SimCity 2000, Part XI: Bread and circuses

We left the SimCity of Hell several months ago, but it is not forgotten.  Heaven will not allow the crimes of its mayor to go unpunished.  Or something.  Anyway, please enjoy Part XI of this formerly dormant quasi-LP series.

One way you can tell that life has returned to normal after a disaster is that people start to complain about relatively minor things again.  Going by that metric, Hell has definitely recovered from its earthquake quickly.  Shortly after the quake that killed thousands and the quick rebuilding, the citizens begin griping about not having enough fun things to do.

Although they’re demanding a marina, really any of the entertainment options will do to sate their desires.  The more expensive and bigger options naturally make the people happier and let them distract themselves from the fact that they’re apparently sitting on top of a fault line and right next to a nuclear power plant.  Since that’s the case currently, the mayor decides to build the biggest and best entertainment venue possible: a stadium.

Stadiums take up a 4×4 tile space, though, so it can be hard to find a place for them without bulldozing entire city blocks.  Instead of doing that, let’s create more space by moving some earth around.

The terrain-editing options cost money to use (think of it like hiring a crew to haul earth around) but they’re not really too expensive considering their value in creating more space to build on.  In this case, let’s lower some terrain at the top of a still-undeveloped hill.  This will make for a great spot for the stadium.

Lowering this terrain ended up causing the destruction of a few buildings and a road, but that’s a small price to pay.  That’s how the mayor feels, anyway.  And since the city has the power of eminent domain, it can pretty much do whatever it wants as far as demolishing existing buildings goes.  (In real life eminent domain is a lot more complicated and requires the government to fairly compensate the owners of the land being taken if it turns out that the government has the power to use the land in the first place, but in Hell, eminent domain is an absolute privilege.  Just like sovereign immunity!)

Anyway, let’s just build the damn stadium already.

Before you can build, though, you’ll have to pick the sport played at the stadium and the name of the home team.  As far as I can tell, these options are purely cosmetic, so pick your favorite sport, as long as your favorite sport is baseball, soccer, football, rugby, or cricket (though if cricket is your favorite sport you’d probably be just as happy watching grass grow.)  Since I’m a god damn American, though, we’re going with football.  And since there’s already a soccer option in place, we know that this is American football.*

I didn’t name this team the Llamas, by the way – that was the game’s suggestion.  At Maxis in the 90s they had an obsession with llamas and related animals like alpacas for some reason.  We may as well go with it.

Hell yeah.  Doesn’t that look majestic?  The mayor is pretty pleased with the whole arrangement and looks forward to the increased business that the stadium will bring from out of town.  (He doesn’t care about the increased traffic, or the increased crime around the stadium, or even about the cost of building it – it’s the taxpayers’ money, after all, and the mayor doesn’t live in the city anyway.)

The mayor, now high on the feeling of building massive prestige projects, orders the building of a university hospital downtown.  Not for the purpose of helping his citizens – though it will help raise life expectancy in Hell – but just to brag to other mayors that his city has a university with its own hospital.

The Llamas really suck, by the way.  Maybe it’s just because it’s their first year.  Hopefully they start to gel better next season.

Two years pass, and the Llamas don’t get any better.  Here’s some better news, though – the average intelligence of Hell’s citizens has risen!  A whole lot, in fact, from 76 to 87.  87 still isn’t great, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it was thanks to the building of the university and a few libraries.  People are living longer lives as well, though pollution is still a serious problem.

Maybe things are looking up for Hell!

Or not.

Another plane falls out of the sky in 2050, and it decides to fall in almost the worst possible place – right next to the nuclear power plant.  Every fire truck in the city is lined up in defense of the plant before the plane even hits the ground.

Thankfully, the crash only takes out a few pieces of road and rail (along with every person on board, presumably.)  The fire is easily put out.  But if the plane had crashed a few tiles to the southwest, it could have caused an enormous disaster.  Nobody is sure whether the plant can withstand a fire without causing a meltdown, but it would be better to not have to find out.

Despite the danger posed by the nuclear plant and the fact that it was nearly involved in an accident that could have caused a catastrophic meltdown, people keep moving to Hell, which now contains over 67,000 souls.  Maybe it’s the low property tax.

* Coincidentally, both the pro and college football seasons just started here in the States.  I hope my alma mater doesn’t choke like they have the previous few years.

SimCity 2000, Part VII: The Ruling Class

At five in the morning in the pre-dawn light, a foul-smelling cloud of smoke billows out from the hills and into one of Hell’s neighborhoods.  A truck transporting dangerous industrial materials overturned, causing a chemical spill.

Sadly, this kind of accident is common in Hell, where not much thought is given to things like safety standards or public health.

Pollution problems don’t stop the growth of the industrial sector.  The city continues to expand northward and builds its first road connection to its northern neighbor.  Road, rail and highway connections cost money, but they also help expand a city’s demand for commercial and industrial development.

As we can see in the annual budget, Hell has finally paid out on its bonds, and the money is now rolling in.  However, despite Hell’s newfound wealth, life in the city still sucks.  Fire department funding is still low, there are only two police stations and one hospital in the whole city, and Hell’s single school is now crowding up to 70 students into each classroom.

Where’s that surplus going, then?

To this new upper-class residential development – an escape from the filth and bustle of the city.  The homes here are powered by solar energy, a newly discovered and totally clean source of power, and they’re even hooked up to a water supply.  Across from this development is an art museum, the only museum within the city limits.  This new development is unofficially known as “Paradise”, and its property values are so high that only the members of the small elite class of business and political leaders in the city can afford to live there.  The mayor also has a convenient private road built there to visit his friends and to have drinking parties on boats in the lake, and other rich person stuff like that.

Placing man-made lakes and forests is expensive, but it doesn’t really matter – the city can spare the money now.

As we can see, this retreat is located far away from the rabble.  Its residents can’t even see the city, which is mercifully blocked from view by a mountain.

Even so, no mayor can ignore the plight of his citizens for long.  Because SimCity 2000 shoves that plight in your face with notices that your citizens are demanding something or other.  In this case, it’s another hospital.  The old hospital is still the only hospital, and for decades it’s been insufficient to serve the community.  Perhaps all the gang violence has something to do with it.  Knife and bullet wounds have to account for at least a quarter of the hospital room visits in the city.

On the upside, those Death Wish citizen vs. gang wars seem to be going well.

At the insistence of his advisors, the mayor agrees to dedicate a small part of the city’s annual surplus to the building of a new hospital.  After all, Hell’s citizens can’t work and pay taxes if they’re dead.  Note that hospitals and other public service-related buildings don’t go into effect until the year after they’re built, so they remain empty and inoperative with a default C+ grade until then.

But the rumblings from the citizens don’t stop.  They now demand a new school, probably to relieve the effects of the crowding on their children’s current and only school.

Aw, come on.  A B- is like a… barely passing grade.  It’s fine.

Still, the mayor caves in because he realizes it’s important to at least educate the little shits so they can bring a steady stream of revenue to Hell in the future.

Hell’s average citizens aren’t the only ones complaining.  As the city continues to grow, industrial demand falters.  The phrase “Industry Needs Connections” is pretty vague, but what it means is that your city needs either a seaport, which is impossible in Hell because there’s no sea or river in the city limits, or a connection to its neighbors by rail or by highway.  There’s nothing you can do to solve this problem other than build one or more of these kinds of connections.  Unfortunately, they’re pretty expensive – especially railroads, which cost $25 per tile, require 2×2 tile train stations to operate, and basically demand that you either demolish a path through your existing city or build the railroad on its outskirts (or use a rail to subway connection through the city, and subways are even more expensive to build!)

Since the connections required for continued industrial growth are costly, we’ll wait for a while to place them.  In the meantime, the citizens again make a demand of the mayor – this time for more police stations.  Apparently those citizen-gang wars aren’t going so well.

A look at property values in the city might be useful.  The value of each tile is determined by several factors, including pollution and crime.  The presence of trees, water, and other desirable stuff like parks helps increase the value of land.  The darker the blue on this projection, the higher the value of the tile.  As we can see here, downtown Hell has mostly low-value land.  The areas not shaded in are the cheapest possible.

The upper-class neighborhood to the far southwest, however, has very high property value (the cheap land to the north are the solar power plants.)  This is because there’s very little to no crime or pollution here and because of the value added by the man-made lakes and the trees, which are invisible in this mode.  The mayor’s mansion, of course, is on the most valuable land of all.

Son of a bitch.  Industrial demand refuses to rise still, so we have to build a highway and create a connection with the town over by dragging the highway off the map.  Highways are expensive and a pain to build through cities because of the demolition required, but they can relieve traffic if placed correctly, and they boost industrial demand if they use connections.  You have to connect highways to roads with onramps to make them functional, because otherwise your citizens won’t be able to drive on them.

Oh yeah, don’t worry about that break in the highway up there.  People can drive across it somehow.  Perhaps there’s a car elevator or levitator there that we can’t see, or maybe there’s just a burning pile of wreckage where cars have driven off the highway and crashed into the pavement fifty feet below that people can now drive over.

Since Hell is now the state capital, it should probably have an airport.  Airports boost commercial demand.  All you need is a 2×6 block of tiles to build one (it has to be that large to accommodate a runway.)

Placing an airport next to two schools is probably a terrible idea.  But let’s face it, those kids aren’t learning anything useful at those schools anyway.  Maybe at least this way one of them will become inspired to be a pilot.  Meanwhile, the kids of the elite attend an actual good, non-crowded school in their own neighborhood that we can’t see because it’s a private school.

Will the 99% be satisfied with the meager services they’ve being given?  Will they attempt to overthrow the mayor by force?  Find out next time, because I don’t know either!

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!