I can’t really talk about Cities: Skylines without first discussing SimCity. Can you believe it’s already been two years since the disastrous launch of the SimCity reboot? Back in March of 2013, I would have told you with confidence that by now, SimCity would be in good shape; the bugs would be fixed, the region play would work properly, there would be larger cities, and of course, a thriving modding community would be making the game into something truly special. I suppose that all turned into one big “nope!” EA shut down Maxis, SimCity might as well be dead (or at the very least hibernating until the next time EA decides to reboot it—SimCity 4 and its immortal community notwithstanding), and, well… things just aren’t looking good for one of my all-time favorite franchises.
Still, we learned a few things over the last two years. First of all, the genre itself is alive and well. People still enjoy and are quite willing to pay for city-building simulation games. We also know, unmistakably, that really large cities and mod support are not optional features; they’re absolutely mandatory. And finally, we learned that post-release support, clear communication between developers and fans, and mutual respect all around the community are necessary for the longevity of the product—though that can be said for nearly any video game of any genre.
Though those lessons may have fallen upon deaf ears at EA, the folks at Colossal Order took them to heart. They knew they wanted to create a great city-builder. They had scratched the surface with their Cities in Motion titles, and they were ready to make a true city-building sim; hopefully one that could live up to the expectations of the genre’s fans, old and new. And fortunately for them, the shortcomings of SimCity opened the door. Paradox Interactive saw a community of fans that were starving for a city-builder made right, and soon, Cities: Skylines got the green-light.
Colossal Order has achieved its ambition. Cities: Skylines is a proper city-building sim, quite capable of supporting enormous cities, and it’s an excellent game, complete with full mod support, Steam Workshop integration, and tools for designing assets. Best of all, they are doing an absolutely fantastic job of communicating clearly with the community and supporting their product post-release. The first patch came quickly and addressed several issues that were all over the forums.
They are listening.
I suppose this shouldn’t come as such a surprise to me. I guess I really am that jaded. But how couldn’t I be? In the rare case that a developer chooses to actually speak out, more often than not what is said is heavily filtered by the rules of PR and spattered with corporate jargon. And yet here we have TotalyMoo, the “Manager of Things” at the Paradox Offices in Stockholm, regularly posting on the forums, responding to hot issues, providing patch notes, creating lists of mods, featuring user created content, and generally being awesome. Fast, clear communication directly from the developer? Is this really happening? Thanks, Moo.
Cities Skylines is the real deal, and with Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive doing right by the fans, it’s safe to say that the best is yet to come. I’m still mourning Maxis, but Cities: Skylines has dulled that pain considerably, and I can once again look towards the future of the city-building sim with optimism.