On the topic of torture in SimCity
Sure, SimCity looks nice, and it’s already promising to fulfill our shared fantasy of becoming a Garbage Lord, but a larger question remains: as an omniscient mayor-god, how will I be able to damage the lives of my citizens? What tools will I have at my disposal for, say, trolling the hell out of rich people?
I asked SimCity Lead Designer Stone Librande this. Look for a full interview with Librande later this week.
PCG: With torture being a time-honored theme of The Sims as a series, I'm curious if Maxis or EA or any of your testers have stumbled on any especially effective techniques for messing with your Sims.
Stone Librande: Yeah. There's a lot of little things you can do. In our game, the Sims are at such a small level that you can't actually see their agonized faces. Not like you can in The Sims. So there's a bit of a disconnect there. But how we like to talk about it is... it's less like torture in The Sims, and more like messing with an anthill. If you're a kid and you start digging in an anthill or dumping sugar on it. You get that effect. Some of the things you can do: You can break the roads and everyone will just drive around in circles forever without anywhere to go. You can watch a trail of them in this endless loop going around. Because of the way the simulation is set up, depending on your mood, you can say, "I'm gonna put the richest people at the bottom of this hill," and then at the top of the hill goes the sewage treatment plant. It's just dumping raw sewage down the side of the hill into the rich zone. Eventually they'll get disgusted and leave, but not before they get sick. You can play little games like that. It mostly comes down to their health in that case. It sends them to the hospital.
"You can say, 'I’m gonna put the richest people at the bottom of this hill,' and then at the top of the hill goes the sewage treatment plant."
You can always bulldoze their houses and dump them out. There is one little consequence if you bulldoze some houses in the low wealth areas. They won't have enough money to move elsewhere, and there's a chance they'll become homeless. Then as the homeless move around your city, they're harder to get rid of. You can create these problems that are trickier to deal with, so you have to be careful.
What events will actually kill your citizens?
Librande: Some of it's just going to be player storytelling. You could tell yourself the story of, "Oh, all those people died," or you can say, "They all moved out of town." The game doesn't really put up a big sign with a skull and crossbones on it saying "This many people died when you bulldozed that building." But you don't see them all driving away, either. If you destroy a skyscraper with several hundred people in it, you don't see this mass exodus of several hundred people. So you can tell the story like, "I'm the mean mayor, I killed them all," or you can tell the story like, "I evicted them all and they left." The specific death events are the sickness system... We'll call those injuries. When an injury happens, the person who got injured will die if an ambulance doesn't pick them up in a certain amount of time. You can't really directly control the injuries. You can't force an injury to happen. But they tend to happen a lot more in industrial areas. Factories will tend to have a lot more injuries than commercial. You can make cities that have a higher injury rate, and that's an actual, real death. Those do get tracked.
You probably think I'm a terrible person now.
Librande: No, we've talked about all this over and over. We're very used to it.