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.