While looking around for a minecraft clone so I could see what the hype was about, I came across something called Dwarf Fortress. The New Yorker describes it as SimCity's evil twin.
And some games werenâ(TM)t allowed in at all. These gamesâ"most notably the immensely popular SimCity, as well as its lunatic homemade successor Dwarf Fortressâ"were deemed âoetoo complex or too time consuming,â and are represented only by noninteractive video displays. This is about as satisfying as looking at pictures of food, but it is also in a perverse sort of way a real tribute: these games are still too big, too stubbornly new and strange and mysterious, to fit into a museum just yet. They canâ(TM)t be sampled; you must surrender to them.
Designed by Will Wright, who had made only a single previous game, and first released in 1989, SimCity casts the player as a slightly supernatural city planner, laying out roads and power plants and building zones in a simple, brightly colored interface with a distinct resemblance to MS Paint. You choose tax rates and ordinances from a series of menus, and try to balance traffic and property values and pollution and dozens of other factors on the way to creating a successful cityâ"with the definition of âoesuccessfulâ rather up in the air. It has no âoeend,â no plot, no set goal: you play until you are bored, or until your city seems to you to be perfect or maimed beyond repair. Along with its increasingly pretty and complex sequels (the 1994 SimCity 2000 is the one chosen for âoeApplied Design,â
This canard still persists today. I know it can be beaten - I did it, and it's simpler than I thought.
First - the background. Back when my retinas were getting lasered on a regular basis, I would fire up SK2k in an emulator under KNOPPIX. This gave me a chance to focus on large graphics on a large screen, instead of stuff like fonts. It worked too - my eyes would recover after a few days of intermittent gameplay.
So, since SC2K had always held a certain fascination for me, I determined to beat it. Without bothering with complications like variable tax rates for different industries, etc.
It turns out that the real limiting factor is good old H20. Starting with a flat world and enough water available in rows in the center, you never have to add any more water. Why in rows? Because your pumps benefit from having water on 6 of the 8 adjacent tiles, giving them the best space/capacity trade-off. Why in the center? Because you'll put your industries along the edge, so half (or more near a corner) of your pollution goes to your neighbors, instead of spoiling your water supply.
You do NOT need a seaport. Ever. Or a marina. And you can ignore most of those "Commerce needs new connections" messages.
The optimal grid is 9x9, surrounded by roads on all sides. Continue this pattern, even through the water area (a grid of 9x9 blocks of 9x9), surrounded by a ring of 9x9 blocks for commercial / sports development later in the game. Leave enough of a gap for a set of highways to go from one edge of the screen to the other (forming a huge # sign), by working from the edge to create more 9x9 blocks.
DON'T draw all the roads right away - just lay them out as you need them, otherwise you'll go broke.
If you build police departments, fire departments, schools, etc. as required, you will eventually "break the simulator" Turns out (it's in the docs) that there are only 150 "mini simulators" in the game. You'll know when you're broken this because the next launch arcology will fill up immediately. Do this a few times, and you can start eliminating public utitilies, schools, etc., to increase revenue even more.
Once you have built and populated enough launch arcologies, you'll get the "The exodus has begun" dialog. Game over.
It took me 24 hours, going from 1900 to 26-something. I took a load of screen-shots, to document progress, and saved the game almost every "year", just in case that last run hadn't worked, but it DID!