SimCity (1989 video game)
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One of the various cover arts for SimCity features a jukebox-like design.
|Platform(s)||Acorn Archimedes, Acorn Electron, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Browser, C64, CDTV, DESQview, DOS, EPOC32, FM Towns, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, Mobile phone, NeWS, OLPC XO-1, OS/2, PC-98, SNES, Tk, Unix, Windows, X11 TCL, X68000, ZX Spectrum|
SimCity (later renamed SimCity Classic) is a city-building simulation video game, designed by Will Wright, published by Maxis, and released on 2 February 1989, it is the first game in the SimCity series. The game focuses on players operating as a mayor whose task is to build up a city, providing basic transit links, power, and simplistic service needs for their residents, while watching out for problems and dealing with a multitude of disasters, most of which are based on real-life disasters. Alongside the option to make a city from scratch, the game also features scenarios that task players to oversee a pre-built city and deal with specific issues that it faces, most of which require the player to rebuild after a disaster.
Released initially for the Commodore Amiga and Macintosh computer, the game was ported onto various gaming platforms. SimCity received critical acclaim upon release, becoming a commercial success and establishing the title as one of the all-time greats in city-building simulation games, spawning several sequels as a result - SimCity 2000 in 1993, SimCity 3000 in 1999, SimCity 4 in 2003, SimCity DS, SimCity Societies in 2007, and SimCity in 2013. The game became the best-selling Maxis title on PC, until the eventual release of the series spin-off The Sims in 2000.
The objective of SimCity is to build and design a city, without specific goals to achieve. The player can mark land as being zoned as commercial, industrial, or residential, add buildings, change the tax rate, build a power grid, build transportation systems and take many other actions, in order to enhance the city. Once able to construct buildings in a particular area, the too-small-to-see residents, known as "Sims", may choose to construct and upgrade houses, apartment blocks, light or heavy industrial buildings, commercial buildings, hospitals, churches, and other structures. The Sims make these choices based on such factors as traffic levels, adequate electrical power, crime levels, and proximity to other types of buildings—for example, residential areas next to a power plant will seldom appreciate to the highest grade of housing. In the Super NES version and later, the player can also build rewards when they are given to them, such as a mayor's mansion or a casino.
The player may face disasters including flooding, tornadoes, fires (often from air disasters or shipwrecks), earthquakes and attacks by monsters. In addition, monsters and tornadoes can trigger train crashes by running into passing trains.
SimCity includes goal-centered, timed scenarios that could be played at any time, and be won or lost, depending on whether the player achieves the stated objectives of the scenario being played by the player at this time. The scenarios were an addition suggested by Brøderbund, the then intended publisher, in order to "make SimCity more like a game". The original scenarios were based on scenarios faced in real world cities, current of that time. However, some of the cities are besieged through disasters which does not happen throughout the city's history at that time.
SimCity was developed by a game designer named Will Wright. While working on the game Raid on Bungeling Bay, in which the player, a helicopter pilot, was tasked to bomb islands, Wright found he enjoyed designing the islands in the level editor more than playing the actual game. He developed the level editor further, in order to satisfy his increasing desire to make the islands interesting for the player to develop a clever strategy. Around that time, interested in the idea of bombing more than just islands; villages, towns and cities of various constraints; terrain and architecture of village, town and city planning, Wright began researching about urban plan designs and read System Dynamics by Jay Wright Forrester and "The Seventh Sally", a short story from The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem, about an engineer, wanting to satisfy a deposed tyrant who wants to oppress. The game reflected how Wright came to approve of mass transit and disapprove of nuclear power; Maxis president Jeff Braun stated of the information, "We're pushing political agendas".
The working title of SimCity was Micropolis. The first version of the game was finished, made to play in Commodore 64 in 1985. Although the game was finished, only requiring distribution, Brøderbund declined to publish the title. Subsequently, he pitched to several major game publishers to sell the game, without success. The reason for this phenomenon seems to be that the game does not make clear of whether the player is winning or losing; as a result, game publishers, at that time believed that, "rewarding instant gratification to their players is the safest way to remain profitable", assumed that this game is not for them to sell, let alone successfully. Wright ended up publishing the game through Maxis, through a meeting with Jeff Braun, Maxis's founder, during a party. He then agreed to publish SimCity as one of two initial games delivered from the company.
Wright and Braun went to Brøderbund to formally transfer the rights to the game to Wright in 1988, nearing its publishing year in 1989. After Brøderbund executives Gary Carlston and Don Daglow examine SimCity, they formally gave the rights to the game to Wright. With that settled, Wright formally signed a distribution deal with Maxis, wherein Maxis has rights to SimCity to develop, port, and distribute. With that, four years after the first playable version, SimCity was released for the Amiga and Macintosh platforms in 1989, followed by IBM PC and Commodore 64.
Ports and versions
After the original release on the Amiga and Macintosh, then the Commodore 64 and IBM PC, it was ported to several other computer platforms and video game consoles, specifically the Atari ST, Acorn Archimedes, Amstrad CPC, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (which was later released on Virtual Console), EPOC32, mobile phone, Internet, Windows, FM-Towns, OLPC XO-1 and NeWS HyperLook on Sun Unix. The game is available as a multiplayer version for X11 TCL/Tk on various Unix, Linux, DESQview and OS/2 operating systems. Certain versions have been re-released with various add-ons, including extra scenarios. An additional extra add on for the Windows version of SimCity Classic was a level editor. This editor could be opened without use of the disc. The level editor is a simple tool that allows the user to create grasslands, dirt land, and water portions.
The IBM version of SimCity is notable for the unusually large amount of graphics modes it supports; the game runs in CGA 640x200 mode, EGA 640x200 mode (for users with 200-line monitors), Tandy 640x200 mode, Hercules, EGA 640x350 mode (for users with 350-line monitors) and VGA 640x480 monochrome. A later release dropped all of the 200-line modes and added 640x480 color mode. Unlike most commercial PC games at the time, 320x200 resolutions were not used because they were inadequate for the amount of graphics detail the game needed. A port of SimCity was released for Windows 3.0 in 1992. It runs in the Windows GDI and does not support 256-color graphics or sound.
SimCity for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System features the same gameplay and scenario features; however, since it was developed and published by Nintendo, the company incorporated their own ideas. Instead of the Godzilla monster disaster, Bowser of the Super Mario series becomes the attacking monster, and once the city reaches a landmark 500,000 populace, the player receives a Mario statue that is placeable in the city. The Super NES port also features special buildings the player may receive as rewards, such as casinos, large parks, amusement parks, and expo centers; some of which would be incorporated into SimCity 2000. A bank can be built which will allow a loan of $10,000 to be taken, but it must be paid back before another loan can be taken out. The game includes schools and hospitals, though they cannot be placed by the player; instead, the game will sometimes turn an empty residential lot into one. There are city classifications, such as becoming a metropolis at 100,000 people. It has some of the same pre-set scenarios in the PC and Mac versions and two new ones. One is in Las Vegas under attack by aliens and another called Freeland. Freeland has no water and no rewards buildings are given. Also unique to the Super NES version is a character named "Dr. Wright" (whose physical appearance is based on Will Wright) who acts as an adviser to the player. The soundtrack was composed by Soyo Oka. The edition is featured as Nintendo's Player's Choice as a million seller.
In August 1996 a version of the game entitled BS Sim City Machizukuri Taikai was broadcast to Japanese players via the Super Famicom's Satellaview subsystem. Later, a sequel titled SimCity 64 was released for Nintendo 64DD, the Japan-only Nintendo 64 add-on
In January 2008, the SimCity source code was released under the free software GPL 3 license , renamed to Micropolis (the original working title) for trademark reasons, and developed by Don Hopkins. The release of the source code was motivated by the One Laptop Per Child program. The Micropolis source code has been translated to C++, integrated with Python and interfaced with both GTK+ and OpenLaszlo.
Since Micropolis is licensed under the GPL, users can do anything they want with it that conforms with the GPL – the only restriction is that they cannot call it "SimCity" (along with a few other limitations to protect EA's trademarks). This allows other, differently named projects to be forked from the Micropolis source code. Improvements to the open source code base that merits EA's approval may be incorporated into the official "OLPC SimCity" source code, to be distributed with the OLPC under the trademarked name OLPC SimCity, but only after it has been reviewed and approved by EA.
Comparison of different versions
|Platform||Version – Release date||Comments|
|Amiga||V.1.0 –||Alongside SimCity for the Macintosh, this was the first commercially released version of SimCity. It ran on any Amiga with at least 512 kilobytes of memory, and was distributed on a single floppy disk.|
|V.2.0||This version has been enhanced with the ability to switch tile sets. A tile set consists of all the images the game uses to draw the city, and by changing the tile set one can give the city a different look and feel. The graphics support up to 64 colors in Extra Halfbrite mode.
Because of this new functionality, SimCity 2 requires at least 1MB of memory, twice that of the original version.
|To make the game more pleasant to play when viewed on a distant television, this version of the game shows a closer view of the city. Other changes includes a user interface more suited for use from the CDTV's remote control, use CD-DA for music, and the addition of three scenarios.|
|Amstrad CPC||V.1.0 – |
Sim City Amstrad CPC
|Atari ST||V.1.0 –||This version features scenarios but has no music and the game's graphics are less colorful than the graphics of the Amiga version 2.0.|
||This version lacks music, many sound effects, most animation and has limited colour palettes, but has most of the features of the Amiga version, in spite of having to run in 25K of memory.|
|Commodore 64||V.1.0 –||This version lacks police/fire stations, stadiums and railways. Disasters were limited to the earthquake. It also forgoes the stat screen useful for evaluating the city's development. The player can select between eight scenarios or on randomly generated terrain.|
|Macintosh||V.1.0 –||Released in two versions: monochrome and color.|
|PC||MS-DOS –||Features high resolution EGA graphics and limited sound effects through PC speaker or Tandy DAC.|
||Released by Interplay Productions for DOS, it featured 256-color graphics, new music and sound effects and added FMV cutscenes and news reports.|
|Windows – |
|Super NES||Developed and Published by Nintendo under license by Maxis, the Super NES version of SimCity had additional features not found in the original SimCity, including graphics changing to match the seasons (trees are green in summer, turn rusty brown in the fall, white in the winter, and bloom as cherry blossoms in the spring), civic reward buildings, and a very energetic green-haired city advisor named Dr. Wright (after Will Wright), who would often pop up and inform the player of problems with their city. In addition, the Super NES version of SimCity had two additional bonus scenarios, accessible when the original scenarios were completed: Las Vegas and Freeland (see section on scenarios). The style of the buildings also resemble those in Japan rather than those of North America.
A Nintendo Entertainment System port was also planned, but was cancelled.
Nintendo also put their stamp on the game, with a dangerous disaster being Bowser attack on a city (in place of a generic movie-type monster), and a Mario statue awarded once the megalopolis level of 500,000 inhabitants is reached.
|ZX Spectrum||V.1.0 – 1989||Has all the features (such as scenarios, crime, and disasters) of later versions of the game, only with much more limited sound and graphics.|
- SimCity Classic is available for Palm OS and on the SimCity.com website as Classic Live. It was also released by Atelier Software for the Psion 5 handheld computer, and mobile phones in 2006.
- The July 2005 issue of Nintendo Power stated that a development cartridge of SimCity for the NES was found at Nintendo headquarters. Never released, it is reportedly the only one in existence.
- Additionally a terrain editor and architecture disks were available with tileset graphics for settings of Ancient Asia, Medieval, Wild West, Future Europe, Future USA and a Moon Colony.
- Versions of SimCity for the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, and Acorn Archimedes computers were published by Superior Software/Acornsoft. Programmer Peter Scott had to squeeze the 512k Amiga version of the game into 20k in order to run on the ageing 32k BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. Despite this, it kept almost all of the functionality of the Amiga game and very similar graphics (although only using four colours).
- DUX Software published a Unix version of SimCity for the NeWS window system using the HyperLook user interface environment, and a multi-player version of SimCity for the X11 window system using the TCL/Tk user interface toolkit, both developed and ported to various platforms by Don Hopkins.
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SimCity was a financial success, selling one million copies by late 1992. In the United States, it was the ninth best-selling computer game from 1993 to 1999, with another 830,000 units sold. It was critically acclaimed and received significant recognition within a year after its initial release. As of December 1990 the game was reported to have won the following awards:
In addition, SimCity won the Origins Award for "Best Military or Strategy Computer Game" of 1989 in 1990, was named to Computer Gaming World's Hall of Fame for games readers highly rated over time, and the multiplayer X11 version of the game was also nominated in 1992 as the Best Product of the Year in Unix World. SimCity was named #4 "Ten Greatest PC Game Ever" by PC World in 2009. It was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show, in 2007. Sid Meier in 2008 named SimCity as one of the three most important innovations in videogame history, as it led to other games that encouraged players to create, not destroy. It was named #11 on IGN's 2009 "Top 25 PC Games of All Time" list. In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared SimCity the 6th-best computer game ever released.
The University of Southern California and University of Arizona used SimCity in urban planning and political science classes. In 1990 The Providence Journal invited five candidates for Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island to manage a SimCity town resembling the city; former mayor Buddy Cianci, who was the most successful, won election that year. Chuck Moss of The Detroit News found that Godzilla attacking the city in the 1972 Detroit scenario caused less destruction than the mayoralty of Coleman Young.
On March 12, 2007, The New York Times reported that SimCity was named to a list of the ten most important video games of all time, the so-called game canon. The Library of Congress took up a video game preservation proposal and began with the games from this list, including SimCity.
SimCity yielded several sequels. "Sim" games of many types were developed – with Will Wright and Maxis developing myriad titles including SimEarth, SimFarm, SimTown, Streets of SimCity, SimCopter, SimAnt, SimLife, SimIsle, SimTower, SimPark, SimSafari, and The Sims, as well as the unreleased SimsVille and SimMars. They also obtained licenses for some titles developed in Japan, such as SimTower and Let's Take The A-Train (released as A-Train outside Japan). In 2000 The Sims was released, which spawned its own series. Spore, released in 2008, was originally going to be titled "SimEverything" – a name that Will Wright thought might accurately describe what he was trying to achieve.
SimCity inspired a new genre of video games. "Software toys" that were open-ended with no set objective were developed trying to duplicate SimCity's success. The most successful was most definitely Wright's own The Sims, which went on to be the best selling computer game of all time. The ideas pioneered in SimCity have been incorporated into real-world applications as well. For example, VisitorVille simulates a city based on website statistics.
Dr. Wright from the Super NES version has made appearances in several video games. He is a non-player character in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
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- Regional planning
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