.

I’m encouraged to see how much it looks like it plays like Sim City 2000. Fears of things being over-simplified, or streamlined to the point of casual play, look like they can be put aside. Worrying about sewage is proof enough. I often feel like I’ve no desire to ever return to management games, and then watching this I find that itch returning.

Other key info in there is that cities will be 2km by 2km, and there definitely won’t be terraforming. This is justified by the landscapes being “puzzles”, where figuring out how to build on a terrain is part of the challenge. There will be rivers, lakes, etc, along with boat transpot. But no subways! And they confirm that the multiplayer nature of the game means that letting people build their city near yours could mean your game suffers from their pollution, crime, etc. Which makes the idea of sharing seem less pleasant. However, should a neighbour abandon their city, you could eventually take it over.

There’s still no date on when the beta starts, which is a shame, but it’s still scheduled to be released in February next year.


  1. Waldkoenig says:

    Ah, how I long to build a glorious friendly city just to see it go down in ashes at 5 in the morning :D

    But, no terraforming?! That’s odd. :/ What if I want to recreate my ugly hometown?

    • Stirbelwurm says:

      Well, there is a difference between terraforming ingame and having a level editor. So there is still hope I guess …

      (I didn’t watch the video, so i don’t know if they also excluded that)

    • Frosty840 says:


      [Rest of sales pitch omitted as my soul died after writing just the first line. I must cry, now.]

      • Joshua Northey says:

        This is pretty funny and sad. I wish games weren’t so wedded to the $50 price point. I would personally much rather pay $100 for a whole game than have all this DLC nonsense. But I know discretionary pricing is a great tool for them.

        • MacTheGeek says:

          Good news! Games are no longer wedded to the $50 price point!

          Bad news: They now release at $60.

    • ulix says:

      The original quote about this was quite clear:
      There’ll be no level editor, but you can still alter the landscape through civil engineering (which will cost money).

      • Lev Astov says:

        That somewhat placates me, but we require a level editor. There can be no question about that.

      • jayc4life says:

        Well, that sucks. Hopefully we can use a full landscape editor to create regions that aren’t plugged in to the larger Sim world at some point, so at least we can use them offline in our own environments without having to worry about what others are doing.

        I can understand not having it in an online setting where you’re given a plot of land and told to do your worst with it, but offline’s a different matter.

        • GamerOS says:

          My cynical guess is they won’t allow that, instead they will publish DLC that contains new regions, either random or modelled after famous real life locations.
          My positive minded guess? The same thing.

          It’s pretty much a given with EA they will milk the game for all the DLC they can and allow as little user made content as possible.

          If they actually allow you to create your own region, then points to them, would put it on my to buy list even.. maybe…

          • Dark Nexus says:

            You already need to bump up to the “Digital Deluxe” edition for the British/French/German city sets, which will presumably be available to others after the fact as paid DLC.

        • dontnormally says:

          Concerned about solo play?

          1. Jump to 53m30s

          2. Check the knowing face the dev makes at about 54m15s after confirming that solo play will still include “all the great social features, leaderboards, bullshit dumb stuff like that” (I might be paraphrasing slightly)

          • Lev Astov says:

            Yeah, you can tell these guys are not happy about what EA is making them do. I feel sorry for them. I smell a city sim Kickstarter in our future.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            When Will Wright goes off and founds his own company (which, in my fantasy, is named SiMaxis), and sets up a Kickstarter for a city-building game, I’ll contribute in a heartbeat.

    • Mist says:

      I kinda fear that they won’t give a level editor or terraforming so that they can sell new regions as DLC.

      edit: what GamerOS said :(

  2. Lumberjack_Man says:


  3. c-Row says:

    Missing terraforming makes this more like Anno than Sim City, which is still fine in my book. I am not too sure about neighbours messing up my city, though.

    • aepervius says:

      It is definitively a no sales for me. I have no intention of having other people influence my single player game, and I have no intention of playing a simcity multiplayer.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        You can turn all of the multiplayer stuff off, you know.

        You’ll still be left with phone-home-at-launch DRM (which I still find objectionable), but the multiplayer features are optional.

      • zbeeblebrox says:

        I don’t understand why people say things like this. Are you seriously suggesting that your decision to purchase something hinges *entirely* on these single low-gameplay-impact features? I mean, it’s never “If this game turn out to be completely broken in X way, it’s a no-sale”. Instead it’s “If [something absurdly trivial] is included in the game, it’s a no-sale”

        Boggles my mind.

        It’s like if someone went to buy a car, but then decided not to because they learned there’s an option to get it in green and they hate green. You don’t NEED to purchase the green car, but the mere fact that it CAN be purchased as a green car ruins everything somehow

  4. Lev Astov says:

    No terraforming?! What? That’s not how civilization works! We’ve been carving the land to our needs for thousands of years!

    Edit: It seems like placing roads will do some terraforming for you. That’s a start, but I need to be able to level swaths of land for my own nefarious purposes. Building a city is NOT A “PUZZLE,” it is bending the land to the human will.

    In other news, 2x2km?? Check the city size at 0:53:00. Even if that’s a small city, that’s not even big enough for a village! We need at least two orders of magnitude larger plots. They seem to have a very serious problem with scale in this game. See 0:59:00 where he talks about having bus stations instead of subways (what?!). He says they researched the range people are willing to walk to bus stops (400m) then shows that displayed on the road as he places them and it’s no more than 50m. That can’t be right.

    I seriously get more and more angry the more they reveal about this game. Color me severely concerned about the future of Sim City.

    • Zarf42 says:

      Exactly! Each garage has a bus? Oh boy, you can have 24 buses in your entire city! That’s smaller than the fleet of buses that serve my surrounded-by-prairie barely-even-a-city of 50,000 people. I think scale, or lack thereof is this game’s biggest weakness. The always-on DRM doesn’t sweeten the deal.

    • onodera says:

      I agree, 2x2km is too small. 20×20 is an acceptable size for a real city building game. Monstrous metropoli still won’t fit, but it’s good enough for most cities.
      I guess we want a game of Supreme Commander scale, not a Starcraft-sized one.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      My inner cynic says that making the city sizes larger would require a larger investment from EA in its back-end world-hosting server platform; and that the beancounters, not the developers, are the source of this 2×2 restriction.

    • Dark Malady says:

      I live in a city, of not quite 300,000. the built up area is about… 20km by 25km, not including the bits that’s wrapped around a large lake in the southern part. I would not consider this to be a large city. with the 2kmx2km limit… i could maybe fit the CBD and old town in, or perhaps my favorite suburb and it’s little shopping street (can’t call it a high street because some idiot in the 1800’s thought a creeks flood zone was a good spot for retail)

      the scale they are giving us is not served by multiple power stations, it’s a single substation on the large state grid. it would have a small water reservoir, but not it’s own sewerage, a town of that size would have septic tanks unless it was very close to a real city. A town of that size would have a population of around 10,000 would it not? i could see it getting up to 15,000 if everyone jammed into apartments and didn’t have gardens… so I would not call this SIMCITY but more of a SIMVille (wait ville would annoy zynga)… SIMtown (wait we did a kiddie’s game called that)… SIMburb (that sounds stupid who would buy it) SIM… bugger it. just call it a city and they’ll never notice anyways, they’ll be to happy it’s not a SIMS expansion.

  5. SlappyBag says:

    You’ve already posted this.

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    (Although I think the one you just posted has some more info in, the playthrough from 37mins to 47 is already posted)

    Its a good video though. And obviously some people missed it =D xxx

    • rockman29 says:

      Yea, that section is already posted. I was hoping for a lot of new footage, but it’s OK! :)

      The new tidbits of info are interesting, like no terraforming and the city size at 2×2 km. Was nice to see the little of the disasters too! The asteroid impact stuff was sweet :)

  6. Joburg says:

    Is it just me, or is the most awkward thing ever? Who is that man with the clipboard? and why does he have a clipboard!?

    • jayc4life says:

      He’s a Community Manager at Simtropolis, and the clipboard presumably has community questions. Doesn’t make it any less awkward, though. The horrendous sound mixing quality really doesn’t help either. I could barely hear Kip Katserelis talk at all with full volume and noise-cancelling headphones.

    • Oak says:

      City Planner Neil Fairbanks.

  7. Chandos says:

    Yeah, not sure how I feel about no terraforming. It sounds like a sandbox where sand is replaced by immutable concrete.

    • Smashbox says:

      I am sure how I feel about it, and that feeling that I feel about it is a bad feeling.

      Seriously though, landfilling, trench-digging, hill-leveling, canal making, causeway building, and highway digging have been in the city-making toolkit for hundreds of years and should be in the game.

      How the hell am I going to dig my transportation corridor and keep it out of my sims’ faces?!

      • zbeeblebrox says:

        But he explained that THAT kind of terraforming definitely is in the game. It’s the godlike shaping of land prior to the city stage that’s been cut. I’m not *super* happy about losing that, but at the same time, folding those actions into the management part of the game will certainly help the game balance. So it’s a bit of a trade off.

  8. Soolseem says:

    The fan they had asking questions looks exactly like my stereotype of a man whose only source of joy is getting outraged about video games on the Internet.

  9. mrmalodor says:

    Nope, still not buying it with always-online DRM.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      I’m not going to purchase a long-term rental on a game instead of buying it so it’s easier for them to pester me with DLC adverts.

      Fuck ’em.

      • ichigo2862 says:

        TOS of most old games actually imply the same thing too, they just weren’t such huge dicks about it back then.

  10. rufio says:

    Also no subway/underground which is a little disappointing.

    • Smashbox says:

      Whaaa? They’ve confirmed this?

    • rufio says:

      yup 59.40 in the video

    • MentatYP says:

      Came here to cry about the missing subways, glad to see I’ve been beaten to the punch. No power lines–ok. That was kind of tedious anyway. But no subways? A densely packed metropolis with no subways is just going to be so wrong.

      Oh wait, I’m sure it’ll be in DLC that we’ll have the privilege of paying more for.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        To be fair for towns of this scale subways make no sense, they didn’t even really make much sense in Simcity 4.

        • MentatYP says:

          True, but the small town size in the new Sim City is another drawback. It’s not like it’s a plus that balances out the minus of losing the subways.

  11. JonSolo says:

    Well, at least the game is bound to have some humour; I didn’t realise that Rainn Wilson was involved!

  12. D3xter says:

    So, everbody forgot about the Always-Online DRM by now or something?

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      Are you kidding?? You can’t say the words “Sim City” without a legion of angry nerds yelling about it

  13. Ostymandias says:

    2×2 kilometers? No subways?
    Maxis should focus on scale and accurate simulation instead of silly “community features”. They completely missed the mark here.

    No buy.

    • Lev Astov says:

      Seriously. The scale is so off. Just look at their statistics maps towards the end. It’s as though there are 10x as many buildings as are being shown.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I have no problem with this small town focused sim-city game, as long as they are consistent with it. I don’t want 300 buildings and a population of 50,000 though as a town that big has thousands of structures!

        The Sim City franchise has always been the wrong scale to represent a large metro area anyway. In Sim City 4 the largest maps could barely represent my city council district in Saint Paul Minnnesota. St. Paul barely would fit in an entire region, much less the whole metro area, which is maybe 75km on a side at least.

    • ulix says:

      I was really looking forward to this game.
      Even WITH always-on and MMO-like features, which I don’t need… but to hell with it for a new Sim City…

      The more I hear about it though, the less interersted I am. No subways, and those tiny plots are one reason…

      • MentatYP says:

        Same here. Was super-psyched when it was announced, but the more I see where they’re going with it the less I want it. Who gives a hoot about the social features?! Subways, dammit!

        I’m usually amused at the “Grumble, grumble… no sale, I’ll just play the old game” type comments, but this time I find myself in agreement with them. The best thing the new SC offers is more specific buildings like casinos, but balanced against everything they’ve removed from the previous games–light vs. heavy zones, subways, map editor, etc.–it just doesn’t match up.

        Time to fire up Sim City 4 again it seems.

  14. Zarf42 says:

    I don’t understand all of the backtracking. The city size in SimCity is the size of a medium city in SC4 (Which I felt was pretty small). There’s no terraforming. The water utilities have been casualized. Oh, sorry, “simplified”. They got rid of subways. What else are they removing? The grid? Clean industry? Llamas?

    Look at the Region View. That’s not a city, that’s a small neighborhood. That’s seriously only like, 12 blocks. It’s SimTown. It’s SimVatican. Sim Census-Designated-Place. Sim-The-Population-Of-Antarctica-And-That’s-It.

    We want a mix between SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4 that can run properly on modern machines. Maybe bigger and with complexities that differ depending on the difficulty level. That’s what we’ve been clamoring for since 2004.

    There are a few things in this new SimCity that are pretty cool, but they would be amazing if they built on the foundation of SC3K or SC4 and added those features. As it stands, it’s SimCity Societies+. It’s telling that I was somehow relieved that they hadn’t removed zoning from the game. “Oh good,” I thought, “This isn’t just dynamic SCURK”.

    It bothers me that everything in this video smacks of the smaller scale. They only dedicated 29 minutes of this hour and 17 minute keynote to SimCity. Clearly, Maxis is not really designating much effort in to the game. Those two guys on the couch – is that the entire development team minus the art division? SimCity used to be the biggest game on the planet, now it’s not even worth half of a keynote.

    It’s times like these when I wish I wasn’t too stupid to program.

    Also, holy cats, stop looking directly at the camera.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Sim City has always had scale issues. Even in SimCity 4 subways rarely made any sense (and the populace barely knew how to use them even after repeated patches).

      What I would really like is a “Sim Metro” game where you are placing “plats” or “developments” i.e. whole blocks rather than lots, and the maps are 50km on a side rather than 2km on a side.

      Someone needs to buy the CitiesXL license away from that abomination of a company that currently owns it and develop that.

  15. dsch says:

    WTF, no subways? That was my favourite part! It was something you aspired to.

    • astronaute says:

      You don’t need subways for 2x2km city, you only need bicycles.

      • BurningPet says:

        2×2 km cities cant really be called cities

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Exactly. Sim City was always more like “Sim Small Town”, and this version looks like Sim Hamlet. I actually don’t mind having a SIm Hamlet, but I also hope they make a Sim Metro someday. Preferably after someone destroys EA.

  16. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I don’t know, but it seems to me that it’s not targeted at old Simcity players but more at introducing Sims players to the genre. It feels very much ‘my first simcity’ -like.

    • Zarf42 says:

      You just blew my mind. I think you’re right! It seems so obvious now, but that’s it: This SimCity is the result of trying to combine two demographics that only have a small amount of crossover. Forcing the crossover on the rest of the demographic is just plain cruel.

    • project2501 says:

      Yeah this really seems like a SimCity for the Farmville/Sims players. The video makes it feel less like a simulation of city management and more like a toybox. Maybe they were just highlighting the fluffy parts for the Sims people who were the target audience of this livestream, but I’m not very hopeful.

  17. Milky1985 says:

    Why would you want to unleash a disaster on a city when you have no way of reverting back to the non destroyed version?

    Or is it random just to really annoy you after you spend ages making the city, again with no way to save and go back?

    [EDIT] Is there a way to play it wihtout other players influcing your city, i don’t awnt to make a city that works well, then have polution cause someone is just using dirty industries next to me, then stops playing.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      Yes: The multiplayer/”community” features are optional.

  18. syndicatedragon says:

    With the much smaller scale and added micromanagement, it seems more like Tropico than SimCity.

  19. caddyB says:

    What a shame.

  20. Lev Astov says:

    Wait, what about mods? I would expect Simtropolis to ask that first and foremost.

    I know they implied the desire to have mods, but modding is a feature that needs to be set in stone at this point. Otherwise we can only assume EA will not allow it or will limit it.

    • GamerOS says:

      Considering that question was most likely asked… multiple times knowing simtropolis I believe they just avoided answering it.
      They know what the answer is and looking at EA it’s history with this we all know what the answer is most likely, and why they’d rather not tell it to prospective buyers that are still delusional and filled with hope.

  21. Kucd says:

    So let me get this right:

    -No modtools
    -Always online
    -Lots of multiplayer and social features
    -No terraforming
    -Limited city sizes
    -DLC galore ahoy!

    It’s as if they took my beloved SimCity and made it the complete opposite of what the series stand for.

    • macks says:

      I’ve also heard saves are automatic and in-cloud only. Meaning you can’t reload saves from an earlier point, destroy your huge city and then restore it, etc.

      Really sad about the always online requirement, and it’s the main reason I’m not buying the game.

  22. Berstarke says:

    Boring talk, boring talk, boring talk. Uh, I like infographics, boring talk, boring talk, *disaster* YEAH!

  23. theloz says:

    47:00 – “Dwight Schrute – Community Creator”

  24. BurningPet says:

    We need a new Indie City building game.

    Maybe a game about building and managing a futuristic city with multiple street levels stretching toward the sky a-la the 5th element? hmm…

    • The Random One says:

      Well, for what it’s worth, I enjoy Cities XL.

    • Dark Malady says:

      heh, that would be fun. I have no idea how you would do it, perhaps have layers? and each layer is worth 5 stories? and have large blocks. you start at the bottom and as you zone up they build up and as a block gets past level 5-10 the lower levels of it and the surrounding blocks loose desirability and value, forcing you to build up to the sun. rezoning the areas as technology changes the employment demographics, with suspended bridges between blocks…

  25. 0over0 says:

    What a disappointment–and I wasn’t even that excited to begin with.

  26. bevilp says:

    Looks okayish. going to wait to try before judging.

    On a side note, this has nothing to do with the game, but hearing the guy say that he is going to build commercial zones for his citizens to buy happiness makes me sad.

  27. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    2km by 2km is pretty small.

  28. satsui says:

    They never did answer the question about the game being easier. Yeah, a billion graphs are great and add complexity, but it doesn’t make the game more difficult. From all the gameplay previews, it seemed pretty cookie cutter of “add this” and “add that” and your citizens are happy. The old SimCity’s always had a challenge.

    • GamerOS says:

      I think they just mixed up or demand for complexity, we don’t care as much about detailed information, the complexity we want is in how we interact with it.
      Right now the complexity of the gameplay seems to be on the level of Sim City Societies.

      I don’t mind an easy to pick up game, but it currently just seems to lack the complexity I want in Sim City, besides the entire information spreadsheets thing.

      Edit: Just want to say whenever I say We and Us I actually mean I obviously.

  29. Servicemaster says:

    We get it everybody, we fucking get it. This is not the game you are looking for. EA has completely messed with your nostalgia and it’s never going back. Sucks for you, maybe I’ll see you in SimCity: The Expansion Pack: Everything you always wanted including Minecraft, why not.

    With that said, yes there are annoying aspects of this game but did you see those infographics? All of those stats??? OH god yes please. There seems to be such attention to minutiae that I can’t help but get excited. Who knows if I’ll even be into it, but creating and being a part of a global economy is what caused me to hit the preorder button. I’ll gamble with my $60. Everybody else, have fun playing some other city simulator. I suggest playing Sim City 4 because it sounds like that’s what everybody wants to play.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      See the post above yours. Stats are nothing if you cannot do anything with them. :(

  30. MacTheGeek says:

    > Jump to an alien sim telepathically draining the motives of NPCs…

    Man, that Firaxis marketing team is EVERYWHERE.

  31. macks says:

    Let’s just go over a list of good reasons not to buy this game:

    1) Always online DRM.
    2) Savegames in the “cloud”, can’t reload old savegames or choose when to save.
    3) One-size-only plots, allow for small towns, but not grand cities like in SC4.
    4) No contiguous city plots like in SC4, so impossible to have your own region.
    5) No terraforming
    6) No zone densities.
    7) A plethora of other reasons.

    This isn’t Simcity 5, it’s Sims Societies: Town Edition. It’s a dumbed-down game for people familiar with farmville, with the “Simcity” name slapped on to make som extra sales.

  32. Daggerville says:

    What I find disappointing is the lack of ‘good’ city building / city simulation games these days. There used to be a vast market dedicated to simulations and now it’s almost invisible. I’ve been a big fan of the Simcity series for awhile now and it’s frustrating that after waiting so long for a sequel (glorified Simcity 5000 or something), we are getting a piece of software riddled with EAxis DRM, a butt load of content expansions and all the nonsense EAxis nowadays does to the Sims.

    As a fan, it’s just disheartening to witness this. Will Wright’s work is getting spat on.

  33. baekgom84 says:

    Honestly this game looks like a lot of fun. The problem is that it isn’t really faithful to the legacy of SimCity. I’d say it has a similar problem to Dragon Age 2, in which if it had simply been called something else, it would have avoided a lot of outrage. If they had called this ‘SimTown 2’ or something along those lines, I don’t think there would have been the same strict expectations about what it ought to be.

    Of course, that’s not to say that many of the complaints are legitimate regardless of what it is called. I was hopeful that EA wouldn’t shit all over this one with DRM, DLC and ‘social gaming’ but it seems they couldn’t help themselves.

  34. Dark Malady says:

    38.30 or so… where he is picking a site, there are place labelled with “town name” which implies little towns to me, but ALSO site labelled, ” Great Works Site “, which are the shared between towns stuff… like airports and BIG power… so we can’t even choose where those things go. it’s irritating.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I knew this games was a lie. It’s “Sim Town” not “Sim City” :(

  35. crinkles esq. says:

    I think I wouldn’t be so stonefaced at this game if the max city size wasn’t so small. Putting aside the probable monetary reasons why they made the game this way, I do like the idea of having a global network of cities. But not at the expense of feeling like we no longer own our city experiments. If they want to limit the city size for multiplayer, fine, but make the single-player mode “classic” — give us large cities, mod tools, local saves, etc.

  36. ludde says:

    So very disappointing. It’s utterly depressing to see how they’ve taken one of the most awaited sequels of the last ten years and turned it into something no one really wants.

    And since it’s all big business, feedback will just fall on deaf years.

  37. zbeeblebrox says:

    I feel kind of afraid to declare how absolutely excited I am for this game, because everyone’s totally ragging on it and I get the feeling that I’ll be piled on for being an EA fanboy or something. But honest to god, I am REALLY excited about this game. Sorry, but I am, and that’s all there is to it. I can hate EA and think this game is awesome and want to buy it. That’s a thing that I’m allowed to do. Okay? Okay.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I think it has the potential to be a good game despite not being what most Sim City fans are looking for.

      I think most fans want to move away from simming individual people, not towards it.

  38. zero signal says:

    This is looking a lot like Tropico. I was hoping this would be a larger-scale Tropico, but at 2×2 it’s the same scale with roughly the same feature set.

  39. smg77 says:

    It’s like they didn’t learn anything from when Societies bombed.