Will Wright says he is “incredibly happy and proud” with what SimCity has become since his departure from the franchise.
“So you’ve made SimCity a guilt-driven experience?” asks Will Wright, creator of the original SimCity, as well as the phenomenally popular The Sims. “Exactly,” replies Ocean Quigley, the Creative Director behind the new SimCity, due out in March this year, “I think guilt is an underexploited emotion in videogames.” The two went on to talk about how feeling guilty for the little guys in your game is something that is unique to videogames. You can’t really feel guilty for characters in a book or a movie, but when you make bad decisions in a game and someone dies, it can affect you. This is something both game designers agree makes for a much more engaging experience.
“There was a point where I had played SimCity so much and was so sick of the whole thing, and didn’t want to touch it for like ten years, but now having played the new version, I really have had a surprising amount of fun,” Wright said, praising Quigley for his take on the city-building franchise. Wright says that Quigley managed to capture all the core elements that make a SimCity game, while also putting never before seen focus on the “neighborhood” level. “As I immersed myself down into the street level … I really got the sense of what it would be like to live in the neighborhoods.”
Quigley explains that while the previous SimCity’s maps were just abstract representations of places, he really wanted the new game’s maps to have a feeling of actually being a place that the player could experience. The main way he achieved this was by designing an incredibly detailed street level, where the player could follow individual lives of their city’s citizens, and then increasing the player’s responsibility and attachment to their city’s well-being.
Wright said that he at first felt constrained by the small size of SimCity’s maps, but later realized that the game can work better this way. “We wanted a depth of simulation over having something that was inert and large” explains Quigley, “Quality over quantity,” Wright agrees.
SimCity is due out for PC on March 5.