The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Sim City 2013

It’s been nearly 10 years since Maxis released Sim City 4 Deluxe Edition, then the greatest reincarnation in the Sim City Series. Touted by many as being a highly detailed and insightful game, fans continue to design cities even to this day. When Sim City Societies was announced, I opted to pass in that installation because Societies’ core concept fundamentally undermined those found in Sim City: instead of building cities as before, Societies focussed on societal development and design, but suffered from poor execution and performance. Thus, when I was informed that a new Sim City was to be released somewhere in 2013, I was most interested to see what kind of surprises might be in store.

Titled “Sim City”, the newest installation was announced on March 6, 2012. The game features new graphics and is to be powered by the GlassBox engine, a system which uses an agent-based model to dynamically generate the entities and represent them in game. Previous games generated statistics in the underlying code and rendered them to the screen according to their returned values. As a result, events in the game will occur in response to localised events and propagate: for instance, traffic jams will occur if the number of vehicles (the agents) accumulate on the roadway. The agent-based approach could potentially lead to some interesting emergent events occurring. Both agent-based models and emergent programming are rapidly advancing fields that might merit a discussion in a course: I imagine most readers are more curious about the game itself.

  • Expectations are pretty high: I hope the actual version that is released will not have Societies graphics.

Sim City is to feature online gameplay, in which participants strive to design the most sustainable and successful cities. In this form of regional gameplay, pollution from one city can adversely affect neighbouring cities. Another new implementation is the concept of finite resources: whereas older versions of Sim City assumed unlimited resources such as water and raw materials, Sim City will allow a city to grow or lead to its decay based on the availability of resources, as well as a more detailed economic system. New features also include the ability to draw non-linear roads, and effects such as pollution will be a lot more visual. I’m still a die-hard fan of Sim City 4, and while these new features sound impressive, I will doubtlessly be more impressed if they work well in practise; this game could potentially be used as a viable agent-based model of urban centres. Thus, if this game proves to be a worthy successor to Sim City 4, I may need to go and purchase a new video card…

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