I Am A Geographer, Planner, Designer and Citizen. The Rise of the Urban Simulator and All-Rounder

One mistake = OH CRAP!

Late last month a Twitter conversation got going about how Urban Development is often held up by nit picking. Whether it be the example below by Francis or Transport Projects getting lost in the endless circle jerk of business cases. New Zealand suffers from the constant case of Paralysis by Analysis which earned my Urban Simulator remark below.

As I quipped about how Urban Simulators seem to make things more streamlined, Nicholas reminded me about those sodding business cases. It then occurred to me that even with Urban Simulators I am still having to do:

  • Spatial Planning
  • Unitary Planning
  • Building Planning
  • Finance Planning (if the unlimited money module is off)
  • Urban Design Planning
  • Traffic and Traffic Engineering Planning
  • Transit Planning

The consequences of me failing to do the proper planning as listed above will ultimately result in the city potentially facing mass abandonment and later bankruptcy just as a real city would.

FYI: when I am building my cities I do not use the Pause button, so the city is live when I do heavy development work (like a real city my Urban Simulator city faces disruptions).

So how do I do my planning?

I do what planners and traffic engineers do: I get out my maps and start annotating what I want where, when and how as the city budget allows.

Exhibit A: This is a map view of my latest city Manukau

Manukau as of April 5.

As the map illustrates you can see where the transport and transit lines are, what zoning is where and where other important features are like power stations and large civic buildings.

As I am wanting to expand this city, I need to undertake my planning exercises otherwise at minimum my traffic packs up, at worst I go bankrupt leaving the city abandoned. Cue my Spatial Planning as seen below.

Manukau Spatial Planning

You can see from the annotations what I plan to do in each section of the city. From there I will work out how my Transit Lines will either be expanded or added to, what Physical Infrastructure will be needed, what Civic Infrastructure will be needed and just for Ludo, how I plan to design it all so it looks coherent and not a mumble jumble mess.

To do all my planning can take up to half a gaming session with building it all taking up another quarter gaming session after that. It does not leave exactly much time for allowing the Simulation to do its work and for me to drop down to citizen level and see what goes on from a Simulation Citizen’s Viewpoint. Of course any mistakes mean time, money and more disruption to fix up. Not to worry, I do dedicate entire gaming sessions to letting the city just run and me being down at Citizen level experiencing City Life as one of my Citizens would.

Transit Line Planning

In the end Cities Skylines is an Urban Simulator. Even with its mods it will always have limitations compared to an Actual City. However, the Simulator gets very close to experiencing what real life cities experience and it does require proper planning unless you want your city to be CHAOS (Gotham).

Thus when I play Cities Skylines I am an:

  • Urban Geographer
  • Urban Planner
  • Urban Designer
  • Transport and Traffic Engineer
  • Transit Planner
  • Finance Planner
  • CITIZEN
  • All-rounder
Manukau as of April 5.

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