GLASSBOX INSIDER'S LOOK - PART 1
March 20, 2012 Ocean QuigleyHi Everybody. My name is Ocean Quigley and I’m the Creative Director on SimCity. Over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you an inside look at GlassBox, our new simulation engine. By the end of this series, you’ll understand how this powerful simulation engine works, how it will affect your gameplay experience and what it means when we say, “What You See Is What We Sim.” Here we go!
Why Bring SimCity Back Now?
Ten years ago when we made SimCity 4, computers weren't powerful enough for us to simulate a city at the level of fidelity we wanted. We were able to give you a broad approximation of what was going on and we did our best to make it look plausible, but there wasn’t a tight connection between your actions and the simulation’s behavior.
Now, with GlassBox, we can really represent everything that happens in your city. The buildings, the Sims, the vehicles, the trees, the roads—they’re are all really there, they are all living simulation objects.
Your actions will result in a visible changes to the way that your city behaves. You will see direct consequences from the choice you make. The simulation responds to you. The overall life of your city is built out of the interactions of the things you create.
Here's a video showing some of the simulation components that we've created. These are the basic building blocks of GlassBox, and we combine them to make the systems that constitute a city.
Resources: What Are They Good For? Absolutely everything.
Let's start with resources. You can think of resources as information. Put another way, information flows through your city in the form of resources. For example, the many Sims that populate your city are resources that walk or drive from building to building, carrying "population," money, happiness or germs. Inside a building, you might have resources for power, water, coal, or education. There are lots of different resources, and they're used to control what the simulation does.
Resources can be held in different places. They can be in a building, they can be carried about by Sims or vehicles (agents), or they can be inside maps of various sorts. The natural environment is a collection of resources to be consumed, added to, or transformed by the city.
When a building has the right sorts of resources, it will come to life and start running simulation rules. The rules can do a number of different things:transform resources, pack resources into agents and send them on their way, change a building’s state, interact with maps, or create and destroy things.
Why Rules Run the World.
The rules define the behavior of buildings. They define what the building actually does. They are the simulation logic inside a building that brings it to life.
It is not enough for rules to be running invisibly inside buildings. The buildings need to show you what's going on. When a rule is doing something, we represent it visually or audibly. You’ll hear it with sound effects or see it with an animation, an effect or some other visual representation. For example, when an industrial building is producing goods; you can see gears moving within it and watch as individual resources are being made and processed.
And because each building has its own rules and resources, you can combine building components together to extend what they do. Adding another component adds additional simulation behavior.
Zoning, Roads And Pipes…Oh My!
The roads and pipes are the circulatory system that agents use to move resources within a city. The buildings hook onto networks and absorb or create agents. Zones also hook onto networks and run simulation rules that determine what buildings should actually appear in a given area. Remember those industrial buildings we discussed earlier? You can see trucks delivering resources from them to commercial buildings to be sold. Sims carrying money will travel to those commercial buildings and exchange one resource (money) for another (goods).
Those are the major components of GlassBox—the toolkit that our designers are using to create a living, dynamic SimCity.
Check back in soon when our Lead Gameplay Engineer, Dan Moskowitz, explains the Economic Loop and how GlassBox powers SimCity, the ultimate city simulation! Want to see more now? Watch the first part of our GlassBox Engine demo.
Submitted by NiceGuyEddie86 on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 08:34Hey Ocean, a loyal SimCity fan here.
I just wanted to throw my two cents into the ring here. I am a firm believer in the 'gritty' aspects of running a city. That is; charts, data maps, budget balancing, advisors (each with their own agenda), lobbying, etc etc. A Sim City game without these aspects isn't true to the series, in my opinion. In SC4 you had a board of advisors, each with their own view on the city. The environmentalist hated you for putting the water pump next to the factories, and the utilities man praised you for it, or the city planner mentions the lack of humble streets in suburbs, while the transit specialist gave you props for updating the infrastructure. Making all of them happy was tough, but very possible once you get the hang of how the engine works. Aside from advisors I want to see all the boring spreadsheets and data views return. Sure, the system of transparency sounds great, but I want hard data that makes me feel like a real mayor.
I've heard a lot of rumors of it being an ecologically themed game. I think this would be a major killer for me, in truth. In reality I'm a landscaper and love nature and the environment above all, but in a SC game I want to do what's more logical for the city's funding and it's citizens no matter what it takes. I want to create a clean pollution free urban utopia and then start a new city and make it like Hoboken on a bad day. In other words, I have no interest in playing An Inconvenient Truth: The Game. My city will naturally be effected by pollution, I don't need a slap on the wrist from the game itself.
Finally, the most precious aspect of SC4 to me was the infrastructure. Building a freeway system to connect three cities (and the commuters) together, carrying thousands of cars back and forth each day, from the suburbs past the projects and the industry into the city center with all the skyscrapers. Sitting back and looking at those green arrows made me feel like my city was alive. I've seen what you have to offer so far and I'm liking it very much, but please above all else don't let it enter Societies or CitiesXL territory, please? Those games are fun for a couple hours but they don't hold a flame to Sim City.
Hopefully I haven't spilled my guts too much here,
Submitted by Pabloeinstein on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 11:40Three important tips:
FLOOD is a disaster that I want in SimCity. They exist worldwide.
And if the city is growing and there is no planning, there must be SLUMS.
Be able to build in various locations around the WORLD, each with its own challenge (Regardless of country and politics, only natural resources and cultures).
by Pablo from Brazil.
Submitted by Pabloeinstein on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 11:59The GlassBox should govern the rules of nature, for example, seasons, animals, rain, tides etc...
And SimCity need bike paths, trails and pedestrian pathways.
Submitted by Trevorprice123 on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 12:37Hi there,
I think the new SimCity should have a little bit of warfare, and maybe rival cities? Like you could design your city and then build naval ships to attack other SimNations? I know it takes away from the point of SimCity but maybe that option/game-mode would be good.
Submitted by Trevorprice123 on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 12:38Street trolleys would also be a good addition.
Submitted by Zoidberg538 on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 15:58Oh this is gonna be good!
Submitted by jls8w on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 17:48"Here's a video showing some of the simulation components that we've created. "
The video is missing.
Submitted by nissan178 on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 20:33i want to see power lines in the new simcity like telephone poles what see in the sweet today!!
Submitted by thejoshanater on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 22:03this is the video they are referring tohttp://www.youtube.com/watchv=vS0qURl_JJY&context=C4287299ADvjVQa1PpcFOh...
Submitted by thejoshanater on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 22:05my apologies copy paste did something weird lets try it like this