SimCity European Evolution: Creating International Cities



Read about creating a wow-moment when placing down a global landmark in your SimCity.

Hey everyone! I’m Eugene Wong and I’m an Art Director here at Maxis. I help define the look of SimCity by working with concept artists to design each RCI (residential/commercial/industrial) building. I also lead the 3D construction of the buildings, everything from defining the tools and technology needed to bring a building from a 2D sketch to a 3D model, to working with our internal artists and several art teams around the world to bring the first 3D version of SimCity to life.

For the European City Sets included with the Digital Deluxe version of SimCity, we wanted to create a wow-moment when placing down a global landmark in your city and seeing the RCI in your city transform to match the look and feel of that nation’s landmark. By doing this, we are able to essentially create a “little-London”, “little-Paris”, or “little-Berlin” effect. We’ll be going into more detail about how landmarks work at a later date. Today, I want to go over how we chose the RCI architecture for the three European City Sets.

For the British set, we chose England’s Big Ben for the landmark. We looked for a style of architecture that was uniquely British and popular during the time Big Ben was built (so the RCI surrounding it would provide context). We settled on the Georgian-style of architecture popular throughout England and its colonies (including America) during the 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a style that’s functional, no-nonsense, and employs simple materials such as brick and stone. These are boxy, multi-floor buildings with classic proportions based on mathematical ratios, multi-paned windows, gabled and gambreled (think barn) roofs, and multiple chimneys. You’ll quickly identify these buildings with their red and brown brick facades, clean white trim, and cool grey roof color schemes with Big Ben.

The Eiffel Tower was the obvious landmark choice for the French set. Representing Parisian RCI buildings was a natural choice as the city was essentially “remodeled” and its architecture unified in one fell swoop. Around the mid-19th century, Paris went through an extensive modernisation program that planned out the layouts of streets, heights of buildings, and overall style of the architecture. This massive urban renewal program homogenized the look of Parisian buildings and defined the look of the city as we know it today. Buildings were designed and built as entire blocks. Regulations defined the exterior detail, decorations of each floor, locations of balconies, and created the sea of blue-grey mansard roofs and warm stone facades that are so characteristic of the “City of Light.” These are the style of buildings you will see surrounding your Eiffel Tower, just as it appears in the real world.

Lastly, for the German set, we chose the Brandenburg Gate as the landmark. Today, the arch is surrounded by modern government buildings. But since we wanted to reflect the classical architecture found in Germany, we had to step out of reality (and time) a bit in order to find a style that was a little bit more recognisable. And nothing is more recognizably German in architecture than gothic half-timbered buildings. We chose to represent each of these units as an agglomeration of many smaller individual buildings clustered together in an organic warren of structures. This is representative of the lack of city planning common when these were constructed in the Middle Ages. These are colorful plaster and wood buildings with red tile roofs and window planter boxes full of flowers and quaint lower level boutiques calling out to the Sims passing by.

We hope you’ll enjoy the change of scenery these European sets will provide. Thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing what type of city – traditional or international – you create!

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