You spoke, we listened! All of us here at Maxis value you, the community, and to show our thanks, we solicited all your burning SimCity questions last week on our blog. Now it’s time for us to give back our love in the form of answers. Lots (and lots) of answers. We combed through your comments and picked out some of the best questions for Creative Director Ocean Quigley, Lead Producer Kip Katsarelis, and Lead Designer Stone Librande to tackle. We got so many great questions, in fact, that we’re going to split up the answers into two parts.
Before we get to it, we just wanted to thank everyone who took the time to comment! If your question doesn’t get answered below, don’t worry, the second part of our Community Q&A will be coming soon. In the meantime, you can follow me, Michael Donahoe, the new SimCity Community Manager @Maxis_MD on Twitter to learn about all the fun and wacky stuff that goes down at the Maxis office. I love hearing what you have to say, so don’t be shy, OK?
Now for the main event: Your questions!
MamaLuigiST: Many people also feel that the textures look like "plastic" and are too clean and imperfect. Will this change before the release?
Creative Director Ocean Quigley: The textures are still being finalized. A lot of what we’re you seeing is a work in progress. We’re working hard on the building materials, so that glass looks like glass and metal looks like metal – the final buildings will have their own distinctive look and shouldn’t all look like they’re made out of cardboard or plastic. We’d like to point out that the buildings have a UI job to do as well. Buildings need to tell you how they’re doing, and if we make them look too noisy, then their simulation states are harder to see.
Romaq: What possible compelling benefit is there to "forced online play" even between regions where the players are in 'solo online play' that makes this a core required "feature?"
OQ: Your cities live on the cloud, and you can play them from any PC you like. If your PC is unplugged, your cities are safe, you can go over to your friend’s laptop and start playing. We don’t care where you install SimCity. Since your cities are on the cloud, we can give you rich online data visualizations, showing you the vitals of your city and how it compares to and relates to other cities in the SimCity world.
More prosaically, from its inception, we built this SimCity to be online and multiplayer. We’ve built servers to handle the simulation of regions and communication between cities in a region. We built servers to connect cities to global trade and commodity markets. A decent chunk of the simulation happens in the cloud.
And finally, the relationships between different cities and between different mayors are a big deal, and we think it’s one of the ways that we’re bringing new life to SimCity.
We have a lengthier response about this topic from a previous blog post I wrote. You’ll find more information here, SimCity: The Connection Between You and the World.
(German Community): Is it possible to customize something in the game like street names, signposts, hot spots for tourists etc. similar to SimCity 4 or The Sims?
Lead Producer Kip Katsarelis: We know customization is important to our fans and we’ve given players many ways to customize their cities. I can’t get into specifics at this time about what you’ll be able to name in SimCity, aside from City and Region names. However, every Ploppable building in the game is loaded with modules for players to unlock and use to customize their city. Choose from signs, flags, plants, fountains and more to give each of your Ploppables a personal touch. Our goal is to give players the control and the art to build unique pockets of their cities. You won’t have to read a name in a text box, you’ll be able to see it in world!
James A. (Facebook): What kind of resource industry will we see farming, coal mining, maybe fishing?
KK: Resources are an important part of SimCity and will feed many of the industries. These industries are meant to be the economic centers of your city. Some of the industries that you can build around harvesting resources include large scale mining operations and oil drilling. Other industries depend on these resources to make metals, alloys, and fuel. One thing to note, resources are finite, so make sure you have a backup plan for your city when those oil reserves run out!
hype_emperor: Is parking simulated in the new SimCity? Or, where do the cars go after arriving at their respective destinations?
KK: Good question. Parking is something we’ve toyed around with a lot in SimCity. Since our simulation is so detailed and we’re tracking all of our Sims and their vehicles, we found that we could easily create a Parking Lot Tycoon game if we weren’t careful. All buildings have parking and we represent some number of the cars at the building with surface parking. Additional cars are hidden in “underground” parking. There are a few Ploppables where parking is an important part of their game mechanic. The Stadiums for example have Parking Lot modules that players can add to increase their parking capacity.
Mkareha: How will solo region play work? From the trailers, it looks like the regions are composed of a bunch of isolated cities, separated by an automatic flat expressway that connects the cities. The way it looks in the trailers is not realistic at all. Will we have full control in the creation of highways, neighbor connects, modular road systems, etc.?
Lead Designer Stone Librande: Each city is connected to other cities in the region through a combination of roads and railroad tracks. Some centrally located cities may have access to many different connections, while cities located on the fringes of the region may have only one. Players do not have control of placing roads and rail in the region, but they have complete control over the road and rail networks within their city boundary.
Ilay160: Will there be new kind of parks, like a national park, or areas that people can go and camping?
SL: Yes, there will be parks in the city. Parks will make your Sims happy and increase the nearby land value. Parks also increase the “attraction level” of the city, which is used to determine how many tourists will visit.
German Community: What kind of traffic opportunities do you have and how can you control them?
SL: Traffic flows along the roads you place. The frequency of intersections, number of lanes, road type, and length of the road are used to determine the amount of congestion and how long it takes to get your Sims to their destination. The overall success (or failure) of a city is largely a function of how efficiently you have built your road system. You might not care if a few Sims can’t get to work on time, but you’ll feel the pressure when a fire truck can’t get to the scene of a fire and a key building burns to the ground.
But no matter how carefully you design your road network it will be difficult to keep the traffic flowing smoothly if your city is filled with densely populated skyscrapers. To avoid gridlock try building up your public transportation systems. Trams travel down a dedicated track in the middle of the street and are perfect for quickly shuttling Sims around within your city. Buses and passenger trains can be used to carry Sims to and from neighboring cities. If you happen to have a river running through your city you can build a boat dock to ferry your Sims.