Cities : Skylines

By Shamus
on Mar 16, 2015
Filed under:
Video Games

When I started playing I thought, “This is the game Simcity 2013 should have been.” After a few hours I thought, “This is better than any Sim City game in recent memory.” At this point I’m thinking it’s probably the best city builder ever designed. It’s been years since I had a game engrossing enough that I was still playing it in my head while I was trying to fall asleep. It really is that good.

Skylines is by Colossal Order, the team behind Cities in Motion. It shows. Cities in Motion is a game about regulating, planning, mitigating, and profiting from traffic. That game was all about designing mass transit in a fixed city. Skylines takes all of that traffic-flow strategy and brings it to a city you design yourself.

Strongbad voice: Ah. My kingdom continues to flourish.

The result is Sim City, but with a really good, really engrossing traffic system. Every car is simulated, and you can watch the complex flow of traffic to get a feel for where people are coming from, where they are going, and how you can expedite that. Small changes to the street rules can make huge changes to the flow of traffic.

In the old Maxis games, you solved traffic problems by building wider roads or mass transit. Here you can solve congestion problems with a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer. Maybe making this side-street one-way will cut down on the number of people blocking traffic with left-hand turns. Maybe gathering all these side-streets into one street before you hit the main drag will cut down on the number of traffic lights everyone has to go through.

I’ve heard that a roundaboutThey’re often called a “rotary” in New England. is the best type of intersection for the purposes of keeping traffic flowing, but this game is a perfect illustration of why. You can take a clogged 4-way intersection and (provided you’ve got enough space) turn it into an effortless free-flowing roundabout. It’s not that the game was written with some kind of pro-roundabout bias. It’s just a natural emergent result of the way the cars behave. Like I said above: Every car is simulated. There’s no cheating here.

To leave a roundabout, you need to reach escape velocity. Or maybe I’m thinking of Kerbal Space Program.

A Long Digression on American vs. European Road Design.

Roundabouts have a bad reputation in the US for a couple of reasons. One is that we’re not packed in the way Europeans are, so we don’t need them as much. By the time a city is large enough where a roundabout would be useful, it’s already too late, because the roads have already been built and the real estate is too expensive to go around bulldozing stuff to make room for a roundaboutIn Europe, this isn’t a problem because the roundabouts were there centuries before the cars..

Second, navigating a roundabout is a skill. Like any other aspect of driving, it seems comically simple once you know what you’re doing, but it’s actually really confusing and stressful if you’re not used to it. This creates a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to roundabouts. Americans don’t build them because the overwhelming majority of us hate them and find them stressful. So when we run into the rare situation where traffic is heavy enough to warrant one and there’s somehow enough room to build one, we still don’t make one because drivers won’t be able to make efficient use of it. It only takes a couple of clueless people to ruin the flow of a roundabout, and in any decent-sized city, there’s always going to be a couple of out-of-towners mucking up the works.

But the biggest reason Americans hate roundabouts is that their first (possibly only) experience with them is in New England in the Boston area. In case you’ve never visited: Boston is a mad vortex of devious roads that have been designed to entrap and devour unwary visitors in their hungry tendrils. The roads are only labeled just enough to trick you into thinking you can navigate with their guidance. And then it pulls you underground where your GPS won’t work, re-labels all the roads, and begins presenting you with branching choices at high speed.

If you ever escape from that darkened hellhole, you and your vehicle will be flung into a roundabout while confused, angry, scared, and where the slightest error will pull you into a one-way toll road going the wrong direction. I speak from experience.

And that’s why Americans don’t have roundabouts.

No day/night cycle. Alas. This would look amazing at night.

If there’s any fault I can find with Skylines its that it clings to the Sim City formula more than it really needs to. Stop me if you’ve heard this beforeThat’s always such a strange phrase in the context of a written article. But the entire phrase is kind of shorthand for “We are both aware of this information, but I need to relay it anyway for context.” Language is strange.: You’ve got three main types of zones: Residential (green) commercial (blue) and industrial (yellow). You’ve got three bars that depict the demand for them. You have to lay down the color-coded zones while balancing city-wide utilities like water, electric, sewage, and garbage pickup. On top of this you’ve got city services like fire, police, and education. You boost land value through beautification and you unlock new and useful buildings as you reach various population milestones. And while all this is going on, you have to tame the ever-growing river of traffic flowing through your city streets.

They even retain a lot of the quirky stylistic conceits of Sim City: Coal-fired power plants can barely output enough juice to supply a neighborhood, and cause massively exaggerated levels of pollution. Green power is supernaturally compact and affordable once it becomes availableThis is pretty understandable, from a gameplay perspective.. Fires are ludicrously common. Every industrial building has massive smokestacks that belch black soot into the air like it’s 1930The game begins in the year 2000.. There are no churches. Traffic is a huge problem but parking is a non-issue. It’s okay to dump raw sewage in the river because sewage treatment is an advanced super-technology only available to large cities. Industrial density doesn’t keep up with residential density, so a mature city will end up with something like half its footprint devoured by industrial structures. And true to Sim City tradition, these structures are among the most repetitive and boring in the game

I don’t know that they needed to cling to the established formula quite that hard. It’s not like the Sim City mechanics are perfect or anything. If SimCity 2013 had been good, I’d fault Skylines from being an empty copycat. But since SimCity was a disaster on every level, this feels more like a calculated move to exploit EA’s massive blunder. And that makes me happy.

My biggest complaint about the game is Chirper, Skyline’s in-world Twitter analogue. Enumerating the countless faults with this feature would double the size of this review. There’s a mod on the Steam workshop to kill it. Just get rid of it and enjoy the rest of the game. I have no idea what the team was thinking.

All the simulated people.

The best part of Skylines is that it humiliates Maxis by delivering on all the failed promises of SimCity 2013. Remember when they claimed “every inhabitant is simulated”? And then when we got the game it turned out people just left their house in the morning, drove until they found a building with an open job slot, and then to go home they did the same, ending up at the first available house. It was beyond stupid, and probably worse than just treating people as an abstraction.

But here, every person is indeed simulated. They have families and relationships. They have a job and a specific house to live in. They’re born, grow old, and die. Which makes it possible to create emergent stories, kind of like playing the Sims and letting everyone run autonomously.

It really is the best city builder ever. Highest recommendation.

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Footnotes:

[1] They’re often called a “rotary” in New England.

[2] In Europe, this isn’t a problem because the roundabouts were there centuries before the cars.

[3] That’s always such a strange phrase in the context of a written article. But the entire phrase is kind of shorthand for “We are both aware of this information, but I need to relay it anyway for context.” Language is strange.

[4] This is pretty understandable, from a gameplay perspective.

[5] The game begins in the year 2000.


A Hundred!A Hundred!2020206266. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. ehlijen says:

    As someone who hasn’t played the game and doesn’t have a twitter account, what does chirper do that’s so annoying?

    I ask because from what little I know about twitter, I can’t think of any way putting anything like it into a game would be useful and I’m stuck trying to figure out what happened here…

  2. Galad says:

    Glad to see you city builder enthusiasts are having an excellent shiny new game to play with. I tried Caesar 3 years ago and sucked at it. Conversely, if anyone would like to recommend a rogue-like to me, please go ahead.

    Some interesting trivia on roundabouts. What did Shamus mean with “roundabouts were there (in Europe) centuries before cars”?

    Anyone want to give a short overview on why Chirpy’s so bad?

    • Grudgeal says:

      I’m not too sure myself. According to wikipedia the oldest traffic isles (that would later become the first roundabouts) date from the late 18th century, following not only the founding of the American colonies but also their independence. The U.K. only started building them as a regular part of the road networks in the postwar era (1950ies and onwards). You may correct me if I’m wrong but I’m fairly certain the U.S. had roads at that point.

      Then again, wikipedia is as always a limited and incomplete source. Maybe Shamus has a copy of “the illustrated history of roundabouts” somewhere in his bookshelves.

      • Shamus says:

        I don’t have any official source for anything. Just just viewed roundabouts as a formalization of the behavior people naturally follow when driving horses and carriages. So, basically any pre-technology intersection would function as a roundabout.

        I might be totally wrong. It just made sense to me.

        • Grudgeal says:

          I think it’s more to do with your aforementioned real-estate issue. Most major European cities have partially burned down or razed by war at least twice in the post-industrial era alone, whereas very few U.S. cities have. European governments generally speaking probably had less scruples about invoking compulsory purchase/eminent domain on piles of rubble* and using the opportunity to do some changes.

          Most cities are built to accommodate the time period they’re in, which is why most 18th century American cities were probably a lot easier to move around in than European ones (a cursory glance of the inner-city maps of New York versus Paris or London shows that much – clean, straight grid versus a labyrinth). They just haven’t had the opportunity to re-adjust to the increased population and traffic flows in the same way the European cities have**.

          * Or, you know, anything else, razed or not, in the way of their grand plans for a new bypass.

          ** This should in no way be interpreted as an endorsement for the U.S. to demolish its own cities or get in a shooting war with Russia/China to improve traffic flow. Just so we’re clear.

          • Zak McKracken says:

            I think it’s that and the fact that European cities used to have large public squares with many roads going towards them (quite possibly designed for coaches to park/pick up people from important places) — fairly easy to convert into a roundabout. I don’t think that was something you found often in the US.
            Also yes, the balance between private rights and common good (with regards to what the government is both expected to provide and allowed to do to that end) is set a little differently than in the US.

            • Tom says:

              Not always – after pretty much the entire core of London burnt to the ground in the Great Fire, I believe Sir Christopher Wren produced a beautiful rebuilding plan for the place, clean, open, with a mixture of both grids resembling the modern American style and, indeed, large European style open plazas surrounded by radial straight lines, the works. It was apparently rejected because everyone wanted to cling to their particular pile of ashes dating back to god knows when; probably Medieval and likely even Roman in many cases. The ancient knotted spaghetti streets that were barely fit even for horse and cart stayed, and are mostly still there today, which is why London is absolutely hell on earth to drive in.

              • Zak McKracken says:

                For the centre, that’s about true, but I much prefer driving in London to driving in Trieste (Italy), and if that is any indication of what driving in Rome is like, then I’ll never drive in Rome.

                Also: If you ever get to Paris, stand on the Arc de Triomphe and watch the roundabout around it. If you don’t understand how they survive this (no marking, about 9 unmarked lanes, 12 exits, and everybody just drives in a straight line towards their exit), take note of the number of cars that have dents and scratches (indeed, the French seem to have little regards for dents in their cars) and the number of towing trucks waiting on the sidelines.

                I will never drive in Paris (the inner part — have survived driving in the outer region but it’s still worse than London).

                …on the other hand, the Parisians know how to park without wasting space, something I cannot say of many Londoners.

                • Kand says:

                  They know how not to waste space, but they do their parking not by view, but by sound.

                  “If you hear a bang, you can probably go a little farther.”

                  Worst thing I’ve seen here was a big truck, that moved a parking car for at least half a meter, before deciding, that he really doesn’t fit through the road.

                  But they do love themselves some roundabouts, fun training lessons for new drivers: https://goo.gl/maps/2v584

                  • Zak McKracken says:

                    I was told that in Paris you do not fasten the parking brake unless you’re on a hillside. This is so that your car can be pushed around a bit by others to make best use of the space.

                    To be honest: I think 20 years ago that would have been zero problem, since (at least in Europe) cars had bumpers made of metal with a thick black rubber band on top of it. I once bumped into another car which had a towbar — no visible marks.

                    (in London: People leave 2 meters in every direction, because we’ve got plenty space, right?)

          • Tsi says:

            Most major European cities have partially burned down or razed by war at least twice in the post-industrial era alone”.
            Erm.. nope. That is an exaggeration. There were indeed a lot of buildings destroyed but they were not replaced by roads or something to facilitate circulation, rather rebuilt when possible. So the impact of wars on the road structure it minimal if non existent. Especially when talking about “most” cities of Europe.
            The only city I can think of that was almost razed down is Poland’s capital Warsaw but then again, it was almost entirely rebuilt to it’s former state (you’ll need to find someone from there to confirm the changes though).

            • RCN says:

              Roundabouts are common in my country, but usually the smaller ones. The big ones are considered dangerous (mainly because some insane people like to go through them at insane speeds), even though not nearly as dangerous as normal intersections without traffic lights, so usually where a larger roundabout would be asked for we use a “clover” (dunno how it is actually called in English, this is a literal translation). That is, four 270º turns going away from the main road and then going perpendicularly at a cross-section, it is a bit of effort to go through (if you want to go the opposite way you have to do a 540º, and if you want to go to the right you have to do a 810º, but almost always there’s also a direct turn to the right), but it is very safe and generally flows very well. Not sure if how common they are in the US, but considering there wasn’t any of those in open world games (like GTA), especially in spots I thought would be really useful, I’m going to guess not often.

              The ones in my city look like this:
              http://www.cidadedemocratica.org.br/images/uploaded/0000/7601/tesourinha_brasilia.jpg

              • mwchase says:

                In my experience, we use them mainly for the intersections between (or involving) divided roads, which happen more often between cities than within them.

                Actually, wait, no, a cloverleaf is different than what you’re describing. A cloverleaf is like what you’re describing, but with four 90 degree turns on the outside. So, to turn right, you merge right before the center, and to turn left, you merge right after

              • Tektotherriggen says:

                http://www.cbrd.co.uk/interchanges/

                This – possibly the most gloriously nerdy site on the internet – is a grand 3D-rendered gallery of different types of junctions. Yes, “Cloverleaf” is the proper English word (even though they are, by definition, four-leafed clovers, but don’t sound particularly lucky).

              • KMJX says:

                Small roundabouts are, drivers permitting, the objectively best way to handle high traffic intersection.
                The reason large roundabouts are considered “more dangerous” is an exacerbation of the problem leading to the disclaimer “drivers permitting”

                Where I live the default rule is that in an intersection of two roads with equal priority, and lacking traffic signs stating otherwise, precedence is given to the vehicle coming from the right hand.
                This is however inversed in roundabouts, where the left hand takes precedence, which basically means “the one already on the roundabout gets to drive through before you may insert yourselves”

                On small roundabouts with a single lane this is relatively simple and caters to natural driving instincts.

                When multiple lanes are involved, a lot more drivers get confused about how to handle the situation, which in turn leads to increased risk.
                In this case drivers are supposed to go into the innermost lanes when they are not going to leave the roundabout at the next exit, relative to number of lanes and number of exits between their entering position and target location.
                Instead insecure drivers will tend to stay on the outer lane and reckless drivers will use other lanes to overtake slower drivers.

                Speaking of the left hand precedence rule, I have a big issue with how roundabouts work in this game: roundabouts are not supposed to have traffic lights and traffic is not supposed to stop in the roundabout to let incoming traffic through.
                The whole point of the roundabout is that one should not need to stop once they are in, which is what creates an improved traffic flow.
                That may just be because I’ve never seen roundabouts applied to actual big cities IRL, but even the small roundabout works this way in Cities: Skylines, which is nonsensical to me as it still disrupts traffic flow.

                • Shamus says:

                  I had the same problem. I solved it by making sure that the entire roundabout is made of highway pieces. The entry points to the roundabout must also be made from highway. This prevents the creation of traffic lights.

                • Microwaviblerabbit says:

                  The whole left/right precedence thing becomes a lot easier when you live in an area (like Ontario), where you can turn right on a red light if there is no opposing traffic. Plus the government here made understanding roundabouts a mandatory part of learning to drive roughly ten years ago.

                • Lisa says:

                  Unfortunately traffic lights on roundabouts are a Thing in some cities (Canberra has at least three that I know of). Though they make you stop before the roundabout, not on it. They seem to be used when a roundabout used to have four equal amounts of traffic on the entrances, but the balance has now shifted so some entrances never get a go in peak hour.
                  I guess it was cheaper than rebuilding the roundabout.

                  • KMJX says:

                    Yes, traffic lights at entrances make sense where high traffic density is expected. While not ideal for normal situations, when vehicle density is exceptional it will definitely improve the flow.

                  • Burning says:

                    I think it was Annapolis, Maryland, where I saw a roundabout that had a traffic light that would stop traffic on the actual roundabout, not just at the entrances. Fortunately, I was never there in heavy traffic, but I suspect it to be about as bad an idea as it sounds.

                    • Zak McKracken says:

                      Many of the larger roundabouts in England have traffic lights, too, and it can be useful:

                      Roundabouts are said to be “non-blocking” because anyone in them can just leave, thus making space for the next ones. However, if there’s a tailback from one of the exits and through the roundabout, it can still block up. That’s when traffic lights on the entrances make sense (so people on the most-used entrance have to stop and let those waiting at the next downstream entrance get on).

                      However, on even larger roundabouts with, say, 8 or more entrances, there’s always someone coming from somewhere, and people drive with different velocities etc, so it may be difficult to get a large number of cars into the roundabout. So in order to improve that, it makes sense to stop traffic upstream of an entrance, so those people can get on en masse, then do the same for the next entrance upstream and so on … This is a way to ensure that for heavily-loaded roundabouts every entrance gets its share of opportunities to come one, and also to increase traffic density in the roundabout.

                      … the only thing I’ve never seen, and that would be a really bad idea is to have a traffic light preventing people from _leaving_ the roundabout.

            • Bubble181 says:

              While it *is* an exaggeration, it isn’t all that much. If Warsaw’s the only city you can think of that was demolished, I have some bad news about Dresden, to name but one. Or Hamburg. Or Dusseldorf. or plenty other German cities, really. And a LOT of the smaller ones – I can think of at least 4 cities withing 50 kms of me that were -razed- during WWII (I’m in Belgium, for the record).
              Also, we had mad kings. Brussels had about half the city torn down to create beautiful big boulevards in the nineteenhundreds.

              • Felblood says:

                I think this comes back to the point about despots having fewer compunctions about using eminent domain.

              • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                And Paris was significantly damaged during the siege of 1870, allowing for some equally significant changes (that had, admittedly already been planned in the 1850s).

                On Roundabouts, when I moonlighted as an urban planner, space really was always the issue. If you could finagle a roundabout near a park or other existing public space (a lot of cities in my part of the country have roundabouts around their courthouses, for example), you could make it work. However, if you were doing it at an existing intersection, you’d be talking about taking out 4 buildings -and that was never going to fly.

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            ** This should in no way be interpreted as an endorsement for the U.S. to demolish its own cities or get in a shooting war with Russia/China to improve traffic flow. Just so we’re clear.

            Okay, but now I want a city builder that takes this literally – the only way to expand your city is to get into a war with a neighbouring city and win territory, and the only way to rebuild your roads and buildings is to have them be ripped up during a war.

            Or caught on fire, whichever’s faster.

            But it would add an interesting dynamic in that you could have the war with neighbouring cities escalate over time, so the more you do it, the larger scale the wars are, and the more they cause an effect on you and your enemies, but if it goes too far, then it just ends up going nuclear or whichever.

            Bonus points if this is a Cities: Skylines mod that just drops Beseige into it for how combat works.

            Basically a much more mechanically involved version of the disasters from SimCity 2000.

            • SKD says:

              Or they could add an option to put a road into repaving hell thus driving businesses and residents to other areas of the city. Possibly one of the greatest faults with most city builders is allowing demolition of roads and buildings for little or no cost. It would add a whole new level of complexity if the player had to plan for the cost of seizing property via eminent domain to redesign that area of the city.

    • Lupis42 says:

      Europe’s had cities with traffic problems since the horse and cart was state of the art, and so it’s roads have been there long enough for all the old buildings to have burnt down, been replaced with fancy timber framed wattle-and-daub buildings which have also burnt down and been replaced with fancier stone and brick buildings, which were then demolished to make room for skyscrapers. Somewhere along the way, they were usually able to find room for a roundabout in the burned out rubble.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Of course, most of said traffic trouble was there in the first place because Europe’s cities, unlike most US ones built outside the northeast, pre-dated the industrial era and mass use of wheeled transport (be it horse-driven or horseless) and people just built their houses wherever they bloody well pleased without any thought to city planning or fire safety. Which then led to the subsequent traffic troubles and burning down.

        The constant wars probably didn’t hurt either. Nothing says “well, it’s a fixer-upper *anyway* so we may as well improve it a bit while we’re at it” like having your entire city centre razed in some war or another.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          “The constant wars probably didn’t hurt either” is not something I would say … though of course they did contribute to the fact that a larger-than-elsewhere part of buildings in “old” European cities are either old representative buildings or fairly new.

          Some German towns still have a bunch of 50’s and 60’s cheap concrete boxes that were built because cheap housing was needed urgently for loads of people. Luckily, many of those buildings also weren’t build to last, so they’re either being removed (or refurbished thoroughly) these days.

          Then again, regular old US buildings aren’t famous for being built to last, so there should be opportunities — then again the question of land ownership is dealt with in a different way in the US, also for historical reasons, I’d say.

          • Lalaland says:

            Well the reason so much of German architecture is that boxy style is that their cities were razed by the Allies in WW2 (the ‘Fog of War’ documentary on Robert MacNamara has the numbers, only Japan was worse at 90+% destroyed). In turn significant chunks of Poland were deliberately razed by the Germans or as a side effect of the final push into Germany by the Allies (surrenders in other axis allies such as Hungary reduced damage there). Don’t underestimate the damage from WW2 there’s a reason most of Europe was in hock to the US until the mid 90s, there was an awful lot that needed rebuilding under the Marshall Plan.

            I think in the end it comes down to familiarity and space, as drivers aren’t used to them they disrupt rather than improve flow and as the US has space for giant ‘spaghetti junctions’ they more commonly use those instead.

            • rofltehcat says:

              WW2 really “opened up” a lot of space… for example my home town of probably max 400 people back then was bombed to block a road (by collapsing the church and all of the buildings onto the road). Depending on the source a medieval gate house was also either destroyed in the bombing raid or it was demolished earlier in the war by the Nazis to make it easier for tanks and trucks to roll through…

              today the main road is nice and wide with lots of parking spaces and most of the traffic (a thousand times more than would have driven through back then) is passing by town on the highway instead of going right through. I guess destruction like that has its upsides. If only people wouldn’t want to kill each other as much :(

          • Tom says:

            Ironically enough, I think the cheap, ugly concrete brutalist movement was actually invented before WW2 happened and made it an apparent necessity.

    • SpiritBearr says:

      With Chirpy it just sits at the middle of the top of the screen and relays issues your citizens are having. The problem is there is no variation to what they say per problem and it keeps popping out until you close it. So you get the same tired jokes appearing at the top of the screen where you could be looking regardless of what you’re doing.

      TL;DR The “I’ve fought Mud Crabs worse than you” issue mixed with pop ups you need to close.

    • Wray says:

      “If anyone would like to recommend a rogue-like…”
      Have you seen Nuclear Throne yet? It’s in early access, but looking pretty awesome.

      • Felblood says:

        Darkest Dungeon has a lot of new turns built on a solid foundation of brutal lethality, risk-taking and chaotic randomness. 3 Squamous horrors out of Pi.

        • Galad says:

          Thanks guys!

          I’m occupying myself mostly with Hand of Fate and Our Darker Purpose these days, when I feel the roguelike urge, but I’ll keep these in mind too.

    • Deoxy says:

      Conversely, if anyone would like to recommend a rogue-like to me, please go ahead.

      Odd that nobody has answered this part for you, around here.

      I’ve been playing Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead recently. Very fun. (I also turn the zombie spawn up to x20, heh heh heh, so it’s a LITTLE bit harder than the original, but don’t start like that, seriously).

      I assume you’ve looked Temple of the Roguelikes RogueBasin? Those are great sites for Rogue-likes (duh).

      And of course, I still play Dwarf Fortress, which is roguelike-like. If you haven’t played that one, give it a shot… just be aware that it has no learning “curve”; it’s a straight line, and it’s directly vertical. And remember: Losing is fun! ™

      • Galad says:

        Heh, I’m not that old school, I’d still prefer that my roguelikes have some graphics in them. Think Ziggurat, Crypt of the Necrodancer, and so on. So maybe they’re rogue-lites after all. I don’t care much about the distinction.

        I’ve heard that Dwarf Fortress can be a MASSIVE time sink, so I’ll just play Tales of Maj’eyal instead. Eventually. When I muster up the courage. :)

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Why not try Dungeons of Dredmor?

      It’s a forgiving roguelike, with decent graphics and a sense of humour. It lacks the complexity of something like Nethack, but it’s a good game nonetheless. Plenty of mods too.

  3. Hoist says:

    You touched on it but it certainly deserves stating. One of the biggest flaws of simcity was the online requirement which gimped a big part of what makes any game greater… Mods! The game’s steam workshop is up an running and already producing more content for the game

    • rofltehcat says:

      The mods are sooo goood. For example the lacking variety Shamus mentioned: Poof, gone. Now there are McDonald’s and Tim Hortons everywhere. People parking in the street? Download parking lots!

      I think the easy modding is really one of the best parts of this game.

  4. RTBones says:

    I’ve driven in and through Boton’s ‘rotary’ morass. Just say no.

    But if you think Boston makes your head explode – if you wanted to watch a car crash a minute, all you would have to do is install a Magic Roundabout. Essentially, roundabouts within a roundabout. These are not for the faint of heart if you havent done lots of roundabouts. They are called ‘magic’ because traffic flows both ways in them.

    Those of you reading from the UK, I know you will understand.

    • Thomas says:

      Magic roundabouts actually have good safety records though :) I’d love to live in a world with more magic roundabouts. If they’re not available in Cities: Skylines, I’m going to force them through the “magic gyrotary”

      • RTBones says:

        In a nation such as the UK, where people are used to roundabouts as a way of life – a good safety record is only mildly surprising.

        However, as an American living in the UK I can tell you – put one of those things in the US and people’s heads would asplode…along with their cars, trucks, wagons, tricycles, wheelbarrows, and other assorted transport. We just dont do roundabouts in the States.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Aye right – just ask the Griswolds:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAgX6qlJEMc

        • I can confirm that, since they’re so rare that when you encounter one, it’s maddening, especially in heavy traffic. There’s one in the Kansas City area on the Missouri side that went in without anyone consulting ME about it, but suffice it to say that it was quite counter-intuitive to what I was used to. It was put near the off-ramp for an interstate, and all I wanted to do was get off said interstate, turn around, and head back on the interstate in the opposite direction. Using the roundabout, it took me two orbits to figure out that I had to exit the roundabout in what appeared to be the side opposite of where I wanted to go.

        • Xavin says:

          I offer the following helpful guide to signalling at UK roundabouts, for the benefit of American visitors:

          Left indicator: I’m leaving the roundabout at the next exit. Wait, no – not that one, the one after. Maybe.

          Right indicator: I’ve failed to cancel this signal from a maneuver I performed 2 miles ago.

          No indicators: I’m going straight on. Or left. Or right. I haven’t decided yet.

          Headlights on main beam: I’m late, get out of my way.

          Fog lights: This switch makes a pretty light on my dashboard.

          • Eruanno says:

            And for the rest of Europe, just reverse the directions (right indicator instead of left, etc.)

            • Akhetseh says:

              I’d add “honk”, which equals the headlights one, and “middle finger” which means “I got your message, have a nice day you, too, dear sir/madam”.

          • RTBones says:

            Lol. It wouldnt be as funny if there wasnt a nugget of reality in there.

            Its a lot like the Texas Turn Signal – brake lights come on, rear end of the car moves up (hard braking) – you know the car is going to do SOMEthing which may be stopping, or may not.

            As a friend of mine from south Texas once put it:

            Green means go
            Yellow means go faster
            Red means at least three more cars….

        • Tom says:

          I think I read somewhere that the same thing actually happened with traffic lights – when they were a novelty nobody’s used to, and relatively rarely encountered, they initially became accident hotspots. Of course, there’s confirmation bias to account for; everyone probably noticed accidents at the newfangled traffic management devices more than everywhere else.

          Come to think of it, it would be midly amusing if a sim game included that effect – any radical new paradigm initially causes chaos and a big effectiveness hit as the teething troubles are worked out and people get used to it. Say, after you unlock roundabout technology in a city simulator, there’s an initial wave of crashes – or in an RTS, whenever you unlock a new unit, one or two of the first few you build tend to break down, catch fire or explode all by themselves on the way to the battlefield…

          • Orillion says:

            That’s actually a really interesting mechanic that I would love to see in a City-Builder. It always did strike me as a little, I don’t know, “boring” that you could, consequence-free, bulldoze half of your city to make way for new improvements.

            Needing to win an election to keep playing would suck, but encountering some sort of resistance to every New Thing (especially controversial topics like nuclear power plants) and the following consequences for implementing it would lend a cool bit of strategy to every such choice.

            Come to think of it, that would be a better way to unlock higher-level buildings. Convincing the city council (representing different “types” of citizen even including things like college students and toddlers based on percentages) to allow for certain buildings to be built. A higher average education would be required to get the green light to build a nuclear plant–more people with the knowledge that they’re safer than coal or oil, not to mention clean. An education level too high might lock you out of solar power because it’s secretly really wasteful and inefficient (but good for making high-school educated environmentalists happy)

            Obviously you’d probably want to simplify that a bit (separating priorities and education levels might lead to an overcomplex system) but having the game acknowledge both the strengths and weaknesses of certain types of building AS WELL AS the common public perception of them would make for a very interesting mechanic.

            • kunedog says:

              A higher average education would be required to get the green light to build a nuclear plant–more people with the knowledge that they’re safer than coal or oil, not to mention clean. An education level too high might lock you out of solar power because it’s secretly really wasteful and inefficient (but good for making high-school educated environmentalists happy)

              From googling around it appears that nuclear is good, but solar is clearly superior. Maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up for them to implement night mode anytime soon . . .

        • MichaelG says:

          I have one just down the street from me. My problem is that as a pedestrian, they terrify me. You can look at the drivers faces, and none of them are looking straight ahead (at the crosswalk!) They are all looking to the right to see when they can turn.

        • drlemaster says:

          I live in Minneapolis area, and the road-building folks here have gone all-in on roundabouts whenever they are making new roads or renovating intersections near highways, in suburbs with enough space for that sort of thing. I echo a previous poster that the one-lanes ones are fine, but the multi-lane ones confuse drivers.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      It is strange, but it’s mostly strange because A: I did not expect such a concept B: It uses British driving side system which stumped me when I tried to figure it out in that Wikipedia article. It’s big pluss in my book is that it eliminates the need for lane changing INSIDE the roundabout. That is pain since it’s tricky to see if there is anybody in the lane right to you when going anti clockwise.

    • Primogenitor says:

      Magic Roundabouts are supposed to be scary – so everyone slows down, and then any collisions are small scuffs rather than fatal pile-ups. (http://www.cbrd.co.uk/articles/the-magic-roundabout/ is a great story of the very scientific development of it)

      Also the UK has mini-roundabouts – basically a circle painted in the middle of a junction. The same rules for priority apply as other roundabouts (give way to traffic already on it) but without needing any more space.

      • Tom says:

        And unlike a full size roundabout, you can just drive right over the top of them if you’re going ahead and there’s no other traffic – you’re absolutely, totally, 10,000% not allowed to do that, but I’ve seen lots of people do it. Especially the dreaded White Van Man. (Is that a thing outside Britain?)

        • RTBones says:

          No, not to my knowledge. The closest thing I can come up with that equates to a White Van Man are UPS/Fed Ex vans. But honestly, they are barely in the same league.

      • We kinda have that. One tiny roundabout in what used to be a four-way stop, except it has an island in the center (because people kept treating it as a 4-way until they put something in the middle to stop them). Not sure why they decided it needed to be a roundabout, it was a perfectly good (and not congested) 4-way, but trying to understand GDOT’s logic is madness. Sure, turn a random 4-way into a roundabout and leave the 6-way stop alone (yes, 6 roads coming together).
        I am still waiting for the local cops to realize it could be a ticket gold mine since about half the drivers go the wrong way round….

    • Tektotherriggen says:

      I’ve never used the Swindon Magic Roundabout (the one which has that as its official name, and a crazy scary sign) or the one in Hemel Hempstead, but the High Wycombe one isn’t bad at all if you are used to small roundabouts. The connecting bits of road are long enough that they feel like you’re driving on a road, rather than as part of some kind of infernal machine.

      • MrPyro says:

        My wife learned to drive in Swindon, and claims that the Magic Roundabout is perfectly sensible and easy to navigate. I tend to let her drive when we have a chance of going near the thing, because I find it terrifying.

        • Zekiel says:

          I’ve only experienced the Swindon Magic Roundabout once and agree it is terrifying. Logically, it is perfectly sensible and probably very helpful for traffic flow. But when you’re using it (for the first time) your brain just keeps screaming that you’re going the Wrong Way Round The Roundabout (since you are, on a macro level). I coped by just concentrating on each small roundabout at a time.

  5. The Rocketeer says:

    I could have sworn past SimCity games had churches. I’m pretty sure one of them had graveyards, even.

    Does the game have much in the way of interesting/pretty unique buildings? I remember one of my favorite things about SimCity 4 was accessing and building interesting landmarks. I didn’t really understand most of the simulation stuff well enough to enjoy it or master it; I just wanted to build a big city with neat skyscrapers and stuff, which was a shame, since you can’t really get to that point of the game without understanding how to run a city well.

    • Spectralist says:

      Simcity 4 had both churches and graveyards. Although I think the churches may have been called “Places of Worship” instead or something like that. Both were considered rewards, but unlike most rewards you would get several of each if your city had enough population.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      SimCity 2000 had churches as one of the buildings that would pop up in a residential zone. They didn’t do anything special, they were just one of the random tiles that would pop up when a residential area was sufficiently developed.

      • Ranneko says:

        I actually recall them dezoning the area they built on too, so if a church was built that land would always be a church unless you bulldozed it and rezoned it, which I often would in the affluent high land value areas.

        • That reminds me of a prof I had once who was convinced that eventually we’d be uprooting our cemeteries to make room for more residential housing. I’m not sure they counted on historic preservation societies, or perhaps this does happen where cemeteries aren’t quite so old and established?

          Anyhoo, I have a relative who has a few pre-civil war plots on his property. He has to preserve them (or at least, not knock them over), which he’s happy to do. Oddly enough, it made his house cheaper, because I guess people still believe in ghosts or something.

          • Thomas says:

            Terry Pratchett always talked about the practise of digging up bodies in a graveyard and storing them elsewhere to make space for new bodies. It happened often enough that I’m pretty much assuming he was referring to a real historical tradition.

            Just like the real historical tradition of just building a new level on all the houses/roads when a city was flooded.

          • Joe Informatico says:

            This used to happen all the time. I was on a walking tour of Toronto a few years ago, and the guide talked about one of the oldest graveyards in the city, which was moved west to accommodate the growing city, then moved again, and then–IIRC–they just built over top of it. “We think it’s under that playground over there.”

            It might be more common in Europe, probably out of necessity. Whereas here in Canada you can get a grave plot “in perpetuity”, in my dad’s hometown in Italy you could get a 99 year lease at most. Since my dad’s hometown dates back at least to the Middle Ages, they were constantly disinterring remains to make room for new ones.

          • Ahiya says:

            It’s cheaper because of the limitations. Historical buildings are often cheaper for this reason. When owners are limited in their use of the property, it’s going to be reflected in the price.

          • cassander says:

            The city of san francisco did this. over the course of the first half of the 20th century, a series of laws and legal cases led to the removal of the vast majority of the bodies from the city and they re-burial elsewhere.

            • Angie says:

              Most of them went to Colma, a small city a couple of cities down the penninsula. It’s largely cemetary after cemetary, dotted with occasional florists and tombstone shops. :) I lived there for about a year when I was a kid; first-time visitors to our apartment, which was right next to a large swath of cemetariers, would often arrive kind of freaked out, heh.

              Angie

          • Akhetseh says:

            I met some fellow archaeologists who had that exact job once: to move a 19th century graveyard out of town.

        • Jeff R. says:

          I seem to recall that bulldozing Churches supposedly gave you worse disaster luck, although I’m not sure if that was actually true or just a popular myth…

    • Robyrt says:

      Yeah, it’s a real shame there aren’t churches in Skylines – they would work very well as the building that pops up when you zone a small area for entertainment. They have the same traffic challenges as a stadium (lots of throughput, but they only need it infrequently) and they are everywhere in most cities.

    • nm says:

      I know SC2000 had churches. They were irritating buildings that would never be replaced and wouldn’t pay taxes and would de-zone the land they were in. You could bulldoze them (and pay to re-zone) of course. If you typed “hell,” they’d spawn like mad.

  6. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Wisconsin’s embraced roundabouts in a BIG way. About half the freeway interchanges being rebuilt are rebuilt with roundabouts instead of traffic lights at the ends of the ramps, and there’s no small number cropping up in places with regular but not continuing heavy traffic, such as roads leading to bedroom communities or places with large levels of traffic at shift change. Of course, sometimes it’s still ruined by putting a traffic light up 50 feet off the end of the the arterial exit for another road that probably shouldn’t be there in the first place, but most of the time? When that traffic light is spending 90% of the time green in the correct direction? It’s amazing.

    • Kylroy says:

      Yeah, I’m seeing them primarily as replacements for four-way stops. Traffic heavy enough to justify stoplights are still getting them.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Roundabouts may be confusing, but four-way stop signs are among the worst traffic directors ever invented. I’d say you’re coming out ahead.

        • Lisa says:

          Given what I saw of US traffic while I was over there, I was amazed that 4 way Stop signs seemed to actually work. There were two that I had to go through nearly every day, at various times of the day, and not one accident or near miss – even in peak, even when snowploughs were making their rounds. Though that was Michigan, so maybe other places have more issues?

          • Lachlan the Mad says:

            My hometown of Newcastle, being the second biggest city in New South Wales but only about a quarter as big and busy as Sydney, is often chosen for experimental traffic signage. The problem is that when experimental signs are rejected, the government never removes them from Newcastle. Therefore, two problems arise:

            – Nobody is used to 4-way stop signs because they only exist in the back streets of a couple of Newcastle suburbs (and they wouldn’t cause traffic problems if it weren’t for the ones near major schools…)

            – The official road rules don’t properly cover stop signs, because they aren’t an official part of the road infrastructure, which means that it’s very easy to get into a situation where nobody has the legal right of way.

    • Epopisces says:

      Fellow Wisconsonite seconding this. According to WisDoT (Wisconsin Dept of Transportation), we have about 300 of them now–and they helpfully provide a flash
      game‘ and activity book to educate kids on the subject.

    • Bubble181 says:

      We have roundabouts with lights -on- them here – which are only valid for the -inner- lanes of the roundabout. Does that count as a bit of madness too?
      Honestly, whoever designed Brussels* was an idiot.

      *a committee, no doubt

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        In Carlisle, the main roundabout next to the city centre has lights, but they get disabled outside of peak times. It makes a certain amount of sense to have the lights there at peak times, to try and maintain the flow of traffic.

  7. Zak McKracken says:

    Germany is only (re-)discovering the usefulness of roundabouts since the 90s, and yes, the learning curve exists, both for drivers (and cyclists!) and traffic planners. The first ones I had to navigate had some serious problems and were accident magnets.
    A while later everyone learned to live with them, and now it’s mostly fine. Except in some towns where they never had one before and you see planners making the same or similar mistakes all over again (no, merging the cycle lane into the road just before the roundabout is not a good idea!).

    The question of making space for them, though, is not as difficult. In London, arguably one of the densest and fastest growing cities in Europe, this was the solution:
    https://goo.gl/maps/0i8Ul
    …you just declare a block of houses to be the centre, all roads around them turn into one-way streets, and you’ve got yourself a new roundabout. Depending on traffic density with our without traffic lights at the exits (or even in-between).
    London is littered with these things, and while they are no fun to navigate for an outsider, you can get used to them. Even then, they aren’t the nicest thing to drive through, they can still clog up, but they just allow a lot more throughput than a regular crossroads would, and that’s very necessary…

    Oh, and a pro-tip for people getting lost in difficult cities: Just stay in the roundabout and go round until you’ve read every sign at every exit, make your decision and then exit. Just be sure to stay on the innermost lane, so you’re not keeping others from exiting.

  8. Nick Pitino says:

    Coal-fired power plants can barely output enough juice to supply a neighborhood, and cause massively exaggerated levels of pollution. Green power is supernaturally compact and affordable once it becomes available.

    And let me guess, if the game has nuclear reactors in it at all then they are hyper expensive radiation spewing death machines that will go berserk at the drop of a hat and you’ll be luck to get one to power even a single city block.

    Sigh…

    Anyway I guess I’ll find out for myself as I’m about to buy and install this game.

  9. aSemy says:

    Thanks for the review Shamus. I’m not usually interested in this genre but I might give this one a go. I hope they’ll fix things, and I’d love to see them crank up the realism by modelling car parking, and also model active travel like cycling (which is pretty much a magic bullet to transport problems if you do it right with infrastructure).

    I don’t think your reasoning that Europe has roundabouts make sense. UK cities have been around for centuries, where has the car has only really taken off in the last 8 or 9 decades. Most European cities have been retrofitted to suit the car, not planned for it.

    I can’t really tell from searching but there are several types of roundabouts. You can get huge traffic light controlled gyratories, especially on motorway junctions, but mini-roundabouts no larger than a normal junction are common. I guess they’re analogous to an American 4-way junction with stop signs. Is there are a name for those?

  10. Henson says:

    We’ve got a couple of roundabouts here in Syracuse, but they’ve put them in the most out-of-the-way location possible, so they only get moderate traffic. And even then, they are pretty terrifying. I have a hard time imagining one put into the downtown area.

  11. Da Mage says:

    Unfortunately, like Simcity 2013, the ‘full simulation’ claims are completely bogus. While people do have permanent homes and work places and will commute between them realistically…..they dont have to.

    People have found out if a person cannot get to their place of work they just dont go. It still counts them as working there, but they just never leave their house. YOu can create a city where the residential is completely detached from the industrial and the city will grow and run perfectly…though with less traffic since everyone just stays in their homes instead of driving to work.

    If people are stuck at a bus stop too long then they just ‘teleport’ to where they wanted to go. In fact it seem a bad public transit will run better then a perfect one as people get to work faster if they wait at the bus stop and get teleported. If a car is stuck in a traffic jam too long or their route takes too long they will just disappear from the game world (most likely teleported to their destination), it can even happen if you are in the follow cam.

    Huge thread on the offical forums about these issues:
    http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?842526-Workers-not-getting-to-work-has-no-consequences!&s=81dc95d1d941d31494da08f51cd52fcf

    I’m a bit disappointed, but hopefully these issues are addressed in a later patch. Much of this was only found out over the weekend, so the devs are yet to give a response.

    • krellen says:

      That actually sound good to me. After dealing with people in Banished starving to death while carrying food home, having “traffic issues” not screw up my city would be a godsend.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Yeah, I’m 100% willing for my simulation to make compromises for the sake of the sanity of the player regardless of realism.

        People get sick. When there are that many people in one city, rare diseases are bound to happen to a few of the citizens. Does no one in the city have an endocrine disease of any kind? That’s not even a little bit realistic!

      • Downie says:

        I can understand the desire to avoid people getting stuck due to bugs, but if providing transport links is entirely optional because of teleporting people, that seems like a bad thing for gameplay. Like when people found in the last Sim City that you could just build nothing but residential and have mass unemployment with no negative consequences.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Maybe that teleportation thing is what our governor is aiming for with his continuing cuts to transit budgets and refusing funds for high-speed rail. At last, the plan becomes clear~!

    • Jabor says:

      The cars-disappearing-if-they-get-stuck is a deliberate thing, but it does have consequences – notably, whatever the vehicle is delivering doesn’t actually get delivered. This doesn’t particularly matter if it’s someone going to work (due to the simulation not having any consequences for if that doesn’t happen), but if delivery trucks keep getting taken off the road then your industrial and commercial buildings will start complaining about it.

      The alleged reason for this is so that major traffic issues remain localized, instead of turning into city-wide gridlock that makes it impossible to find the actual problem – which seems reasonable to me from a gameplay perspective.

    • Kian says:

      What’s wrong with telecommuting and working from home? I wish my employers would let me do it.

    • Kyte says:

      Residents and workers are deliberately abstracted: There’s a post I can’t retrieve right now where they say how a residence might never have any of their inhabitants drive to work. It uses a statistical model that draws samples from a agent-driven subset, IIRC. This is for the sake of performance, the devs have been very explicit in their game’s limitations. (9-tile limit, 1million pop cap, for example)

      Deliveries, services and such are 100% agents though.

  12. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Question about the game; can you choose whether traffic drives on the left- or right-hand side of the road? As an Australian (we have left-side driving), I would find it extremely difficult to design right-side-drive roads.

    Also, we have stacks of roundabouts in Australia, and if I may explain the rules quickly: In a left-side drive country, traffic navigates the roundabout clockwise. That means that, as you approach a roundabout, traffic on your right will always move in front of you unless they turn left (which means they move beside you), while you’ll always move in front of traffic to your left. Therefore, when you approach a roundabout, you can completely ignore traffic on your left and focus on traffic to your right, which is much easier than navigating a four-way intersection.

    Final point; if you think Boston is bad, you’ve never driven in Sydney.

    • Da Mage says:

      Yes, when you create your city you can set what side of the road Cims drive on.

      As a few Australian, this is really good to see in the game.

    • Hitch says:

      Yes. When you start a game you have the option to select left hand drive.

    • Halceon says:

      Driving side is selectable, yes.

    • Ranneko says:

      In fact if you want a city with a crazy big number of roundabouts look at Canberra, the benefits of a planned city I guess. Never been stuck in traffic there, got lost a few times though. But the lack of traffic problems could also be attributed to the lack of traffic.

      Sweden is a country that used to drive on the left and swapped over in 1967, apparently one of the things that they had to do was fix every roundabout, because of course the entries and exits are all wrong if you swap the side of the road you are driving on.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        I love Canberra, but my god do you need a GPS to find your way around the place. And even then, if you miss an exit, you’re screwed.

        • Ranneko says:

          I had to chuck a u-ey on a highway leaving town because I missed the exit I was after. Turns out when maps told me Continue Straight, they actually meant get into the right hand lane and take the exit. It was definitely what I was after towards the end of a drive from Mudgee to Canberra.

    • Tuck says:

      Melbourne’s hook turns may trump Sydney’s roads on occasion…

    • Patrick the Dingo Bane says:

      I got drunk in Perth once and very nearly caused a pile up trying to cross a round-about. I think that qualifies as experience.

  13. James Schend says:

    Washington State has been building roundabouts like crazy in recent years. (Where they fit– the real estate usage is a real issue.) Everybody loves them. Every time one hit the ballot, the funding is granted with no problem at all.

    I don’t like when Europeans generalize about the United States as if it’s one tiny city or something, but it’s even weirder when an American does it. Just… the US is a pretty big country. I don’t know what tiny part of it you’re talking about where people hate and fear roundabouts, but I know it doesn’t include Washington State.

    /soapbox

    • krellen says:

      The US is, at a minimum*, three different nations unified as a single state. Shamus can probably speak pretty well for the New England/Northeastern nation, while Washington is in the Western nation, which is vastly different.

      *Northeast, South, West. Further subdivisions are possible and I would not argue with.

      • James Schend says:

        Yeah; after visiting Europe, I honestly think *language excluded*, Germany and France are more unified in thought/attitudes than, say, Seattle and, for example, Charlotte, North Carolina.

        The language issue is really what “tricks” people into thinking the US isn’t very diverse, I think.

        Caveat: I have no idea with Shamus lives. But I do know how attitudes about roundabouts don’t exist here in Washington State and honestly, I’ve never heard the word “afraid” attached to the concept of roundabouts until reading his post.

        EDIT: oh and as a “western nation”, please don’t lump us in with L.A. Those people are freaks.

        • Zukhramm says:

          I defintely think it’s more than just language. Presentation in media for one, outside of the US we watch “american” TV and movies, play “american” (and I’m including Canada in there as well) video games without much thought spent on more specific location. The only medium we have any more detailed knowledge of where it’s from is music.

          Politics is another thing, a lot of attention is given to the US presidential election while no one at all cares about European Union politics.

        • Syal says:

          I’m surprised to hear this, because I did hate roundabouts when I lived in Washington State.

          • Cuthalion says:

            I first learned to drive there (in WA), and we only had a couple of roundabouts where I was. They scared me at first, because I grew up riding in cars that stopped at lights, but not so much roundabouts.

            Didn’t take me long to adjust though, and now I prefer them. The lights where I live now (semi-rural suburb in the midwest/south) are just awful.

      • Retsam says:

        I think you’re missing the Midwest, but otherwise accurate. Midwest, for those not familiar with the term essentially is the “North Central” region, which basically encompasses anything not far enough West to be “western”, not far south enough to be “southern” and not east enough to be “northeastern”. I guess that makes us the Hufflepuff of geographical divisions.

        But, yeah, Northeast, South, West, and Midwest are the four big geographical divisions of the country that we’re taught in schools.

        • Jonathan says:

          Except the “midwest” stops around Chicago or Wisconsin, which makes it not at all west to those of us who are geographically further west, like Texas.

          I used to think “midwest” meant everything in a rough box going from Montana to Colorado to Arkansas up to Illinois…because Ohio, Indiana, etc., are clearly very much part of the Eastern US.

          • Purple Library Guy says:

            I suspect this is an artifact of the Eastern Seaboard considering itself to be basically the whole country and so anything not coastal is “West”. In Canada we have a similar thing with Ontario and Quebec only vaguely realizing anything west of them exists.

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            The funny thing is that the Mason-Dixon Line as a “demarcation of where The South begins” holds true pretty much all the way to the Rocky Mountains. Southern Illinois doesn’t fit with the Midwest, most of Missouri doesn’t, but Minnesota and Iowa do. Toledo’s Midwest feel, Cleveland gets a little fuzzy, and Pittsburgh’s leaning toward being Eastern.

          • Merlin says:

            The Midwest “stops” at Chicago? That’s like, the center of the region. 538 corroborates!

            http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/what-states-are-in-the-midwest/

            I do think it’s kind of interesting that everyone acknowledges the Midwest as a region but nobody can agree on what it actually constitutes, though.

            • Alexander The 1st says:

              Can we just have everyone take the part everyone agrees is the Midwest as the Midwest, and the contested parts of the Midwest the Wild West?

              Or is that another part of the country?

        • Cuthalion says:

          If the Midwest is Hufflepuff, then does that make…

          Northeast = Slytherin
          South = …um, well it (perhaps unfairly) isn’t thought of as Ravenclaw, so I guess Gryffindor?
          West = Ravenclaw

      • Patrick the sociological economist says:

        3 is a minimum. probably closer to 7.

        New England, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Texas, Southern States, East Coast and Los Angeles.

      • Purple Library Guy says:

        Seattleites seem to be basically Canadian (while Albertans are basically American). Either that or there’s a pan-West-Coast thing that is transnational.
        As a Vancouver BC Canada person I find much more in common with typical Seattle people than with, say, Edmonton people.

    • guy says:

      I think he’s speaking for the entire east coast here.

    • Aulayan says:

      Yeah I was sort of smirking at this as well. I’m living in Indiana and the county just north of Indianapolis has more roundabouts everywhere, and building more.

      Roundabouts have invaded America and they’re spreading.

      • Retsam says:

        As someone who lives on the north side of Indianapolis… that’s mostly just Carmel. They call themselves the “unofficial roundabout capital of the US”, I believe, and are probably one of the few cities with enough disposable cash that they can just do a major remodeling of their road systems.

        They are neat when you get used to them, and probably do help with traffic… but the idea that most cities are going to go and tear out most of their intersections and replace them is still probably a pipe dream at this point.

    • Rosseloh says:

      I live in South Dakota. You put a roundabout in out here and I GUARANTEE you the first day someone will try to take their tractor pulling a sprayer through it, get stuck on something or hit someone, and ruin it for everyone.

      Yes, even if it’s in town.

      I’d dearly love to get some roundabouts, they’d fix a few of the tight spots we’ve got in my town (and yes I understand that when I talk about “traffic” in a town of 25,000 I’m not coming close to a real city’s problems), but it won’t happen anytime soon.

  14. swenson says:

    So I live in Michigan, a state which appears to have a grand total of five roundabouts. And I am apparently one of about fifteen people in the entire state who actually know how to drive through them.

    Do you see that sign as you drive up? Is it red, an octagon, and have STOP written on it? Oh, no, it’s yellow, a triangle, and says YIELD? THEN WHY ARE YOU STOPPING, YOU FOOLS, IF YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO COME TO A COMPLETE STOP THEY WOULD PUT UP A STOP SIGN.

    Grr.

    Oh, and totally agree that the Boston road system is evil and was designed with the explicit purpose of trapping unaware tourists and eating them. The only way I’ve discovered to escape the city is by airplane, this is why I only fly into/out of the airport and make my Boston relatives come pick me up, instead of driving to their house directly.

    • Lazlo says:

      So since you are one of those 15 people, I have a question for you: What, if any, turn signals are you supposed to use before, during, or after a roundabout? Is there any way to know, before they take it, which road out of a roundabout a car in the roundabout is likely to take? Like, I’ll just put on my right turn signal to indicate that I’m not the sort of suicidal maniac who would decide to drive the wrong way around this roundabout, and then I’ll put on my right turn signal again to indicate that I’ve decided that instead of driving around and around and around for the rest of the day, I plan to get out on one of the next few roads.

      The one thing that always frustrates me about them is that I always feel like 50% of the time I’m yielding to a car that’s going to turn out of the roundabout before they get to me, but if I don’t yield to that 50%, the other 50% will be prone to hit me, and it will be my fault for not yielding.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        If the roundabout is small enough signaling is pretty pointless since you will be in it too short for anyone to notice it. But if you want to give signals, my rule is to signal right when the next exit is my exit. That way the guy at my exit might know I will not plow into him. As I said this is kind of pointless that smaller reoundabouts since he will not have nough time to process that I’m using a signal, before I exit.

        • swenson says:

          This is basically what I do.

          I never actually got taught how to drive through roundabouts–we literally didn’t have any within a couple counties radius when I was going through driver’s ed–so I’ve had to make it up as I go along, but this seemed the most intuitive to me.

          The important thing to me just seems like telling people coming in other entrances to the roundabout when I’m getting off it, so they know whether or not it’s safe to enter. But all the roundabouts that we do have in my area now (which is, if I’m counting correctly, a grand total of four, and two of those are on a university campus) are small anyway, so it’s a little irrelevant.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Correct roundabout signalling, Australian edition;

        – Before you enter the roundabout, signal in the direction that you want to turn.

        – If the turning direction is ambiguous (e.g. if there is a roundabout with three equally-spaced exits, so there’s no significant difference between “left” and “straight” — it happens), best to indicate anyway.

        – When you’re about to exit the roundabout, indicate left (that would be indicating right if you were in a right-side driving country).

        • Eruanno says:

          Yup, this is the way I learned it too (except swapping left and right because we have right-hand traffic where I live). It also helps if you drive in the lane closest to the direction you’re going to (so if you’re turning left, position yourself in the left lane, right or straight, position yourself in the right lane) and then transition over to the lane closest to the exit while passing the exit before the one you want to use (this step is only necessary if not going straight or turning right).

      • Epopisces says:

        Per our DoT, turn signals are not required when entering a roundabout, but are required when exiting–so you have it right (at least if you were driving in Wisconsin).

      • Thomas says:

        In the UK, you

        1. Signal left if you’re taking the first exit.
        2. Signal right if you’re taking an exit on the right side of the roundabout.
        3. Don’t signal if neither of the above.

        And then on the roundabout
        4. Signal left if your exit is the next one coming up. (And then move into the outside lane)
        5. Signal right if you’re in the inside lane and aren’t moving to an outside lane (no-one does this)

        But in practise the only thing that happens is people signal when they’re leaving the roundabout. Its probably the one thing about roundabouts that UK drivers generally dont understand.

        • Primogenitor says:

          There is another problem with drivers and roundabouts in the UK. If its a multi-lane roundabout then people treat them as concentric circles, rather than spirals out to the various exits.

        • Wolf says:

          Sooo… Does anyone see the benefit in any of the “before entering the roundabout” signalling rules?
          Those seem to be the most confusing of the lot and at the same time I am not sure who they are for. The guy behind you has no meaningful way to you signalling which exit you will take, since he is stuck behind you anyway.

          • Zukhramm says:

            There’s no benefit and to those that live somewhere you have to do that: fix your rules! They make no sense!

            I mean, that drivers that are around to see that signal aren’t likely to remain with you once you exit, but even if they are, what are they supposed to do with that information? Will they even remember it?

            Signaling for exit is the only thing that makes sense.

            • Da Mage says:

              (Aussie version, so left side of road) This applies to small roundabouts.

              Well if you signal left then someone at any other exit knows they can get on the roundabout without worrying about you.

              If you don’t signal or signal right, then a person on the left knows they should wait for you….especially if you are going to get on the roundabout first.

              If you are on the roundabout and you are signalling right as you go around, cars will know you are still on the roundabout and bad drivers are less likely to pull out in front of you. Once your exit is the next one you indicate left to leave and someone entering there then knows the can come out.

              Indicating where you are going is really just going to make your trip on the roundabout safer and prevent bad drivers pulling out in front of you.

          • Charnel Mouse says:

            They’re more useful on mini-roundabouts. If the car coming in from the entrance before yours is signalling that they’ll leave on the first exit, you can pull out as well without them crashing into you.

            As for normal-size roundabouts, no idea. Consistency?

  15. Zukhramm says:

    I’m not sure about the idea that roundabouts are only useful in large, densly packed areas. I’m from a really small place and we’ve got loads anyway.

    • Retsam says:

      It’s not that they’re only useful in densely packed areas, it’s that you only see a significant benefit in those areas, so given how unfamiliar most people are with roundabouts in the US, it doesn’t make sense to install one where there’s not going to be a significant benefit, generally.

    • rofltehcat says:

      I think at one point the EU paid money to councils etc. if they implemented roundabouts. So they built many small roundabouts they didn’t actually need. One I’m thinking of is right in the middle between a hospital, an elementary school and a residential area. Having one there is nice because it slows down the traffic (people going to or from the hospital can’t just go straight ahead past the school at max speed) but the amount of traffic isn’t really enough to make one a requirement.

  16. andy_k says:

    Given that lately I have been getting my city fix from SC4, I am looking forward to a city game that actually works from this decade!

    Although it probably means that there goes my job, my social life and my sleep.

    Perhaps the kids will be entertained watching me play it – so maybe I *will* still get to see them after all…

  17. asterismW says:

    I went to New Zealand five years ago and drove on more roundabouts there in two weeks than I ever did in 10 years driving in the States. At first I didn’t like them, but by the end of my vacation I got irritated whenever there was a traffic light instead of a roundabout. An interesting side effect of that is that now, whenever I do drive on a roundabout here, I have this mild sense of unease that I’m going around it the wrong way.

  18. Oh, Shamus. Rutskarn has infected your brain, hasn’t he?

    “…and you can watch the complex flow of traffic to get a feel for where people are coming from, where they are going…”

    Even Cotton-Eyed Joe?

  19. Boston is such a nightmare for navigation because (among other reasons), it has absorbed other communities over its long history of expansion. Because it did this, it wound up with a bunch of similarly-named streets that used to belong to towns X, Y, and Q, and never (couldn’t?) change them. So to the unwary, it seems like there are twenty Elm streets or what have you, even though they used to be part of different settlements.

    That would make for an interesting facet to a city-building game; absorbing smaller town.

    • Oh yes, random town absorption. ‘s why there’s 3 major Roswell Roads in the greater Atlanta metro area, they all go to Roswell, GA (which is actually older than Atlanta).

      Oooh, don’t forget to take local and state politics into account with that game. My suburb spent nearly 20 years trying to become a city before they hit on the surefire tactic of reminding the rest of the state that it’d piss Atlanta off (worked like a charm).
      It could be a lot of fun. Do you make sure your services are exceptional so the town wants to join, do you wait till a disaster happens and then try to take advantage of it to force them to join, do you just try to force it? Okay, that might be more politics than a city-building game has, but still fun!

      • Politics could be a kind of “random disaster.” Like, “One of the councilmen approved a subdivision way off in the middle of nowhere, and now we’re legally obligated to extend sewer, water, police, and fire protection services.”

        I live in Kansas City, so having a game where you’re playing a city that borders right on another could lead to interesting mechanics involving tax rates, where people live vs. where they work, should one side pay for a stadium when both sides use it, etc.

    • Andrew_C says:

      Kinda like the town I live in. It has at least 4 High Streets, one of which is has been pedestrianised with the result that people on the others keep getting confused delivery drivers on their doorsteps.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m keeping this game on my radar, but I’m going to give it a few months for the better-than-simcity hype to die off and the inevitable paradox kinks to be worked out.

  21. JAB says:

    I live in Houston, Texas. There’s a semi-roundabout in the Museum District that my friends and I refer to as “The Wheel of Death.” It’s essentially a divided road, with some other add-ons. You can’t go all the way around it, without having to yield to other people on the road. And it’s in an area with a lot of tourists, so there’s always someone confused.

    Really pretty fountain though.

    • I lived in Houston for a while, and I’d call the 610 loop the actual Wheel of Death. Until I lived in another major city, I thought it was normal to have 1-2 traffic fatalities per rush hour (AM and PM).

    • Supahewok says:

      Ha! Know exactly where you’re talking about. Got all turned around in the opposite direction there once because my GPS went nuts…

    • Spammy says:

      Eyyyy another person from Houston! I’m not sure where with regards to signage but there is another roundabout near the tunnel under the ship channel. I’ve only been on it twice and I think I successfully navigated it because one way I was on-and-off and the other time there was no one on it.

  22. Jonathan says:

    SC2k did have churches. I think they popped up in residential areas, and were 2×2.

  23. Dev Null says:

    Roundabouts are the best, but roundabouts in the US are utterly terrifying; they go the wrong way round!

  24. Patrick the sociological economist says:

    I’ve always felt that any/all Simulator falls short of truly epic ratings because its lacks the willingness to fully acknowledge the human condition.
    -Every major city has a street that is nothing but college bars. In Pittsburgh it’s Carson St. Chicago has Rush St. SF has the Redlight district. 3 days a week its a police nightmare, but the monetary benefit is tremendous. As mayor you could squash it or profit by it.
    -Parking is not just a problem in major cities, in most cases it is THE PROBLEM. It is simultaneously your biggest issue AND your biggest source of revenue. Finding a clever and interesting way of making it part of the game should be a priority. Hand-waving it is a cop-out.
    -Don’t just call it “crime”. Make certain areas more prone to certain types.

    There are other things too, but you get the idea. All of these things could be set with sliders when beginning. A slider for “Fantasy Land –> Hyper-realistic” for level of control and another for “I’m just a kid! –> Cynical old Baby-Boomer” for adult content involving crime and such. Maybe thats to much, but hey….if you’re going to Simulate it do it right.

    • …and I’m sure the devs will gladly let you work out the whole age rating for the game (which now contains references prostitution, gambling, and drug use instead of the current notification that only alcohol is present) and the resulting lost sales because it can’t be rated E for Everyone anymore.

    • Merlin says:

      Rush Street isn’t a bunch of college bars. Quite the opposite – it’s the heart of the Viagra Triangle, where rich old men and young gold digging ladies meet up in wildly overpriced whiskey & cocktail bars. If you want cheap beer and human suffering, you head up to Clark Street in Wrigleyville.

  25. Steve C says:

    Are there bots that play this game? We could get them to compete against each other and when they can play perfectly we’ve solved the issue of urban planning. Go AI go.

    As for roundabouts they are often not used in NA when they should be *and* they are often used in Europe when they should *not* be. The mini-roundabouts, the double-roundabouts, the penta-roundabout, the sextuplet-roundabout and the comically-large-roundabouts are all abominations. They don’t seem to understand that if a roundabout has traffic lights that it was the wrong tool for the job. A round peg in a square hole.

    Europe is just as stupid as NA. It’s just a different kind of stupid.

  26. Bropocalypse says:

    I find the industry footprint really varies by city, somehow. Most of my towns have had far more residential than anything else, but a couple have had a noticeably larger ratio of industry. Sometimes they prefer commercial zones. It kind of makes me think there’s something more going on under the hood than “You need X amount of zone A to increase demand of zone B.”

  27. Bitterpark says:

    Cities: Skylines is the best modern city building game to come out over the last ten years. That’s not saying much though.

    Okay, to be fair it’s a pretty damn good dame in it’s own right, but I disagree that it follows the SC formula too closely.

    For one, the interface is insufficent. I don’t agree with them throwing out all the overview graphs and metrics from Sim City 4 and replacing them with hard to read ingame overlays, a generic happiness symbol and goddamn chirper (oh no people have no water, but it’s actually the lone house that was built one tile off the pipeline complaining). The RCI meter has been cut down to *just* RCI, there’s no way to tell if the generic Commercial demand is for Small-Density shops, High-Density supermarkets or Office buildings. From the way they haphazardly “streamlined” all the important information across build menus I assume they just didn’t have time/experience, so at least that’s understandable. Still, I hope they add more overview menus in patches, and other information, like the types of imports and exports each building has.

    The lack of day/night cycle is bad, especially in a game that otherwise deepens the traffic simulation compared to SC4. People just come and go whenever, there’s no rush hour! No traffic flow graphs either, just a generic congestion overlay, though that may have been deliberate. Then there’s odd traffic behavior: people seem way too happy to walk everywhere, use public transport and park their car wherever. I built a one-way road out of my industrial district to deliver exports, and commuters coming in just parked by the sidewalk near it and walked all the way across to their jobs, with no concern for their cars. I once saw a woman drive her collie to work. In a scooter. I don’t think that’s even physically possible.

    The system of unique buildings seems to have been reduced to tourist traps. Aside from expensive superprojects, the uniques only seem to serve as decorations and arbitrary superproject prerequisites. You don’t build a Casino or a Military base to save your budget at a cost of crime/lowered land value, you don’t create a Convention Center to increase business demand. You just build things as overly-expensive parks.

    The whole system of unlocks seems like an overlong tutorial. I can’t build roads wider than two lane until I get 500 population? How am I supposed to lay out a foundation for a new city?? I need at least 1500 to build parks?? 2000 to enable changing taxes??? 3000 or whatever to be allowed to have garbage services?! Can’t even zone farming areas or high-density housing until you reach some huge population count. These arbitrary goalposts only serve to hamstring your city design and force you to create inefficent shantytowns to gain access to roads and services you NEED to start actually building your REAL city. Granted, they were wise to include a ‘mod’ that unlocks everything from the start, but it also gives you a huge amount of money (you’d normally get smaller infusions of cash for completing each population goal, which is actually a clever design choice) eliminating the challenge of keeping your starting economy afloat. I feel like a less restrictive unlock system (like the one in Sim City 4) would have been much better.

    All in all, it’s a great game that has some really odd design decisions and deviations from the Sim City formula.

  28. Ben says:

    Another problem with roundabouts in the states (at least in Ohio) is there are not consistent rules for them. For instance, there is one near me where entering traffic yields to the roundabout traffic going north/south but the roundabout traffic yields to entering traffic east/west.

  29. Tsi says:

    As someone who works in Paris (but uses the metro). I can say that there are 2 kinds of roundabouts.

    There are ones large enough to allow from 4 to 10 or more cars to drive side by side all around and are a mess and a nightmare to navigate if you’re new to them. I only know and used 2 of them in Paris (they’re practically next to each other) and the few times I had to use them, I hated them with all my guts… Especially the one at the “Arc de Triomphe” with no floor markings and traffic lights INSIDE the roundabout defeating it’s purpose… uggghhhhh. Here is a nice vid for those interested but the guy driving is pretty lucky and doesn’t exit too far … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jil3I4ynU2w

    And then there are the small ones that allow either 1, 2 or more rarely 3 cars side by side and are the most common you’ll encounter in any city size in Europe.
    The ones with potential for 3 cars are mostly positioned nearby hi-way entries/exits.

    In any case, roundabouts have floor markings and people who want to enter them have to wait for their turn and, depending on where they want to go, either stay in the inner-most section if their exit is far or stay in the middle or outer-most section if they intend to exit asap. The speed is limited too and you have to signal your intentions all the time like signal inwards as long as you’re driving inwards and signal outwards while moving to the outer section before getting out. It’s easy thanks to the speed limit and you rapidly get a hang of it.

    Anyway, if you’re a tourist in France, don’t ever drive in Paris. Moving around in the metro is easy even if it’s dirty and sometimes creepy. Everyone wishes for a Metro like the one in Hong Kong but that won’t happen…

    • Robyrt says:

      That was a standout moment for me too when I was visiting the Arc de Triomphe for the first time. There are traffic lights everywhere, pedestrians cutting across four lanes of traffic, and tour buses trying to merge through a busy street. Fortunately, there is a metro stop about 10 meters from the roundabout.

  30. AdmiralCheez says:

    So about ten years ago, my town had a roundabout, or as we called it, a circle. Then they decided that it wasn’t efficient enough for managing traffic, so they went and replaced it.

    This is what they came up with. This is not efficiency, this is madness.

    • guy says:

      I look at that and I do not understand.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      How could you accidentally the suburban transport network?

    • Looks perfectly normal to me. But then again, the main artery near my house changes names randomly, all the streets were laid out on trails, and I’m only half-joking about the city being designed to confuse Yankees. Also, the DOT is staffed by idiots (or Cthulhu cultists trying to drive us all mad, not sure which).

      • Many phenomena — wars, plauges, sudden audits — have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 London orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders for Exhibit A.
        Where they go wrong, of course, is in assuming that the wretched road is evil simply because of the incredible carnage and frustration it engenders every day.
        In fact, very few people on the face of the planet know that the very shape of the M25 forms the sign odegra in the language of the Black Priesthood of Ancient Mu, and means “Hail the Great Beast, Devourer of Worlds.”

        – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, “Good Omens”

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Madness?No.THIS!IS!TRAFFIC!

    • Phill says:

      Looks a little like Spaghetti Junction near Birmingham in the UK:

      https://www.google.com/maps/@52.5118288,-1.8638024,16z

      • Gravebound says:

        That kind of thing is why I hate driving in Dallas.

      • AdmiralCheez says:

        Okay, I’ll admit it. Those are MUCH more confusing than mine. Which just leaves me wondering – how do people even navigate these without being a native? I mean, I’ve been driving that intersection pretty much since it opened, and I still have times where I’ll second-guess my lane choice.

        Although, it looks like those are both major highways, so they’re probably well marked. Mine is less so. There are signs, but you really don’t have enough time to plan ahead unless you already know where you’re going.

  31. Jabrwock says:

    My goodness, 104 comments, and nobody mentions the MythBusters test of Roundabouts v. 4-Ways?

    http://www.wimp.com/testroundabout/

  32. Jabrwock says:

    Several areas in my town have used them as speed bumps. The main problem with speed bumps is they make slow-plowing a nightmare. This way they can keep the road smooth while still forcing you to slow at the intersection (though not as much as a stop sign, so if you’re doing the residential area speed you barely have to tap the brake if there’s nobody to yield to).

    A few people have complained because they lose a few feet of property, but these are corner lots, and they get their property taxes reduced to compensate.

    Cuts down on the slip-n-slide at stop-signs too. If traffic is low density, there’s less stop-n-start, so nobody is gunning it from a complete stop, spinning their tires and polishing the ice and throwing off the sand laid down to add grip…

    Some of the small ones had concrete barriers added to stop the idiots with pickups from going straight through over the centre island, and to guide people who don’t understand and try to turn into traffic because they want to go left…

  33. Purple Library Guy says:

    Reading this, (specifically ” You’ve got three main types of zones: Residential (green) commercial (blue) and industrial (yellow)”) the thought struck me that there should be a city builder that lets you do “new urbanism”. Like, designing for walkable neighbourhoods and short commutes and stuff. At higher tech, subsidizing rooftop solar to reduce burdens on power infrastructure. Stuff like that.
    It seems like the city sims all use the sort of 50s era approach to zoning and such, where you’ve got subdivisions of pure residential and everyone drives to the mall if they need anything.

    • Bitterpark says:

      You can actually design city areas with footpaths in Skylines (the paths are in “decorations” for reasons beyond comprehension, but they function as pedestrian roads). You can also enact “saving power” edicts in specific areas of the city. In that respect, Skylines is a lot more advanced than Sim City.

  34. Decius says:

    Request: I want to be able to play Cities In Motion as a multiplayer game with someone playing Skylines.

  35. Ringwraith says:

    So Sim City 4 is pretty much obsolete now except for its music? Like say, Epicentre?

  36. Kacky Snorgle says:

    Another American who’s hopelessly confused by these newfangled roundabouts that have been showing up around me lately.

    I grew up near a “traffic circle”, which was like a roundabout only huge (eight entrances, and the central island contained several buildings and a decent-sized park). Despite its size, it got by just fine with only one lane of traffic on the circle. I never had any trouble navigating it (well, okay, I may have missed my exit once); it’s just a one-way street, clearly labelled as such at every entrance, that happens to be curved.

    But I have no idea what to do with a tiny little roundabout striped into two or even three lanes. What are all but the outermost supposed to be *for*? Who has time to change lanes inward and outward again in the space of half a dozen car-lengths? It also doesn’t help that the signs at the approaches show right-turn and left-turn arrows, when they actually mean “right turn and exit immediately” and “right turn and exit a while later”….

  37. Jeysie says:

    My hatred of roundabouts is that I am a pedestrian and they leave no gap in traffic to actually cross the blasted street.

  38. Bropocalypse says:

    Roundabouts are pretty easy, just treat it like four three-way intersections in sequence.

  39. Incunabulum says:

    In case you’ve never visited: Boston is a mad vortex of devious roads that have been designed to entrap and devour unwary visitors in their hungry tendrils. The roads are only labeled just enough to trick you into thinking you can navigate with their guidance. And then it pulls you underground where your GPS won’t work, re-labels all the roads, and begins presenting you with branching choices at high speed.

    I spent three and a half years living in Connecticut – except for the roundabouts the *whole* of New England is like this.

    Half the roads don’t have street signs, the half that do the sign is tiny, way off the road, and obscured by a tree. You’ll be driving down ‘Old English Reference’ road, come to a 4 way stop and find that the road on the other side of the stop sign is no longer ‘OER’ road, its a completely different road and you needed to tuen left and travel 3 blocks over to continue on ‘OER’.

    Add in the freeways where they only place *one* sign announcing an exit – approximately 1/8 of a mile before the exit – and that people for some reason *slow down* on freeway on-ramps before merging with traffic and the whole place is just crazy for driving if you don’t already know where you’re going.

    Adn I would add that MA drivers are probably the worst I’ve seen *in the world* (and I’ve been around the world). Its the only place where I’ve seen a guy get on an on-ramp, come to a complete stop, start *backing up*, and *then* look behind him to see if anyone was there (me, in this case).

    • Jeysie says:

      As a native Bay Stater, I can confirm that MA drivers are absolutely horrible. I’m convinced that if I die of something other than old age, it will be via getting run over by a Massachusetts driver.

      I once had a friend in NC drive up to visit me for a weekend, and he told me that “the people here all drive like they have a collective deathwish”. Sounds about right.

  40. Adalore says:

    all this talk about traffic, and roundabouts…

    While going to a museum for a college paper thing I ran into one such roundabout, and had a “OHSHIT, WHAT IS THIS…oh…okay /turns right unto it.” in Albuquerque. The claims of american brains popping is simply limited to not being exposed to them.

    Also yeah I noticed the lack of figuring out parking in the game, that’s another problem that I think is worth attempting to solve, and also I think it could use buildings that expand more, even across the road.

    I mean…who has ever seen a university in a city that small EVER? I think placing a university and then expanding it’s campus could be a cool problem in the game to deal with.

  41. Abnaxis says:

    Do cities come out organic-shaped like in Cities XL? Were they like that in SimCity? I haven’t played city sims in a while…

  42. Dude says:

    How intuitive and friendly is the game to pick up for someone who has never played city building sims before? Especially if certain someone is a young kid?

  43. Daemian Lucifer says:

    but it’s actually really confusing and stressful if you’re not used to it.

    They are really stressful even when you are driving through them for a long time.You dont notice it consciously,but you do get tense once you get into a big roundabout,especially in dense traffic.

  44. Endymion says:

    There are some weird traffic quirks I’ve found that can break the immersion if abused. Obviously, this means I’ve abused them.

    Onramps/offramps are obscenely powerful if used correctly. As in making your entire city out of nothing but ramps for any form of transit and one way streets to actually build on, since they won’t let you use ramps for that.

    So I have this weird looking city of 100k people that doesn’t have a single stop light…. or even a single stop sign. Everyone gets where they want to go by seamlessly merging and splitting from these one lane roads that wind their way around. It feels scummy and stupid, but it works just as well as a scummy stupid strategy should.

    On another note…. I LOVE the pedestrian paths you can make. Creating a footpath bridge over a highway or train tracks to let the dudes walk to their job is incredibly satisfying.

    • rofltehcat says:

      The ramp thing results from the game’s representation of traffic rules. In real life there are often lanes for people who want to turn right that basically circumvent the traffic light. This massively helps congestion. In the game, however, they can’t do that and everyone needs to stop for them.

      Foot traffic in general is pretty useful. I have seen comments of people saying that the citizens walk too far but that isn’t true: The city tiles are 2km*2km. At cities that size many distances you’ll need to go are shorter than 1 km walking somewhere or riding a bike on such short distances is much preferable to driving a car.
      Only a shame that foot paths aren’t easier to find. I didn’t know they existed until playing around with decorations.

  45. rofltehcat says:

    After playing around with roundabouts in the game I gotta say that a lot of their power comes from the large roundabouts being highways. This is because of the traffic rules in the game where no matter what direction a road is going in, the road going on or off the main roadway always gets a traffic light phase. Except for highways.

    Drivers recognize that others are trying to get off a highway (letting others onto it doesn’t work that well) and just drive by them on the left side. On a 6 lane one way road they only really ever use the right two lanes.

    Plus the highways allow for better interaction with highway access roads. The access roads are also very good for managing other (one way) street systems but they are even more powerful when going on/off a highway.

    For example, take the “large roundabout”. It is basically a circular highway with both direction two lane roads connecting at four spots. Now, if you delete the last bit of each of these two lane roads and build an on- and a off-ramp instead, people on the highway will no longer get a traffic signal and people can just drive onto and off the roundabout via the ramps. This means that unless you have other choke points nearby basically nobody will ever have to slow down or even stop.
    Basic large roundabouts are pretty damn good but this seems to work even better for me. It requires a little more space but I have switched to building the highway roundabouts by hand anyways because it allows me to make the center bigger and adapt to the terrain. Most of them end up egg-shaped but it seems pretty effective.

  46. Zaxares says:

    Welp, guess I’m adding another game to my “must play” list. XD

  47. Kdansky says:

    What bothers me most about all the city builders is how extremely American the towns and cities look. Europe’s cities look nothing like it. The complete reliance on cars is one such thing. Many cities here do not have any cars (except for small delivery vehicles) at all in the centre. Amsterdam or Basel are full of public transport (on rails), pedestrians and cyclists, but hardly any cars at all.

    • Bropocalypse says:

      As for the buildings, I recall that… Simcity 4 I think? Had options to change the buildings to be either modern, old-world, or asian-esque.

      • Da Mage says:

        Not Simcity 4 I don’t think. I remember that feature, I think it may have been Simcity 3000 Unlimited, where that feature was the main part of the ‘Unlimited’ pack.

    • Purple Library Guy says:

      Note that this is not just a question of how buildings look. City sims have a certain development philosophy implicit in their rules for how you do things. I don’t think you can build a European city using the kind of zoning these programs allow. Maybe a mod?

  48. Chris says:

    Roundabouts aren’t a European thing, they are an everywhere but America thing. Some things are just too complicated for American’s to understand unfortunately.

    • Shamus says:

      Are you new on the internet? Is this your first time doing the “LOL, Americunz r dumb” gag? Was it fun last time? Do you expect it to turn out any different this time? I’ve seen that thread before. I didn’t enjoy moderating it. Also, I’m an American.

      Also, you really ought to wrap your head around how apostrophes work before you call other people dumb.

      In short: Be nice.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Case in point: in the early nineties, lots of Germans were afraid of roundabouts. I know, I was one of them.
      I was cured later, but I still know loads of compatriots who don’t understand that multi-lane and magic roundabouts are there to help you, not kill you.

  49. Patrick the Gerrymanderer says:

    Also:

    Someone should really make a GTAIII type mod for skylines. It really wouldn’t do anything but raise crime slightly, but at any given time there would be a high speed chase with many, MANY explosions going on in it’s wake. Once in a while Claude could jump out, molotov cocktail a building, carjack someone else and the chase continues. I think its funny.

  50. Paul Spooner says:

    Man. You’re right about the monotonous skylines. If only someone had developed some procedural sky-scraper technology that they could have used!

  51. Land Moose says:

    Hey Shamus, I’m still really curious about your opinion of the game Banished. It’s a frontier town sim, and it was a one-man dev team, both topics I love hearing about from you.

  52. SteveDJ says:

    Now you’ve done it. I’ve been coming to this site for years (since DMotR), reading and enjoying your many game reviews, content with the fact that I’d never really be buying such a thing.

    But now… here you’ve gone and reviewed a game that I think I’m going to now have to get…

    Thanks. Thanks a lot! ;-)

    P.S. Is it possible to get this on a real disk, at a real store?

    • m. scott veach says:

      Why on Earth would you want to buy something on a real disc at a real store? You have some kind of 90s nostalgia fetish? Love clutter?

      The future is happening people. Keep up.

  53. Jonathan says:

    It’s on sale at the Paradox website for $7.49 right now. I bought it because I remembered reading these posts last year.

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