Yes, I have abandoned my City Journal for almost 2 years from now.
I should not had done that, but at least Im back to get this done – even if it won’t be done as I initially planned. I had plans to introduce and show, in detail, 5 cities, however, in the end we are going to have 2-3 cities on detail. I had problems with my notebook (it did broke last year and I had to buy a bad one just to use internet and ms office), and, also, the Portuguese version of this Cj was completely lost by www.simcitybrasil.net (please don’t click). I´ve tried to restore it, but, by now, the Brazilian sim city website is completely gone.
Well, Im going to start with the only thing the Brazilian version had and the English don’t have: The Article 1. First, I had to completely re-write it because I had no backup of it. Second, I pretend to release 3 articles about some interesting non-tutorial stuff. By now, I already have the article 2 done.
Article 1 – Commute experiment
As we known, Maxis use the metric system or international system to measure units of distance, time, and speed. It was posted more than a decade ago, somewhere on ST, that a Sim City square unit is 16x16 meters, the small map is 1x1 km, the medium map is 2x2 km and the big map is 4x4 km.
I had done myself – two years ago – some “experiments” about commute and speed. First, with completely empty plugins folder, I´ve started with one house and one small shop. The first thing came into my mind was: “If a place is right near the other, is the commute is zero?”. Here´s the answer: No. As shown in the picture below:
For calculating commute, the game counts 1 or 2 squares? I’ve decided to increase the distance between the house and the shop by 8 squares. If the game counts only 1 square in this case, the increase of commute would be 9x. If the game counts 2 squares, then it would be 5x times. An 9x increase means that the new commute would be 9x6=53. If 5 then it would be 6x5=30 minutes. So:
This dramatic increase indicates that not only the game counts just 1 square or less in this case, but it also counts some time for the sim to leave his house or the count is less than a square. However, in order to not create unnecessary overcomplicating, lets count as 1 square.
Before proceeding, I found something odd about the house and the shop. The game states that the whole city has 5 inhabitants, but the shop employs 7 people!
Switching back, what about sims walking speed? Well, if you pay attention, they took about an hour to travel a distance that doesn’t look to be big. Think about it – How long you take to travel 1 km by foot (0.62 mile)? 15 minutes? 20? Well, for sure is not an hour.
The average speed of a walking human is 5 km/hour (about 3 miles/hour). The average of a Sim City sim is:
(9 squares x 16 meters/square)/(1 hour)
(144 meters)/(1 hour)
0.144 km/hour! That’s less than 0.1 mile/hour. Wow, how slow, huh? Are sims turtles and Maxis never told us that? Well, maybe turtles in cars can get really fast. So, I made an increase on the distance to 20 squares, put a decent avenue (that made the distance increase to 22 squares), and here it is what I got:
Much faster, huh? About 13 minutes, with 2x the distance… So lets get back to our simple speed calculation:
(22 squares x 16 meters/square )/(13 minutes)
(352 meters)/(0.217 hour)
That’s about 1.6 km/hour, or almost 1 mile/hour. It looks like that sims cars travel about 3 times slower than a regular human being walking! How slow are they? Im really starting to think that a turtle would easily beat a sim on any race. Even using a car the sim would still lose for the turtle. Lol.
What about a sim, in a car and on a highway, or in one of many Simtropolis sunken Highways, how much speed?
It looks like that our poor, or better, slow sim, decided to buy a Porsche (the red car), so he would go faster. However, how can a poor ($, not $$$) sim can buy a supercar? This is just interesting evidence that SC4 generates the cars on the highway, without considering the wealth of the houses around. Getting back to the speed, here it is the new commute due to the highway:
About 7 minutes. Then, the speed of a sim on a highway is:
(1622 meters)/(7/13 hour)
(1622 meters)/(0.54 hour)
(3 km)/ (hour)
3 km/hour, or almost 2 miles/hour, is enough to win the turtle, but still too slow to win a human being walking.
I made a similar experiment with subway, and the sim did took 8 minutes to take 20 squares. Something like 2 km/hour.
What can we say about this?
Well, sims are slow. Very slow. Very very slow.
Now comes “my opinion” part.
I really don’t think this is a mistake from Maxis. I believe they are very aware of this. They know. The real problem isn´t the fact that sims are slow. It is because the maps are too small.
Here are some examples of city sizes:
Tokyo = 2,188 km^2
London = 1,572 km^2
Ciudad de Mexico = 1,485 km^2
Johannesburg = 1,644 km^2
Toronto = 630 km^2
SC4 “large” map = 16 km^2
In terms of speed, in the biggest map SC4 can ever generate, it would take about an hour to go from an up-left house to a down-right store walking. It looks to be big, but, actually, it isn´t. At street speed, about 20 km/h (about 12 miles/hour), it would take about 15 minutes. At 100 km/h (about 62 miles/hour), it takes only 3 minutes.
If Maxis decided to put sims at realistic speed, then what sense would the Rush Hour expansion do? With such small map there is no need for any fast ways of traveling. The commute on a city with only streets would be 15 minutes at peak (with no heavy traffic). There is no reason for subways or highways. The avenues and buses would solve any heavy traffic problems. No worries about commute times.
I believe that, in order to try to mask the problem of a small map, they decided to make sims go slow. So, they would make the gameplay better (sacrificing simulation), and hide the real problem. I really think that very few people ever noticed that sims are really slow, and maybe not even half of Sim City players are aware about how small the “large” map is.
This is because, at least in 2003, there was no computer that could take a real size map. I really hopes that in the future, that changes, and really hope for some new City Sim with a 20x20 km map or larger.