I am really, really enjoying building up my city. There are new zoning densities that open up as you get more and more populous. For a while I was using a strategy similar to what’s going on in my in-law’s neighborhood – raze the single family homes to build apartments. Then later raze those to build sky-rises. But then I abandoned that for suburban sprawl since the map was so huge. As most people (I think) do in these city simulation games, I started off with an area similar to what happens in real life. In order to keep taxes low, you don’t want long roads separating your citizens from their jobs. So the first residential area is kinda dingy and exists near some really dirty industrial manufacturing. So I decided to build a nicer part of town, with more parks and cleaner air, across the river. However, they still needed to get to work, so traffic started building up on the bridge. So I had to make another and another and…..
I’m going to jump forward a bit here and show you how that area near the left, bottom-most bridge has evolved as the city has grown. I think it’s fun and kinda shows how the view in a city can change with growth.
While I’m jumping back and forth, I think these images will give you a sense of the sprawl. This is as much as I could zoom out, but there’s more industry near the bottom of the map. (As a testament to how much I’ve played the SimCity series – when I wrote industry for this article, I thought of yellow. [And of course residential is green and commercial is blue] Despite this not being true in Cities XL)
When SimCity (the fifth and most recent one) came out everyone made a big deal about not having to drop electric lines, but Cities XL was doing it in 2010. I like the idea of electricity traveling along the road because you usually only ended up having to draw electric lines to your faraway stuff like waste treatment plants. Then again, from the point of view of enjoying looking at my city – it’d be nice to have the electric pole aesthetic if I wanted it. Maybe DLC pack?
One really neat thing about the GUI in Cities XL is that if you click on a non-residential building, it tells you what kinds of citizens work there: unskilled, skilled, executives, or elites. And so I was able to find out that citizens work in civic buildings and leisure buildings (like skateparks). SimCity may or may not do the same thing, but it doesn’t surface the info. To me that’s great because it adds an extra reason to drop the building other than providing leisure – it also provides jobs for your citizens. Speaking of that, Cities XL seems to be setup such that businesses drive demand for citizens. In my experience, SimCity seems to be setup so that citizens drive demand for jobs. What I like about the Cities XL model is that it makes it easy to know how to grow your cities. If you want more residents, drop more business plots. The game will use its supply and demand algorithms to determine if that business will show up, but if it does, you suddenly have a demand for citizens. Speaking of that supply and demand, it’s neat that pretty much every type of industrial building requires office buildings for their execs.
I’ve been enjoying working on bus lines. I wish it were easier to edit them (maybe I’m just missing something). The lower one here has already become so full I had to switch to double-decker busses.
The only real quibble I have with this version of Cities XL (not sure if it’s addressed in future versions) is that it doesn’t automatically draw bridges when I cross water with a road. I have to build a road then a bridge and then a road at the other end. However, I seem to be completely unable to connect roads to bridges. The game throws up errors when I try to do that. So I need both ends of the road already in place and then connect the bridges (basically the opposite of the way I’d like to do it) and then it works. Except highway bridges, which I can’t figure out. Although I’m also wondering why highways aren’t elevated (vs expressways) so I can’t have them cross over regular roads.
I’ll end with a few images of my city.