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SimCity: Build it Up - Starting a City



Chris Schmidt, Tuning Designer on SimCity talks about the new road tool and how it can be used to control the density of your buildings, and the road guides that help bring it all together.

Hey everyone! Last week I talked to you about SimCity’s new road tool, how it can be used to control the density of your buildings, and the road guides that help bring it all together. Now that you know a bit more about how our roads work, I’d like to walk you through the planning of a new city.

When planning out how you want to begin building, you should first have a look at the resources available to you in the city by browsing through the data layers. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is figure out what kind of city you want to make. Various natural resources are available to exploit for additional simoleons, and by taking a quick glance at the land value map, you can get a sense of where the middle and high wealth Sims would prefer to live, provided you spruce up the place (we’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post). Additionally, it’s important to make note of which way the wind is blowing, as setting up dirty industrial buildings upwind of the rest of your city will make your Sims sick from the air pollution. Instead, you should try and put them downwind so you can blow away all that nasty smog.

Fortunately, zoning and unzoning in SimCity is now free, in large part because the infrastructure cost that zoning used to represent is accounted for by tying zones to roads. But it’s important to keep an eye on your simoleons as you make new roads and to start small, particularly in your first city. Power, water, and sewage treatment will still need to be handled once your Sims have broken ground on their new homes. It’s a good idea to start thinking about where you are going to put your dirtier services like garbage and sewage, as well as any Big Businesses you want to pursue. Specialisation buildings (like the University, Gambling HQ, Trade HQ, etc.) also provide boosts and penalties to the area around them, and may have several buildings or modules that you’ll need to accommodate, so make sure you leave room in your plan for where they can do the most good and the least harm. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, you’ll want to start laying down your roads.

No city starts in a vacuum, so every new city begins by connecting a road to the highway (after all your people have to come from somewhere). Even though any road can be used, I generally like to start by building out a Medium Density Avenue as a main street coming into the city. This street lets you get up to Mid Density buildings, and has the flexibility to be upgraded to add an additional lane, and even add light rail along the center. These roads are pretty expensive, so to save costs and keep my grid tight, I then like to use two-lane roads or dirt roads to start building out the side streets to maximize my space and keep my useable area compact.

Depending on what specialisation I am going for, I can use an avenue to make a direct thoroughfare to my resources, or I can start building it out a beltway around my city to better manage the flow of people within the city. Once I have a few blocks laid out, I will start putting down my zones, so my Sims can get building and generating tax revenue for me. Now that the city is underway, low wealth Sims will move in, but while they are eager to get a new start in your city, if you fail to get your basic services covered, they won’t stay for long. If I was a little overzealous in my initial layout, I can also take out loans to make up for the cost of these services. These are a great way to get a little bit ahead when used wisely. Loan payments can take a real toll on your city as it’s starting out, however, so make sure you keep an eye on your budget!

As my city grows I will need to start thinking about density and traffic flow, so I will likely remove some of those two-lane roads to make larger blocks, and upgrade others to accommodate some of the larger high density buildings we have. Keep in mind that any high density road will get high density buildings, not just the avenues, so when you upgrade your roads you had better be prepared for it with public transportation options and plenty of services, or the city’s demands will really start piling up! I hope this helped you get an idea on how to plan out your cities in SimCity, and with a little exploration of your options and pre-planning I think you should have no trouble setting up a city from scratch.

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