August 16, 2009


City Planning

As I have mentioned before, I have had an interest in maps for a long time, so it would make sense that I also am interested in video games that involve maps. In this post I'm going to describe four free city planning games:

It was 8th grade when I was introduced to the original city planning video game – SimCity. This game is still a lot of fun. And since its considered 'abandoned software' so you can download and play it free. My friend Dave sent my this link some time ago and I've been playing this classic ever since. It uses a diametric top-down view of a city you create from scratch using only some land and some money to begin with. You have to create a harmony between the residential, business, and industrial zones as you design the layout of your city.

(Above is a close-up of the city I created with SimCity - below is the entire city)

FarmTown – Another game I've spent some time playing is called FarmTown, which is a free Facebook application. Although this game is about managing a farm rather than a city, its shares a lot of similarities with it and SimCity's style of game play using an isometric view.

There is also community/social element because the game allows users to connect with other FarmTown players and work on each other's farms. In fact, thats the best way to succeed, by collaborating with others. Another interesting aspect is the role of time. You have a certain window of time after crops are planted and are ready to harvest before they spoil in which you must harvest them. As your farm becomes larger it becomes a lot easier if you employ other players you meet in the market place to help you harvest your crops. To play FarmTown, you must have a Facebook account, then search for FarmTown in the Applications menu.

I was curious to see if their were any free/open-source games available similar to Sim City or its not-yet-free sequels like Sim City 2000. I found two of interest: LinCity, and Simutrans.

LinCity - now called "LinCityNG" is an advanced version of LinCity, which was an open-source alternative to SimCity. The name LinCity is a play on the name SimCity and the operating system Linux. Clever eh? The graphics and some of the features such as the water infrastructure management aspect are improved and/or added with "NG" version. Overall the game plays very similar to SimCity with a nice looking user interface and an isometric view. Click here to read more about and download LinCityNG. Or click here to download the original version of LinCity.

Simutrans – A few characteristics distinguish Simutrans from the others. The primary focus is on transportation, so you can only edit roads, trains, airports, seaports, and other various transportation and related infrastructure aspects of the world you are playing with. However, The territory you are responsible for is really massive. The Graphics are surprisingly great, right down to individual people walking on the street. It is a little more complicated to install because you need to install it in components - first the Simutrans program, and then you choose a "Pakset" ... The visualization of Simutrans depends on whatever graphics set (called 'pakset') you choose to use – there are many which allows for a lot of diversity in the look of the area you are developing. Click here to read more about Simutrans. And click here for a page that demonstrates several of the different "Paksets" available.

Below is another scene from my farm in FarmTown. If you look closely you'll see an homage to another classic video game in the crops I've planted.

(Alas, the Princess is always in another castle!)

Sim City Classic -
LinCityNG -
LinCity (original) -
Simutrans -

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