To the opening of this site about SimCity: Societies of Tilted Mill appears here first of all my report of the Games Convention 2007, on which I did not only have opportunity to see the current version of the game, but could also play myself (between the different presentation dates) quite extensively.
Before I start: The original article was written in german, a french translation is also available. To speed up translation I put the text into babelfish. Quite a good laugh at times, and required some rework to be understandable, but it was worth it after all. Now, here we go!
Here I photographed Dan, with a cutout of the screen, at which he showed us the
SimCity Societies is different from SimCity or Caesar IV in many respects so one should really see it as a new game and not compare directly with one the other SimCity games or one of the other works of Tilted Mill. I want to stress this, because it's natural to compare the new game to the existing ones, especially when it's presented in an already well-known series. There's a lot of discussion about this in several forums already. Thus: SCS is different, and intended to be different from the past games from the SimCity series.
Some of the differences are already well-known: Instead of setting zones, one builds now each building individually. There is no more water supply to think about. In the same way the wiring of the current supply happens automatically (and invisibly). Why that? With SCS the focus of the game is completely elsewhere compared to what a SimCity player would expect and be used to. Instead of worrying about traffic planning and budget, spheres of influence from special buildings and water pipelines, the game is about the balance of 6 different social energies. There's also nothing about transportation of goods, which don't exist in SCS, and thus there is no trade with neighbour cities. The most important concern is about the inhabitants of the city, because what is a city without its inhabitants?
Each inhabitant of a city leaves his house or his dwelling in the morning goes to his job. After work and making money, he would like to relax in the evening and have some fun, afterwards he goes back home again and a new day can come. Yes, there is day - night cycle, which is also very important for the gameplay. If our inhabitant cannot have fun, because he has too long ways to go between dwelling, job and a venue, then he becomes dissatisfied. Dissatisfied citizens however do not work very well, the productivity sinks, the people become unhappy and will start to riot in extreme cases. No work, no money, not a good thing, if the people are not reasonably content with their situation.
Roads are used by the inhabitants, if they are present. On roads people also can use the car, so they can go faster to wherever they want to go. Without roads people go on foot, and while that works, people are slower that way. The player can build 2 types of roads (more to that later), but also bus stops and subway stations. Here the inhabitants enter and reappear a short time later at another station. The underground net is not built explicitely.
Houses can be selected from a fundus of approx.. 350 different buildings plus approx.. 100 decorative objects, which do not have a direct function in the game. Some buildings offer dwelling, others offer jobs. Each building however is associated to one or two of the 6 social energies: productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority and education. If a building uses for example 5 points of prosperity, then somewhere else there must be some other building(s), which produce 5 points of prosperity, otherwise the building will not work correctly.
Now, but is all that about? No trade, no logistics, no water pipes, ... not even making money is an objective of this game. So why would you play it then? The basic idea rises from an observation of the past SimCity games: So far all well working cities looked essentially the same, that is very much like a large American city. Yes, I hear to object SimCity fans that one can change the buildings and that there are countless Mods available for the game and so on, but that is not the point: A well working city always works the same way. Exactly this will be changed with the new game. How does that work?
Look at the social energies again: productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority and education. It's of course possible to build a city that has a little bit of everything. But you can also build a city with a very specific selection of social energies, for example one, which has very high values in creativity and spirituality, perhaps also for education, but only very small values for the other energies. Perhaps one does not make so much money, mostly because you don't have that much inhabitants, but such a city has its beautiful sides and it looks very beautiful. The roads change gradually to be are paved, the sky looks nice and the buildings are simply beautiful. If the player puts his emphasis on productivity and prosperity, perhaps also to authority, then he gets a city with more inhabitants and makes more money, the city will however have a very different look and it changes in other ways: The high prosperity rating lets neon lights appear on some buildings, and a high rating for authority has the effect that on a simple police station there's now a helicopter landing pad, so that the police readiness becomes visible when this helicopter turns its rounds over the city. The sky is not very clean wither, so this generates the dark impression of a city that has been noticed on different screenshots by various reviewers already.
Here a few pictures of different cities, please pay attention to the different
manifestations of road and traffic lights:
Many of the buildings have special functions, which occasionally remind of the direct access possibilities of a SimCity mayor. Partially they can send out special inhabitants, or they have an additional or stronger effect on the visitors of that building. Great depth of game play is thus ensured! On the other hand everything also works quite well without using these special functions, so that a very simple and easy access to city building is guaranteed. The important thing is, exactly as intended, the fun to build the city, to watch how the city looks and feels, and the many possibilities to become creative.
The game will be expandable to a very large extent. All objects are described by XML files, new buildings can be added easily to the game this way. Skripte are likewise open and can be extended and changed equally easily. Electronic Arts will run a special website to share buildings and savegames. The game will support this, like downloading and integrating new stuff into the game, in order to make all this even simpler. Tools for the production of own buildings will also be made available, though not with the release of the game in November.
Games Convention 2007
About the Games Convention in general I can only say, it was great
to be here. This was the stand of EA:
Some ideas, which one got to see on this fair, are characterised by a
remarkable creativity, here only one example:
Last but not least my cordial thanks to Pete Larsen of Electronic Arts for being part of the community and to Christoph for the outstanding organization!