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.