The original SimCity guide was basically a textbook on urban development

Back when the first SimCity was released in 1989, the editor of Computer Gaming World magazine, Johnny L. Wilson, was commissioned to write a guide for the city management sim called The SimCity Planning Commission Handbook. In a manner befitting the complexity of the original SimCity, Wilson didn’t just want to confine his explanations of the game’s mechanics to the context of the game itself, but expand on those theories beyond the simulation, shedding light on the real-life parallels SimCity is built on. A city is a machine with many moving parts  Richard Moss has a long, detailed post on…


Factorio gives the middle finger to SimCity’s vision of industrial utopia

SimCity is about building a flourishing biome where citizens can live without dying of smog. Factorio, contrarily, says screw that. It is a game about wrecking the environment by building sprawling, Rube-Goldbergian, obscene, waste-shitting factories out of conveyer belts and tens of thousands of claw arms.  Judging from the new trailer, it loosely fits alongside games like Papers, Please and Prison Architect inside the very trendy space of legitimately good games making a statement for a social cause by having you make awful choices to win. And the cause here I suspect is pollution, as you can see in the…


SimCity goes offline, world breathes huge sigh of relief

The news that SimCity is receiving an update, so that you can play it offline, has been seen as a victory for the Internet. But is it really? When the game launched last year, always being connected was required. Opponents of digital-rights management cried foul. There was pretty much a circus. Many players vowed that they wouldn’t touch the game with a ten-foot-pole. In a blog post with the subtitle “reengineering a creative vision,” Simon Fox of Maxis reveals how the rejiggering took six months of work. But what struck me is how the creative vision for the game was…


How one British library is using the game tools to craft awe-inspiring virtual environments

When I think of the future of maps, I think about my old road atlas, the large, accordion-folded sheet of paper of the Great State of Alabama, covered with county roads and highways and twisty rivulets and interstates like arteries, and how it has long been replaced by my G.P.S. But when Tom Harper, Curator of Cartographic Materials at the British Library, thinks about the future of maps, he thinks about videogames. He and the Museum have partnered with Crytek, creators of the ultra-realistic Crysis shooters, to jumpstart a project called Off The Map, in which university students will use…