Video Game / SimCity (2013)

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/878a30c7246236b90c6a0f27cf370555.png
The fifth SimCity game for PC.

SimCity is a 2013 city-building simulator and the fifth PC release of the SimCity series, designed by Maxis, who indicated that this game would be more of a direct sequel to SimCity 4 than Societies was. It also introduces online multiplayer to the series proper, a game mode that has not been explored since the long-forgotten SimCity 2000 Network Edition. However, due mostly to poor planning, server overload and bugs wrecked its release. Seven major updates over a period of eight months restored the game to approximately the level of functionality promised on launch, albeit with major bugs still going unsquished.

Late the same year, an expansion was released: Cities of Tomorrow, focusing on bringing cities into The Future by building huge Arcologies called Mega Towers, unlocking new technologies with an advanced Academy, or taking over the region as OmegaCorp and dispensing the highly addictive phlebotinum Omega while gradually overtaking all facets of Sim life.

Tropes in the 2013 SimCity game:

  • Advert-Overloaded Future: Futurized buildings and megatowers will don holographic signs and accents, some of which the whole side of a building becomes a massive billboard. One of the tower toppers is a level of billboards and advertising, which increases the profits of malls and offices in the tower.
  • Arcology: It has the option to build an arcology in a Great Works site, so that all the region's cities can help in its construction. The expansion Cities of Tomorrow allows arcologies to be built within a city; each level thereof can be specialised to provide housing, work, power or other essential services. You can even build a Launch Arcology as a Call Back to SimCity 2000, which introduced the concept.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI is nowhere near as sophisticated as Maxis claimed it would be. Maxis claimed that individual Sims would have their own dedicated house and workplace, and a player could follow them throughout the day. However, players figured out that individual Sims would go inhabit the nearest vacant house regardless of whether they started in it or not, and will always commute the nearest available office regardless of whether they actually worked there or not. The traffic AI at launch was also particularly bad, as it only prioritizes taking the shortest route, meaning the Sims would clog up a single road and completely ignore a larger, more efficient roadway that leads to the same location because they would have to travel slightly farther. Updates that have been implemented since then to fix the crippling gridlock have done little to resolve the constant traffic problems. Unfortunately, new pathfinding bugs arose with the introduction of MegaTowers in the Cities of Tomorrow expansion pack those weren't fixed.
    • Cars and pedestrians in can sometimes get stuck in infinite loops of turns, or drive any car straight up vertical roads.
    • Emergency vehicles are a special case of stupid - if required to respond to an event and they're stuck in traffic, they stay stuck in traffic and let it happen (criminal gets away, house burns down/spreads, injury leads to death). note 
  • Artistic License Chemistry: The Ore that you can extract from underground can be simply refined into either Metal or Alloy. Both of which are used for a wide variety of applications such as Building Construction and Electronics Manufacturing. Obviously, that metallic element that you're dealing with there has an unrealistic flexibility.
    • Similarly, materials refinement works on a one-to-one basis. That meaning, you can refine ore into pure metal, or crude oil into fuel, and get back the same amount of material that you put into the factory. The same applies to recycling facilities, which turn 100% of all recycled products into metal, alloy, or plastic, in whatever proportion the mayor wishes.
  • Artistic License Law: The police have little thought balloons that say "You have the right to remain silent! That means shut up!" Actually, the right to remain silent is merely saying you don't have to respond to any of the police's questions, it does not mean you have to be silent, just that you have the right to not say anything which may be Digging Yourself Deeper before conferring with a lawyer (a wise move to make). The police actually don't mind you talking, as the "anything you say can be used against you in a court of law" bit is totally serious. For a game that kids play long before they have to worry about their Miranda Rights, it's pretty much played as a joke.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most of the buildings researched by the Academy in Cities of Tomorrow expansion provide a service with a marginal increase in efficiency over the basic building, at the cost of much higher upkeep, plus using a significant portion of your ControlNet budget. They're typically only useful if you are absolutely strapped for space or have a massive worker shortage. The same applies to most of the possible Megatower service levels.
    • The Omega Extraction pod is supposed to solve your omega material problems in theory, by mining both Oil and Ore and sending them straight to your factories. However, there are numerous problems with this. First of all, it's extremely rare that you'll find Oil and Ore on the same spot of the map, meaning half the potential is wasted. It also needs a direct pipeline to the back of the omega factory, which is made worse by the fact the pipelines can't be built on top of anything else. This means you'll probably have to position your factories where the pollution causes far more problems. Last of all, it only supplies the factories linked directly by pipeline, and it still pollutes as much as a regular drilling building. Overall, it's much easier to simply add Augmented Shafts/Pump jacks to your existing buildings and add more trucks.
    • The great works were a wonderful idea, and really neat to watch spring up, but were designed to be too difficult to build solo (an artifact of the ill-thought-through multiplayer system). With the small city sizes and limited resources by the time the great works were finished you really didn't want to play any more with that city or region.
  • Bread and Circuses: OmegaCo happily encourages more consumerism. It's how they can get more of their drones bought while happily turning the city into an industrial wasteland...
  • Dead End Room: In the initial release regions, most city plots had only one entry for road traffic both in and out. This would lead to Fridge Logic and complaints about realism from players - there are no large cities in the entire world with just one road leading in and out. Naturally, this led to massive traffic congestion. This resulted in EA releasing regions with more city connections in them.
  • DRM: Requires an always online requirement... you figure out the rest..
    • To clarify (and we should leave it at that), the nature of the multi-player does in fact require a connection for other players to see what's going on when they visit/when stuff happens. Since a player can theoretically visit you at any time, the game must track everything that's going on in order to show them what's going on. Otherwise, what they see and what actually happen may not actually be the same thing. Among other things. However, this was a bane for someone who just wants to play alone, offline.
      • Offline mode was released a year later, in March 2014. The game's DRM now solely rests on Origin.
  • Difficult but Awesome:
    • Electronics specialization is by far a very difficult endeavor due to the fact that you need to seriously invest in education, be able to have an ample supply line, and ultimately have efficient means to get your consumer electronics off to the global market. The result? Lots and lots of profit.
    • Gambling is also another specialization that while seemingly easy to get into, is actually quite difficult to maintain. You have to keep the city attractive for tourists and gamblers as well as to keep crime at a minimum (which isn't easy for casinos). Those who work hard at it can get extremely fancy cities with large profits.
    • While they're only difficult to obtain, the Landmarks are highly rewarding for Tourist towns - only $450/hr to maintain, but generate ten times that when at capacity.
  • Foil: Omega and the Academy in Cities of Tomorrow. Besides the obvious black and white color contrast, Omega focuses on mining your city and profiting from Low Wealth and Low Tech, which combined with the Omega factories creates a lot of pollution and other problems in return for substantial profit. The Academy increases the tech of industry and focuses researching powerful technologies that provide clean energy and reduce the waste production of the city and even clean up pollution, at a considerable cost and requiring High Wealth workers to function properly.
  • Idiot Ball: The fire department - of all organizations - holds an self-admittedly dangerous fireworks display right above the station, setting nearby homes and businesses on fire - even if your fire station is in the heart of the business district and there are vast swaths of unpopulated areas/open parks in your city.
    • If you build a new, bigger police station/hospital, and close the old one, the prison inmates/sick patients will be let out into the street in a big group and wander around. The new police station/hospital organization will make no move to transfer these people to the new facility, even if it is across the street.
  • Jerk Ass: The sims in this game are hedonistic selfish buggers that would prefer to hog a road than let an emergency response vehicle through. Also, if a building upgrades, it tend to eat into another building instead of upgrading in-place, destroying the neighboring building and in certain layouts, reducing the available space for building more buildings. These space then gets filled with useless guff. This is especially true for high wealth buildings, and is annoying. Although this can be mitigated with strict control and actively zoning and un-zoning an area.
  • Karma Houdini: Police station or precinct gets destroyed by a natural disaster? The criminals escape and proceed to wreak havoc in your city. It's aggravating since you've just lost a police station and probably don't have any other station or precinct around, and may not have enough money to build another either. You can't even arrange to have them transferred to another police station prior to demolishing an existing police station- demolishing a police station always mean letting all crims go free. Even more egregiously, if the criminal commits a crime and gets away with it, your police would just let them go and not pursue any further. Have a detective wing? It's useless, the detective does not go out and investigate and arrest the criminal.
  • Meaningful Name: The Launch Park that was given to early adopters of the game. Not only does it periodically launch hot-air balloons, it also contains a row of sparking and smoking server racks, representing the server problems the game had at launch.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: One Hazmat fire in one factory that the Hazmat truck has already been dispatched to? The fire chief claims "Hazmat fires are destroying the city!!!"
  • Morton's Fork: If you build Megatowers, you get saddled with these. People will leave complaining of being overworked, and people will leave complaining of not being able to find any job. Finding a happy medium is irrelevant, as people will complain of not having any job even when there's empty work vacancies of the same value, and people will complain of overwork even when you have more workforce than jobs of the same value.
  • Press Start to Game Over: Because of the always-online aspect, you could start up a zone, lay down some roads, and realize you completely screwed up your intended pattern and ran hopelessly out of money. There is no undo, and no restart, so typically a player in that situation abandoned the city plot and no one else could ever really do anything with it.
  • Product Placement: Via free DLCsnote . So far the game has advertised Nissan's Leaf FEVs with the Nissan Leaf Charging Station DLC and Progressive Insurance via the Progressive Insurance Office DLC. These DLCs have a positive effect on the player's city, of course.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: EA released DLCs for things like an amusement park and airship port at 10 dollars a pop, roughly once a month - thus attempting to fool players into paying an admittedly optional monthly fee. These dried up not long after the Cities of Tomorrow expansion pack.
  • Self-Deprecation: Players who bought the game during its disastrous launch were given a free downloadable park called "Launch Park", which included a wall of sparking system servers. Around the same time, EA's Twitter account uploaded a "never before seen" photo of their servers. It was a picture of a potato with a ram board stuck in the side and a few wires and diodes sticking out of it.
  • Tech Tree: The more advanced buildings require such things as and upgraded City Hall, a certain population milestone, or certain other advanced buildings such as a university. You can disable the tech tree by entering sandbox mode.
  • Tempting Fate: The Fireworks Fun quest has the sim presenting the quest ask "What could possibly go wrong?".
  • Used Future: In Cities of Tomorrow, most of the low and mid wealth buildings will futurize into either retro-fitted versions of themselves, get a big, black, and bulky building, or just have some fancy lights be attached to it. The normal mega-tower and OmegaCo buildings are rather bleak and beaten compared to the elite mega-tower and Academy counterparts.
  • Variable Mix: The music in a new city starts out lazy and slow, and becomes more bombastic as the population increases. Entering building edit mode or pausing the game makes it go back to slow, with most of the instruments taken out. In the expansion, futurizing a significant part of the city causes the soundtrack to be taken over by synthetic instruments.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • The way Electricity and Water works, especially with Megatowers. Firstly, most tall buildings have a water pump to draw water up. And most egregiously, water and electricity do not manifest themselves as random moving blobs in pipes and wires respectively.
    • Electricity does not flow at the speed of light. Due to the agent system, there's a long wait when you place a new power plant or upgrade the plant as you wait for the power to reach the buildings that were in brownout.
    • Sims leave home and go to the nearest open job. They then leave and go to sleep in the nearest available unoccupied home. They can do a different job and sleep in a different house every day.
  • We Buy Anything: The global market. While the prices of resources can fluctuate, there's always someone willing to pay for your resources as fast as they can be shipped out.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You can build no buildings AT ALL until you have built some road. This makes sense on some maps, but not the ones which already have a road going through them.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: One of the (rather unexpected) random disasters is that radioactive brain-eating zombies start attacking your citizens. The police will do what they can to fight them off, but are ultimately ineffective. They crumble away with the arrival of the morning sun, but players may find themselves having to demolish more than half their city afterward just because it's all become abandoned and won't repopulate on its own.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/SimCity2013