Saturday, July 25, 2015

Screenshot of the Day: SimCity 4

Citizens of Marseilles can now enjoy eating at a local Chick-fil-a.

SimCity 4 is a simulation game that allows players to build and manage virtual cities. It's a game my brother and I have played for a long time, developing such strategies as "spend huge sums of money until your city's debt unlocks a government bailout" and "build only one road from the suburbs to downtown and place ten tollbooths on said road so that it costs each citizen $20 to commute to work every morning." It's a very flexible simulation and is good practice for budget management: municipal spending for utilities, healthcare, education, and more needs to be carefully balanced to keep city funds in the black.

There are, to be sure, a lot of unrealistic things about SimCity 4: I always cut the fire department budget because a single fire engine is all that's needed in most cities to keep fires in check. Even if a city is a utopia of health, wealth, and education, citizens will complain and leave forever if income tax is more than 15%. Municipal income, then, has to come from other places. In the city in the screenshot above, a large chunk of the budget comes from bus fares and a government stipend I receive in exchange for allowing an army base, missile range, and federal prison to be set up in my city.

SimCity 4, first released in 2003, is widely held to be the best of the SimCity series, and it still holds up as one of my favorite creative games.

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