Gas, food, lodging, crematorium
A while back I built a sprawling metropolis to cater to a single family in Cities: Skylines, which led to tragi-comic consequences. Since the After Dark expansion launched, I've been playing with Skylines again, and I naturally began to wonder, as we all do from time to time, if I could build an entire city using only the area provided by a highway off-ramp. Not a fake city this time, but a real, genuine working city that could sustain itself in the shadow of the Interstate. Here's how it went.
I have to begin by cheating a bit. I need somewhere to vent my wastewater, so I run sewer lines out to the coast and build a treatment plant. To get zoning grids to appear next to the ramps, I have to replace them with actual roads. It doesn't leave me much room, but I add a wind turbine next to the highway, and I'm ready to 'build.'
The garbage man can
I paint a few squares for residential, and two homes pop up immediately. Thanks to the recycling center I've built at the entrance to the town, a tiny garbage truck starts making the rounds, though on its way back it's only 2% full. Even slashing the trash budget in half, I'm going to have ample coverage. This city, if it does work, isn't going to be terribly efficient.
The jerk store called
I plop in other essentials: police station, fire department, elementary and high schools, a doctor's office. A few residents (I'm up to 20) take jobs at some of these service buildings, and even drive there to report in, which feels a bit lazy. (I'm talking about you, Aspen Ward!) After zoning in some commercial space, a few shops begin to sprout, though they're seemingly unhappy about it. "Fine! I guess we'll build our stupid store here. Whatever!"
I create districts, which is hard. The city is so small that even with the tiniest brush the districts keep blobbing together like water droplets. Eventually I get them to stick, and knowing a real city provides public transportation options I also build a metro line. Sure, it's small and pointless, but bus stations and taxi depots just take up too much space. I'm up to 61 citizens.
With more homes and businesses, there's less room for everything else. My recycling plant is hogging the whole corner, so I replace it with a smaller incineration plant. People are so eager to move into my town they've begun building homes on the highway median, in the few squares made available by the gravel road I added between the interstate lanes. I now have just over 100 residents.
There are a lot of downsides to living in what is essentially a truck stop, but on the plus side the number of services per capita is pretty astounding. A swarm of fire trucks show up to douse a fire at the high school, because they simply have nothing else to do. The upkeep on the metro system is 240 fake dollars a week, and yet only one guy actually uses it. It's nice to be able to bottom out budgets and still provide for my citizens, but even still I'm slowly sinking into debt.
Four houses and a funeral
I've forgotten something important: people die! One of my 223 residents croaks and I have to build a crematorium, having no room for a graveyard. Technically, I don't have room for a crematorium either, so I have to spend long minutes shuffling ploppable buildings around to shave off enough room. On the plus side, my little city looks quite charming at night. It's also the only city I've ever built that doesn't suffer horribly from traffic problems! I did it! I beat the traffic!
What a dump
What is a problem are my commercial districts. They build up quickly, complain about a lack of workers, then close up and vanish. This isn't helping my cash-flow problem (the problem being, my cash is all flowing the wrong way). All my services are just too costly to justify for such a small population. I decide to build a landfill, which is much cheaper than an incincerator, but I hate it. It's just so big and square and made of trash. Can't people just throw their garbage on the side of the highway? The other side, I mean?
No new taxes. Except these twenty new taxes.
This is about the time where I do what politicians do when they're in a bind: abusing the crap out of taxpayers. I crank up the taxes, and cut whatever budgets I have left. The few commercial buildings I have immediately shutter and flee, and this time they don't come back. In a last ditch attempt to save my city, I remove the wind turbine to allow for more residential zones, delete the landfill, and attempt to power the city with its own burning garbage via an incinerator. I don't think it will work.
Burn the bodies
It doesn't work. My residents simply don't generate enough garbage to power the city, and rolling blackouts shut the water tower down. Those who remain in their darkened homes spend their time thirstily complaining about rising taxes. Others are nice enough to simply die, but due to budget cuts their bodies aren't being picked up.
I decide to don't want to keep watching until every last citizen has fled, mainly because many of them simply won't flee. Seriously, the city is buried in parched corpses and nobody's toilets will flush, and some people still won't move out.
When I finally quit, there are still 79 living people in Off-Rampville. The road to Everywhere Else is right outside their door, but they just won't leave.