SimCity: First details on the GlassBox engine

Find out how Maxis is making statistics come to life with its new engine

TODO alt text

SimCity is back! And when it returns in 2013, it’ll have more bells and whistles than ever. In a presentation at this year’s GDC Maxis showed off what’s under the hood, explaining how the GlassBox engine will help bring the statistics that drive your city to life.

PC Gamer reports that unlike previous SimCity titles, the new SimCity’s GlassBox engine will allow for events to emerge more naturally. For example, fire stations will no longer provide a static box of coverage. Instead, the longer it takes the fire trucks to drive to a fire, the longer the fire will burn.
This is in contrast to the more rigid relationship between your city’s statistics in previous SimCity generations, that sees Sims’ happiness go up or down in direct proportion to the amount of pollution in your city, for example.

The result: a much more complex system that treats everything from resources and businesses to Sims on the street as “agents.” Creative director Ocean Quigley isolated a group of vehicles and pedestrians to show how “agents” work.

“We’ve created all these people in here, and there’s no jobs for them, no houses for them, and no place to shop. They’re basically all miserable and would love to get out of here as fast as possible. So let’s connect their little maze to the outside world, and these people are going to abandon the city as fast as they can. So, all the little agents, they have an agenda, a mood, something they want to do. They hate it here, they want to get out, and so that’s what they’re doing,” explained Quigley.

It really puts things in perspective when you consider every object in your city will be one of these agents, responding to and interacting with other agents. It’s a much more complex system than what’s been done with any previous SimCity generations, but in a way it could make everything feel more real, organic, and lifelike.

Plus, there will be curvy roads! If you’re looking for more details, make sure to be on the lookout for the May issue of PC Gamer for 8-pages of more sim-tastic details.

We recommend