SimCity 2000, Part VIII: Kentucky Fried Schoolchildren

In SimCity 2000, serious accidents sometimes occur.  Even though they’re not real people, your Sims (they weren’t “Sims” at this point, I think, but by the time The Sims came out they definitely were) face tragedies anyway.  Like when a landing plane crashes into a school, because the people who built the airport right next to two schools didn’t think the school buildings were tall enough to block the planes from landing on the runway.

Airline crashes are one of the many disasters that can occur in SimCity 2000.  Usually this involves a plane simply falling out of the sky, but if you build an airport right in the middle of a city with a lot of tall buildings blocking the runway (or even short buildings, apparently) planes will frequently crash into those buildings, starting a massive fire that has to be put out before it spreads and becomes unmanageable.  This fire is pretty costly because, instead of simply letting a zone redevelop after being devastated, the schools that are caught in the blaze have to be replaced entirely.

Hell might not have the greatest services, but it does have an effective firefighting force.  Unfortunately, while the fire was prevented from spreading into the city, it did take out both schools.

Naturally, the insensitive cunts at the Courier make up a story about the crash that involves a “dog ranch” and that makes absolutely no mention of the schools destroyed or the probable dead schoolchildren resulting from the accident.  The Courier now has a lower reputation than those tabloids you can buy in the supermarket line that have fake headlines and photoshopped pictures of anorexic celebrities on the cover.

On the upside, the citizens of Hell are making use of the new highway, and its connection to the nearby village of Sinistrel (pop. ~250) has somehow alleviated the whole “Industry Needs Connections” problem.  Whatever.  Let’s not complain about that.  The neighboring cities and their populations don’t actually seem to matter – they’re just generated randomly by the game, I think.

The city government also decided to build a second coal plant and to put it next to the new hospital, because why the fuck not.  That soot flying out of the plant’s smokestacks won’t bother anyone.

That stray piece of highway standing next to one of the replacement schools was built before the engineers realized it was impossible to build across slanted terrain like this.  It remains unbulldozed as a monument to the city government’s laziness and incompetence.

Time rolls on and the city continues to grow in population.  Despite the poor living conditions, Hell is now home to over 40,000 citizens.

In 2008, we receive news that Dallas has built a “Plymouth Arco”.  Just what the hell is that, you might be wondering.

Of course the newspaper somehow gives us this news without ever even hinting as to what an arco is.  If you were curious about this, I think the game’s massive manual might have explained it.  Arco is short for “arcology” – a sort of city-within-a-city that is designed to provide a self-contained and self-sufficient living space for thousands of people.  The arcology is a concept that predates SimCity by several decades, but aside from some small-scale projects, no real arcologies exist yet.  In SimCity 2000, however, the player can build arcologies once his city’s population reaches 120,000.  Arcos are a great way to massively boost a city’s population at a time when the player is severely short on extra building space, but they can also greatly contribute to a city’s pollution and crime rates depending upon the type you choose to build (there are four arco types with various pros and cons.)  Since we’re nowhere near 120,000, though, we don’t have to worry about building any arcos for a while.

The paper also reports on a brand new city simulation game that Hell’s students are playing in their social studies classes.  I would make an Inception joke here, but those are played out.

Actually, I remember that we had SimCity 2000 on at least a few of the computers at school when I was a kid.  Since it was an “educational game”, we could get away with playing it at school.  Later on, we also somehow managed to get away with installing and playing a Rainbow Six game in the lab, on multiplayer on the school’s network.  How nobody stopped us doing that for months on end I have no fucking clue.

Yes, in case you were wondering – Hell still suffers from severe pollution problems.  That “pollution control” ordinance is a pile of shit.  If it’s not going to help us, we may as well stop paying for it.

And a mere six years after the first plane-colliding-with-school disaster, a jetliner decides to fall out of the sky… right above one of the replacement schools.

God damn it.

These schools must double as gasoline storage sites, because they explode immediately once a fire gets anywhere near them.

In SimCity, plane crashes are disasters that, unlike fires and chemical spills, can’t be prevented or avoided by placing a bunch of fire stations or maintaining a clean environment.  I suppose it’s a good thing that the plane didn’t fall right over the heart of the city, because the crash creates a fire that can quickly blaze out of control.  But to crash over the god damn school that replaced a school that was also destroyed by a plane accident?  Really?

Without even taking the time to mourn, the writers of the Courier immediately take the opportunity to chew the mayor out… for not having built enough schools.  Fuck you, the Courier.

A plane can’t possibly crash in this spot again… can it?  Anyway, we have to replace that school, so may as well put it right back where it originally stood.

In the meantime, life over in the southwest is going very nicely.  The mayor approved the building of a zoo full of exotic animals (some of them illegal to import into the country, but a few well-placed bribes took care of that) and a marina.  As your city’s population grows, your citizens will demand recreational activities, and these options (along with parks and stadiums) help keep them happy.  The marina in particular is great because you have to place it partially in water – despite the fact that it’s 3×3 tiles, the marina can take up one land tile and jut into a river or lake, freeing extra land for building.  Marinas also generate sailboats like this one.

Captain J. Scirica doesn’t have a care in the world, I bet.  What an asshole.  I wish I were him.

SimCity 2000, Part IV: Smog Apocalypse

Several years pass, and Hell continues to grow, slowly spilling out into the surrounding hills and valleys.

10

A new development thrives to the east of the original settlement, though it’s still polluted and crime-ridden.  The presence of the stately city hall building makes this street a little classier than the rest, however.

10b

The mayor makes a point of visiting the city assembly as little as possible.  Whenever he shows up there, the newly elected representatives of Hell’s wards ask him a lot of questions that he doesn’t have answers to.  Like “where’s the running water in my constituents’ ward” or “why is there a constant light blue cloud of fog hanging over the industrial district.”  Better for the mayor to stay in his office, where security can make sure those troublemakers can’t get to him so easily.

10c

City Hall does more than look pretty.  It allows the player to find out how much of his city’s currently developed land is being used for what purpose.  Not terribly useful, but it’s more information, at least.

10h

The mayor finally caved to public pressure and approved the construction of a hospital and a school.  The hospital so that Hell’s residents can live longer for the purpose of paying more taxes, and the school so that the children of Hell’s growing population can at least learn to count change and use manufacturing machinery without getting their arms chopped off.

11

Big news arrives: the aeroplane has been invented!  This means we can build an aeroport.  Only we can’t, because each airport tile costs $250 and you need at least a 2×6 block of airport tiles to build a functioning one.

Aside from breaking news, the Courier still carries concerns about the city’s pollution.  Typical liberal media scare tactics.

11b

What the reporter didn’t catch was the mayor’s sarcastic tone when he said the municipality would assess the pollution problem.  He set up a “Pollution Commission” five years ago at the insistence of his advisors and it met a grand total of three times, and all three times the whole commission just decided to adjourn to the bar downstairs because it didn’t have a budget to actually do anything.

At least the city’s finances are healthy.  Those oppressive interest payments are still due at the end of every year, but the city can afford to make them now.  Of course, the city’s advisors want to make absolutely sure that that won’t be the case anymore by touting their pet projects.

12a

Let me tell you who it wouldn’t benefit, Ms. Health Advisor: smokers.  If the citizens of Hell don’t want to breathe in smoke, they can hold their breaths.  Or buy gas masks, because most of the city’s air is pretty hard to breathe without a filter.

Of course, the same advisor has another brilliant scheme:

12b

Since the mayor is unelected in this game, he doesn’t really give a fuck whether he’s popular.  He does give a fuck whether something is expensive, though.  No free clinics.

Let’s hear from the city’s other advisors.

12c

Absolutely not.  Hell Technical Institute is school enough for the little bastards.

Never mind.  We’ve heard enough from the city’s advisors.  These idiots actually think pollution is a problem.  It can’t be that much of a problem if people are still moving in and adding to the taxpayer base.

12e

Shit.

The city’s sirens sound as a thick cloud of smog, thicker than usual,  ascends from the industrial zone and blankets a corner of the neighborhood.  Since this is an emergency, the game pauses and we now have the option to send police and firefighters to the scene.  The mayor promptly dispatches firetrucks from the city’s two fire stations to resolve the situation.

12g

The firemen arrive, get out of their trucks and look at the cloud of smog, unsure of what to do about it.  One firefighter suggests shooting water at it with the hose.  Another firefighter calls him a dumbass.

Eventually the cloud dissipates and the firefighters return to their stations.

12h

After every disaster, the city paper puts out a special report.  The headline “Hell is Toxic” seems like a reasonable one, considering that we’re in Hell and that it is in fact pretty toxic.

Fortunately, though, the pollution scare doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect on anything.  It caused a few buildings in the southeastern corner of the crater to turn abandoned, but they were reoccupied shortly after.  Still, the incident finally pushes the mayor to institute pollution controls, if only for the good press and to attract more residents to Hell.

13a

Pollution controls cost serious money.  And it’s not too obvious that they’re working.  This abandoned building, for example, is still home to heavy pollutants.  In a way it’s good that it’s abandoned, because it probably isn’t fit for humans to live or work in under any circumstances.

13b

Hell is still pollution-ridden, crime-ridden and full of angry citizens with no access to running water.  And while it’s receiving a positive cash flow, it’s also still very far from paying off the $20,000 principal on its bonds.  Will Hell pull itself out of its stagnation?  Don’t ask the mayor, because he doesn’t know.  Also, you probably can’t ask him, because he’s siphoned off some of the tax revenue coming in to hire more security.

SimCity 2000, Part III: My Little Mutant Pony

The mayor of Hell wakes up again almost two years later with a horrible hangover.  He discovers that in his absence, his staffers have approved a lot of extra construction.  The dusty canyon that the city began in is now full, and houses and apartment buildings are being erected on the hills above it.  The new zones are being occupied, but funds are running dangerously low.

7d

Meanwhile, the traffic has become truly miserable.  A bird’s-eye view of the city shows a multitude of little blue dots crawling along the streets.

7e

The water system is marginally more effective than it was when it was first built, but it’s only supplying the industrial sector.  The commercial and residential areas of the city are still forced to cope without running water, as if they were living in a medieval city.

Despite all this, there is good news – the city is finally about to achieve positive cash flow.

7f

Hooray!  The mayor holds an office party to celebrate.  During the festivities, he passes out again, this time on top of his desk.  His staffers move the party to the break room.

8

Several months later, Hell reaches a truly momentous milestone – a population of over 10,000.  The Hell Courier (now simply “The Courier” for some reason) reports that Hell’s commercial and industrial elite are donating a City Hall to be built wherever the mayor desires, once he wakes up from his nap again.  Things have truly taken a turn for the better.

However, not everything is well.  Along with Hell’s new growth has come a sharp rise in pollution.  In fact, the Courier’s pages are largely dedicated to the complaints by Hell’s citizens about its god-awful environment.  One family, in fact, suffered a terrible tragedy as a result of Hell’s rampant pollution: a double-jawed pony.

sc2000 mutant pony story

Who will save us from all this pollution?  The mayor can’t get voted out or sued, so… nobody.  Sorry, citizens!1

Actually, this 10,000 population marker is a good time to look at all of the crazy charts and graphs that SimCity 2000 has to offer.

sc2000 charts and graphs

Most of these windows aren’t that important in the early stages of a round of SimCity.  They essentially boil down to crime and pollution and stupid and illness = bad, education and police and health and clean air = good – some of the extra details like unemployment and specific industrial and commercial tax rates will only be relevant later on.  The population window for SimNation is always useful for seeing how badly we’re whipping the other cities’ asses in size, though.

8f

The most useful window by far is the City Map.  This shows a ton of city statistics in detail that can be projected onto the main window.  In this section, we can see the city’s crime rates by zone.

8h

We can also view individual buildings to find more information about them.  This factory is both heavily polluted and highly criminal.

8g

Meanwhile, the poor bastards living in these houses right next to the coal plant are breathing in air filled with pure coal dust particles.  Medium crime is the least of their worries.

sc2000 crime church

Even the first church in town (First Church of Hell) experiences crime.  Maybe thieves pickpocket parishioners during services or steal sanctified wine or holy water from the church cellars.

9

The city begins to spill over the rim of the canyon.  But what’s this?  Some of the new houses built don’t have power.  That’s no good.  People will move into houses without water, but they won’t move into houses without power.

9a

Turns out the coal plant we built ten years ago is running almost at capacity.  It’s time to generate more power.  But we can’t afford another dirty-ass coal plant.

What are the other options?  At this point, if we want to continue growing the city’s population, we should place some waterfalls and build dams on them.

9c

Sixty extra megawatts!  That will tide us over.  For a little while.

9e

At a population of 12,000, Hell is finally making its place on the map!  It’s probably the county seat of this depressing middle-of-nowhere desert county where nobody except for the most desperate and marginalized of society want to live.  It’s also filled with crime and pollution.  Will Hell ever be a nice place to live?  Will it be able to pay off its damn bonds someday?  Will its ponies at least stop growing extra jaws?


1 In real life, sovereign immunity (basically a shield protecting the city/county/state/federal government from a civil lawsuit) exists, but it’s limited in various ways, and under certain circumstances citizens can sue their government, at least in the US.  In SimCity, sovereign immunity is absolute – so feel free to do whatever you want!

SimCity 2000, Part I: Welcome to Hell

For years, SimCity 2000 was one of my favorite games.  This city-building simulation was one of those games I grew up with – along with Civilization, Age of Empires, the original Mario and Sonic titles, the Thief series, etc.  So I thought, for a little while when I have bits of free time, that I’d return to the past, to a time when I didn’t have to worry about making god damn student loan and car payments.  You can now download SimCity 2000 from the games section of archive.org (god bless those people) or get it for a very low price at GOG, but I didn’t have to do either – I installed an old copy I still own of SimCity 2000 on CD onto an old copy of Windows 98 on VirtualBox.
lol only 90s kids will remember flying toasters

lol only 90s kids will remember flying toasters

Instead of playing a reasonable game of SimCity, though, I’ve decided to make things hard for myself.  Our future is full of uncertainty – especially in this January of the year of our Lord 2017 – and I swear to God the people living in my SimCity will feel exactly the same sense of uncertainty.  They may also feel a profound sense of fear, division and mutual hatred.  Because they’re going to live in possibly the worst city ever devised.  We’re going to try to make the worst city possible, in fact, that will still attract citizens and remain in the black financially.  This is probably going to turn out part SimCity 2000 screenshot LP, part tutorial, part… whatever else I feel like throwing in, and it will run for as long as the game is interesting, or until the entire city burns down.
0
Here’s the starting screen, in which we can edit a map before we start building our city.  This randomly generated map looks great – a river and a nice flat plot of land to build on.
We’re not building a place where anyone in their right mind would want to live, though.  Let’s take out that river and move the tree and water sliders (the blue and green ones at the top left on the bar) down to zero.
0a
That’s better!  Damn.  Who wouldn’t want to drop everything and move here right away?
0b
Time for perhaps the two most important decisions in a SimCity’s lifespan: when to begin building and how much money to start with.  And the name, though that can be changed later on by changing the city’s filename in the game folder.

Let’s start in 1900.  This guarantees that we will have as little technology as possible to use to our citizens’ benefit.  And playing Hard Mode goes without saying.  No Easy Mode for us.  Note that, like in Medium Mode, we’ll be starting with $10,000, but unlike in Medium Mode those ten thousand dollars will be borrowed dollars.  Meaning we’ll have to pay them back at some point, plus interest.

As for the city’s name…

0c
Seems appropriate.
1
Upon starting the game, we find that our nonexistent city already has its own newspaper.  Amazing!
1a

According to the Hell Courier, Hell already has citizens and traffic problems.  Even though Hell’s population is currently 0 and there are no roads or even structures of any kind built yet.

Since the writers of the only newspaper in town (?) are clearly insane, let’s put the paper away and find a place to build.  We’re looking for someplace flat.  Building on hills and mountains is difficult, expensive, and a pain in the ass.

2

Let’s pick this nice valley in the center of the map.  What better place to build a thriving metropolis than in a crater in the middle of a desert.
2a
Before we start building, though, it would be a good idea to check on our finances.  We only have a $10,000 bond, after all, and we also have annual payments to make on it.  Since the interest rate is 3%, we’re on the hook for $300 a year.  Keep in mind that that $300 is merely the interest – it doesn’t count towards the principal, which in SimCity 2000 has to be paid off all at once.  So we’ll be making these interest payments for a while.

At the side of each line in the city budget, we can ask our advisors for their opinions.

You dipshit.

You dipshit.

The bond advisor tells us to raise taxes (in the property tab at the top.)  That could work… if we had any taxpayers yet, which we don’t.  We’ll quickly learn that at least half of our advisors are morons and that the other half are assholes.  That’s politics for you, though.

2c

On the other hand, here’s some good news!
3
Okay, time to start doing something with that $10,000 bond.  If we just sit on it, we’ll lose money with no progress to show for it.  The first step is to select a power plant.  If we’d founded Hell at a later date, we would have a lot more options in this window, but in 1900 the only choices available are coal, hydroelectric, and oil power.

Oil power can be thrown out right off the bat.  It’s too expensive relative to the amount of power it provides, its only benefit being that it’s “marginally cleaner” than coal power.  That leaves the only other alternative hydroelectric power.  You might be thinking that it costs just as much as coal power megawatt for megawatt, and you’d be right – if Hell had any waterfalls to build dams on (or any water at all on its surface, which it doesn’t.)  As it is, each $400 dam will have to be built on a manmade waterfall, which costs $100 each to place.  Still a better deal than the oil power plant, but not by much.  The dams are also clean, but honestly – we don’t give a damn about having clean power in Hell, do we?  So let’s go with coal power.

3aa
The citizens can complain about the pollution, and they will.  But they’ll still come to Hell all the same.
3a
The plant is built!  It will have to be replaced in fifty years, but that’s a long way off.  And if we don’t have enough money in fifty years to spend $4,000 on a replacement plant, we’ll have failed either way.  We can always squeeze our population for taxes for a few years to cover the cost if necessary – once we have a population, anyway.
3b
Our first task is to place industrial (yellow) zones, where Hell’s citizens will work, and residential (green) zones, where they’ll go to sleep and probably to drink and fight in the streets as well.  People usually advise placing these two types of zones far apart because of the heavy pollution that industrial zones produce.  But since we’re building Hell, we don’t care about that.  People will still move in, trust me.

Finally, a few commercial (supposedly blue, but really looks more like purple) zones, where our people can buy their cheap goods made in Asian sweatshops and their horrible processed foodstuffs and instant ramen cups, because that’s all anyone is selling in Hell.

3c
The people are moving in!  There aren’t quite enough of them to make up the gap in the budget caused by the annual interest payments, but we’re getting there.  Once we’re making money, we’ll be on the road to success.
The Hell Courier, two years after its city's founding, proudly trumpets "Hell Awakens!!" when the city's population hits 2,000.

The Hell Courier, two years after its city’s founding, proudly trumpets “Hell Awakens!!” when the city’s population hits 2,000 and when I get a free mansion to build thanks to my grateful population.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to spend a lot more money before we can make it.  We’re exclusively placing dense zones (which support a whole lot more citizens per tile but are also more expensive than light zones.)   We’ve also had to build a police station and a fire station, which cost a lot of money and also require an annual payment to maintain.  This is a hard price to pay at the moment, but going without police or fire services means that in the event of an emergency, we’ll only be able to call up the national guard.  And they’re not very good at quelling riots or stomping out fires.  Unless we want to see our city pillaged by angry citizens (likely, under the circumstances) or burned to the ground, we need to drop $$$ on these essential services.
3d
You know what we don’t need to drop money on, though?  Hospitals and schools.  Our citizens don’t need good health or education to work in dollar stores or toil in factories.

Maybe it’s not quite time to build our complimentary mayor’s mansion just yet.  We don’t want the masses overtaking his house and killing him in his sleep over his horrible mismanagement that easily.

4b
A quick glance at the 1903 budget sheet also reveals that we’re about to run out of money.  Fortunately, the mayor has a plan prepared just in case things really go badly. It involves getting into his ’83 Trans Am and driving out of town at midnight.

Maybe a few city ordinances can help us close the budget gap.  What does the ordinance advisor suggest?

4d
Are they now?  Let’s see what that will cost.
4e
 The people can go to… well, they’re already there.  In any case, no to pollution controls.  I’m trying to save money for God’s sake.
4f

These two should help a bit.  If we legalize gambling, we can open casinos, get the gamblers drunk on cheap drinks, and then give them parking fines the next day for improperly parking overnight after they pass out.  In all, this excellent plan only generates $15 a year, but that’s fifteen dollars closer to paying off the city’s debt.

Time will tell whether Hell has to take out more debt to survive, or whether it will be able to stand on its own feet soon.  For now, though, the mayor retires to his improvised apartment in an old Motel 6 (since we haven’t built the Mayor’s House gift for reaching 2,000 people yet.)