Submitted by mdonahoe on Jan 17, 2013
United States

Hi – Ocean Quigley here to tell you about some of the final touches I’m adding to SimCity.

A big part of what makes a game look beautiful is the way that all of the colors work together. Usually, an artist does what’s called “color grading” to make everything look just right. You’ve probably seen examples of it in movies – think of the sepia tones of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” or the vivid greens and reds of “Amélie” or the teal and orange palette of pretty much any Michael Bay movie ever. In fact, it’s kind of startling to look at movie footage before it’s been color graded – it looks OK, but nothing like it does when it’s finished.

Instragram and Hipstamatic, among many others have turned that process into filters that you can apply to your snapshots. And what filter you chose makes a big impact on how the photo makes you feel. Different people respond to different filters, and people have their favorites (and ones that they hate!)

For SimCity, rather than chose for you, I figured it was best to let you make up your own mind. So I’ve come up with a bunch of different filters that give different sensibilities to the game. You can use whichever ones you like. Here’s the first batch, take a look:

Off is, well, off. You don’t have to have any filter on if you don’t want to. Soft is a slightly desaturated and bleached filter. It washes out some of the color. Juicy is modeled on slide film, it’s got a slight color cast, and is more vivid. Warmer is one of my favorites. It makes the colors less vivid, and brings out the warm tones in the image. It’s your typical hardcore FPS color palette. Film Noir is a black and white transform that increases contrast by making the blues and greens darker and the yellows and oranges brighter. Cooler is really nice. It’s modeled on mid-20th century print film.

Here are some more:

Neutral is basically the same as off, just with a little bit more contrast. Faded washes out the colors, and adds a little silvering to everything Green Tones is modeled on 1970’s era movies. Platinum is kind of a silly one, but I liked it. It’s evocative of Hollywood glamour photography from the golden age of cinema. Teal + Orange is your typical Hollywood blockbuster palette. It brings out the contrast in the game. Orange + Gray washes out all the colors except orange.

And the last set:

Bleached emulates a bleach bypass technique, like you see in fashion photography. Sepia Toned makes the game feel like it’s all old-timey. Black + Red is a super high-contrast palette, inspired by a movie that sounded a lot like SimCity. Desaturated is another hardcore FPS-style palette, with most of the colors stripped out. And Vintage is inspired by cross-processed film. It looks like the 1970’s to me.

In addition to filters that stylize the game with different color treatments, there are more functional ones. These filters apply various transforms to make the game more playable to people who are color blind.

There are a few other graphics options to make the game look the way that you want it to. You can turn the tilt-shift effect up or down.

And you can turn on the ultra lighting effects to get in-camera lens flare and blooming when you look at bright light sources. It makes the camera relate to lighting in a more realistic way.

SimCity is a game with a tremendous amount of player creativity. I wanted to extend those options to the way that you look at the game itself.

Author: 
Creative Director Ocean Quigley
Date: 
Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 11:00
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Comments

I think I speak for everyone when I say: Give us High-Res photos please! A thumbnail doesn't seem to do this game any justice.

I totally agree, I'm getting fed up with these low res photos

Yes, more super high-res photos please!

This looks fantastic Ocean! Keep up the great work, you guy's are awesome!!

Like many I'm excited about this game and I've been following it for some time. I've seen and heard all of the complaints over and over again so I wanted to add a few constructive questions which I have not seen raised anywhere. Most of my comments are relating to money in the game and how unrealistic it is considering this is supposed to be a simulation game

1. Sim city is a game that simulates being a mayor of a city, what mayor runs there city based on an hourly income? The income should be calculated daily, weekly, monthly etc but this makes no logical sense to run your city based on an hourly income.

2. On most of the videos I have seen cities start with a low hourly income of around $200 this would equate to $4,800 a day, where as some of the larger cities I have seen in videos have an hourly income of $5,000 an hour or $120,000 a day. How accurate is the incoming and outgoing money tables? I want a realistic game with challenges managing a city due to lack of funding and so far all the videos look like you plop a few RCI plots and your rolling in the cash.

3. True cost of things, this is something that has bugged me in all Sim City games based on the game being a simulation of running a city why is the cost of things miles out of perspective for example in one of the videos you see the guy lay down a small gambling hall costing $20,000 I don't know what countries this is aimed at but I'm sure as hell if you wanted to build a small gambling hall in Vegas it would probably cost more like $2 million not $20k.

4. This is a slightly different subject but I really didn't like the distance between cities in a region but now I've discovered that this was by design to make the game run smoother I have to give a big thumbs up I just hope this small 2x2km space is enough to build nice big cities without relying on having to build multi cities to achieve what you like to build

Finally I'm not a hater of this game, I have already pre-ordered 3 copies to spread around the family so we can build together and after reading the same complaints over and over again I thought I'd add a different argument to the comments boards for a change of pace to mix things up :)

Please feedback your ideas on this, I know it's not important to have real value on things but it would make the simulation of the game feel more real and when you save that $2 million to build that next casino it will feel like a sense of achievement rather than being able to quickly just plop things down and roll in the cash.

I would like to share my thoughts about your concerns.

1. I personally think it is very hard to accurately base your city income to a specific period of time. I know in my home town, the annual budget the city (actually it is more a village than a city) can spend is in the range of 10 to 20 million euros. That includes all costs whatsoever like personell, maintainance of parks, roads and civic buildings etc... but also new investments in schools, libraries and sports infrastructure. In real life, each big investment a city wants to do, means make up an investment plan and getting a loan or trying to get funds for a higher government. If the game developers had to make the tax incomes realistic, we would be back to the day of Simcity 3000: To really get a large city going, years or even centuries would have past to get enough money.

2. and 3. are about the same issue. You are absolutely right when you say that income and expenses aren't realistic, but it isn't a matter of real amounts, it is a matter of balance. I sincerely hope that the balance is this game is tuned to a level that inexperienced players can enjoy the game to build a beautifull city, but the more in dept player can really lose himself (or herself) in optimizing city budget.

4. In my opinion, the "haters" focus to much on building a large city where they can repeat the same blocks of residential, commercial and industrial buildings over and over. The big change with this game is the fact that a lot more is going on inside one city. The latests blogs I've been reading really get me excited about all the tinkering and customisation I can do to make my city unique.

It is the first time that the developers really focus on the simulation. Compare this Simcity to the first one released: focus on the gameplay, the graphics will follow.

I will have fun playing this game and trying out all the different combinations and specialisations in my cities.

My two cents :

1 : I have to agree with mastermind. "we would be back to the day of Simcity 3000: To really get a large city going, years or even centuries would have past to get enough money". I quit playing Simcity 3000 because it took forever to get some cash to build what I wanted. If I remember correctly, there wasn't any way to set up an "Auto budget" and leave the computer running to get some cash ! Bottom line : I don't want the game to be too easy, but I want a steady cash flow to build stuff and have fun.

2 : You're right, expenses aren't realistic. But it's a game ! And I prefer the game to be scalable. The first basic police station should not cost too much. After a while, if I want to add an helicopter or stuff, it should be more expensive and I could set it up later.

Simcity (the original game) was the first game I played for hours and hours on my computer. I hope you guys will bring me back that feeling !

About the money... Are you forgetting that the currency is SIMOLEANS, not the average dollar?

OMG SO BEAUTIFUL, SCREW EVERYONE ELSE, I LOVED IT!

Agreed!

This is gorgeous!
Now, a word about Mac users, please ;) How is the situation? Will we be able to play on the same day as everyone else? Can we pre-order from Origin? Please tell us something.. Please!

I read on their Twitter post a few days ago that they are producing a proper port for the Mac and it won't be available on March 5, but they didn't state exactly when Mac users could expect it, just that it would be shortly after the PC release. They said something about the game working nicely on Bootcamp - whatever that is. I'm a PC.

Bootcamp is essentially what you would use to run the Windows operating system on a Mac.

Thanks for that mate! I'll wait for the proper Mac port. Running something with Bootcamp on my Mac is the last thing I want to to ;)

Officially my only concern at this point. Want it on a Mac asap. Want to be able to pre-order to get the bonuses or else they need to give them away to Mac users as a thank you. I've been playing Sim games on Macs for over 2 decades, they really should have invested more on the Mac development.

Haven't even thought about that! You're right, how do Mac users stand on the pre-order bonuses? I mean, I don't even bother about it getting out a bit after the PC version (although this shouldn't happen), but at least I would like to hear some sort of official announcement about this whole thing. I'm ready to buy, right now, but I won't do it until I know for sure how this is going to be..
Please guys, give us something!

If I owned a Mac, I'd be happy to get the game at all. You don't find a lot of gamers using Macs but they are useful in other ways...pre-order bonus for just for Mac users, don't make me laugh.

Hey man, chill-out ;) No one's asking for bonuses for owning a Mac! What I was referring to, and I guess that was also DDock361's concern, was the fact that if you pre-order you'll get the exclusive SimCity Heroes and Villains.
Not knowing if the pre-order is for PC users only, or not knowing at least how that's going to work out for Mac users, I don't think we Mac users will order until we wave some sort of official word from the guys at SimCity offices.
Again, no one's asking for perks just for owning a Mac!

I asked them already twice on Twitter but I had no response. Since Origin is not available for Mac yet, I guess we just have to wait. They already said it's going to be released for OS X :D

outstanding. too many options though. cant make up my mind/ soft , cooler and vintage are my favorites ,, i think

interesting

"Warmer" looks great, as does "Neutral". As for tilt-shift, I'll give it a try. SimCity is really turning out to be an fantastic game!

Ocean,
Thanks for thinking of the colorblind.
A lot of games, especially by EA, don't and sometimes it makes them nearly unplayable for me.

Larger images please!

In addition, a recent post showed that you can enable motion blur, probably at several settings.

I like the juicy filter, It is all bright, cheerful, fun, and colorful, which is also what I want to experience when I play simcity!

Any word on hardware requirements for these filters and effects like tilt shift?

@rickylordy

I think that you should think about the game as such, first a game then a simulation.

1)About the hourly income, I think that if it was weekly/monthly, it would make the game pretty boring if you spent your money on the first few days and then you had to wait (game's time) month to get a bit more. Making it hourly makes the game more fluid.

2) I think it would be almost impossible to simulate building a city from scratch and have realistic escalation of money. Cities take years and years to grow, and they usually require A LOT of federal funding (which would add complexity to the game), until they are old enough and successful enough to be self sufficient (and even for real cities, most of them aren't and still need federal income). Perhaps the scalation of income is adjusted to make the game challenging but still fun, since you go through a big economic change from being a really small town to being TimeSquare, artificially adjusting income is a way to balance the gameplay.

3) As for value of things, I don't think they've ever said they are US Dollars. Maybe 20,000 simolean = 2,000,000 dollars, (1 simolean = 100 dollars), but if you'd have a real economy in dollars it would get kind of ugly to see really giant numbers. Cities run with billions of dollars, so by scaling them down it makes it a lot easier to handle.

That's just how I see it, I think that you are asking for a 100% economic/city simulator, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be as fun to many people.

man this is amazing!

This is a really neat blogpost. I wasn't expecting customization like this but I really look forward to it. I'll probably use Green Tones, with some tilt shift and I want JJ Abrams lens flares!

Also, why the thumbnails?

A blog a day keeps the beta rage away!

Also, many thanks for providing these options. Too many developers force these sorts of options on to you users and tell them it's what best, or it's their "art direction" and we have to live with it (I'm talking about you, DICE (BF3 Blue Filter)!!)

I think I'll try Warm but suspect I'll play with filters Off, and no "tilt" - what is that, exactly? To my eyes (and on these low-res shots!?) it appears to just affect the background blur? I would rather not have the background blurred out.

Cheers

Search "tilt shift" in google image, you will see this effect simulate a model town. Like you would have built it with your own hand :)

This is so great! This is something new and very cool! :D

One of my favorite finishing touches in a recent Madden game (10 or 11?) was an "AFL mode," which drenched the screen in sepia tones and added a film flicker effect. It was such a small thing, but it was something different and cool to play around with. Even if I never play the game with any of these filters applied, it's great to know that they're there in case I do, or for anyone else who might. And it's great to know that this is the level of finish the SC team is working towards. Every day I think I couldn't be more excited for this game, then another post pops up that gets me itching to play as soon as I can.

This is actually a pretty cool direction to go with the game. Personally, I've always been more fond of highly-stylized approaches to the graphics (hats of to Team Fortress 2's character designs, no pun intended) and how the player interacts with them. I'm quite glad that Maxis ditched the "real is brown" junk and realized that some people actually appreciate color...

I like love how you can sort of add a instagram like filter to drastically change how you view the game. I love the lens flare and the teal+orange filter. Cant wait to try all the different options. Also will there be other filters other than black+red like black+orange or black+blue.

I thought tilt shift was that stupid fog around the edge of the pictures. guess I was wrong.

When will this game be coming out for Macs and will we be able to get all the features/bonuses as the PC versions?

Looks outstanding! Can't wait to play around with them in full 1080p on my 55-inch =)

This is just awesome. While not a game changing addition, its one of those "little things" that just make the whole experience just pop. Mark Rosewater from WoTC talks a lot about these types additions and how they really enrich the experience.

Love what you guys are doing and can't wait to play March 5th! Keep up the good work!

I can't agree more! Even if it's just an update that added a new car (Gran Turismo 5 :P) I suddently feel like playing that game all over again and fall in love with that game all over again!

Is the beta out?

hey I dont meant to complain ... I know you are busy getting game ready for launch soon.. I would just like a time frame,.. a week or a couple days.. on when can we expect the beta ? I do think if you preorder the game you should get on the beta as a thanks for preordering.. which i did!! PLease !!

Will we be able to choose the time-period or style of building architecture? I'd love to combine the film noir filter with some 1940s art deco!

Hi. im think about an upgrade before the game out. I'm currently running Duel core 2gb of ram. Sli NVidia cards. Can someone give me a straight answer as how good the game will look if I left my system the way it is. Or what do I need to see the game run and look in all it glory. ?? Thanks.

NO tilt shift ... YEAHHHHH!!!!! :D

I'm looking forward to the game. Been playing Sim City since the original. While I welcome many of the new aspects, there are three glaring ommissions that I pray will be addressed in add-ons down the road. Subways, farms & highways. Game developers drive me nuts when they attempt to reset a beloved franchise and then leave major features out like they've done here. I can only hope someone is figuring out how to get more money from me a year from now by creating expansion packs that will allow for subways, highways and agriculture. It's rediculous to have a Sim City game in 2013 and have these things missing from it.

I love the options. Excellent choice to leave it in players' hands.

Oh my god, this is fantastic, it's like instagram, but in a game.

It's a GAME, far improved on simcity 4 deluxe. Bring on the next version in March. How did someone manage to programme such a wonderfull distraction from a real city.

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