District Sleeps Tonight: Cities Skylines Policy Video

Making a city management game based on the Bath, where I live, would be very easy. You wouldn’t be able to place any new buildings because planning permissions forbid it; the only thing making the upper classes unhappy would be the arrival of a Primark store in the middle of town; and you could win the lower- and middle-classes to your side by replacing even a single independent coffee shop or expensive cookware store with a shop that sells lightbulbs.

Cities Skylines looks much more complicated, in this video highlighting the implementation of services and district policies. The former looks a lot like SimCity, but the latter looks really interesting.

The town they’re playing with is from the Tale of Two Cities trailer released last month.

I raised all of the eyebrows I own when they switched to the data visualising layer and the world was cast into a stark, textureless white. I guess borrowing the visual language of SimCity makes a lot of sense – players understand it already, and it presumably makes designing the game faster rather than trying to re-invent the wheel – but I was surprised by just how similar it is.

More interesting is the policies system. You’re able to paint districts onto the map, turning your large cities into collections of neighbourhoods to which you can then apply policies. The first example given in the video above is ruling that one district of town should be fitted with smoke alarms, which comes with an upkeep cost but reduces the likelihood of fires. You can also use these policies to create specialist industries within particular areas.

In SimCity 4, which also supported larger cities than its successor, you would end up projecting personality onto areas of your towns based on the style of buildings and how much difficulty you’d had building it, maintaining it, making it function. You’d come to hate the people who lived in the houses which kept burning down, for example. I like that Cities Skylines is giving you tools to explicitly give districts a personality, so that my irrational feelings can be made real.

In Bath, I would paint a single district which covered the whole town and inside I would pass a policy that prevented entrepreneurial wankers from replacing every fun place to go on a Friday night with artificially quirky gastro-pubs.


  1. tumbleworld says:

    Looks lovely. I’m cautiously optimistic that it comes out nicely!

  2. linea says:

    So I presume from the title that the game will feature a simulation of the Postal Service, yeah?

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Bath rebuilt a ton of stuff semi-recently. Like you say, the trick is to replace Argos with Apple stores.

  4. Thurgret says:

    I was in Bath earlier today. The weather seemed to have forgotten that it’s the end of October. Lots of people all over. They seem to have added some new exhibits to the Roman baths since I was last there, such as rings and coinage, unless I just forgot those. Lovely town, really, but expensive. Know some people who love that Book Barn somewhere outside it, too.

    Shame that they aren’t basing the building styles in this game entirely off Bath.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I’d like to see a historical city builder. Haussmann Sim, or something.

      • Hex says:

        I have to say that the “limited space” city-sim idea could be pretty compelling.


          I’d like a game that was half SimCity and half Civilization in which you started with a city in the (say) 1300’s and had to take it to the modern day. Not only would you have to design modern things like on-rails transport and avenues around urban planning that considered horses to be luxuries and sanitation to be science fiction, but you’d make those decisions yourself and then fuck over future you.

  5. Zyx says:

    This video is a lot more entertaining if you imagine the two developer-narrators to be goldfish in a bowl.

  6. JohnnyPanzer says:

    Bath sounds a lot like my hometown UmeĆ„. Lat week the city council there had a closed meeting about tearing down one of the most beloved landmarks in the town. Afterwards they called for a press conference where they promptly refused to answer any questions before going on to publicly condemning the media for “unethical behaviour” a few months earlier when the local newspaper revealed massive corruption in the city council.

    It was… weird.

  7. JaminBob says:

    Wahoo. All they have to do is not fuck this up. Open goal on overlooked genre.

    Sim Bristol (& Bath) would be better. I would have no regards for green belt. You would soon be part of us mwahahaha!

    Next. Weston-super-Mare!

    • Lagran says:

      Yup. I’m already edging on ‘shut up and take my money’ just from the videos and information they’ve given, and if all goes well I might actually buy this game soon after release.

    • Nathan says:

      I’m not sure I’d want to take Bath into our warm and loving embrace. We don’t want all those tourists!

      It would be great if one day a City Sim game allowed you to build a city that wasn’t a US one, though.

  8. lisaharris7 says:

    I am pleased to read and consider for creating a unique work out in the same field. Keep writing!

  9. Calculon says:

    One of my districts will be named Poor-ton and it will NOT have any sort of transportation services.

    Interestingly enough, I didnt see education in there anywhere…..also they havent mentioned whether its micro-simulation or statistics based

  10. DantronLesotho says:

    Is this the game being made to spite EA over Simcity?

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I hope so, that was such a disappointment. I don’t understand how there are not more games in that genre given the demand and the relatively easy and cheap development of them. If I had a game company it would be where I was at.

  11. Zarf says:

    This is great! I’ve wanted the ability to make districts since SimCity 2000, though I hadn’t thought about the effects of different policies on these districts. Gerrymandering ahoy!

    I’m hoping that the mod capabilities allow us to make and share customized policies.

  12. byjimini says:

    Isn’t this the same lot who made the Simcity “killer” Cities XL?