Populous Problems

(This follows on from part 1 - http://bastion.gamespress.com/release.asp?i=1554 - and part 2 - http://bastion.gamespress.com/release.asp?i=1553)

Things would be easy if your indomitable will was all there was to managing a city. However, you will have to take into consideration the fact that your city is home to independent entities that make their decisions based on their own interests and not necessarily on yours! We call these entities the private sector and there are two types: citizens and businesses.

3.1 Citizens

Citizens will calculate their satisfaction levels based on four criteria: work, prices, services, and living environment. Work will incorporate salary scale (there are 4), unemployment rates, and commuting times. Prices will incorporate the cost of resources and, most importantly, taxes. (We have already discussed services and living environment in a previous blog). Citizens who are unhappy may decide to move house or, worse, to leave the city altogether. The average satisfaction level of the citizens will determine your city’s reputation and therefore its ability to attract new citizens and to grow.

There will be four levels of qualification available to citizens: unqualified worker, qualified worker, white collar, and executive. These in turn will relate to four affluence levels. Improving the affluence of your city will require you to first improve the overall level of qualification, to provide appropriate employment, and to increase general satisfaction. That’s your challenge!

3.2 Businesses

Businesses will also be independent agents. How well or badly they do will depend on conditions in your city. They can make losses and even go bankrupt! Your city’s reputation will depend on the profit margins of the businesses established there. This reputation will be important, as it can prevent new businesses from setting up if it’s not high enough. Don’t expect to attract new hotels if all the existing beds aren’t taken!

There will be five types of private business: offices, hotels, stores, leisure, and factories and farms. Each type will have its own logic and its own reputation. It will be possible to have a good industrial reputation while at the same time having a bad shopping reputation. Finally, each type will also have different affluence levels (luxury hotels, high-tech factories, etc.).

3.3 The Mayor and his means

The mayor will have access to 3 types of action. First of all, he will set taxation levels. These taxes will reduce the population and business satisfaction levels but will provide him with the means to run his city!

Using tax revenue, the mayor will be able to pay for public services (police, electricity, etc.). These services are very expensive but will meet some of the expectations of citizens and businesses.

Finally, and most importantly, the mayor will need to manage the urban space. He will have to decide where to place roads and transport infrastructure. He will decide where to locate industrial and residential zones. The city’s growth will depend on how well laid out it is.

3.4 It’s getting complicated

You think that’s everything? Not at all! There are two more complications to come for your gaming pleasure! First of all, you will be able to use the GEMs to develop certain industries from within your city (starting with a ski resort and a beach resort). These GEMs will make it possible to expand into areas that are difficult to build on (mountains and beaches), they will increase your city’s size, and they will allow it to produce the new resources and needs (e.g. winter sports) that your citizens demand.

Secondly, don’t expect to build a city that can do everything! In fact, it’s by linking up with other players around the planet, exchanging products, and sharing tasks that you will experience the full flavor of Cities XL!

But that’s for another blog entry!

Patrick Marechal, Lead Designer Cities XL


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