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Author Topic: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!  (Read 4748 times)

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R^2

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It's like I can't mess around and learn a new game without wanting to take screencaps and talk about it at length. It's weird and vaguely unnerving. But who cares, it's time to


Build some cities!

SimCity, for those not up to speed on one of the most well-known game franchises in history, is a game about building a simulated city. That's why it's called that. There's no victory condition, you just build and handle civic problems as they arise until you decide you're done. You handle zoning and municipal services like electric power, water, and garbage disposal; while balancing the city budget.

yes it's more fun than it sounds shut up

I haven't played a SimCity game since 2000, and even that in passing. The most experience I have with the series was the SNES launch title. I have a lot of catching up to do.

So let's reticulate some splines!

One of the first new concepts in SimCity 4 (which was introduced in a previous version but it's new to me goldurnit) is that of region play. You aren't limited to just one city, you can control several scattered across a rather large swath of land called a "region".

You can load pregenerated regions or even download them off the Internet and load them up, but eh. We'll start from scratch whynot


Oddly, there's no way to randomly-generate a landscape. You start with a wide, flat prairie or an ocean, and build up from there.

So I've got these open, verdant fields, stretching as far as the eye can see. Know what that reminds me of?


The first level of every other video game, ever. Welcome to World 1-1.


Let's zoom in on one of the larger tiles to start our first city, yeah?


Terraforming lets you raise or lower then land -- lower it enough and it'll fill with water. You can plant trees and stuff, too.


Not bad, not bad. A big plateau in one corner, a few steppes leading to a more-or-less flat-bottomed valley. This reminds me of something, too...


Right. Off we go.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 05:31:42 PM »

Super Mario 64 Opening Theme / Bob-Omb Battlefield
I hope this music gets stuck in your head for as long as it's been stuck in mine.


As usual, the first step is building a power plant to provide electricity to your burgeoning city. Without electricity, nothing will develop. Your options at this point are -- in order of most economical to least, if I recall correctly -- coal, oil, natural gas, and wind. The cheaper the energy is, the more it pollutes, and pollution is bad.


But we're on a budget here. We'll look into cleaner energies when they become available.


Yellow Industrial zones are where you build chemical synthesis plants, manufacturing facilities, factories, and so on. They don't care about pollution, because they produce the stuff themselves in spades. But they're good for creating jobs, so small towns need them.


Farms are the lowest-level industrial zone. They don't create many jobs, especially given the area they take up, but don't pollute the air as much as factories do and can be worked by uneducated citizens.


Green zones are Residential zones. They're where people live. At low density they're single-family homes and small apartments, at high density they're walkups and large apartment buildings.


Things don't develop without electricity. While underground cables don't need to be placed between things that are close enough together, a gap this big demands power lines be put up.


Gotta connect things with roads, too. Streets automatically pop up when you place a new zone, to make sure every lot in that zone has transporation access. But streets are little dinky backroads with low speed limits, so if you want people to get places, you need a proper road with a line painted down the middle.


Some of the residential streets get replaced by roads to handle the traffic that will soon be flowing from these houses to the factories on the other side of the map.

Finally, a little bit of blue Commercial zoning provides the shops and services residents demand. Not very much -- early on, Commercial demand is quite low.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 05:41:20 PM »






Before you know it, construction cranes get to work and start developing the areas I've zoned.


This is RCI Demand. RCI, in this case, is Residential-Commercial-Industrial. Each category is further broken down into wealth level for residential zones, wealth level and whether the company in question is a service industry or an office for Commercial, and the type of production for Industrial. Note that you can't build wealth levels, only zones -- who or what moves into a given zone depends on how desireable it is.

This chart shows that demand for I-Ag -- that's Industrial/Agriculture -- is through the roof. I've got all this land, and dumb residents who are just about set to pick fruit for a living, so Agriculture is the job they're looking for.


But before I can zone anything, I get a message from one of my Advisors. These are people who constantly interrupt what you're doing and yammer on constantly about whatever their area of expertise is. In this case it's not entirely unwelcome, he's letting me know I can build my own house now.


I plunk my house down on a busy street corner. Living near the mayor is a sign of prestige or something, so it increases the desirability of nearby residential zones. Desirability is how you get high-wealth Residential, nice Commercial offices, and high-tech Industry, and is almost entirely what I manage as mayor.


The "News" messages pour in more or less constantly, giving useless-but-amusing headlines from the local paper, the aforementioned advisor-yammering, and (every once in a great while) a useful tip or notice. In this case, pointing out that there's no fire coverage yet.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 05:49:26 PM »


I build a fire station in a formerly-Residential lot near my house, more-or-less centered in the place where people live. But that blank green icon indicates there's still a little Residential zone left over. Unfortunately, it's useless -- the green arrow should be pointing at a street, not another lot.

"But R2", you say, "That space is adjacent to the street! Why don't you just turn it 90 degrees?" I wish I could, little buddy. But either the firemen have street access for their fire trucks, or a house does. For whatever reason it can't be both.


But parks face the street from any direction.


Between the park and my own home, this neighborhood should be lookin' pretty sweet by now.


Where was I? Oh yes.


Farms.


I also greatly overestimate how many jobs are offered by farms, and build a new zone of houses.


"Hey dummy, build a hospital."


Duh, okay.

Houses within the green radius will have their health increased a little bit on account of having ready access to medical care. I can increase or cut maintenance funding to the clinic so I'm not spending more than they need in patient care. Given that it's brand-new, no one's been in to see a doctor yet, so I don't know exactly how much that is, but once it's operational I can adjust the funding slider to an appropriate level.


Being the only clinic in town thus far, the doors are immediately battered down by wheezing, oozing, plagueborne citizens. Before the waiting room of my clinic turns into live-action Binding of Isaac cosplay, I give them enough funding to hire a couple more doctors and handle the rush.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 05:56:04 PM »


If you build a road off the edge of the map, it'll connect to the next region square. This will be important once there are more of those areas filled in -- citizens can live in one city and work in another, for example, and goods can be shipped between areas for a boost to Industry and Commerce.


"Hey dummy, build a school or something."


I plunk down an elementary school outside of this neighborhood, but it has enough effect radius to get most of my citizens overall. Schools don't have a magnitude -- one is just as good as another -- but they do have a target age range and a capacity. Elementary schools increase education for kids, high schools for teens, colleges and universities for adults. Libraries slow the loss of education after people leave their schooling behind.


I also built a House of Worship, which increases residential desireability. After doing so I'm offered the chance to build a graveyard, too.


From what I've read, graveyards reduce air pollution. Look, I don't get it either. I put it next to my Industrial zone as a reminder for OSHA compliance and job safety.


To be fair, nobody has more than a grade-school education here. Driving a tractor is about all they know.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 06:02:58 PM »


Heh heh. Oops. I forget why I built that bus stop in the first place, but in this game bus stops aren't signs on the sidewalk like in every actual city I've lived in. Every bus stop takes a tile of game space, and people only get on or off the bus at a stop.


I expand my communities a little, add a new commercial zone, and put up some bus stops so people can commute to and from work.


I also install a municipal water supply. Nothing can develop very far without water, see.


Then a high school. It takes a bit of in-game time for this to get up and running, but higher education means better jobs means less space taken by giant farms and less pollution from factory industry.


Until that happens, though, I expand my Industrial area.


And as people demand the city grows, I expand into a new corner of the map.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 06:10:17 PM »

SSBB - Bob-Omb Battlefield - Super Mario 64
Is it stuck in your head yet


Traffic congestion is starting to become an issue. Replacing streets with roads only does so much.


With demand for Industrial-Manufacturing on the rise and Industrial-Dirty being kind of terrible overall, I hike the tax rates for Dirty to discourage those from building and developing.


Growing nicely. Which only contributes to traffic problems, really.


Must be doing a pretty good job though.


This is going in my backyard.
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Ted Belmont

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 06:10:48 PM »


Heh heh. Oops. I forget why I built that bus stop in the first place, but in this game bus stops aren't signs on the sidewalk like in every actual city I've lived in. Every bus stop takes a tile of game space, and people only get on or off the bus at a stop.

I WANT TO GET OFF MR. BONES' WILD BUS RIDE
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Esperath

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 06:38:37 PM »

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Brentai

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 07:11:51 PM »

Writing a long article making fun of you for only building one bus stop is the kind of attention to detail I expect from... well, this game, really.
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Zaratustra

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 07:26:02 PM »

Writing a long article making fun of you for only building one bus stop is the kind of attention to detail I expect from... well, this game, really.

Sounds like a thing that'd appear in tests.

R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 08:15:03 PM »


Uh, sure.




Slight desirability boost, slight health boost from the improved diet.


I'm up to some demand for Manufacturing Industrial, and this area needs an overhaul anyway.





That'll do.


Doesn't make pollution less of a problem, though.


Traffic remains a mounting problem, and now people are complaining about living too close to roads.


Co-$$ and Co-$$$ are variable levels of office park. These provide lots of jobs for educated sims, and this town has a standard high-school education already.


With enough commercial development I can get off of using Industry as my main job-creator.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 08:18:59 PM »


Taking to long to get to work made people abandon these apartments entirely. For all the damn sense that makes.


Slight commercial desirability boost.


KSIM is on the air! No, they don't let you pick the station callsign.


The number of patients here exceeds the capacity for the building, not just my capacity to fund them.


Pricey!


But there's plenty of room to grow.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 08:28:03 PM »


Yikes, better build another water pump.


Attendance at other medical clinics drops off as people flock to the new high-tech hospital.


That's pretty good demand for High-Tech Industry. High-Tech Industry doesn't pollute like Dirty or Manufacturing, and offers jobs for educated workers.


Speccing out a place to build is interrupted by an advisor pop-up. They do this ALL THE TIME.


Put 'er there. Oh yeah, I didn't mention or screencap when I built it but I had some avenues put in to alleviate traffic. Avenues are two one-way roads with a median between, and can handle high-volume traffic. They can handle enough car traffic that air pollution from the exhaust becomes a very minor issue.


As before, I adjust tax rates to attract High-Tech industries.


Then build a new zone for them to work in.


Dirty or Manufacturing industry pollutes enough that High-Tech industry doesn't grow around it, and will eventually abandon. It takes some dedicated investigation and bulldozing before I have a zone of only High-Tech industries.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 08:32:50 PM »


Dag, yo.


I'm not entirely certain I'm doing this elevated rail line thing right, but I build new zones around it anyway.


For instance, I'm pretty sure people rich and educated enough to work in High-Tech don't take the rail, preferring to drive their fancy cars to their fancy jobs.


...also my schools are beyond capacity. Time to crank up funding again.




It acts like a gigantic park, drawing high-wealth citizens to nearby residential areas.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2012, 08:38:12 PM »


Not bad, really. I've got some solid growth, and haven't even moved up the slopes to the summit. Granted, I've got some major growing pains, and traffic is still a problem I've yet to figure out how to solve with mass transit.


It's so cute from a distance.


Let's go over here instead.


Sure, line me up. (Hint: never do this after you've terraformed, especially if you still border places that haven't been modded yet.)


Mountains to the northwest, settling to rolling hills in the east and west, with a body of water to the right and a lake in the middle...


Old-school style.


Well, before we get started there...


Plug some water pipes over the county line.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2012, 08:49:29 PM »


Rather than build a water pump here, we buy our water from Bob-omb Battlefield. The fees go into Bob-omb Battlefield's treasury, and cost Hyrule quite a bit less than maintaining their own water pump (which is $350 a month instead of the $22 to start).


We're gonna keep air pollution down to a minimum here.


It takes a lot of wind turbines to power a city, though.


I kinda peg Hyrule as a nice agrarian community, full of down-to-earth folks with weird pointy ears. That connecting highway will also allow anyone who misses the old days on the farm at Bob-omb Battlefield to commute on over and take a job here (while anyone who wants to get off the farm in Hyrule to take up work in Bob-omb Battlefield).




Actually, that's... a good deal. I check that Bob-omb Battlefield can actually afford it and actually needs the power, then go through with the agreement.


Commute: long because he's going to work in Bob-omb Battlefield. No way anybody that wealthy is working here.


JERRRRRRRRRRRBS
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2012, 09:08:07 PM »


Man I don't even know. On the one hand it makes my Industrial lots more effective, on the other hand, assa lotta money, yo.

Then I spend about an hour dicking around with rail connections, trying to figure out how they work, when...


...my game crashes, erasing much of my progress.


But the hour spent taught me how to connect rails and make them turn corners (it takes more space than on a road) and that freight rails are basically only useful to get Industrial goods off the map. Even then, they have to be closer to the edge of the map than a road connection. But they can take freight trucks off of your roads, alleviating traffic somewhat, if you can manage it.


146 freight trains take this rail. That's a lot of freight. Uh, I think.


I also figured out how to use the route analysis tool, which lets you see how people get around your city. With this kind of information I can remodel Bob-omb Battlefield's mass transit. In this instance, it shows all the local Industry here using trucks to ship their goods to the rail yard, and the rail shipping their goods off to points unknown.


At least somebody's using the elevated rail.


Another thing for Bob-omb Battlefield to look into later. Solar power is less efficient than coal for the money, but doesn't pollute.


Free school for rich kids? Yeah, I'll take it.


I make my High-Tech industries the same freight offer as I did the manufacturing on the other side of town. Once I put this rail in, the rest of the zone exploded with development.


Back in Hyrule, I install the seaport.
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R^2

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2012, 09:24:38 PM »


Are you kidding me?


Hyrule can finally afford a water treatment plant to purify out all the nasty farm runoff. That's all I was trying to do here, overall -- make a decent-sized town with Agricultural industry that can afford to run a water treatment plant.


...and my game crashes again.  :rage:


This time I get a state fair for some reason!


Hyrule has much better bus service than Bob-omb Battlefield. I set up a parking garage next to the avenue leading into town, so those who don't want to deal with local traffic can park their cars and take a bus wherever they need to go.


Seaport and lighthouse, the latter of which makes the seaport more effective at its job.


Six-dollar monthly income and a running treatment plant. I'm outta here before it crashes again!


Adorable. What's next, folks?
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jsnlxndrlv

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Re: Guys, I think I might have a problem -- Anyway, Let's Play SimCity 4!
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2012, 10:03:41 PM »

Planet Zebes, obviously.
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