Building the new SimCity takes a lot of street smarts, and one of the men responsible for crafting the detailed blueprint is Game Designer Dan Kline. Connection is key for Dan, as he works on multiplayer and the SimCity World features designed to keep players up-to-date with not only their cities, or their friend’s cities, but cities from around the world.
Let’s learn a little bit more about Dan’s role on the game.
How long have you worked on the Maxis team?
Dan Kline: I've been at Maxis for 2 years. I started on Darkspore and then moved on to SimCity.
What exactly do you on the game?
DK: I'm a designer on SimCity, so day-to-day I design the experience we're looking for, and help the team get there. It involves a lot of playing the game, talking to people, trying things, and thinking hard. I primarily focus on the larger experience, so multiplayer, UI, SimCity World, etc. But SimCity is a really integrated team. Lately I've been focused on the UI we display for each system in the simulation.
What excites you most about working on the new SimCity?
DK: It's SimCity! Seriously, SimCity! It's not just a treasured memory for all of us, but it's a really amazing game, toy, and sandbox all rolled into one. There are very few games out there like it.
What was the first SimCity game you played?
DK: The original SimCity! I've played all of them, but I'll never forget the first. I played it on my first IBM PC, edited the config files, the whole lot. Then, later, I played it at school. Since I am a big fan myself, I am able to think a lot about what fans want when I'm designing SimCity today. SimCity really touches everybody, and as a designer it's an awesome responsibility.
Since you work on Great Works, do you mind explaining how they function?
DK: Sure. Great Works came from us talking about regions. We knew we wanted to break out of the bounds of one city, to have one giant simulated organism, a collection of cities. We wanted something that was shared, where everything you were working on came together. Great Works challenge the collection of cities to complete this epic project, to create this monument that's larger than any one city alone. They define the whole region, and provide benefits that bust out of the normal city bounds and take the region to a whole new scale. They break the rules, define a new playing field.
Since you’re working on the SimCity World feature set, tell us: Which leaderboard are you striving to be at the top of?
DK: Ha! We have a whole bunch of fun and challenging ones, but I'm a classic player at heart. I find the Population leaderboard incredibly satisfying. It's the one we all race for around the office. The whole region counts, every city. So that means packing in the Residential as densely as possible and finding some way to keep them happy. You get this delicate balancing act of residential, commercial, and industrial, combined with just enough services and money to survive, across every city in the region. It's that sweet spot of edge-of-your-skill challenge that totally hits my competitor's itch. There's lots of approaches.
My favourite right now is to concentrate all of my jobs in one city and use the rest as suburbs. Workers commute between cities, so the workers will drive from the suburbs to work. But then you have to deal with the traffic. And you have to send tons of money to the suburbs to keep them afloat. And I'm not sure giving up that much space will get you to the top. It's an optimiser's dream. As the larger regions have come in the stakes keep getting higher and higher. I can't wait to see what the fans try.
Anything you want to tell to the community?
DK: We can't wait to take the wrapper off what we've made and bring you in. Join the beta! Give us feedback! We need your help! This is a true multiplayer game, and we can't make it alone. And get on the forums (I’m MaxisSparks). You guys are amazing fans, and I want to hear your voices. See you soon!