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GDC 2012: New  SimCity  announced, developed by Maxis
GDC 2012: New SimCity announced, developed by Maxis
March 6, 2012 | By Christian Nutt

March 6, 2012 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC, GDC, Business/Marketing

At an event alongside GDC, Lucy Bradshaw, senior VP of Maxis took to the stage to unveil the new SimCity title, due for the PC in 2013, promising profound change for the series.

"It's been about 10 years since we shipped the last true Maxis SimCity," said Bradshaw. The game is being developed at the same Emeryville, California studio that developed Spore.

The game, which is simply titled "SimCity", will be the first 3D installment of the series, Bradshaw revealed. She hinted at smartphone connectivity without confirming it, too, by alluding to her teenage daughters and their preference for continuous connectivity.

Bradshaw began her presentation by discussing the inspirational power of the series.

"It exposes you to this idea of cause and effect, and that the choices that you make have repercussions," says Bradshaw. "This whole idea of a living system that got deconstructed and got put back together in a way that I got to play with it" is what attracted her to working with the series.

The goal, now, is to "introduce it to a new generation of gamers."

"We have so much to take advantage of in terms of how PCs have advanced," she said. "Little phones that have the technology of the computers we shipped SimCity 4 on."

She specifically alluded to increases in CPU power, video playback abilities, and persistent internet connections as elements that are relevant to the new game.

The new 3D graphics will allow the studio to create a new type of game, she said, changing SimCity from "something that was very painterly in the past to something that is tactile and physical."

Maxis hopes it will be a game where "something comes to life underneath your fingertips and seems believable, seems real," she said.

However, said Bradshaw, "we're not trying to make the most complex" game in the series yet released. She hopes that it will be "the most playful and responsive SimCity" yet developed.

"What you see is what we sim" is the new mantra for the game, and that means that Maxis will be "tying everything that we're running in the simulation to the visuals," Bradshaw said.

The visuals, by the way, were represented by an impressive teaser trailer that were suggestive of actual game graphics -- though the small print on screen "images not representative of actual gameplay."

The goal, she said, is to create a game that shows how their decisions could affect the entire world -- with finite global resources and decisions affecting the world rippling outward.

"All of this in the Maxis tradition of a play-with-life kind of sandbox," said Bradshaw.

Tomorrow at GDC, there will be a session called "Inside the GlassBox" in which Maxis developers discuss the creation of the new SimCity engine.

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Chris OKeefe
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The city simulation genre has always been close to my heart. There's something appealing about building something complex and managing it and growing it, and seeing the new shapes it takes as it grows organically according to need.

That is precisely why Cities XL, as much as I wanted it to fill the void left after SimCity 4, didn't scratch that itch. It's a designer game, more about building model cities than cause and effect. There was nothing stopping you from building a skyscraper as your very first building, except an arbitrary - and togglable - population lock . By contrast, in SimCity 4, you only achieved skyscrapers and high-wealth structures when you successfully managed an area to the point where such things were desirable, and thus grew of their own accord. The structures in the city were the visual feedback for the success - and failures - of the player.

I admit, and probably most SimCity fans would admit the same, that phrases like 'we're not trying to make the most complex title in the series' are inherently worrying. I wouldn't even consider SimCity 4, easily the most complex title in the series, to be a particularly complex game. So pointedly hedging away from that comparison is troublesome. However, if they can manage emergent complexity without sacrificing the heart of the game - the city itself being its own visual feedback of success and failure - then I'm more than looking forward to it. Definitely a game I'm keeping my eye on.

Jakub Majewski
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I wouldn't admit the same... I would dearly love them to roll back some of the excess complexity that started seeping into the game as early as SC2000. The original SimCity was fun. The sequels were fascinating in their own way, but not especially fun. The original was a game that my computer-illiterate sister would play - the sequels were hardcore.

At the very least, I would like to see a "lite" mode, where the player's decision-making is about as limited as the original SimCity was.

Harry Fields
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Please take your time on this one, guys. With SC releases so far apart, I want this one to have the legs that 3 and 4 were missing.

Maurício Gomes
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Please, do not forget the llamas and the children that climb water towers!