"SimCity pedestrians 'teleport' to keep the game fun"
We just didn't realize the ridiculous scope of the game we were trying to make," said Dan Moskowitz, Senior Software Engineer at Maxis, creators of SimCity. "It became clear that our scope was so big we were standing on the edge of this giant chasm."
Moskowitz, speaking to an audience of game developers at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, described the technology behind SimCity, the "GlassBox" engine powering the game's world-building simulation and the struggles he and the SimCity team faced putting the game together.
Instead, Moskowitz took a deep dive into how GlassBox works and why SimCity behaves the way it behaves. In short: Maxis spent years of trial and error deciding how deep the simulation should go and the answer, in terms of fun, was: "not very."
Initial prototypes featured super-modular buildings (which the SimCity team calls "toys") and a level of complexity that, in the end, proved to be not only unnecessary, but also un-fun.
Moskowitz said that although SimCity was designed to be a deep simulation, Maxis found over and over that making the game less complex made it more fun.
I can't overstate how completely evil complexity is, especially in a sandbox game.