Simcity Blog: Massive Multi-City Scale

Via Simcity Blog

Hello Everyone, I’m Kip Katsarelis, Lead Producer on the upcoming SimCity game. I’d like to let you know about multi-city play and why this feature takes city building to all new heights. Cities in the real world work together; larger cities support smaller surrounding cities by providing jobs, fire services, police services, education, and more. Cities everywhere in the world behave like this and we wanted to bring this experience into the new SimCity.

Laying the Foundation

To fully understand the power of multi-city play, you must first understand the possibilities of what you can create in a single city. There is no single path for a given city; no rail or guide to follow. There are a number of factors and choices available to players as they set out to create their cities. Let’s start with the choice on where to build your city. You’ll have several Region Map options to choose from. Some that may only have 2 city slots available to them and some that can have as many as 16, and everything in between. The city location you choose can have a number of terrain formations and resources available to choose from. There are mountainous city locations rich with resources, like coal, ore, and oil. There are ones filled with water or wind. Others have many access points like rivers, bays, rails that run through, or large highways that connect them to the region. The conditions in each starting location will heavily influence the shape of your city, by supporting some industries to thrive and others to be less successful. We wanted to make sure there were plenty of options and a broad landscape for fans to be inspired by and create.

In this SimCity we’ve introduced Big Businesses into the game, which take advantage of the natural resources and landscape of the region. These Big Businesses include Casinos, Coal Mining, Ore Mining, Metals, Electronics, University, and Trading. There are sub categories for cities to specialize in as well, like power city, water city, garbage city, public services, and more. Cities may choose to focus entirely on residential, commercial businesses, or industrial. Within in each of the RCI types, each have their own wealth or tech types, which offers more directions to push your cities. When you start to think about all of these possibilities, plus all of the combinations, you start to realize the scope of gameplay a single city has to offer. I find new city combinations every day; the depth of the game continues to blow my mind.

City Synergy

Now that you have an idea of what a single city has to offer, let’s talk about how these cities can work together and how these city specializations rely on one another to be successful. We had a few key design goals in mind when we set out to work on the multi-city play. We wanted to really push the amount of simulation that carries over across cities to epic proportions. The key goal is to give players control over what is shared, and making sure the experience holds up if it’s one player playing multiple cities or multiple people playing multiple cities.

With the core RCI we share Workers, Jobs, Shoppers, Orders, Freight, and Students. These are “traded” automatically to take away some of the micromanagement. Workers will look within your city for jobs. If you have an excess of workers, these become unemployed Sims. If you are connected to a city that has excess jobs, then unemployed Sims from one city will commute to the neighboring city. The city with jobs receiving the workers will satisfy the needs of their shops and industries. The city with the residents will make their population happy, because they have money to pay their rent. It’s a win-win. Workers will commute by car, but you can also set up bus routes, train connections, and ferry connections between cities. It’s important that you are connected by road, rail, or water to trade with a neighboring city.

All of the core systems are shared, including Fire Service, Crime, Police Coverage, Medical Coverage, Garbage/Recycling, Classrooms, all Public Transportation, Air Pollution, Water, Power, Sewage, and Sewage Treatment. Players have more direct control over where they send their services. We designed this system from the point of view of the player who is investing in a particular type of city. For example, if one player decides to build Fire Stations to protect not only their city, but their neighbors as well, they should have the right to decide where to send their coverage. In the case of fire, a player can assign individual fire trucks and helicopters to serve specific cities. Just because they assign a vehicle to serve another city doesn’t mean they lose coverage in their own. This is asynchronous gameplay, so one fire engine can service both cities. The player receiving coverage will see fire engines come from their neighbor whenever there is a fire in their city. The player giving the coverage will earn money for each fire they put out. Systems that have capacity, like a police station, will bring criminals back to house them in jail cells. If those jail cells are full, they will be released into your city, which is an unexpected way to share criminals. The simulation extends beyond your city borders. Are you starting to get it?

Building and Sharing

Let me continue with how resource sharing works. Cities can gift one another Coal, Ore, Oil, Alloy, Metal, Fuel, Plastics, Processor’s, TV’s and Cash! This ability for cities to create a service and provide a role in the greater region adds a whole new micro? strategy to SimCity. To gift resources to another city you must have the resource in your city to gift. In the case of coal, this could be in your coal mine storage lot or in a trade station storage lot. Resources and materials can be sent by Truck, Rail, or Boat. The more options both cities have, the greater the throughput. Resources do take time to send and players can queue up orders, which are sent over time. Players will be able to create port cities, establishing supply chains across the region, adding a completely new dimension to SimCity.

In addition to regional trading, we also wanted to give player’s new ways to play, reasons “why” to create and push cities into different directions. Players will be presented with a variety of goals, which they can choose to opt into or not. These goals will require an entire region of cities to work together to complete. These include Global Challenges, like the “Lockdown!” challenge, where they to need arrest the most criminals you can in specific amount of time. The top 10% regions who successfully complete the challenge will earn an achievement. Leaderboards are another big motivator for me right now when I play the game. Each Big Business has their own leaderboard, the extraction type leaderboards (Coal, Ore, and Oil) seem to always suck me in. I’m always looking at who in the studio is at the top of the oil leaderboards and try to top them. We also have regional leaderboards for things like Highest Population or Most Simoleons. Here players are ranked on the total regions score and compete against other mayors and regions.

Great Works and Beyond

Great Works are the crowning achievement for any region, a major late game reward. These are large collaborative civil engineering projects, where multiple cities can work together to complete. In turn, they give a benefit to the cities connected to it. These include things like the Solar Farm that produces enough power to sustain a group of cities. It will also create jobs, which gives an economic boost to any city. We’ve left it wide open, and know players will come up with their own goals for how they want to play.

The depth and scale of what we’ve delivered for this SimCity will amaze you. It amazes me! To think that all of the simulation you see inside your city works beyond the boundaries of your city, that your city, your actions influence and affect your neighbors. There are goals larger than simply building a single city and there are endless ways to build a city. The sandbox just got a little bigger. I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive into multi-city play. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we’ll be releasing more information and sharing more stories about the game in the coming months, as we near launch.