How to Play SimCity Really Without Any Goals?
November 25, 2014 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Can I play SimCity really without any goals at all, or is there another game that is even more free-form than SimCity?

I've always hear SimCity being described as a game without goals. However, from my very limited experience with the game, it seems the game still nudges you in making different choices so as to, for example, collect enough tax revenue or to make the little Sims happy. Can I ignore the 'advices' from the game and still have a good time? How do I play SimCity really without any goals?

(My very brief experience is with, I think, SimCity 4 on a Mac.)
posted by applesurf to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Minecraft is about as free-form as it gets.
posted by nightwood at 6:08 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might consider looking into the cheats available. It's been a while since I played, but I think it was SC4 that had a downloadable building that basically generated a ridiculous amount of money... enough that you didn't have to tax and could build whatever you wanted. That's the way I played because I was more into the infrastructure options rather than the scenarios presented by EA/Maxis.
posted by neilbert at 6:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

I greatly enjoy playing Cities in Motion I/II with the unlimited funds mods. Sorta depends on what you mean by "game" as well. Are you looking specifically for a city builder?
posted by humboldt32 at 6:44 PM on November 25, 2014

Dwarf Fortress has basically no goals beyond "don't die". Beyond that, if your goal is to create water-driven logic gates, or fill your entire fortress with mist, or build a river of magma on the map, well... you kind of can.
posted by jackbishop at 7:01 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: First, get the cheats and start with tons of money.

Then make a ton of Sim Families of people from tv shows, books, etc. And your friends. Build houses. Populate the town with all of these Sim Families and press go. Watch what happens. The last time i did this i lived next door to the Golden Girls and my friend Cassandra married MCA from the Beastie Boys. The Golden Girls turned onto ghosts (RIP ladies) and then i moved a bunch of Hufflepuffs into their haunted house. Kelly Taylor from 90210 married Commander Riker. Sometimes people will move away and you cant really control that, but its still fun.
If you turn the aging setting on 'slow' you'll get to enjoy your town at the age you want...otherwise people will start dying off and that can be depressing.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:14 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

Zeus: Master of Olympus, and Pharaoh + Cleopatra have sandbox modes for free-form city building. And even in campaign mode, where you play out, say, the Trojan War, you can just ignore the goals if they don't have a time limit and build your city however you want. Maybe Tropico? You can set up your island with infinite money and minimal unrest and pretty much do whatever.
posted by heart's ease at 7:15 PM on November 25, 2014

Banished is pretty free form for a village simulator. You just have to keep your villagers alive.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

the infinite money bug in the DOS version of SimCity 2000 was awesome for this.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:37 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Second Life is probably the most "free form" MMORPG of them all. For all of its faults, the only 'rules' are the TCs, the virtual physics of the environment, and the whims of the Lindens (the gods who run the place). All in-world content is generated by residents. You could probably build a fairly faithful version of SimCity in SecondLife. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that it's been done.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:24 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really love The Sims. I use the Motherlode cheat to beef up bank accounts, and then I build and buy and decorate and have my Sims throw parties.

I get lost for hours.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:43 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The term you want for googling this is, as others have mentioned, "sandbox game" or "sandbox mode." There's a Steam tag for it too. You could also try "open-world game" though that will also get you things like GTA V.

For Sim City 4 specifically the easiest way to do this IMO is not only the cheats but to download one of the cheater building lots from Simtropolis or SC4Devotion and plop it in your city, effectively giving you infinite money without needing to repeatedly type in the cheat. Usually those buildings work by contributing some absurdly high income to your city so your budget also looks positive, which is nice as it shuts up your annoying advisor. I can't get a direct link while I'm at work but iirc one of the popular lots for this was called "the money tree" or something similar.
As a side note if you don't already know the modding community for SC4 is huge and has really kept the game alive despite the challenges of getting such an old game to run on newer systems. The links in the sidebar of the sc4 subreddit are a good place to start.

Beyond Sim City I'd second the recommendation of Minecraft, especially in creative mode, which is really computer Lego. Another option you might like would be the Tropico games in sandbox mode (I know Tropico 3 has this, I assume they kept the feature in later versions).
posted by Wretch729 at 9:27 AM on November 26, 2014

Skyrim is great for exploring. You don't have to complete any of the quests, it's so fun to just wander around and see what you stumble upon.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:17 PM on November 26, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all your answers as well as suggestions for other games that I will definitely seek and try out.
posted by applesurf at 5:22 PM on November 26, 2014

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