A Cities: Skylines Succession Diary, Part 1: Crimewave

Batman mod needed ASAP please

Cities: Skylines is great and all, but I must confess to being hamstrung by my imagination, or lack thereof. Once I’ve unlocked everything there is to build, I kind of run out of steam, because I don’t have a designer’s mind and complicated road systems scare me. But a friend, also playing the game and experiencing similar handicaps, had an idea: a succession game in which three of us take turns to co-operate on one city, passing on the savefile to the next person every time the city levelled up, and hoping something beautiful rather than catastrophic would emerge.

Given we’ve managed to suffer two major disasters (and bear in mind that this is not a game which usually invites much disaster) within the game’s earliest stages, so far I’m leaning towards catastrophic.

Joining me for this succession diary are Jonathan Shipley and Dan Corns. Neither play many games, but both spent time with assorted Sim Cities in the past – interestingly, they found their way to Skylines without my prompting, which perhaps says much about the reputation it’s gotten as heir apparent to Maxis’ ailing citybuilder progenitor.

DAY 1: Damned If You Donut


Our city-to-be is called ‘The Room’, in a play-with-your-perceptions flight of fancy. I started populating The Room, although the first level up, Little Hamlet kicks in awfully fast. Anyway. The good news is that we are not yet bankrupt, and at the end of my tenure we are making a little bit of money, but obviously I have not had the chance to do much.

The bad news is that I have inflicted my love of low-rise housing on the other two, so the first 501 residents are living in a sort of shanty town, which by tremendous good fortune is right next to the vile industrial complex in which they ply their meagre trade. I like to think of it as analogous to Bodie’s low-rises in Baltimore. The other good news is that plenty of doughnut shops have opened immediately. I would be worried about the constant sugar-rush depriving the sims of sleep, but the enormous, pretty wind turbine I built in the heart of the residential district should have already set the tone of sleep deprivation.

This is where I got to before Little Hamlet kicked in:

As you can see, I have planned for an industrial zone in the heart of town with commerce surrounding it. If anyone wants to figure out how the industry get their goods back to the highway efficiently for me, that would be grand.

Priorities: obviously now that we’re a hamlet we can probably expect a massive rubbish problem imminently, so the next one up will have to build some landfill. Also, I’ve tried to build a simple one-way system so I propose we don’t build alongside the roads in off the highway, as the goal is for traffic to keep moving rather than stopping to buy hats and scarves. Lastly, I’ve left quite a lot of gaps between houses; the intention was to build paths there later, but you guys can of course overrule me there.

DAY 2: Road Warriors

Dan: Naturally I immediately decided to break out of Jonathan‘s road scheme. Too many roads to building space ratio, I think. Therefore I laid the foundations to a more orderly new settlement on the outskirts of the existing city. Gaps have been left for future train tracks or tree breaks.

I also built a water pump, a medical centre, which was popular, a couple more wind turbines and a rubbish dump – which wasn’t very popular. It’s begun to feel like a city rather than just a big car park.

Jonathan: So, our first intra-mayor dispute concerns this bit of land:

All four roads coming in from the highway (the two straight roads and the two diagonals) are one way roads, and it was my intention to keep them free of businesses and homes, for two simple reasons:

1. Entry to the cities in Skylines seems to be a huge bottleneck further down the line. Getting people off the highway quickly and without traffic lights or reasons to pull over is important.

2. Those poor guys over on the right hand side live on a one way road out of town. Not only will traffic past them be pretty relentless, they’ll only be able to use their own cars to leave the city. Yes, they can do a loop and come back in on the other lane, but it’s not exactly perfect town planning. And while they might have the wherewithal to leave town and come back in, I know for a fact that the garbage trucks and hearses don’t think that way. So those nice little homes will soon be piling up with litter and disintegrating bodies.

But my successor as Mayor, Dan – as the photo shows – clearly didn’t realise that, or more likely decided to screw me over, loathing in his venal way my unique egalitarian mayoral qualities. And I am banking on Alec to free our citizens from their one-way squalor when he assumes office.

On page two: overzealous bowels and a city-wide crime spree.


  1. mtomto says:

    I love the game, but it really needs a day/night cycle with varying amount of traffic – morning and evening rush. Something to break the rutine.

    Maybe disasters on smaller scale that allows for new gameplay. Ghetto/crime problems, or spreading fires, or waterpipes that burst, or car crashes… anything.

    Right now it’s very much centered around traffic and how to build round-abouts. It is still 10x better than simcity2013, but I hope for more.

    • James says:

      There is a rush hour sort of thing, but due to the timescale of the game it is more like rush month.

    • badmothergamer says:

      There was a mod that added day/night cycles but it doesn’t work well. The problem is the days go by too quickly (follow one of your residents and you’ll notice it takes several days just to get to work) and the buildings aren’t setup for night so everything is pitch black instead of lit up. And at 3x speed you’re basically dealing with a strobe light effect.

      I imagine there will be a disaster DLC in the future since it seems to be a very common request and was one of the favorite features in the original sim city games.

      • mtomto says:

        The day speed should be rather easy to fix… just change days to minutes or hours. It’s just a question of scale.

        • Gap Gen says:

          I think another issue is the scale on which things are built / make money as well. The game would be more frustrating if you had to go through endless meetings to get new roads and zoning laws approved, and then had to wait months for the construction company to do its work or go over budget, rather than just plonking down a road immediately. Also I suspect the population is under-estimated because the engine can handle 100k agents but not 1M+. Ultimately I think it’s balanced pretty well for simulation realism vs fun.

    • Gap Gen says:

      My current city is based around more-or-less single zoned one-way-system grid-layout pods with links to a round-city highway, with raised roundabouts leading on and off the highway via onramps. A spider-on-crack metro system links each pod with buses running internally across each pod and pedestrian paths wherever I can fit them, including a scenic river hiking path and municipal forest. I also downloaded a rural station mod to use as a tram network running underneath one of the highways, which seems pretty successful. There are very few snarl-ups (it took a while to get my big commercial district’s traffic flowing smoothly, though) and it seems to work pretty well as a model, though the zealous one-way model means that sometimes it’s hard to get full fire service coverage. The main issue I have with it is that I don’t particularly like the highway-dominated thing. I was considering bulldozing the central highways and pushing all commercial/industrial traffic onto the ringroad, but will see how that goes. For now I built a space elevator and kinda took that as a victory condition to stop myself spending more hours just tweaking and zoning the same pod layout over and over.

  2. mrwonko says:

    I quite like the idea of passing a map around. The /r/CitiesSkylines subreddit started something similar, though they limit by time (2 years per term) instead of population.

    I’d be interested in participating in such an exchange, having missed the one on reddit; we should organize one for RPS. I suppose the comments are not the best place; should I create a forum thread about it, use the RPS Steam Group or create a new group? I lean towards using the forums.

  3. Jiskra says:

    most of my time playing cities skylines is spent trying to optimalise road trafic … i didnt know civil engenering could be so mutch fun :)

  4. teije says:

    Good read. I still haven’t quite figured out good traffic optimization – spend most of my time mucking around with hopeless traffic muddles caused by my own ineptitude. Which is loads of fun, oddly enough.

    • James says:

      Not not gloat or anything (ok – maybe a bit) but I have traffic worked out fantastically. Here is how:

      1) Try not to have two busy roads merge. Generally speaking, this is the most importatnt thing when designing a road network. Where busy roads need to merge because of reasons, use a roundabout.

      2) Follow this guide: link to steamcommunity.com – It is very long and quite hard (stop sniggering) but once oyu understand it all your traffic problems will *clicking of fingers* disappear!!!

      3) Use this mod: link to steamcommunity.com – It allows you to toggle traffic lights at any junction. Unfortunatly, the game places traffic lights like an overeager city council that needs to spend its budget to get more money next year, the solution is this mod. It allows you to solve highway merger problems (by adding lights) and solve the ‘oh god everything is stuck’ problems by removing them where the lights are woefully inefficient.

      Hope that solves your traffic problems. And gives Alec and co the knowhow to not completely screw up on cataclysmic proportions.

      • jrodman says:

        The in-game explanation and tools to investigate traffic both need work.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Blimey that’s an excellent guide! =O

      • Gap Gen says:

        That is a good guide, thanks for sharing! I particularly like the real-world example. And yeah, I built a huge elevated filtering lane for my commercial district to prevent the pulsing tailbacks from a set of lights halfway into the district from filling up the main highway north through my town. Still thinking about destroying that highway and pushing all traffic onto the ringroad to make the centre of town less flyover-dominated.

    • Mr Coot says:

      Yer. Enjoyed! Looking forward to part 2.

  5. heretic says:

    That’s a great idea, looking forward to part 2!

  6. SuicideKing says:

    I just let them smoke ganja, educate them and provide work. Crime’s never above 5% in my cities.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I’ve never had a problem with crime even though all my buildings are burning down all the time.

  7. jasonlgn says:

    oh,I’d recommend the forum if possible, just to see the level of interest, http://www.joybit.com

  8. Grizzly says:

    Curious: Does this game have some of those larger disasters like Earthquakes, à la Simcity?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Not as far as I know (maybe there’s a mod?), but if you mess up your dam you can flood your entire city.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    “If anyone wants to figure out how the industry get their goods back to the highway efficiently for me, that would be grand.”

    OK so what’ll happen in that layout is that industrial traffic will eventually snarl up the entire city, because it generates infinite trucks (I learned this from bitter experience) and because it has to go through the centre of town. What seems ideal is to give the industrial and heavy commercial zones their own links to a highway that don’t generate traffic lights, i.e. have highways running into and out of the zones and make sure that traffic to and from them doesn’t use anything other than the highway, since highways don’t generate traffic lights unless they’re linked to other types of roads. One-way systems are worth looking at, too – basically, for a high-traffic route, if it has a lot of traffic lights when you zoom in, it’s bad, although make sure your fire trucks can get to places rather than circling round your entire city trying to get to a fire. It’s also worth trying to limit tight corners on highway intersections so trucks don’t have to slow down much. A couple of entrances to the highway might be useful, too. If you have cargo rail/ports, put them on separate links to the highway so that traffic can diffuse out. It’s a bad idea to let traffic bunch up for any reason, so make sure that places they go from/to are spaced out with highway intersections (my current favourite is raised roundabouts with onramps, but there are plenty of designs out there). It’s definitely worth thinking “what will this city look like when it has 100k people in it?” as it allows you to expand without having to build around a traffic-choked core like most European cities that have been around for 1000 years. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably mess up your first city and restart armed with the knowledge that this game is 90% traffic management and if you ignore it then your city will be gridlocked permanently as soon as you expand.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that it takes a while for pulses of traffic to subside, so sometimes it’s worth temporarily removing snarlup-inducing sliproads then putting them back once the queue has died down.

  10. Darkz0r says:

    That’s a great idea!!! I’m actually gonna do that with my friend, since saves can be saved at cloud I suppose they are easily shared.

    This even opens up room for mood so 1 people can be building at a time on a shared city. Pretty fun. Could even be timed! Like, each player has 1 hour to build hehehe.

    Anyways, seems likes you are doing some stuff wrong, like building industrial and commercial near residential. They don’t need to be close and its counter productive to do so. Just make ind/com, say, on east side and residential on west side entirely.
    Segregated cities work really better.

    Also commercial = noise, so don’t build near residential.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Also in addition to separating industry and commerce from residential and offices I’d seriously consider breaking up industry and commerce into chunks so you don’t have a single tailback of vans and lorries running into it and clogging the highway.

      • Darkz0r says:

        Yep, that also is very helpful. Sometimes *no amount of roads* will fix the issue, the issue is simply too much zoned buildings so de-zone and do something different.
        That is very true in several videos Ive watched with big cities

        • Gap Gen says:

          Offices are normally pretty happy next to anything, I think, so this is one option for rezoning.

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