Voice Card  -  Volume 11  -  John Card Number 8  -  Sat, Dec 16, 1989 7:09 PM

After repeated urging from Paul and indirectly from Robert, I finally acquired a copy of the new game / simulation called SIM CITY. It is nothing less than breathtaking and I urge all of you to buy a copy A.S.A.P. (it's only $29 from Mac Connection; look in the entertainment section under Broderbund Software).

This remarkable program allows you to design and create a fully functioning city. You start from scratch on a randomly generated landscape and begin bulldozing, laying out roads, building powerplants, and laying out utility lines. You then begin zoning areas as residential, commercial, or industrial and the fun begins. Buildings rise up on their own, smoke begins to pour out of various stacks, traffic appears on the highways, boats pass under drawbridges, tiny trains rattle over the mass transit tracks, and (after you build an airport) a traffic helicopter begins to report congestion.

All of this takes money and you have a limited budget. You can raise taxes, but the citizenry may take offense. If you don't provide adequate funding potholes will appear. As your city grows you will also need to erect police and fire stations, and eventually the inhabitants will demand a stadium (you can actually see tiny players rushing up and down the field!). Pollution may eventually become a problem but you can get maps showing pollution levels, crime rates, etc. and charts and graphs of all sorts. The idea is to stay in office and keep your budget in the black.

Along the way you may encounter a variety of disasters including tornadoes, flooding, plane crashes, fires, meltdowns (if you choose nuclear power), a truly awesome earthquake, and even an attack from Godzilla!

You can't control EXACTLY what your city will look like, but you can nudge it in various directions through the use of zoning and highway layouts. The traffic simulator actually moves thousands of little drivers from their homes to work and back again, so the traffic jams are quite realistic. The city grows and changes in real time, whether or not you intervene. And the graphics and sound effects are astonishing. As you fly over your city you will believe that it is ALIVE!

My first serious attempt, JohnsTown, was a smashing success (part of the aerial view is shown at left). After over a century of simulated growth, the population is over 120,000 and my approval rating is over 70%. I am especially proud of my island airport, extensive mass transit, and stadium/luxury hotel complex on the big island. Next time I may try creating an Ecotopia of small villages clustered around a central business park.

It would be fun to play in parallel, that is, distribute copies of a starting game file and compare cities after a hundred years or so. Anybody interested?