I want to play a game like SimCity, but different.
November 12, 2008 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I want to play a game like SimCity, but different. Is that vague enough?

I love SimCity. But I'm more interested in a game that is focused on the aesthetic look and feel of the city, and less interested in "making the city run efficiently." It doesn't even have to be a "game" really. More of an environment where I can create cool looking buildings and landscape and roads and more and then place them where I want, without any objective other than, "hey, that looks cool." Something in between a game and me learning a very advanced design program (which I'm not really interested in).

If that description is way to vague for you, let me put it another way: What SimCity alternatives are there to choose from when it comes to games that let you design cities? Free and not-free. Crappy graphics to awesome 3D visuals. Everything goes.
posted by JPowers to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a list of popular city-building games for you. Go nuts!
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:16 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sorry to piggyback - but does anyone know if you can NOT have cars in your Sim City? It's really ticking me off to be required to have autos.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:33 PM on November 12, 2008

I've only played it a little bit, but SimCity Creator seems to be a simpler version of SimCity with more emphasis on aesthetically creating a city.
posted by kpmcguire at 10:48 PM on November 12, 2008

While not the focus of the game, Spore (also made by Will Wright) has a *very* robust editor for buildings, including specialized parts for residential, industrial, and entertainment structures. With enough tweaking, you can pretty much craft any structure imaginable. Unfortunately the role of your buildings in gameplay is quite limited -- each city has a town hall surrounded by about a dozen empty "blocks" in rough concentric circles, which can be filled with one of the three building types. All cities are restricted to one building per type, however, so within a given city every factory will be the same building repeated, as will all the houses, etc. You can rotate buildings, though, and add a few pre-built decorative objects.

SimCity Societies (which was *not* made by Will Wright) is loosely based on the existing city-building theme, but with a stronger emphasis on aesthetics and social dynamics than hard numbers and statistics.

While not really a game, Google SketchUp makes creating complex 3D structures very easy and almost fun. I've used it a number of times to model certain projects, and found the set of tools to be intuitive and simple. You can browse the public gallery of SketchUp models here, to get an idea of what's possible with it.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:48 PM on November 12, 2008

If you want to make cool looking structures in a semi-game environment, try SecondLife.
posted by zippy at 10:50 PM on November 12, 2008

It's not out yet, but Cities XL may have a lot of what you're looking for, if the trailers can be trusted.
posted by metalheart at 10:56 PM on November 12, 2008

Dwarf Fortress You will hate it for the first 3 or so days you are playing, but just from reading your description of the kind of game you want I know you will come back, and you will be hooked.
posted by afu at 11:35 PM on November 12, 2008

Afterlife is a great Heaven and Hell simulator based largely off of the older Sim City games. It's got disasters like Disco Inferno and the Heaven Nose, and smarmy heaven and hell advisers.

It's pretty great.
posted by bookwo3107 at 3:49 AM on November 13, 2008

If you don't mind going back a couple years, try to find a copy of the SimCity Urban Renewal Kit (SCURK). It works with SimCity 2000. This program was put out to do what you are thinking: Design a city, including buildings and terrain, without the financial limits of the game.

SimCity2000 also had an unlimited money cheat that was good for actually playing the game.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:33 AM on November 13, 2008

At least a few years ago, there was a big SimCity 4 online community dedicated to this, trying to make realistic cities through new graphics (buildings, roads, etc) and innovative urban design.

Simtropolis is one of the biggest SC4 communities I remember and it has a lot of downloadable resources, along with tutorials and related discussions threads in their forums.
posted by Memo at 6:48 AM on November 13, 2008

You could learn Sketch Up. That'll also possibly help you get a job doing this.
posted by salvia at 7:50 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

SimCity 4, in conjunction with the forums on Simtropolis as mentioned above should work for you. There are ways to turn off a lot if not all of the actual game play aspects in the game, so you can whittle away your hours sculpting the perfect city.
posted by erpava at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2008

The Light Fantastic - I don't know if you can get rid of cars entirely, but I once "won" SimCity (got the key to the city) by starting with Detroit, ripping out all the roads, and putting in light rail.
posted by kristi at 10:07 AM on November 13, 2008

Just because it hasn't been mentioned explicitly, try Pharaoh or Caesar III. They're city building games set in ancient Egypt and Rome respectively, based on the same game engine. Pharaoh especially gives you the opportunity to craft an aesthetically pleasing city, with pyramids and other ornate temple complexes to build. Yeah, it's not modern, but as a huge SimCity fan, those games ruined SimCity for me.
posted by malapropist at 12:52 PM on November 13, 2008

Spore's building editors are fan-tastic... While I have not used them, I watch in awe as my kids build some of the weirdest creations.

What about virtual lego?

Too blocky?
posted by jkaczor at 7:44 PM on November 13, 2008

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