My earliest experiences with an online community was when I actively designed and built cities in Sim City 4. One site in particular stood out to me: written by “SimCityFreak”, it was a Freewebs site that eventually inspired me to build my own website. At the height of its popularity, it netted around 1000 hits per month and presented a the region he was working on at the time. However, his site eventually became overwhelmed by traffic and was unable to host any more images. While SimCityFreak’s site only lasted six months, it was one of the only well-written, clean sites out there for Sim City 4 techniques. Since his website had become inactive, it has succumbed to spammers, and today, feels as empty as a ghost town. That’s enough of the trip down memory lane: today, I consider an ancient topic that some may find useful: the proper usage of loans in a city. I certainly don’t play Sim City 4 anymore (well, not to the same frequency I used to 7 years ago), but these tips have been collecting virtual dust on my hard drive. They’re not going to do much good there, hence the motivation to share them for any Sim City 4 players still out there.
When it was first introduced, the financial system in SimCity 4 saw an increase in complexity from its predecessors, as every building incurred a countinuous monthly expense; this has the end result of increasing the expenditure a city has and making it much harder to earn money. Some players used loans as a short term means of prolonging their city’s lifespan, in turn leading to a vicious cycle as the loans need to be repaid, and ultimately resulting in the repayment of previous loans with new loans.
This factor is what deters most from using loans, although when used properly, they can improve the development of a city. Suppose that a town gets an income of §1,000 per month (§12,000 per year), and that this is a growing town that’s beginning to use high desnity zones. When one considers that the average-sized high density zone can cost about §50,000 or more, there are two viable options: either wait four years in-game, or take out a loan. A §50,000 loan has a monthly cost of §619, so one would be left with §381 per month. This allows one to remain in the black and build the zones to futher income; by the time the loan is paid back, the city would likely have an income greater than §1,000 a month, and having a return of §619, which translates to an income nearly of §2,000 monthly, in addition to seeing improved development in the town.
Many assumptions are made in the example above, and should anything go wrong, the consequences would damage the city’s coffers dramatically. Such a worst case justifies why loans need to be planned. In the general case, loans are most suitable if the pay-out now is likely to result in a reasonable return later down the road. That is, using loans to build zones is acceptable, while using loans to build infrastructure would result in a net loss; aside from being costly, the latter increase a city’s monthly expenses and make a loan more difficult to pay off, which in turn increases the risk that a city’s finances dip into the red. Conversely, careful management of loans can bolster the development of a city, and allow it to prosper.