The SimCity of Tomorrow

Interview

Friday, July 18, 2014

A still from SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow featuring OmegaCorp, a dystopic megacorporation in the game. A still from SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow featuring OmegaCorp, a dystopic megacorporation in the game. (Courtesy of Electronic Arts)

SimCity is a rarity among video games.  It’s one of the longest lasting franchises in the business, and there’s nothing to blow up.  In SimCity, you play the role of mayor-cum-urban planner. You create a city from scratch, and it’s populated by simulated people called Sims. The latest version, SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow, takes a sci-fi twist.  The futuristic tech in the game is based on real ideas in development. Like sewage sanitizers. “We’re going to go there," says Jason Haber, who co-designed the game. "At some point in future it’s going to be accepted that you just sanitize the sewage and you have more drinking water.” The mag-lev train in Cities of Tomorrow is based on the high speed Hyperloop proposed by Elon Musk, owner of Tesla Motors. And the game includes a drone system that looks an awful lot like Amazon’s Prime Air, which Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced about a month after the game came out.

As the mayor, you have to choose between two different paths in Cities of Tomorrow. You can anchor your city around a private company called OmegaCo, which cranks out cheap products and pollutes the environment. Players may see it as a necessary evil. “All of the sudden you’re like, whoa, I have to have OmegaCo in my city or it will fall apart!” Haber says. You can also build your city around The Academy, a hub of green innovation. Or you can mix and match. But Haber found the dystopian city was a bigger hit with gamers. He thinks that’s likely because the bad guys get to have more fun. “That shows you the nature of what it’s like to play a game,” Haber says, “and be able to have that fun space to play with.”

Guests:

Jason Haber

Produced by:

Eric Molinsky

Comments [15]

malamsalasa from Indonesia

Good interview, Completely ignores the fact that Sim City 2013 has been a horrible failure with the gaming community. When it came out it had horrible DRM requirements that crippled the game, in addition with bad server side support. Enough to force Amazon to suspend sales of the game, and force EA to issue refunds. In a effort to appease the community EA offered free games for the people who bought it, But the selection of games was limited to games already near the end of there life cycle. Compounded by the fact that to play SimCity or any of the free games you are REQUIRED to have origin installed, which is just EAs way of being sure to get every last penny.

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Nov. 06 2014 03:45 AM
Vasco from Portugal

This Simcity is the BIGGEST LET DOWN in gaming history - considering it´s legacy from the past decade, the game is a FLOP failing to deliver what developers said it would acomplish.

Many key features are missing, like subway trains (something that MODDERS where able to develop in 2 or 3 months after modding tools came out), regional dependencies and interchanging doesn´t fully work (i.e sharing utilities, or neighboor deals; migration of workingforce), numbers in data sheet don´t add up being tottaly incoerent, etc, etc...

Sep. 04 2014 05:46 AM
the mayor of belgium from belgium

simcity is a great game. i have buy it in april 2013 and since then there were a lot of updats wit things evryboddy wants but they were only litle things of all the problems and i think the biggest problem is the citys ar to litle wenn you got al lot of monny it's getting boring. you cant grow because ther are borders. and then ther is also the trafic: ther ar no one way roads and you cant also don't build highways with driveways and exits. it's bin a long time ago ther was a update and i think ther don't wil be one.
too bad!

Aug. 15 2014 06:00 PM
Gerry from Switzerland

The main reason, why Simcity 5 (as I call it) is that it still lacks some essential elements which have been mentionned before: The most urgent thing that should be improved is the extremely small map size. It isn't much fun to see the city stop development at a certain population due to a too smal map size.

While some people say that the game runs sluggish on their machine, I wasn't able to detect any kinks on a modern PC so far. Even an average gaming notebook can handle simulation AND graphic calculation with ease.

So bigger maps shouldn't be such a big problem to roll out to the gamers.

The second thing which was well integrated in SimCity 4, was the possibility to create own regions. A combination of editing regions and routes (of course to make the single lots interact) would give SimCity 5 a certain boost.

The limitation to 8 mega towers for one lot makes sense as the current lot size simply can't handle much more. Biut with the increased lot size, more towers should be able to be built on there.

The size of facilities shouldn't be limited also.

A water processing plant with only 7 tanks... come on. Some water treatment facilities use 20 tanks or more depending on how many households they have to process. The same is applyable on sewage plants. Come on. Make them use up to 16 tanks to make them even more efficient on less space. Space, the people are asking for a long time now.

But away from moaning and lighting the good sides of the game.

At first there's to say that the game IS capable of scaling on 4K displays (which isn't that usual. Many games still have issues when using 3840x2160 as resolution!). The only thing that should be optimized: Vectorize the UI and make it scalable as on 4K displays the current UI becomes hard to identify!

Another thing I like is the graphics. Sure it isn't all the success but the graphics and the posibility to interact with your city. Imagine SimCity 2000 and Streets of SimCity? SimCity 5 has combined this in the most aspects although you can't drive through your city (or walk). THAT would be cool!

The game has a difficult economy system but once you have understood the techniques then building a large city is a breeze.

The game has good aspects and now it's up to Maxis to make more of it. They have proven so with SimCity 4. Now listen to your customers and give them what they ask for.

A modularity to engage Addons (like in SimCity 4) would enhance the game even more.
Garnis this with the possibility to export lots to The Sims and voilà, the SimCity franchise is being fed some more years to release bucks from the people's pockets.

SimCity 4 has shown how to deal with the people and what makes them happy. SimCity 5 has the potential for it. So take a look at the precessor and empoly the missing features to the new SimCity and you're good to run it for another years!

Just my $0.02

Aug. 13 2014 05:17 PM
Jeff from Ohio

Everybody can't be wrong... I have played every edition of Sim City since its creation, and this one - ultimately - is the least fun, and for reasons that could easily be fixed. Simply having great graphics doesn't make up for the obvious and sometimes inexcusable things missing in this game.

MAXIS doesn't get it, plain and simple. Or, they do get it, and don't care. The cities are too small (how long will you ignore this?), there aren't even trains in mass transit, and city specialization eats up your city. In the end (which comes quickly and predictably) you are forced to create other 'cities' simply to provide money, power, water and a place to put all the garbage. It reminds me of Stalin's Five Year Plans, with much the same result.

Based on this I will not risk buying another edition in this franchise. You guys ruined what was arguably one of the best games out there.

Aug. 13 2014 06:36 AM
Jeff from Ohio

Everybody can't be wrong... I have played every edition of Sim City since its creation, and this one - ultimately - is the least fun, and for reasons that could easily be fixed. Simply having great graphics doesn't make up for the obvious and sometimes inexcusable things missing in this game.

MAXIS doesn't get it, plain and simple. Or, they do get it, and don't care. The cities are too small (how long will you ignore this?), there aren't even trains in mass transit, and city specialization eats up your city. In the end (which comes quickly and predictably) you are forced to create other 'cities' simply to provide money, power, water and a place to put all the garbage. It reminds me of Stalin's Five Year Plans, with much the same result.

Based on this I will not risk buying another edition in this franchise. You guys ruined what was arguably one of the best games out there.

Aug. 13 2014 06:31 AM
Just me

I have the game and enjoyed playing it once you got past all the problems just to log on when it first came out. I really hate being forced to log onto a game that I want to play solo. Every game I had to do this with I have had major problems with. Diablo 3, someone hacked my account and stole all my main characters equipment. When I complained, dozens of times to customer support, they told me I wasn't hacked. So where was all my equipment then? And why was someone using my account to spam sell on the Euro servers if I wasn't hacked? Finally after months of this crap they admitted I was hacked but they couldn't give me my equipment back nor did they offer to give me anything for all my trouble. We all know the problems the latest simcity had.

Even though I enjoyed the game, I agree with everything the previous posters mentioned 100%. I feel lied too about so many things with this game and now they don't even support it any more. It's a fun game and great to look at if you can put up with all the problems it has but it could have been so much better.

Now the Sims 4 is coming out in a few weeks and already you see petitions on their boards to delay the release because of all the features that are being left out. It's so obvious that they plan to make these features DLC for a even bigger cash cow but I am sure after the simcity fiasco I am not the only one worried that the game will tank long before they get to the missing content.The Sims 4 looks like they are going down the same road of not listening to their fans as simcity did and I am really worried about this release.

Aug. 11 2014 05:38 AM
WISD0MTREE

Does anyone have a cached copy of the State of SimCity thread on the official forums? That would have been a nice addition to this interview. It was only around 23 to 24 pages filled with complaints. I started posting it all over the Sims 4 forums and the next day it "disappeared." DAMAGE CONTROL
-too small cities
-bugs neglected
-day one server overload
-city data corrupted all the time
-bad AI
-simple requests neglected (one way streets)
-region wide city utilities not working/fixed
-NO NEW UPDATES SINCE MAY

Aug. 08 2014 11:07 AM
otasio

Why can we only build such small cities? The game is fun but it fills up so quick there's nothing more to be done. I have to agree... re-release SimCity 4 and make it so it's playable on Windows 8 and scales properly with today 4k screens. Or give us an update with the city that is at least 4x the size.

Aug. 08 2014 01:34 AM
May from New York

The truth about the future of SimCity 2013, There is not one. The game is done, and this is the first time EA/Maxis has said anything about this game since august. At least we have offline mode now, so when EA kills the servers in a few months people will still be able to play it (Not me, I have moved on)

Aug. 07 2014 04:55 PM
Kevin from West Virginia

I've been a fan and have been playing Sim City since Super Nintendo back in the 90's. And I've never been more disappointed in a game such as I was with this garbage!!

Don't let the first couple of comments fool you, this game is riddled with so many bugs and bogus features that it's nearly unplayable. Sure, making a new city is fun and all, but when you get into the thick of it you'll run into all sorts of problems. For example: you can build a university, complete the research for a space center, send all or your valuable resources to the great work, and then it stalls at stage 2. Has been like this since launch and has not been addressed. Just one of many problems that transformed this potentially amazing game into complete garbage.

Don't waste your money.

Aug. 07 2014 07:30 AM
humtake from Tampa

I've been playing this version of SimCity since release (or as much as anyone could during the launch cycle) and it is pretty fun. There are a lot of things I like about it and I find myself, as will all the other versions, working hard to tweak every plot of land possible in my city. They had some great ideas...

That being said. My dream of all SimCity dreams is they would just go back and fix all the code in SimCity 4 and re-release it. I don't even care if it has the same graphics. I may be alone here, but I want to build a HUGE region. The maps that were available in SimCity 4 were gigantic. I remember actually creating macros to keep typing in "weaknesspays" so I could get more money. Only problem was, by the time even the smallest city plot available was half full...the game would bug out. I spent countless hours building my cities only to lose them or have things get so terribly buggy that it was unplayable.

If they would fix all the problems with SimCity 4 to make it playable until the very last bit of land was taken in an entire region, I would still play that over the current version of SimCity. Geoforming and city sizes are much much much much much much much much more important to me than any of the gimmicks they've come out with in the new version.

Aug. 06 2014 05:13 PM
SimCity Mayor odDballL

Been playing SimCity since Windows 3.1 DOS 6.0 and got hooked on it right away due to it's unique game play and look even for 16 colors and overhead map view with a 3D look I'd not seen in PC games yet. I've owned every version and add-on that has been developed for this game. Bonus excitement when SC2000 came out giving the first 3D angle view and larger areas to build in.

All in all I have never ever encountered a game that wasn't glitchy or bugged somewhere but what amazes me is those that are less than forgiving due to their unsatisfaction of an imperfect game forgetting that there is no such thing as a perfect game or perfect player for that matter.

While I find the detail alone to rave about aside all the misgivings others have that I do not, CoT added exactly what I felt the current 2013 version needed and feel that it would have been honorable for Maxis to give the Arcology Launch to everyone for free due to its novelty to the game right from the first version.

I'll always be a huge fan of the SimCity genre and moreover am an even bigger fan of Maxis developed games. Anybody recall SimEarth, SimFarm? Maybe one day they will get the idea to take the best of all the sim games they developed and we will next have SimCity Universe. I mean hey, what about following an Arcology Launch to it's destination and building a city starting out with a colony of sims already. Develop technology to ship newly discovered resources and so on. Yes sir, if those folks at Maxis could just pool all the great sim ideas into one, SimCity Universe, now that would be the mother of all sim games.

In the mean time, I think I am one of the very few that you will not hear a single complaint about Maxis and the hard work they put into providing us with the entertainment value I enjoy, even if ya can't always get it right the way others see it.

Aug. 06 2014 11:01 AM
Stephanie from North Carolina

I have really enjoyed playing SimCity. There are things I don't like such as: industry polluting the ground, water uses up faster than it replenishes itself limiting the size of the city, and I would like to see larger space available for each city. The cities of tomorrow resolved the issue of ground pollution with the ground sanitizer, and the sewage sanitizer helps greatly with the water issue.
All that in mind, it has been a little over a year since I have been playing this game and I still love it! It is a challenge, and each new city is a blank slate where you start over. Trying to figure out how to store up enough money to build the great work and send resources to it. Then traffic becomes an issue.
I am sure being a mayor of a real city is a similar challenge. You have to use creativity and trial and error. I can't count the number of regions I have abandoned. If the game were easy it would be boring. I haven't participated in the challenges so far because I have been trying to figure out how to successfully build a city without going bankrupt. I am looking forward to the next one, though.
SimCity is a great game and sure it had some problems getting started, but quit complaining. Use your creativity and find a way around the challenge. That's what this game is all about!

Aug. 06 2014 08:24 AM
Todd from Nowhere

Good interview, Completely ignores the fact that Sim City 2013 has been a horrible failure with the gaming community. When it came out it had horrible DRM requirements that crippled the game, in addition with bad server side support. Enough to force Amazon to suspend sales of the game, and force EA to issue refunds. In a effort to appease the community EA offered free games for the people who bought it, But the selection of games was limited to games already near the end of there life cycle. Compounded by the fact that to play SimCity or any of the free games you are REQUIRED to have origin installed, which is just EAs way of being sure to get every last penny.

The 2 major complaints have been the always online DRM and the small city sizes. It took a year for EA/Maxis to finally release a offline mode for the game, and the Small city sizes are still a major issue for this game. At this point the only people who still defend this game are hardcore fans and EA.

Sim city is even part of the reason EA received a golden poo award from consumerist back in 2013.

The trail there offering to people is only for 4 hours, Which is good, Because that is about how long it takes to play the game, after that its pointless, the city's are to small to play after 4 hours.

If you play this game fine, If you have fun with it fine. But do not sit here and pretend like everything is fine with SimCity 2013. Sure you can get mods to add things to the game, But you should not have to mod a game just to make it fun.

Of course I am just a voice in the crowd, What I say does not matter, But when a single game has as much of a back lash as this one did, With horrible reviews, Forced refunds, and major resellers choosing not to sell the game temporally, that's pretty good evidence that it IS A BAD GAME.

http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/simcity

http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/7/4076104/amazon-stops-simcity-digital-orders-customer-complaints

http://www.amazon.com/SimCity-Limited-Edition-Pc/product-reviews/B007FTE2VW/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt/175-2517081-9250430?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Aug. 05 2014 04:09 PM

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