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The core values: just what is SimCity anyway?

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I've seen the "core values" of the SimCity franchise brought up in many of the debates on the forums here yet I've never actually seen a good list of what these values are.

I know that SimCity has them, every game does (Or at least every game should). Has anyone here seen if Maxis has compiled a list of core values for the SimCity games? Or perhaps just mentioned some off-hand in an interview?

I think it'd be useful to know exactly what the people making SimCity's thoughts are behind what a SimCity game should be in the first place.

I know one value is "a sense of humor".

Every SimCity game has had some pretty outlandish stuff in it: Kittens making headlines in the news ticker, the citizens' llama obsessions, even giant version certain famous Nintendo character making an appearance to turn your city to rubble. And those are just the beginning.

So how about it? Just what makes a city building game a true SimCity experience?

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It's a sped-up version of gardening, but with more complex requirements. You can't control exactly what appears, but you can heavily manipulate it. Even if you do have a grand scheme beyond the "Biggest and Best city", you have to work for it like no other game makes you, and there's no goal, so the reward is entirely intrinsic.

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The core value of SimCity is to manage a city using reasonable Mayoral tools. Unless the city builds subsidized housing, you won't be able to dictate what types of houses or apartments are built. Unless the city needs offices for its bureaucracy, you won't be able to dictate which offices are built. Of course SimCity is a socialist city so the city runs the utilities and pays the hospital bills.

--Ocram

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My view of Simcity core values...in order of importance.. I want to say terraforming, transport simulation, customizable construction, god power, control of weather and disaster, zoning density etc, but then, 'core' means like 'essential', or 'the ultimate' value, so I'll just settle with one...which is, Sandbox.

Sandbox allows total freedom within minimum structure and rules which covers all the other core values that are essential about this game.

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The discussion here is 'what are the core values'. Comments related to perceived limitations of the new game are best handled in the appropriate pinned topics to save needless repetition.

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  • Original Poster
  • My view of Simcity core values...in order of importance.. I want to say terraforming, transport simulation, customizable construction, god power, control of weather and disaster, zoning density etc, but then, 'core' means like 'essential', or 'the ultimate' value, so I'll just settle with one...which is, Sandbox.

    I think these would fall under the umbrella of features rather than values. Any game can have terraforming, transport simulation, etc... It'd how SimCity handles (or doesn't handle) these features and how the player experiences them the make the SimCity experience different from other games.

    Sandbox allows total freedom within minimum structure and rules which covers all the other core values that are essential about this game.

    The term Sandbox in relation to SimCity has actually bothered me for a while.

    SimCity doesn't, and has never had a true sandbox mode. To my knowledge There has never been a SimCity game where the player was allowed to simply run free and place down whatever buildings and roads they wanted free of charge and consequence.

    What SimCity does have (as T Wrecks put it) is "freedom (to screw up)"

    The player can builds roads and zone as they see fit, provided they have the money to do it. But the simulator will push back on them and if they haven't built things "correctly" (balancing RCI as well as expenses) their city will suffer.

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    My view of Simcity core values...in order of importance.. I want to say terraforming, transport simulation, customizable construction, god power, control of weather and disaster, zoning density etc, but then, 'core' means like 'essential', or 'the ultimate' value, so I'll just settle with one...which is, Sandbox.

    I think these would fall under the umbrella of features rather than values. Any game can have terraforming, transport simulation, etc... It'd how SimCity handles (or doesn't handle) these features and how the player experiences them the make the SimCity experience different from other games.

    Sandbox allows total freedom within minimum structure and rules which covers all the other core values that are essential about this game.

    The term Sandbox in relation to SimCity has actually bothered me for a while.

    SimCity doesn't, and has never had a true sandbox mode. To my knowledge There has never been a SimCity game where the player was allowed to simply run free and place down whatever buildings and roads they wanted free of charge and consequence.

    What SimCity does have (as T Wrecks put it) is "freedom (to screw up)"

    The player can builds roads and zone as they see fit, provided they have the money to do it. But the simulator will push back on them and if they haven't built things "correctly" (balancing RCI as well as expenses) their city will suffer.

    well that depends...games like SimCity (or other city builders) often include a sandbox mode (or cheats) that allow you to bypass the simulator if you so choose.

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  • Original Poster
  • well that depends...games like SimCity (or other city builders) often include a sandbox mode (or cheats) that allow you to bypass the simulator if you so choose.

    True enough, there may be city building games out there that have a sandbox mode. Those games are not a part of the SimCity series though.

    I didn't include cheats in my argument because well... they're cheats. As fun as they can be they're pretty clearly not supposed to be a part of the normal gameplay.

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    Sandbox mode is just a game mode, not a value. The ones who said sandbox are correct, sandbox by itself IS a game value. A CREATIVE game value.

    Game values are the unique game QUALITY that made people want to play THIS game and not that other game. Creativity is a value, sense of humor is not (just a minor feature).

    SimCity core game values are Open-ended. Freedom. Creativity. Construction. Non-competitive. Edit-happy. Etc. Etc.

    I played SC4. I also played Civilization and Crysis sandbox. I can tell you in the context of game category SimCity is no doubt a SANDBOX game. And also a GOD game.

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  • Original Poster
  • The only SimCity with a true sandbox mode was SimCity Societies.

    --Ocram

    Interesting, I didn't know that.

    Sandbox mode is just a game mode, not a value. The ones who said sandbox are correct, sandbox by itself IS a game value. A CREATIVE game value.

    Game values are the unique game QUALITY that made people want to play THIS game and not that other game. Creativity is a value, sense of humor is not (just a minor feature).

    SimCity core game values are Open-ended. Freedom. Creativity. Construction. Non-competitive. Edit-happy. Etc. Etc.

    I played SC4. I also played Civilization and Crysis sandbox. I can tell you in the context of game category SimCity is no doubt a SANDBOX game. And also a GOD game.

    I might have getting some tunnel vision there. Yes, sandbox mode and sandbox style gameplay are different things and I think that SimCity does have the latter. Though I question whether Civ and Crysis sandbox are good examples. One is a pretty clear strategy game and the other isn't actually a game, but a map/mission editor. (from what I could tell)

    And I'd argue that (well done) humor is a value for Maxis (and by extension SimCity). It adds to the overall light-hearted atmosphere of the game and gives them a unique personality nowadays. Contrast Cities in Motion and the Farming Simulator series that take a straightforward and serious approach to their games. Personally the humor is one of the reason that drives me to play SimCity 4 over a game like CitiesXL.

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    RCI Zoning.

    Interactivity.

    God-like power.

    No fixed goals.

    Full-blown single player mode.

    That is one of the best descriptions of the SimCity franchise. Straying from this in one manner would be ok if done right... but since this new one took every single one of those and tossed them out the window, or changed them beyond recognition is where the "core" of our issues with the game come in.

    The main key aspect aka core values is FREEDOM.

    Freedom to zone as we want.

    Freedom to change or alter our city, region, buildings, infrastructure and so on.

    Freedom to learn from our mistakes.

    Freedom to build the very transportation structure WE want and not be limited.

    Freedom to create whatever map or region we want whether it is mostly water, mostly flat or mountains all over.

    Freedom is no longer freedom when we do not have the opportunity to make it how we want with the tools that have been available for a decade or more. This new one is not freedom, it is "The Sims build a city"

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    Sandbox mode is just a game mode, not a value. The ones who said sandbox are correct, sandbox by itself IS a game value. A CREATIVE game value.

    Game values are the unique game QUALITY that made people want to play THIS game and not that other game. Creativity is a value, sense of humor is not (just a minor feature).

    SimCity core game values are Open-ended. Freedom. Creativity. Construction. Non-competitive. Edit-happy. Etc. Etc.

    I played SC4. I also played Civilization and Crysis sandbox. I can tell you in the context of game category SimCity is no doubt a SANDBOX game. And also a GOD game.

    I might have getting some tunnel vision there. Yes, sandbox mode and sandbox style gameplay are different things and I think that SimCity does have the latter. Though I question whether Civ and Crysis sandbox are good examples. One is a pretty clear strategy game and the other isn't actually a game, but a map/mission editor. (from what I could tell)

    And I'd argue that (well done) humor is a value for Maxis (and by extension SimCity). It adds to the overall light-hearted atmosphere of the game and gives them a unique personality nowadays. Contrast Cities in Motion and the Farming Simulator series that take a straightforward and serious approach to their games. Personally the humor is one of the reason that drives me to play SimCity 4 over a game like CitiesXL.

    Civ is a GOD game the same as SimCity and Crysis sandbox is a Sandbox/editor mode to help explain the difference between sandbox mode and sandbox play.

    Humor is a side bonus in a game. I go to Comedy Central and Youtube for humor, for games the entertainment value is in the gameplay design. I will buy a sim game for its CREATIVE capability, not minor stuff like animal jokes or leaderboard high score. A classic god game should not try to act like a human mayor dealing with scenario game. For me SimCity is just another member in the vast universe of simulation games. What draws it apart is not the minor factors like UFOs or llamas, but the ability to build any numbers of city in MY OWN SPECIFICATION. It should do everything possible to retain its more beloved core values: SANDBOX PLAY and GODLIKE CREATIVITY .

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    Meanwhile one more point occurred to me, which is somehow linked to Interactivity. I cannot put it in a single word, though. It something like the "freedom (to screw up)".

    Let me explain.

    In SimCity 4, you have a pretty high degree of freedom. Although Maxis limited some things by making you earn them first (no placing a university first and building the town afterwards, no fusion power plant if all you have is an agricultural hamlet of 500 souls), there is much freedom left. You are perfectly free to lay out hopelessly undersized transport networks, you are free to draw zones that are just too big (or too small!) for something decent to grow on them.

    This has three consequences:

    (1) You can make things that don't work - and hopefully learn from that experience (freedom + slight educational aspect)

    (2) You can make things that work for a while, but don't scale with your city development and need to be re-built (here's the element of Interactivity + more educational effect)

    (3) You can make perfectly functional, but unorthodox setups that the game developers probably didn't reckon with (freedom + creativity)

    This is in contrast to many games where you either follow a prescribed path or get punished quickly:

    Wrong turn, wrong talk option, wrong choice => access denied, game over, life lost, re-start level, etc.

    SimCity will just say "OK, boss", take your money and do what you told it to do. Then, SimYears later, you may see how it all goes down the drain, and be forced to countersteer...

    Wow, such a great point. I never really gave that aspect any thought before but it is so true. "The freedom to screw up"... I like that. I'd say this is one of the key elements in longevity of playability if that makes any sense.

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