5/2 – SimCity
Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
Continuing with our DOS week, let’s talk about the first best-selling simulation game, SimCity. SimCity was created by Will Wright and published by Maxis in 1989.
Right off the bat, let’s get something out of the way. SimCity was originally released for the Amiga and Macintosh systems with the DOS and Commodore 64 systems coming later that same year so while it may not have been made primarily for DOS, the DOS version was arguably the best of the first four releases, as it had all of the game features and featured full EGA color and sound. Plus, by the end of the game’s extensive life cycle, DOS was the primary operating system supported with a full CD-ROM release.
On to the game itself, SimCity is a city-building management simulation where players gain control of their own city. This is done primarily by zoning various districts. Once a section of land has been zoned into either commercial, residential or industrial zones, the residents of the city, known as Sims, will automatically start to populate it with businesses, homes or factories. Players must balance the needs of the Sims effectively to build a thriving city. Along with these three basic needs, players may also need to contend with crime by building police stations or fires by building fire stations.
There are several other issues to contend with as well such as creating a functional power grid, managing traffic flow, and adjust taxes. Disasters can also affect the town such as floods, earthquakes or even monster attacks. The original version of SimCity doesn’t really have any set goals to accomplish beyond make the city of your dreams and the fate of most SimCity towns is to be decimated by player-created disasters when the player starts tiring of the game.
Will Wright was in the process of making another game when SimCity was conceived. While making Raid on Bungeling Bay, he found he enjoyed working with the level editor more than playing the game itself. After that game’s release, he worked on the level editor, made it more user-friendly and increased the sophistication of the simulation and created SimCity in 1985, originally for the Commodore 64 and publishers wouldn’t touch it. It was argued that without win/loss conditions, SimCity wasn’t even a real game. After four years, Will Wright’s business partner, Jeff Braun agreed that Maxis would self-publish the game.
SimCity was a commercial and critical success. Game reviewers asked the same questions that game publishers had asked about it’s status as a game but they asked not with scorn but with glowing praise. Nobody had seen anything like this before and they loved it. Along with being a lot of fun to play, SimCity became known as one of the best educational games on the market, making it a hit with parents as well as kids. It was even used in college courses as a method for teaching city planning. SimCity would go on to be one of the best selling PC games on the market throughout the 90’s and would not only spawn several successful sequels such as SimCity 2000, Sim Tower and The Sims, but would also bring simulation games into the mainstream. While they may not be as big now as they were in the 90’s, simulation games such as The Sims 4, Cities: Skylines and Planet Coaster are still popular to this day.
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