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The objective of SimCity is to create a city, and there are many approaches to this.
Introduction to real-life Urban Planning
Urban, city, or town planning, deals with design of the built environment from the municipal and metropolitan perspective. Other professions deal in more detail with a smaller scale of development, namely architecture, landscape architecture and urban design. Regional planning deals with a still larger environment, at a less detailed level. The Greek Hippodamus is often considered the father of city planning, for his design of Miletus, though examples of planned cities permeate antiquity. Muslims are thought to have originated the idea of formal zoning (see haram and hima and the more general notion of khalifa, or "stewardship" from which they arise), although modern usage in the West largely dates from the ideas of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne.
The Indus Valley civilization is recognized as having been the first to develop urban planning. By 2600 BC some pre-Harappan settlements grew into cities containing thousands of people who were not primarily engaged in agriculture, creating a unified culture whose sudden appearance appears to have been the result of planned, deliberate effort. Some settlements appear to have been deliberately rearranged to conform to a conscious, well-developed plan. For this reason, the Indus Valley civilization is recognized as having first developed urban planning.
In ancient times, Romans used a consolidated scheme for city planning, developed for military defense and civil convenience. Effectively, many European towns still preserve the essence of these schemes, as in Turin. The basic plan is a central plaza with city services, surrounded by a compact grid of streets and wrapped in a wall for defense. To reduce travel times, two diagonal streets cross the square grid corner-to-corner, passing through the central square. A river usually flows through the city, to provide water and transport, and carry away sewage, even in sieges.
Modern city planning embraces the organization, or conscious influencing, of land-use distribution in an area already built-up or intended to become built-up. Many of the concepts of real-life Urban and City planning have been incorporated into the SimCity games.
Introduction to American Municipal Government
In the United States, municipalities such as cities, towns, or villages are the level of local government below that of the county (although many states also have civil townships which are a separate type of government below the county level but distinct from municipalities). Most U.S. municipalities are governed in one of two ways, Council-Manager government and Mayor-Council government. A third form, the City Commission government, was once common but has fallen out of favor.
A partial list of some of the more common rights and responsibilities of a municipality implemented in SimCity include:
- The ability to require payment of taxes by entities (people and corporations) who own, use, occupy, or legally interact with other entities that own, use, or are legally located within the municipality's geographic boundaries;
- The ability to zone certain locations for specific types of development;
- The responsibility to enforce various federal, state, and municipal laws with a police force;
- The responsibility to provide protection against accidents and fires;
- The responsibility to provide a transportation network and other special needs.
Municipal governments are usually divided into several administrative departments, depending on the size of the municipality. Though municipalities differ in the division of responsibility, the typical arrangement is to have several departments handle the various roles. Within SimCity, the following roles are implemented:
- Urban planning and zoning:
- Police department
- Fire department
- Accounting / Finance: collects taxes owed by the municipality
- Transport: Responsible for maintenance of roads and light rails within the city.
SimCity Concepts and Objectives
Many of the concepts used in modern urban planning, as well as municipal government, have been carried into SimCity. The objective of SimCity, as the name of the game suggests, is to build and design a city, without specific goals to achieve (except in the scenarios, which typically require the player to achieve a certain population, bank balance, or popularity rating in a given period of time). The player can mark land as being zoned as commercial, industrial, or residential, add buildings, change the tax rate, build a power grid, build transportation systems and many other actions, in order to enhance the city. Also, the player can face disasters: flooding, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, etc
In the Super Nintendo version, one can also build rewards when they are given to them, like the mayor's mansion and the casino for gambling Sims.
Basic SimCity concepts
In SimCity, there are a number of real life City Planning and Municipal government concepts to learn:
- Population: How many Sims are in a city
- Simoleans: Your money. You spend this whenever you do something.
- Taxes: Simoleans taken from your Sims on a yearly basis to replenish your City's Simoleans
- Tile: The basic unit of measure in SimCity.
- Zone: This is where Sims will build. The three main types are Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. Each Zone has different effects and interactions: placing an Industrial zone next to a Residential zone may not be ideal.
- Transportation: A tile that allows Sims to get from one place to another. They are obviously connected to each other. People will only build a certain amount of Tiles from a transportation tile.