SimCity vs. Cities: Skylines - Who Wins?

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SimCity vs. Cities: Skylines - Who Wins?

When you compare the preeminent city-building game in SimCity to upstart newcomer Cities: Skylines, the winner should be obvious, right?

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Heard a lot of good buzz about this!
Never played a Simcity type game, but I like building bases in RTS-es.

So, maybe I'll give this a whirl and get pleasantly addicted!

Good article, Shamus, and nice to see your face in your forum picture. Hiya! :)

P.S.
CAPTCHA: Hulk Smash.

Huh, that does remind me... can you drop Godzilla or a disaster on your city when bored?!

With so many good things I've heard about this game, It is very hard to resist buying it.

I'm trying to work through some others games but I think it is inevitable that I buy this.

Eri:
With so many good things I've heard about this game, It is very hard to resist buying it.

My resistance broke when, shortly after launch, three of my favourite Twitch streamers abandoned their usual schedules to play it. I bought in the day after. I regret nothing.

Time consumed: 43 hours up to now in Cities Skylines. 0 in SimCity. Considering I really don't have all that much time currently I guess this counts as a "win" for SimCity.

This is exactly the sort of article I wanted to see. Something contrasting a big money monster like EA failing with a smaller studio doing things right.

There is only one aspect that SimCity did better than Skylines, and that is window dressing. SimCity certainly does have the best window dressing. SimCity has random zombie attacks, meteors, Nuclear accidents. All are missing in Skylines. The closest Skylines has is misplacing a dam resulting in a flooded city. Really more of an engineering accident caused by the player than Godzilla coming to burn your city, and eat your trash. Skylines doesn't even have a tornado to show up and break a few buildings.

However, all the window dressing in the world doesn't make up for a broken base game. I'm sure a number of the missing features can even be modded in over time if enough people wanted them in.

SimCity would have been much better had it had large areas to edit, and one way roads. One of the Tips SimCity gave to improve traffic flow was to have multiple highway connectors. How do you construct a highway connector without one way roads? You can usually see one proper connector just outside of the editable zone, but you could never make one yourself. Extending the highway without an avenue, sure if you want to eat up this tiny nothing square you have to edit. However, in skylines you can actually do that.

Heck the best feature I've seen is actually the bus stops. You don't even need to use the buses. Just place one bus stop at one point and another, and it'll show you the actual route the routing AI will pick. Gives you a good idea on how to fix traffic issues.

Cities: Skylines wins!

Shamus Young:
(Snip).

Free Easter egg.

This was great. Some might call it going for the low-hanging fruit, or picking on the kid who picks the stucco off the classroom walls, but I think this serves well to illustrate the difference in quality that can result from two very different approaches to development. It reminds me that the conclusion of The Pentagon Wars would have turned out a lot differently if it had been left to the small handful of men in that one room, at the drawing board with, their shirt sleeves rolled up.

yeah, skilines is realy that much better.
but its not perfect, just keep that in mind!
tourism is currently completely underdeveloped. you can plop some unique buildings so maybe some touris might come, but there is no system that exploits tourism like casinos would do.

that "techstructure"/specialization in simcitys is the ONLY feature im missing in skilines. but i can live with that. everything else ist just soooooooo much better then sc. especially if you add great mods that comeo ut constantly

Kenjitsuka:
Heard a lot of good buzz about this!
Never played a Simcity type game, but I like building bases in RTS-es.

So, maybe I'll give this a whirl and get pleasantly addicted!

Good article, Shamus, and nice to see your face in your forum picture. Hiya! :)

P.S.
CAPTCHA: Hulk Smash.

Huh, that does remind me... can you drop Godzilla or a disaster on your city when bored?!

There's currently no disaster options, unless you make your own. Like flooding your entire city with a badly placed dam.

And yet...

Don't get me wrong, I completely agree with what's in the article. And when the two are compared, Skylines is a clear and massive winner. And yet...

I find myself thinking SimCity was more enjoyable than Skylines is. It just doesn't seem to "click" for me. I *hate* that I can't make perfect circles with the road tools in a non-fiddly manner. I don't like how there's no city specializations. Casino's and tourism were cool options, though the traffic model of SimCity was woefully inadequate for them. I don't like how the buildings look, the lack of variety in models make cities look boring, whereas in SimCity they looked vibrant. I liked the happiness/wealth dynamic of SimCity more than the happiness level system Skylines uses. I miss being able to add-on to services. Adding extra patient wings or ambulances to clinics was a decision that just felt good. I don't like the unlocking system in Skylines as much as I liked the reward system in SimCity. My city in skylines had 9 garbage dumps because I hadn't unlocked the incinerator yet because I didn't have the population for it, locking away basic services behind milestones seems silly, even if the milestones are easy enough to get. I don't like how airborne pollution doesn't seem to drift on the wind (though I might have missed this if it does). I miss disasters. I think the water physics in Skylines are out of place and I wouldn't miss them at all if they were absent.

That was a bit of a rant, but I guess my main point is that SimCity was the better "game" (please note the quotes and italics). In game-terms it felt better and more polished. In simulation terms though SimCity is a pile of utter and complete garbage where-as Skylines is actually a dream. I guess this is unfair criticism on a genre that's called "City Simulators".

I'm aware that all this owes, in huge part, to my aversion to modding. I don't want to go trawling through imbalanced or buggy user-made content to find what works. I want to play with what professional game designers deemed good. I freely admit that's an issue with me and not with Skylines.

All in all, Skylines sharpened and honed my hatred for EA for destroying SimCity to a razor edge. If SimCity had had even a slightly competent simulation engine, then it would've been the better game. As it stands, Skylines stands head and shoulders above SimCity simply because SimCity's foundation was made from butter. And not even good butter, but the discount I-can't-believe-it's-not-butter junk.

PH3NOmenon:
And yet...

Don't get me wrong, I completely agree with what's in the article. And when the two are compared, Skylines is a clear and massive winner. And yet...

I find myself thinking SimCity was more enjoyable than Skylines is. It just doesn't seem to "click" for me. I *hate* that I can't make perfect circles with the road tools in a non-fiddly manner. I don't like how there's no city specializations. Casino's and tourism were cool options, though the traffic model of SimCity was woefully inadequate for them. I don't like how the buildings look, the lack of variety in models make cities look boring, whereas in SimCity they looked vibrant. I liked the happiness/wealth dynamic of SimCity more than the happiness level system Skylines uses. I miss being able to add-on to services. Adding extra patient wings or ambulances to clinics was a decision that just felt good. I don't like the unlocking system in Skylines as much as I liked the reward system in SimCity. My city in skylines had 9 garbage dumps because I hadn't unlocked the incinerator yet because I didn't have the population for it, locking away basic services behind milestones seems silly, even if the milestones are easy enough to get. I don't like how airborne pollution doesn't seem to drift on the wind (though I might have missed this if it does). I miss disasters. I think the water physics in Skylines are out of place and I wouldn't miss them at all if they were absent.

That was a bit of a rant, but I guess my main point is that SimCity was the better "game" (please note the quotes and italics). In game-terms it felt better and more polished. In simulation terms though SimCity is a pile of utter and complete garbage where-as Skylines is actually a dream. I guess this is unfair criticism on a genre that's called "City Simulators".

I'm aware that all this owes, in huge part, to my aversion to modding. I don't want to go trawling through imbalanced or buggy user-made content to find what works. I want to play with what professional game designers deemed good. I freely admit that's an issue with me and not with Skylines.

All in all, Skylines sharpened and honed my hatred for EA for destroying SimCity to a razor edge. If SimCity had had even a slightly competent simulation engine, then it would've been the better game. As it stands, Skylines stands head and shoulders above SimCity simply because SimCity's foundation was made from butter. And not even good butter, but the discount I-can't-believe-it's-not-butter junk.

Most of what you want will probably be implemented BETTER in the future for Skylines. For free with patches or cheap DLC probably :P (add insult to injury).

The rest is subjective. And probably wont be changed.

As for modding... please, I have played mods that make AAA developers with 100 million dollar budgets look like incompetent children. In ALL areas, even polish at times.
You ought not fear one of Gaming's greatest pros!

Shamus what about Chirpy?

its amazing how utterly destroyed simcity is by this game, hell they even delivered on the stuff people asked of simcity on day one, such as an offline option (which shouldve been absolutely freaking obvious) and mods, the mod scene for the game is also growing extremely fast, it now has well over 21 thousand mods on the workshop

The servers had DRM problems but that wasn't the only issue. I thought this was widely known, but maybe not. Much of the simulation (percentage unknown) was done on the servers. A bunch of, most likely, Java code that ran on the servers so the various player cities could connect to each other. When the brown stuff hit the swirling dispenser somebody realized they needed to fix it. Six months later (-ish, I never got the game) they had an update that moved the simulation off their servers. I did read a blog regarding the situation.

So two things were coming at them in swarms they didn't plan on. First, the DRM and in typical EA fashion they completely bungled it. Not only did their CEO proudly pronounce his supreme idiocy but he enforced the same in that he only green-lit multi-player games. Luckily he is gone, sadly I anticipate Project $10 to arrive at Unity soon.

The second was typical server mismanagement at AAA game companies. It all sounds great if you plan on using Vendor X server and Vendor Y Java implementation with M many servers ready to go with N network connections. But seriously AAA game companies cannot do the math to get the right setup nor will they ever spend the effort (resources, cash, infrastructure, QA) necessary to simulate 200,000 players logging on in the same exact time window. Why wouldn't they? Pre-installed games only escalate the problem.

Now, note that many companies have the first day blues on their servers. One special event in my memory was watching apple not being able to handle the load on a Xmas evening. Everybody had their new iWhatever, had their shiny iTunes Xmas gift cards in their hands and - boom - server overload.

The link to the bad path finding is hilarious so thank you very much for that. I might have to look into getting it when Origin does a cheap deal for it. Just so I can set up failure modes.

Well stated, Shamus. With the caveat that the princes screwing the pooch might have been made clearer earlier versus the team - you did cover it at the end. That is most likely just me disliking EA management to the extent that I do.

Parshooter:
Shamus what about Chirpy?

Check out his web site. He has made his feelings quite known there.

(Spoiler alert: he didn't care for it at all)

SomeLameStuff:
There's currently no disaster options, unless you make your own. Like flooding your entire city with a badly placed dam.

Or putting your water intake plant downstream from your waste treatment plant. :P

LordLundar:

SomeLameStuff:
There's currently no disaster options, unless you make your own. Like flooding your entire city with a badly placed dam.

Or putting your water intake plant downstream from your waste treatment plant. :P

Get the mod that makes fire spreadable and watch your entire city catch fire =P

My Steam review for this game was one sentence long.

"Everything you wanted that awful Sim City game from 2013 to be, Cities: Skylines is."

This is a seriously fun game, and exactly what I wanted in a city builder. I wouldn't mind if Skylines added disasters at some point, which is the one area where Sim City did deliver. But it's not a deal breaker by any stretch. Frankly, I hope they add it as DLC. If anyone ever deserved to make a few extra bucks, it's the company that made Cities: Skylines.

They earned a fan with this game. It's fantastic. In the week since I bought it, I've logged over 50 hours already. And I've no sign of stopping anytime soon. Plus with all the mods, I can keep playing new fun scenarios that cater to what I want in this kind of game. It's safe to call me very impressed. :)

Parshooter:
Shamus what about Chirpy?

He had a post about Chirpy. As much as he ragged on EA in this article, it almost pales in comparison to how much he ragged on Chirpy at his post on his blog.

Pretty much he only liked one thing about it: That you can mod it out of the game. Or, failing that (if you're allergic to mods, for some reason), you can mute the damn thing (after a patch).

I enjoy bashing EA as much as the next gamer but I don't think all of SimCity's woes can be attributed to EA alone, MAXIS bears blame too. MAXIS suffers from a chronic condition I will refer to as the "Cutesy Wutesy Syndrome." They want everything to look nice and a smooth UI. Gameplay is tailored down for casual level gamers who don't think in terms of game depth or mechanics. Hence why SimCity citizens are mindless dots entering the first empty business / house and why building / road placement (plopment) is restricted to little blue dots beside roads for buildings and an uninspired grid for roads. The same thing happened with SPORE, dumbed down, prettied up, and put into a tidy glass case so that modders couldn't soil its polished exterior (since the interior was more or less gutted to start with) with their grubby little fingers. I can't speak for the Sims games... but as far as I can tell it's all just virtual doll houses.

But yes, back to the main topic. MAXIS's "Cutesy Wutesy Syndrome" should factor into why SimCity was vapid and broken. The peasants were perhaps just as incompetent as the princes.

medv4380:
There is only one aspect that SimCity did better than Skylines, and that is window dressing. SimCity certainly does have the best window dressing. SimCity has random zombie attacks, meteors, Nuclear accidents. All are missing in Skylines. The closest Skylines has is misplacing a dam resulting in a flooded city. Really more of an engineering accident caused by the player than Godzilla coming to burn your city, and eat your trash. Skylines doesn't even have a tornado to show up and break a few buildings.

True but I'm sure there'll be a mod for those things in short order :p

The problem with Simcity and the real contrast with Skylines is that honestly. Simcity was designed as a DLC engine, that was the whole philosophy from the ground up. Skylines.. was designed as a complete full featured game. that people could add on.

As someone who has played both recently I feel SimCity is...somewhat unfairly maligned.

I played SimCity through EA's Game Time thing and actually had a blast with it. It looked nice, the system of adding to services was a good idea, the fluidity of running things through your road system rather than through linked buildings was a smart decision. In short I agree with a lot of what PH3NOmenon said above. It did, however, have a number of issues and a lot of the simulation side was very simple and apparently a lot was outright broken back at release.

Wanting more city building stuff I bought Cities Skylines and I've put five hours or so into it so far and its extremely enjoyable but honestly I had more "fun" with SimCity. I don't really prefer one over the other, but enjoyed each for different reasons. Cities Skylines is a much more serious game to me, harkening back to my time with SimCity 4 many years ago.

I guess the best way to put it is to say that to me its like comparing Xenonauts with the new XCOM. In fact that's a very apt comparison considering the parallels. Xenonauts is a faithful modernisation/recreation of the old game separate from the original series that revamps the whole thing whilst heavily maintaining the core of the experience. It can be an intensely frustrating experience and is difficult to describe as simply "fun" but it is also very enjoyable and deeply satisfying. Much like Skylines. The new XCOM meanwhile is a direct follow on from the previous license but drastically changes a lot about the game, simplifying a lot of things. It lacks some of the depth of the previous game and is perhaps less satisfying on the whole; but in trade for that its a lot of fun and significantly less frustrating. Much like SimCity.

So although I find Cities Skylines a much more solid gameplay experience, I can't deny that I found a lot to like when playing about with SimCity.

SimCity would've been untouchable if they actually finished it. Skylines is better, but could need some more window dressing as PH3NO already said.
The simulation parts are usually really important in these kind of games and SimCity totally failed on that part, while Skylines delivers on actually people/cars being simulated in great detail.

The biggest plus is the Steam Workshop integration and if this game will recieve only a 1/4 of the mods Skyrim has you'll drown in well-made content.
And from what i've read on their site and wiki they appear to actually communicate with the players about patches, mechanics and code of the game.

If it had been sold as a $60 game I would have had to say it is extremely shallow and boring once you figure out how the system works. Fortunately this was sold at the fair price of $30USD and I believe my money was well spent for what it provided me.

While this may sound fairly cynical and possibly an oversimplification of the situation and also probably a little against the grain of certain the recent conversation, but I think that in the west for many reasons there is not enough focus on what certain people like, and thus everything seems really broad and bland as a result. City simulation seems like a concept with broad appeal but the reality is it isn't off putting to people that aren't fans so it may seam that way. I think EA asked itself the question how can we get as much money out of as broad an audience as possible and so SimCity is a game built on buzzwords. I think that they never stopped to ask what the fans of city simulation would like, and I think that's the problem. City Skylines seems to be designed from an opposite design philosophy all together. They as fans, knew what fans of the genre wanted, and so the only buzz word it is built on is City simulation.

If any of that makes sense.

I'm hearing good things, I'll give this one a try.

My biggest weakness in Sim games is maintaining a moneyflow. In most SimCity games, I just end up going bankrupt, or deep in reg negatives, and give up and nuke my city with Tornadoes.

I feel like this article needed at least one category that Simcity won in...

Something like, "Which game pissed away years of good relations with it's fanbase?
Advantage: Simcity"

Draconalis:
I feel like this article needed at least one category that Simcity won in...

Something like, "Which game pissed away years of good relations with it's fanbase?
Advantage: Simcity"

From what I've heard, SimCity2013 does win on one point: buildings are expandable. All the placable service buildings in Skylines are static and not customizable. Some players of both titles have commented that they miss this feature of SimCity.

Also, while Skylines does not currently have disasters (like SimCity), they are planned. Possibly as a free update. Possibly as DLC. Which brings us to:

DLC: Skylines is developed by Colossal Order (makers of Cities in Motion and all of its DLC) and published by Paradox (makers of Crusader Kings II and all of its DLC). There is definitely a precedent for TONS of DLC for Cities:Skylines. But given the lower base cost, I don't see that many people can complain (though I'm sure they will).

Darkness665:
The servers had DRM problems but that wasn't the only issue. I thought this was widely known, but maybe not. Much of the simulation (percentage unknown) was done on the servers. A bunch of, most likely, Java code that ran on the servers so the various player cities could connect to each other. When the brown stuff hit the swirling dispenser somebody realized they needed to fix it. Six months later (-ish, I never got the game) they had an update that moved the simulation off their servers. I did read a blog regarding the situation.

So two things were coming at them in swarms they didn't plan on. First, the DRM and in typical EA fashion they completely bungled it. Not only did their CEO proudly pronounce his supreme idiocy but he enforced the same in that he only green-lit multi-player games. Luckily he is gone, sadly I anticipate Project $10 to arrive at Unity soon.

The second was typical server mismanagement at AAA game companies. It all sounds great if you plan on using Vendor X server and Vendor Y Java implementation with M many servers ready to go with N network connections. But seriously AAA game companies cannot do the math to get the right setup nor will they ever spend the effort (resources, cash, infrastructure, QA) necessary to simulate 200,000 players logging on in the same exact time window. Why wouldn't they? Pre-installed games only escalate the problem.

Now, note that many companies have the first day blues on their servers. One special event in my memory was watching apple not being able to handle the load on a Xmas evening. Everybody had their new iWhatever, had their shiny iTunes Xmas gift cards in their hands and - boom - server overload.

The link to the bad path finding is hilarious so thank you very much for that. I might have to look into getting it when Origin does a cheap deal for it. Just so I can set up failure modes.

Well stated, Shamus. With the caveat that the princes screwing the pooch might have been made clearer earlier versus the team - you did cover it at the end. That is most likely just me disliking EA management to the extent that I do.

Literally everything you said about the simulation being on the server is wrong and if it was it would probably be java? Wot.

I've never managed to get into city builders. I've owned Simcity 4 for years and have never bothered to start the thing up but I am seriously considering getting Cities: Skylines.

I wouldn't get SimCity 2013 if EA gave it away for free along with a big chocolate cake. Knowing EA the cake would be full of spiders.

SomeLameStuff:

Kenjitsuka:

Huh, that does remind me... can you drop Godzilla or a disaster on your city when bored?!

There's currently no disaster options, unless you make your own. Like flooding your entire city with a badly placed dam.

That's a dam(n) shame, then. I know Yahtzee would be dissapointed too ;)

It'd be great if there was an exchange program that replaced SimCity with Cities: Skylines for the idiots who bought the former, myself included.

Shamus Young:
It was an electric car charging station that generated happiness and used no electricity.

Seems realistic to me... Suburbanites drive by the charging station in their Escalades, while saying "I'm glad I live in an enlightened city that's so supportive of electric cars..."

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