The new SimCity: What to look forward to
Mon, 25 Jun 2012 2:02p.m.
By Daniel Rutledge
The franchise that laid the foundations of the city building simulation genre is coming back, empowering players to create the world of their imagination.
Following its announcement in March, SimCity was shown off at E3 both during the EA media briefing and at the EA stand on the expo floor.
I caught up with SimCity lead producer Kip Katsarelis at E3 to find out more about the game.
3 News: What’s new in the upcoming SimCity? Katsarelis: It’s an action-packed game because of our simulation engine. It’s a beautiful model-like world that’s constructed – we were really inspired by tilt-shift videos, and we brought that into the game. And of course there is multiplayer, where friends are playing together in a region, and the decisions and actions that you make in your city actually have a rippling effect across that region.”
3 News: Do you have to work together in multiplayer quite closely or can you work against the other players? Katsarelis: It’s really up to you how you want to play. You could really co-operate – at E3 we’re showing two players, one specialising in tourism, the other specialising a coal-mining, industrial city. They’re collaborating on a great work, the international airport, that’s actually going to benefit the entire region. But there is a sandbox element to SimCity of course. If you don’t want to make friends you can make pollution, you can send out sewerage to the other players, you can send crime. It’s really up to you.
3 News: The animation graphics extremely impressive in SimCity. Was it a big challenge getting the game looking so good? Katsarelis: Yeah, that was a big part, and I mean that’s what the Glassbox engine enables us to do. So everything you looked at in the game’s world today, we were simulating – the trees, the wind, the traffic – everything is actually coming to life in this wonderful model-like world that is alive at your fingertips for you to control.
3 News: I remember playing the first SimCity when I was very young. In the preview I saw there was an animation of police shooting criminals. Is SimCity still a family game? Katsarelis: It’s definitely still a family game. There’s crime in SimCity, there’s disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes, but we like to bring a lot of humour into the game as much as possible. So you saw the bank robber sequence, we tried to make light of it a little bit and have some fun with the simulation. It is a game after all, right?
3 News: You obviously play SimCity yourself – what feature are you most excited about in the new SimCity? Katsarelis: I’m most excited about the curvy roads. This has been a long asked for feature by fans and it’s really opened up the ways you can plan your cities. Some of our studio members had a contest on what kind of cities you can build, and one of my favourites is the guitar shaped city that somebody built. So curvy roads just really open up the possibilities, and the traffic and the road networks are just so robust and so fun to play with.
3 News: The new SimCity is more complex than any previous versions. Does it cater to players of all skill levels? Katsarelis: We’re really building a SimCity that’s core to our fans and our core audience, but we’re trying to make this the most accessible SimCity ever. So you probably saw some of our data layers –we were really inspired by Google maps and graphics. We’re trying to get rid of all our ledgers and all the numbers that we threw at players in the past, and really serve up what’s going on in your city in really easy to understand ways. So this is a very accessible SimCity and anyone new to the franchise can just hop right in and play, no problem.
3 News: There’s also SimCity Social coming out for Facebook. Is that a good stepping stone to the next full SimCity game? Katsarelis: Yeah, I think it’s a SimCity in that social space, so it’s very casual. I can’t really say too much more than that.
3 News: Katsarelis: Fans have got a lot to look forward to with SimCity. The city builder is back, you are the mayor, and it’s going to be more responsive than ever. You’re going to have more planning options, it’s all bigger and better. Just wait till you see our disasters!
SimCity will be released in February 2013.
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