One thing we were all looking forward to this year at E3 was SimCity. We've been following it for a while and got to listen in on a Producer Broadcast with SimCity lead producer Kip Katsarelis. We got to hear 30 minutes of questions and answers, along with insight on several aspects of the game, including the sim engine, look and feel and some gameplay aspects.
Of course, we will dive right into the details after the break and will even have a feed of the broadcast for you. Join us, won't you?
One of the first questions Kip was asked was, "Why did Maxis and EA bring back SimCity?" He said that with this game, they wanted to bring back the possibilities of creating a world on PCs that can now handle the engine they wanted to create. The new game is a complete reboot of the franchise and Maxis looked at every feature from top to bottom to reinvent the game to make it the best ever. There is a new simulation engine in place, which we knew about, called the GlassBox engine. With GlassBox, every Sim has a place to live, work and shop.
Glassbox is huge and is the foundation for the simulation. It allows everything you see in the world to be simulated. Crime happens in realtime, traffic is amazing, every Sim is actively tracked and managed. If work is close, they will walk or take rail or bus stops, or they may even drive. You can then act on that (those problems) and see the impact of the changes you make.
A big enhancement in the street realm is curvy roads, allowing city planning to be more different than ever before. You also get things like new roads, avenues and even avenues with light rails. SimCity is "doubling down" in the area of transportation.
GlassBox also helps with things as small as brakelights. Cars have headlights, traffic signals actually work with a simulation that realistically and logically controls all actions happening on the roads. We were told that the things we saw in the trailer were all "real and possible" in the game.
The game also features new multiplayer so you city-plan with friends and connect friends and cities together in a region so every choice you make has a rippling effect across the region. When players create a game, you can create a region or city either public or private, so you do also have the ability to play by yourself. You can play as one city, multiple cities or multiple regions if you want. You can even select "Quickplay" and be randomly inserted into a random game with other players and get started right away.
The idea is that everyone is playing in different cities and you can even control multiple cities in the region. Players collaborate in the region but still have individual goals, allowing you to make unique cities. They made the example that they are showing off both a tourism city and a dirty industrial city on the show floor at the convention. Players still need to work together to achieve common goals as well with projects like Great Works, which are big airports or museums that need to be worked on collaboratively to build and then they benefit the entire region.
Inside those cities you can now control each building, including unlocks and customizables, using the editor from the Spore game to make them look and behave differently. You can automate the buildings after customizing them or fine-tune the settings and have full control.
Zoning was also stressed as still a very important piece of SimCity. Certain things you plop down around the zones influence the zones. The difference is that now there is only one type of zone and the traffic and roads will influence the density of the zone. The impact is dependent on what you plop down.
On ploppable things, this year the developers wanted to offer lots of power options. Coal, oil, wind, solar and nuclear are all available in the game but there are trade-offs that exist with each one. For example, there is an actual wind map, due to having the GlassBox engine, so placing a windmill may not work in the area you want. There are also now resources in the game, so things like a coal power plant actually require coal and you need to acquire the resource to make it function.
All your shops require goods from your factories, too. If you don't have factories, the shops will go out of business. You need shoppers to shop at your stores and your delivery trucks in your factories will ship goods to those stores and other ploppable buildings. You can also work with your friends to deliver goods to your city or even build unique "factory cities" or whatever you can imagine in order to provide those goods to the region.
New attractions have been added as well like a large sports arena and a small civic center. Landmarks are now interactive and provide Sims with jobs and attract them to the area. Casinos now also provide work and fun for the Sims in and out of the city. You will have to "peak inside the buildings" to see what's going on in them.
There's a lot of storytelling also added in SimCity with things like special characters. Robbers and arsonists, for instance, are in the game and need to be combated with the proper law enforcement or fire department in the right place. It's all in the game to capture the humor of Maxis, which hasn't left this game even after 12 years.
All in all, some very exciting stuff coming out of the SimCity camp. I cannot wait to start an F5 region and set fire to Jon's city!