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Charm and Mechanics

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by LMan, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. LMan


    Jun 1, 2013
    Sim City vs Cities: Skylines

    Skylines has the clearly superior mechanics set, Sim City has charm pouring out its ears.

    One approaches citybuilding as interacting with a complex system- achieving balance and efficiency while obtaining growth.

    The other seems to think of cities as a box of legos- something to play with and express yourself through.

    • Is there one that is more important/fundamental?
    • How can you coat your mechanics in charm?
    • If you were to make skylines more charming, what would be the most important thing you could change/add?
    • Same thing, but with sim city and mechanical depth.
    BrandyStarbrite and JoeStrout like this.


    Jun 1, 2017
    I don't know a lot about either game, been years since I played either and it was brief, but IIRC Sim City has very "charming" music soundtrack. I think that is probably the single biggest factor in setting a mood, along with color scheme and art design.

    I don't know enough to speak about mechanics, but I would imagine it boils down to difficulty, degree of delayed gratification... basically how serious minded you have to get to do well.
    LMan likes this.
  3. Antypodish


    Apr 29, 2014
    Lets consider Cimcity 4 vs Cityskilnes
    I think what wins for Cimcity 4, is if I have two vanilla games next to each other, Simcity has comprehensive mechanics from day one. While Cityskyline is more of sandbox, with very basics. Probably more of framework.

    I haven't played modedd Cityskilne, but from what I gather, Cityskylines may win over simcity, if right modes are picked.

    In both games you can make pretty cities. With their own styles.

    From my point of view, Simcity wins for me, as it focuses on economy from day one.
    I had no problem on highest difficulty level to earn big $$$. But it requires often micro management.

    While Citiskyline was to me like just sandbox city builder, with little, to no challenge.
  4. BrandyStarbrite


    Aug 4, 2013
    Charm and mechanics.
    Both are equally important.
    christoph_r and BlankDeed like this.
  5. christoph_r


    May 20, 2013
    That depends largely on a game's target audience, but ideally it has both. I think City Skylines could be a lot more popular if it took some charm lessons from Sim City (the twitter knockoff is an attempt, but it gets quite repetitive and annoying after a while, to be honest.) For people who are really into city planning it certainly offers a lot more depth than Sim City. For those who are not, though, the simulation level can be pretty damn hardcore (and at times pretty damn weird - 50% of your city can essentially die off at the same time and your deathcare services will become overwhelmed. Guess why? Because of the way you laid out your residential zones a few hours earlier.)

    In my opinion, Kerbal Space Program is a game that finds a very good middle ground (and is also very popular!) It has enough goofy charm and is simple enough at first to appeal to a large audience. From what I've read, not too many people get to the Mün or even to orbit, but it still seems fun enough for most to be messing around with rockets and space, without any implied responsibility or rocket science. It's forgiving enough in the beginning. Once you get to later stages, though, it becomes pretty damn hardcore (and has, as a result, attracted a pretty hardcore fanbase coming up with the most amazing mobile moon bases.)
    City Skylines has a similar difficulty curve (IMO), but at higher difficulties gameplay is not so much dictated by physics/engineering/clearly laid out mechanics rather than by an intricate (though at times weirdly arbitrary) per-citizen simulation. Which is okay, because city planning is not as exact a field as aerospace engineering. I kind of lost interest, though, after realizing that you have to maneuver around the simulation rules to successfully build larger cities that are not regularly choked by traffic and death waves. But that's a different discussion.

    Another issue I'm seeing with City Skylines is that it's lacking a human touch, despite its attempt at twitter charm and 'tiny city' looks. Sure, you _do_ see simulated humans. But Sim City shows you humans in a different context and also gives you:
    1. Faces to names
    2. Character traits
    3. Motives and ambitions
    These three are portrayed as stereotypical and goofy as it gets, but that's honestly makes it even more charming. I believe them to be key ingredients most humans crave to really relate to a piece of media, be it books, TV series, movies or games. The tweets in City Skyline seem to try to do that in a way, but fall quite short because of how faceless and impersonal they are.
    However, to the hardcore city building simulation crowd that doesn't matter and they seem to be quite happy with what CS is doing (which of course is quite impressive on a simulation level.) So, again, a matter of target audience.
    Red-Owl-Games likes this.