My SimCity story started in 2003, shortly after the game's release. I decided to visit a local computer electronics shop, and after looking around in the games section, SimCity 4 caught my attention. I'd previously been into simulations such as Microsoft's Flight Simulator (2000 & 2002), Roller Coaster Tycoon (1 & 2) and Monopoly Tycoon. Based on real-life situations, these games all had something in common. But until then, I'd never played any of the previous SimCity's. So there was SC4, with the tagline "Build and run your own city". Immediately it sounded interesting, and in the end it was a deal.
My initial impressions of the game were mainly positive. The first thing I did was follow the tutorials in the Maxisland region. I thought this would be a good starting point, and found it quite straightforward, completing them quickly. Then at last I decided to have a go myself. At the end of the final tutorial, I clicked the option to continue building. So I played around with the menus, and ended up creating a small town. Looking good, this game is great! Until I thought, hmm I wonder what this does…
Not reading what it says, 20 seconds later I learnt the hard way:
Busy Wiping Out City...
Oh dear, my city has gone (surprise, surprise). I wouldn't be trying that again in a hurry!
Back then, the PC I used was fairly basic, and couldn't run many graphic-intensive games. This meant I found myself quite limited in terms of building large cities. Even without any plugins, the lag was almost unbearable. But I continued to enjoy the game, and make the most of what was possible.
A few months later I visited the PC shop again, and noticed an expansion had been brought out. And that's how I acquired Rush Hour, and also the Prima strategy guide (strategically perched on a stall next to the game). This certainly made things more interesting, and I initially liked the new U-Drive it mode. The guide was also very beneficial, and although there are some inaccuracies, it greatly helped my knowledge of the terms and technical stuff. I started to plan out my cities more, making gameplay a lot more interesting and rewarding. For the occasional reference, even today the guide still comes in handy. Though at first I must admit, page 350 (cheats) was the most accessed!
From then on, I played the game on and off for a few years. It's quite remarkable that I never installed any of the published patches. The thing is, since it was a shared family computer, I rarely had time to freely access the internet. Being on dial-up was very restrictive. As a result, I wasn't even aware that patches existed! After this, my interest in the game began to decline. I even tried my hand at SC3000 after seeing it in a bargain bin. Although I never really got into it, and found the random disasters and general feel of the game rather frustrating.
My first taste of the SimCity community was via the official website in around 2008-9. I browsed the lot exchange (and additional Maxis landmarks), and downloaded what I thought was great stuff. But it'd be nothing compared to what I discovered a few months later. I found Simtropolis from a link in an item on the official site. I soon discovered the patches, and commenced on a mass downloading spree. Although with studies getting in the way, I never really had time to organise the downloads, and actually play properly.
It was only until a few years ago that I decided to get back interested in the game. Having got a new laptop, I wanted to start from scratch. This led to me registering, and the decision to be more actively involved in the community -- especially in the forums. Here I've discovered a lot of new things about the game, especially the more technical aspects and customisation. From past experience, I've also learnt to be more selective in downloading things, and creating a better system of organisation. Without Simtropolis, I don't think I'd be interested in a game that's now past its 13th birthday. I've also created some content of my own.
It's led me to realise:
SimCity 4 is not just a game, but a tool that's driven by your own imagination and creativity.
Without a dedicated community, many games of this era would have declined in popularity. However, with the vast range of custom content, the game continues to be developed and improved on. Just take a look at the NAM for example. It was only until discovering the world of content that renewed my interest. Realising the enormous potential for expansion, I haven't looked back since. If there weren't any fan sites like Simtropolis, it makes you wonder whether we'd still be playing it all these years later.
I've also played Cities: Skylines, which I find a great modern complement to SC4.
My main interests are in IT, with a strength in media, design & photography. I also enjoy the challenge of solving technical problems.
Here at Simtropolis, I try to share my knowledge and be a helpful asset to the community.