SimCity 4 An Inside Look

If you're like us, you're really looking forward to the newest SimCity game, SimCity 4.  We've brought you some previews of the game before and had a chance to see it in action at EA's Summer Camp, but it hasn't been enough - we just had to get some more info on the game and its features.  So we turned to Kevin Hogan over at Maxis who was kind enough to take the time to answer some of questions about the game...

GT:  SimCity has been through several incarnations over the years. What’s the first thing you do when designing a new game in such a storied franchise?

KH:  Our first step is to listen to what the customer is saying. We get lots of fan mail and take a look at various online forums to see what people are reacting to, what they like and dislike, and then we talk about strategies to either improve on the areas that people have been critical of, or play up the areas where people are having the most fun.

GT:  What have you been able to add to the game that just wasn’t technically feasible in prior SimCity games?


KH:  I can immediately think of 2 areas of the game that have benefited the most from technological advancements (but there are many more areas than that): the detail of the graphics, and the traffic simulator. The graphics detail improvements are obvious. We can now zoom in closer than ever before, and make the artwork much more detailed. On the traffic side, we are now simulating trips in a much more detailed manner. In 3K we were forced to take some shortcuts for performance reasons, but in SimCity 4 we actually simulate foot traffic, bus traffic, car traffic, and a host of other things, including the transfers from one type of travel to another. Sims will actually walk to a train station, get on the train, and then walk from the destination station to their job. We simply could not do that on the hardware of 1999.

GT:  How much control will players have over the look and shape of the terrain in the game?

KH:  Players will have immense control. This is actually one of the highlights on SimCity 4. Terrain editing is simple to do, but extremely powerful. And with the edition of region play, you can create interesting terrains over multiple cities and create an entire region to your liking.

GT:  How easy will it be to create famous locations such as the San Francisco peninsula or Manhattan? Will the game ship with any such locations?

KH:  The game will ship with terrains for both the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. These are just two examples of the various types of terrain that you yourself can build or mimic in the game as well. One of the improvements we’ve made to SimCity 4 is that the game gets progressively more difficult the bigger your city is. So creating those cities will be quite a challenge.