So for this entry I'll be telling the roller coaster tale of Texaco, the second oldest city in the region. But first an update on how the region is doing as a whole as a lot has changed!
Region Stats + (Ranking on NA East 1):
Population: 213,666 (top 50%)
Simoleans: 23,330,731 (top 50%)
Wealth: 1411 High Wealth Sims (top 50%)
Approval Rating Avg: 94% (#2 on NA East!)
Education: 9466 Educated Sims (top 25%)
Crime Level: 3 (not ranked)
Health: 38,157 healthy sims (top 50%)
Sickness: 9 sick sims (not ranked)
Pollution per hour: 66 million+ per hour (top 5%)
Pollution per capita: 7499 (top 50%)
So now for Texaco....it was introduced in my first CJ entry as the second oldest city in the region, it is also the largest city with 76,692 residents. What is interesting about Texaco is it began as an oil town and transformed slowly into a huge producer of computers. I'll try to tell a brief story here with pics and provide some tips for people who would like to try and make the same conversion.
I have to qualify this CJ by saying my documentation wasn't the best so there will be more text here than I would have liked...
Here you can see what was left of the oil field. It was quite large, the patchiness is where the rigs were positioned. As you can see there is actually still a bit of oil left! As my rigs began drying out one by one, I moved them around to tap into other parts of the field but I knew eventually I would run out. At its peak, I had three fully developed oil fields and two refineries producing fuel. To run the operation Texaco's population reached about 100,000.
Tip #1: Plan to re-specialize if your city is dependent on a finite resource. Use the resource to build your great work and then re-specialize! And expect huge fluctuations in population while you do it.
Here is a very unartistic picture of the city today, the empty parts and where the new computer factories are where the oil fields once were.....notice the pollution....I'll get to that.
As Texaco grew up during its oil boom, I began to run into the problem every mayor does...I ran out of space. I was making millions per month so I figured I'd experiment with a complete redesign of the city grid. The idea was to maximize density efficiency by having a complete high density square grid with streetcars and buses. I figured with all of the transportation options and super wide roads my network could handle anything! On every block I would have high density buildings, providing the population I would need for my huge oil operation.
As you can see, the result of maximizing efficiency in terms of density is a complete traffic nightmare. No matter how many buses or streetcars I added, people couldn't get to their jobs, the refineries closed, my budget went into the red and the city went bankrupt. The city had to be bailed out by the older and wiser city of Springfield seen below.
Tip #2: The first city you build in your region should not specialize in anything (except maybe education) and should have a healthy budget surplus through taxation, not transactions (recycling helps too though!). The city will provide a bank of money to fall back on for your riskier endeavors with your other cities. Texaco would have been toast without it.
Having Springfield around to bailout Texaco, I was able to completely redesign the city again. This time, I began transitioning the city away from oil and into high-tech. All the while I was losing tens of thousands a month. The city reached as low as 20k people during this. The new design became the methodology I'd follow for ALL of my cities. This model consistently leads to 90%+ approval ratings in all of my cities and healthy industries.
Methodology for good city design:
Lots and Lots and Lots of Parks
T-Intersections Whenever Possible
Low Density Streets Whenever Possible
As you can see above, Texaco was completely rebuilt using these principles. Notice there are only T-Intersections and density is mixed. Traffic moves much smoother this way. Also notice how large the blocks are, the addition of lots of parks provides a buffer that provides lots of fun things to do for your sims but also more importantly eases traffic. Commercial is placed among the residential buildings so that a large number of those working and shopping there will walk to work, again easing traffic. Of the principles, density and wealth mixing are the most tricky.
Tip #4: Use exclusionary taxation to get the wealth level you want, not land value. For example, if you want a medium wealth residential building to build in an area of high land value, raise taxes on high wealth residential to 20% briefly (It won't be at that level long enough to do any lasting damage). The area zoned will build medium wealth as you've excluded high wealth through taxation. As soon as the wealth level you want builds, immediately de-zone and lower taxes back to where they were. One thing I should also say is that you shouldn't mix high wealth with low wealth, high wealth sims are unhappy with this, instead, mix medium wealth with both. To mix density you have to upgrade or downgrade the road where you are zoning, pick the road appropriate for the density you want, zone, and as soon as the density you want builds, immediately de-zone and return the road to its former state (if it changed).
The methodology has an obvious drawback where it limits your population size quite a bit (no megalopolises here) but I'll delve into this design methodology more in future posts, back to Texaco! With the new design working great and the high-tech conversion underway everything is great, right? Not quite. As I pointed out earlier, it seems that Computer Factories produce immense amounts of pollution. Who knew??
Wow, that's a lot of pollution, and pollution leads to very sick sims and there is not much you can do about it if you still want to produce computers. The best you can do is plant trees and parks but I've found this to be not very effective. What you can do is treat the sickness! But first...look at all those sick sims! My clinics are totally overwhelmed.
The solution to this is obvious, and with Texaco's computer business humming, it can afford it (despite the horrendous budget number it gets lots of money from selling computers). A new state of the art hospital.
Tip #5: Use the big hospital, police station, and fire station very sparingly, they are very expensive. Their only use I've found so far are for specialized cities: big hospital for really really polluted cities (high-tech, metals, oil, industry), big police for gambling cities, and big fire stations for big industry cities for those pesky HAZMAT fires. I've also found that with a large police station you can actually police an entire region by sharing the vehicles (this can save you tons of money in your other cities as they won't need police stations of their own!), but this hasn't worked well for me with the big hospital (bug?).
Here's a pic of Texaco's now thriving high tech section. The city has 2 processor factories and 6 computer factories! 16,800 crates of processors and 31,200 computers are made each day. I've found that 2 processor factories are more than enough to supply the computer factories with processors. I import plastic and alloy through my shipping port to supply the other materials. You'll likely need to use supply depots initially, and you'll need a few of them at least.
Tip #6: Everything hinges on traffic management, your industry will fail, especially high tech, if your trucks can't get around quickly. Any idiot can build a huge population city, but traffic will be terrible, your sims will be pissed at you, your industry will fail, and your commercial won't be profitable.
Texaco has also had other problems...here is a monster destroying every single computer and processor factory.
Tip #7: Monsters are attracted by garbage, don't place your dump close to critical infrastructure. It could ruin you!
That's all for now!