Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SimCity 4 Deluxe - 5/20 hours

The trickiest thing about SimCity 4 is learning to think in terms of regions. My second city was a little more successful than my first, but quickly reached an equilibrium where my city was functional, but no longer growing. It turns out that you simulated people will commute from city to city within the region, and that the best way to maximize population is to specialize your cities. Make one that's heavily industrial and another that mainly residential and both will grow much more dramatically than two generalized cities.

That's not the way I'm used to playing a city-building game. My habit is to think of each city as self-contained. It's going to take a whole new approach for me to build a successful city.

Provided, of course, that I conflate "successful" with "highly populous." Perhaps it would be better to just focus on making a series of habitable and prosperous small towns, and leave the exercises in excess to those better suited to them. There is something to be said for elegance. I don't always have to go for the bigger thing just because it's out there . . .

I said, almost immediately realizing that it was completely antithetical to my whole personality. I think I may just be resentful because my cities' growth started stalling out after an initial period of rapid growth, and I don't have the knowledge or experience to get past the hump. I've been reading online tutorials and forum posts, and it's occurred to me that there is a lot going on in this game that I've been totally unaware of.

What makes things difficult is that I'm not sure where to go next. I think I should probably just start a whole bunch of cities from scratch to fully explore the early game. I've been relying on the drag function to automatically fill out my street network, and that's probably handicapping my traffic later down the line. Also, I've been setting the game speed to its fastest level. Apparently you aren't supposed to do that. As much as I might like seeing things grow, it would be better for me to have time to react to problems as they crop up.

Any way you slice it, there's a long learning curve ahead. And, once more, I run into the problem of a game where "the first twenty hours are where you learn to play." In theory, this is a problem I like to have, because it means the game has depth, but of course, it's not particularly compatible with my "wandering tourist" approach to games these days.

The road to mastery is long and steep, and something that, realistically, I will never complete. I should, therefore, try and find a way to play SimCity 4 that is enjoyable for a dilettante. Though I worry, if I do actually find such a way, am I still playing the game? Is the quest for mastery not the whole point of the exercise?

I have to think that it's not, otherwise the game would be completely inaccessible to the vast majority of players . . .

Oh, yeah, that's an entirely plausible possibility. Still, what would this world be like if we were all the same? (SimCity?)

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