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SimCity's city size restriction explained as a necessary performance trade-off

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Maxis' SimCity reboot runs on a pretty damn cool new engine, GlassBox, which simulates the activities of individual Sims, vehicles, and buildings. Its complexity has a downside, though: speaking to IncGamers (opens in new tab) , Creative Director Ocean Quigley said that simulation fidelity is the reason cities are confined to a smallish square border, calling it "a matter of trade-offs."

"The game has to run smoothly on ordinary computers," said Quigley. "And I decided that it's better to make cities with dense activity and visual detail over cities that are sprawling, but low resolution and inert."

So how big are they? SimCity's cities are "about the size of SC4's medium sized cities," said Quigley in a tweet (opens in new tab) .

It would be lovely if those of us with seven core urban processing reactors could knock a settings slider into metropolis mode, but that option won't be available—at least, not at launch. Quigley doesn't deny that more space would be nice. "Of course, I'd like to have it all," he said.

I recently spent a day playing SimCity and have a lot to say about it, but my impressions will have to wait until Friday. Until then, our recent interview with Lead Designer Stone Librande (opens in new tab) is as dense with detail as my first city, the great Port Foozle.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.