SimCity 4 - Rush Hour Full Strategy Guide Document written by PyroFalkon (firstname.lastname@example.org) Latest update: 26 February 2004 Current version: 1 +---------------+ |+-------------+| ||LATEST UPDATE|| |+-------------+| +---------------+ v1 (26 February 2004) First release, yo. (What does "yo" mean, anyway?) +-------------------+ |+-----------------+| ||TABLE OF CONTENTS|| |+-----------------+| +-------------------+ PART 1: INTRODUCTION ==================== 1. Intro 2. Claiming Your Land PART 2: MAYOR MODE ================== 3. What do these buttons do? a. Landscaping b. Zones c. Transportation d. Utilities e. Civic Buildings f. Bulldozer g. The Panic Button h. Everything Else 4. Getting Started a. Infrastructure b. Recon c. Expanding 5. Small Towns 6. Medium Cities 7. Metropolises and Beyond 8. The Peanut Butter Point a. What To Do About It b. An Alternate Method 9. My Sim Mode a. The Microphone b. U-Drive It PART 3: REFERENCE ================= 10. Power Plants 11. Ordinances PART 4: STRATEGY ================ 12. Zones a. Residential Zones b. Commercial Zones c. Industrial Zones d. General Zoning Advice 13. Education 14. Transportation a. Asphalt b. Highways c. Mass Transit d. Bridges and Tunnels e. Seaports and Airports 15. You Are Not Alone 16. Reader Strategies PART 5: GOD MODE ================ 17. God Mode Tools a. Landscaping b. Winds and Global Changes c. Reconcile Edges d. Disasters e. Day/Night Cycle 18. God Mode Strategies and Effects PART 6: FAQ STUFF ================= 19. Contributors 20. Version History 21. Copyright Info 22. Contact Info ====================================================== | PART 1: INTRODUCTION | ====================================================== +----------+ |+--------+| ||1. INTRO|| |+--------+| +----------+ I've owned Rush Hour since it was released several months ago, but I never took the time to update my FAQ for SC4. Why? Probably because I didn't want to. But now, I'm a little bored tonight, so what the hey. (And besides, I've been getting a lot of mail lately about SC4 and Rush Hour, so maybe I can help some people out.) If you've read my FAQs before, you know what to expect: accurate, reliable information; my personal opinions on strategies and techniques; and attempts at comedy. As my inspiration told me forever ago, if the game is meant to be fun, why not the FAQ too? This FAQ is going to be a minor overhaul of my pre-expansion SC4 FAQ. In my guides for The Sims, I merely added to the content when a new expansion came out. For this pair, I won't merely add because I never checked my SC4 FAQ as thoroughly as I do most of my guides. In short, if you're used to how things are arranged in my original guide, it'll take you a little time to get used to the new order, but no content was slashed. +-----------------------+ |+---------------------+| ||2. CLAIMING YOUR LAND|| |+---------------------+| +-----------------------+ As good of a mayor as you are, there's no way you can start your plans without some place to build. All cities start the same way: grabbing a hunk of earth. The game has no formal title screen. Instead, you're thrown to the region screen. This is SimNation, a big huge plot of land that represents not one city, but a county, or state, or country, whatever you want it to be. See all those gray borders? Every single box is one place where a city can go. Yeah, regions are that big. You could spend your entire SimCity career without touching the topography, and that's fine. I was itching to get in the driver's seat and start building skyscrapers, so I ignored God Mode and such entirely for awhile. Assuming you think like that, I'm touching on Mayor Mode first. That's where you'll be spending most of your time anyway. In the very top-left corner is a compass. Notice that north is to your upper- right, but it's not at a perfect 45-degree angle. This gives you a rather unique view, one you may curse at until you get used to it. There are four buttons at the top. The one on the left is the Region View options. Here you can turn the grid lines on and off, as well as show or not show the city names, and even see a region-wide transportation map. You can also create a new region from here, load an existing one, or nuke your present one off your hard drive. The second button is only useful if you're on the Net at the same time. It's a shortcut to connect you to the official SimCity website, where you can exchange regions and cities. The third button is your quit button. You're not ready to finish already, are you? The fourth button is your options button, where you set the more mundane things like graphics details and audio volume, along with a few game assists. In the bottom-left corner is the name of the region that's loaded, along with its total population. All right, now that you've got all that down, it's time to get some grass. I personally recommend that you make a new region (set it to grass), so you have a clean slate to work with. Your first town (and any other experimental towns or testing towns) you make should be on paper-flat land with no water. That gives you the most room to work and gives your sims far fewer problems from the outset. Also, by making a region and giving it your own name, it customizes and personalizes your playing experience. I'm big on stuff like that. Once you have a new region or choose to stick with what's loaded, take a look at the borders. Notice all the different sizes you can choose. Like a lot of spam e-mail tries to make you believe, size does matter. However, unlike that same spam e-mail states, bigger is not always better. A huge plot of land can get eaten up pretty quickly, and it's quite easy to get carried away in this game, especially if you're used to the old SimCities. The smallest plots don't provide much room, especially to learn the game, so go with the second-smallest plot for now. Once you click a plot, you're given a few options. If you had clicked an existing town, it would give a population, service, and job count, along with the town name and city funds. You can also remove it permanently from memory. For a new town, you have the option of importing a town you downloaded, or just starting from scratch. Obviously, we're starting from scratch here, so hit that play button. ====================================================== | PART 2: MAYOR MODE BASICS | ====================================================== I debated with myself about whether to start out talking about God Mode or Mayor Mode first. I decided that if you're reading this, you MIGHT want help with God Mode, but you WILL want help on Mayor Mode. Considering that you could ignore God Mode entirely and be all right, it made my decision easier. I write the rest of this document with the SimCity rookie in mind. If you're a SimCity 3000 vet, you could skip a bunch of this, but it really would be best to read it, or at least skim it. I'm a SimCity 3000 vet myself, and I sure could have used this info back when I started due to the amount of changes that have been incorporated. +------------------------------+ |+----------------------------+| ||3. WHAT DO THESE BUTTONS DO?|| |+----------------------------+| +------------------------------+ Initially, once you claim land, you can alter it to any way you see fit. We're going to ignore that for now and just jump into Mayor Mode, the meat-and- potatoes of the game. Click the second button in the big three, the one with the top hat and rolled-up paper. A box will pop up asking for the city name, mayor name, and difficulty level. The mayor name field is sticky, so if you enter, say, "PyroFalkon," it will default to that ANY TIME you make a new city. You can change it, though, so you're not locked into it in case you have multiple people playing the same region. For city names, I use the finger method. I close my eyes, spin in circles, and point to something. I then open my eyes and name my city after whatever I'm pointing at. So, let me demonstrate... Okay, I'm pointing at my stapler. I'd name my city Stapleton, or Staplepolis, or Stable City... or if you're a fan of the Lakers or Clippers, Stables Center will do. Be creative! The difficulty affects a number of things. In Easy Mode, you start with 500K. In Medium, you've got 200K. In Hard, you've got 100K. It's more than the money, though. The harder the difficulty, the less advice your receivers give you, and the slower the city grows. Now, prior to the expansion pack, we only had one difficulty, and it was the equivalent of Hard, which means Maxis "newbified" the game. Bah. I'm a grizzled old veteran. Anyway, once you fill out all that crap, hit OK. Okay, you're in the game now. Fireworks light the sky, marking the debut of your term in office! Where to start, where to start? On the left side of the screen are the mayor's tools. These five huge and two tiny buttons together mark everything you can build and zone. I'll go over them in detail, but I will not give details to the individual buildings... that comes in a later section. I won't go over the finer points of things yet; this is just button and tool explanations. We'll get into the strategies soon. +---------------+ |3a. Landscaping| +---------------+ The first big button of the group of five is the landscaping tool. Though you have left God Mode, you can still raise and lower the land as you see fit. However, it's pretty expensive, and completely unnecessary for your first town. Something that does have value though is the tree planter. Throw down a few trees here and there to suck up pollution and generally make your city a prettier place to live. Of course, that too costs money, so don't go nuts. New via the expansion pack is the sign and label tools. You can plant signs and lay labels anywhere free of charge. I tend to do this to "reserve" land for buildings. That is, I have a short memory, so I leave signs as reminders for future development. You can lay labels directly on streets and things too, in case you want to name specific streets. +---------+ |3b. Zones| +---------+ The bread and butter of the city, zones are areas that you designate to contain certain buildings. The zones are divided into three major categories: residential, commercial, and industrial. Residential zones are where homes are, where your happy little sims eat, sleep, and poop on a daily basis. Commercial zones are office space or stores. Industrial zones are where things are manufactured. Zones are further divided by densities. It used to be that higher densities meant richer clients, but that's not the case anymore. Now, a zone's density affects ONLY the size of the building. That has a few indirect effects, though. If you have a large building, you'll get more people in it than a small building. So, although a higher density won't necessarily make richer people get in, it will make a higher number of people get in, so you may end up getting more money... and more problems. I'll explain. Low-density residential zones are where most of you probably live. Those zones hold places for single homes, anything from trailers to mansions. The taxes you generate from here are smaller than from higher densities, but there won't be that many sims to take care of, so you won't have super-high traffic or anything. Medium residential zones contain small apartment buildings. The high- density residential zones hold buildings that kiss the sky, so you'll have a lot of money coming in, but a lot of people to take care of. Light commercial zones are for local businesses. These include things like local donut shops, auto stores, ice cream parlors, fast food joints, and the like. Medium commercial zones contain small corporate shops, such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Radio Shack, or Best Buy. They also house small office buildings. Dense commercial zones hold malls and offices that touch the clouds. Industrial zones are a little different. The first zone type is agricultural zones. Unlike the other industrial zones, these zones can be as big as you want them to be. Agricultural zones are nothing but farms that employ few people. They give off no pollution, but they provide very few jobs. After the expansion pack, farms now pay taxes, but it's not nearly enough to provide a living for your city. Do not build farms if you're looking for cash. Medium-density industrial zones are mostly dirty industries. There are horribly polluting industries like resource gatherers, toxic waste dumps, and other nasty places. They pay a bit in taxes, but you'll be spending a lot of that money on ways to combat the crime and pollution that come with it. Manufacturing industries, like car shops, exist in some medium-density zones as well. These pollute, but not nearly as bad, and they pay more. The most dense zones accommodate cleaner manufacturing industries, as well as the fantastic high-tech industries. These don't pollute but do produce vast amounts of money for your coffers. Maxis, EA, Microsoft, and such would be in high-tech zones. +------------------+ |3c. Transportation| +------------------+ People hate walking, and so do sims. We're in the year 2001 and beyond for SimCity 4, so gone are the days of dirt roads and horses. Instead, we've got cars and subways! The top button of the transportation tier gives standard asphalt options. You can build roads, streets, one-way roads, and avenues. All four will be explained later in the strategy section. The second button of the transportation tier allows the construction of highways. These beefy boys are six-lane elevated roads designed to get sims from point A to point B with optimal speed and minimal stops. You need to connect highways to asphalt, and to do that requires on-ramps. Highways can also be linked to each other via a cloverleaf or T-section, and you build those through here too. The third button lets you ride the rails. You can place down train or monorail tracks, but they won't run without stations. Stations, it goes without saying, must be directly next to tracks to work. Unlike bus stops, you have to build train stations everywhere you want the train to stop, so you'll have to do some planning to get it to work. You can also build freight train stations, which carry goods to and from the city, but that's an advanced strategy that we don't need to deal with at the moment. The fourth button allows you to build other forms of mass transportation and other, transportation-related buildings. We're talking subways, bus stops, elevated "el-" trains, toll booths, and parking garages. All of it will be covered later. The fifth button allows you to build an airport. Airports bring massive demand to your city because of the tourists and/or businessmen aboard. Again, it's not necessary to worry about it for a small city. Airports are a fixed size, unlike they were in SimCity 3000. The sixth and last button lets you build a few sea things. Seaports, like airports, help commercial and industrial demands. They need water to work, so if you took my advice and started a new region without water, you won't be using them for now. Like airports, they're a fixed size, and they're pretty darn expensive. You can also build ferries for either sims, or sims and their cars. This gives an alternate method for crossing a river aside from long (and expensive) bridges, although obviously no ferry can possibly have the same capacity. Finally, you can build Marinas here, which gives you access to all the water vehicles and attracts rich sims to your city. +-------------+ |3d. Utilities| +-------------+ This ain't the stone age. People want TVs and computers, and they need some place to power those things. The first button lets you build a large variety of power plants, along with power lines to link the plant to your zones. Most of the power plants are grayed out for now because they have prerequisites that go with them, and obviously as a young city you don't have much going for you. Explanations of the plants come later. The second button lets you build water structures. There's not much there, and we'll go into more details when water becomes important. Until then, your sims can suck water out of the ground after it rains. The third button is for garbage disposal. The quick and dirty (literally) way to deal with trash is to zone for landfills the same way you zone for other things. You can also build incinerators to burn trash, though that gets expensive and stinky. You could also get a waste-to-energy converter to make trash into electricity. Finally, you can plop down a couple recycling centers around the city and hope your sims give a hoot and save a tree. +-------------------+ |3e. Civic Buildings| +-------------------+ Civic buildings give services to your sims. They have specific sizes and uses, and require some planning to be used effectively. The Big Four services that every large city needs is police protection, fire protection, education, and health care. All that is taken care of here. The first button lets you slap down a few police stations and jails (sorry, no donut shops). You can go with small stations at first, but soon the crime will be a little too large and will need a bigger place to deal with things. All stations aside from the new Police Kiosk have small internal jails, but those will quickly fill up, so you eventually need to build jails eventually to keep criminals behind bars and off the streets. The second button is your fire department selection. Again, you can make a little station that serves a neighborhood or two, but large cities need large stations or airfields. The third button is your educational department. Schools come in three major varieties: elementary schools for the kids, high schools for the adolescents, and city colleges for the young adults. Education is pretty expensive, so make sure your other needs are suited to first. You can also build libraries and museums here, which assist adults and senior citizens from getting stupider than rocks. The fourth button of the civic buildings tier is for the city's health. You can build tiny clinics, or decent hospitals. You'll also eventually be able to build a disease research center, which assists your other health buildings in extending your sims' lives. The fifth button leads to real-world landmarks that help attract tourists and businesses to the town. Unlike in SimCity 3000, these cost, both in initial price and maintenance, and some are astronomical. You can only have one of each per town. The sixth button gives you access to rewards... once you meet the requirements, anyway. You can also build business-deal buildings such as casinos and malls, although those aren't listed initially. The seventh and final button is where you can build recreational buildings and sites. Green cities make the environmentalists happy, especially because they cut down the pollution poisoning the city. +-------------+ |3f. Bulldozer| +-------------+ The first of the smaller buttons is the bulldozer. This is your destruction tool, used for taking out trees, buildings, pipes, power lines, and everything else in your way. This does NOT remove zones. To do that, go into any tool that lets you BUILD zones, and you'll see a tool called De-Zone. Using that, you will remove the zone entirely, including buildings on it. A note: You cannot de-zone a landfill unless it is empty of trash. If you need to get rid of a landfill, first isolate it by destroying all roads touching it. After a few game years, the trash will fully decompose, and THEN you can de- zone it. +--------------------+ |3g. The Panic Button| +--------------------+ During a disaster, you have to react fast and send out the appropriate emergency teams. Whenever there's an emergency, used the options in here to send your boys in blue and/or yellow to their targets. In SimCity 3000, there was an emergency siren here as well, used to warn the city when a tornado or alien attack threatened their lives. It's been removed, so you don't have to stress about hitting a warning button the instant disaster looms. +-------------------+ |3h. Everything Else| +-------------------+ The buttons under the tools won't be messed with too much, but I'll explain anyway. The button on the left re-enters God Mode. However, it's a VERY limited version. You can start disasters, reconcile the city edges (talked about in the God Mode section), or nuke the city. If you decide to nuke your city, it's a PERMANENT decision, so be really careful with that command. You can also enable or disable the day/night cycle the graphics go through. If you have a dark monitor, you may want to force the world to stay in the day the whole time so you can see what you're doing. Doing so will not change the internal clock that your sims live by. The middle button takes you to Mayor Mode, with the tools. The third button takes you to My Sim Mode, which I'll get into later. Below that is a pair of buttons with question marks. Those are your query tools. The top one is your standard query. Click that, then click a building to get some REALLY valuable information about it. (Added to the expansion is a power of that query button. If you query an abandoned building, you'll now be told WHY it was abandoned, so you can fix the problem.) The other query tool is the route query. Clicking any piece of transportation will tell you where cars or whatever are coming from and where they're going to if they travel over that piece of road or rail. Clicking a building shows any and all vehicles that come to or from the building and what route they take. The query tool alone is almost worth the price of the expansion pack, and can be used to plan mass transit routes. I'll get into that later. In the very bottom-left corner is a mini-map. There are arrows where you can rotate it, or zoom in and out. There are also speed settings near there, in case you want time to fly. Finally, you have your options button. You can save the city, exit to the region, exit to Windows, or alter your options. +--------------------+ |+------------------+| ||4. GETTING STARTED|| |+------------------+| +--------------------+ Okay, now you know how to at least throw down buildings, so let's start zoning stuff! +------------------+ |4a. Infrastructure| +------------------+ The first thing you need is a power plant, so click the Utilities tool, then the Electricity button. As a new city, you have access to only the most basic plants: wind, coal, natural gas, and oil. This is your first big decision: what are you most interested in? If you want a clean city, stick with wind or natural gas. If you just want to get a high population quickly or want to save money, go for coal. Whatever you choose, find a nice corner of the map and plop it down. City edges are absolute, and pollution that spills off your map does NOT enter adjacent cities. This way you can remove almost half of the building's pollution from the start. If you chose windmill plants, you'll need several, but if you chose anything else, just one will do. Now that you've got some power, you'll need to zone land so your sims know what to build where. Sims, like real humans, have the NIMBY opinion when it comes to power plants: Not In My BackYard. Do you want to live next to a stinky coal plant? Neither do sims. Go a fair distance away from the plant and build your first industrial zone. I always start with dirty industrial zones to get a solid foundation of the city, then expand outward. Your industrial zone or zones should be large enough to support a decent influx of people, but they shouldn't be so large that your town is flooded with smoke. I normally go with two or three 8x8 zones that are fully enclosed with roads (not streets). Those will go up, but they have no place to give their finished goods. You need to build some commercial zones, but right now you'll have nothing but tiny local businesses. Go some more away from the industrial zone in the direction opposite the power plant, and build a few commercial zones of light density. Let the computer build streets as it needs to; you can take finer control of that aspect later, once you get more accustomed to the way things work. Once that's ready, both the industrial zones and commercial zones need workers. Build a large number of light or medium residential zones as close to the commercial zones as possible on the side opposite the industries. That way, your people won't be smelling like smoke TOO badly, if at all. Again, let the computer build streets as it needs to. However, make sure you build roads that connect all the zones to each other. You'll also need one road that links the power plant with the rest of the city. Within a month or three, you should be getting your first people and businesses! Woo hoo! Let your city run awhile, because you'll have to wait for things to happen before you can take additional steps. If you're impatient, speed the game until you have a few hundred or few thousand people. +---------+ |4b. Recon| +---------+ A mayor is only as good as his or her information. You need to be provided with detailed maps and such of situations, and luckily, it's all there for you! With Mayor Mode active, check out the stuff to the right of the buttons (on the bottom edge of the screen). You're presented with several things: your mayor rating, the city's cash, the city's population, the RCI meter, six status bars, and six small buttons that provide information. Your mayor rating is based on a scale from what I guess is -1000 to +1000 that rates your overall general performance. The six status bars to the right are heavily weighed for your mayor rating, but it's not that simple of a calculation. The money and population counts are self explanatory, but the RCI meter is not. The RCI meter provides you with a GENERAL opinion of the situation of the city. The taller the bar, the more that zone is in demand. The lower the bar, the less it's demanded. Bear in mind that no other situation is taken into account: even if you fill up every square inch of your city's boundaries with something, the RCI meter will still be active. You can click the RCI meter to get even more detail about what's hot and what's not, but don't get too dependent on the details. For example, if nothing but farms are being asked for in the industry zones, but you don't want farms, just ignore the demands. The sims will just have to deal. Okay, onto the six small buttons. The first one, in the top-left corner, is the building style control. Here you can affect the appearance of buildings that are built in your city, and when they rotate. Once you click the button, be sure to click the title to expand the window so you can see the four styles available. The second button, the one with a person, is your advisor screen. They give frequent reports about everything in their departments. If their picture is on a green background, they're happy about things. If the background is red, they're none too pleased. If it's blue, they don't care one iota either way. Click on any one of their pictures to get a list of their reports. As a new mayor, their first reports are just introductory resumes, where they tell you what they do and what they watch for. As time goes on, they'll make real reports about different things as they need to. The third button takes you to your budget. You're given a simple chart of your current money, your monthly expenses, your monthly income, and your projected total after the month ends. Obviously, you want your income to be higher than your expenses, but young cities will struggle in doing so. You can get a more detailed look at your budget by clicking the small report. The screen will expand and show your expenses and incomes, and you can further go into detail. I'll worry about that later as well. For now, just click the fourth button in that group, the one in the top-right corner with the grid. This is your data view, or map. You can see various aspects of your city through this to hunt down problems or see successes. As an example, click the traffic option. You'll see which roads and streets are more traveled than others. Red routes mean the path should be upgraded, whether that means changing a street to a road, or adding bus stops, or something else. The fifth button takes you to a bunch of charts and grafts. This is where you can get a general breakdown of people or services. Wanna know how your crime rate compared to five years ago? You can do that here. The sixth button of the group takes you back to your mayor rating and the six general city status bars. Use this information as much as you need to. There's plenty of trouble that can happen, and the sooner and more you know about it, the better. Don't use it just to figure out what's wrong, though. See what's right, and make sure you don't tinker with what's working. +-------------+ |4c. Expanding| +-------------+ With the city doing its thing, it's time to start planning for improvements. The Big Four Services are still not needed, but the time is coming short. For now, just look to see what can be expanded. Plan out new neighborhoods, new industrial zones, and new business sectors. Zone them once you can see them in your head. Don't bother zoning for new places if the ones you already have aren't full. My experience tells me that residential zones will fill up fastest, so you'll have to be zoning for more houses first. The only thing aside from zones you'll want to build at this second is a landfill. Garbage becomes a problem fairly early, so you'll need to take of that one as quickly as possible. Build a sizeable landfill (one worth about $1000) near the power plant. Make sure to give it road access as well. +----------------+ |+--------------+| ||5. SMALL TOWNS|| |+--------------+| +----------------+ Once your population hits around 500 people, your people will give you a mayor's house. 2000 people later, they will start grumbling about cops and firemen. Not one to be heartless (especially after the neat gift they gave to you), you need to take your sims' lives out of your hands and put them in someone else's. Education isn't much of an issue at the moment, but your sims' safety is. After all, if they get burned up, who's going to be around to pay taxes? The first thing you need to build is a fire department. Click the appropriate buttons, then select a small fire department. Take a look at it as you drag it around the landscape. See the big circle around it? That's the range the fire department has access to. It's scalable, so a fire starting two doors away will have a better chance of being stopped than a fire on the fringe of the radius. Place the building in such a way where you can cover the whole town (especially the power plant) if you can. The worst fire hazard is probably in the industrial zone. If your city is really large, place a second small fire department directly next to your power plant. The last thing you need this early is the complete loss of power. That second fire department does not need to cover its full radius if it's right next to the plant, so I'll teach you how to make it a little more efficient. Click the query tool (the upper question mark button near the mini- map), then click the station. There's a bar that lists its local funding, which is currently $125 per month. That's way too expensive for a station that has only one objective, so let's fix that. Click and drag the little box to the left to lower the building's funding. Notice that the radius shrinks as you do so. Don't lower it too much, or else the people will go on strike. I'm sure you have a large amount of money left, so build a police station now. Get a small one and place it so it too covers the whole city if possible. Favor the residential zones if you have to; dirty industries can operate well even with limited crime, but the residents can't. By now, your people should be going along smoothly, and your people are ready for new challenges. You don't have much for kids to do, so build a few parks or plazas around the town. Unlike previous SimCity games, each rec area costs monthly, so don't go nuts. About five small parks will do for now. Kids can't just play, of course. You'll need to give them some knowledge to fill those little sims heads... so they can then get good jobs and pay you fortunes in taxes. I need to stress this, though... IT'S AT THIS POINT WHEN MOST SIMCITY 4 PLAYERS AND CITIES START TO TANK. READ THE NEXT COUPLE PARAGRAPHS CAREFULLY. It's VERY easy to go overboard in SC4, especially if you're used to SC3000 or before. The thing you have to realize is that sims, especially in the early stages, do NOT need schools or health care. (For that matter, they don't need police protection this early either, but police coverage is cheap, unlike the other two.) The reason most cities fail is because their mayor tries to go too big, too fast, and that causes major losses in finance. You can gauge your city's financial progress using a simple method. Do not build any school or medical clinic until you are making at least $1000 PROFIT PER MONTH. Any less, don't even bother. Once you are making at least $1000 per month, it's time to address the education issue. Build a SMALL elementary school, and make sure you place it so it only covers residential areas. Commercial and industrial zones don't breed little sim kids, so it would be a waste to put a school too close to those places. Once the school is placed, grab your query tool and examine the building. The radius is determined by the bus fund, and lowering it any will catch up with you in the end unless you monitor it VERY carefully. The main funding affects how many students it can hold. I have a simple formula for determining school funding. First, make sure the radius can cover the whole residential area. Only take away bus funding if shrinking the radius will not uncover any residential area. Second, use maximum funding for 3 months. That'll hurt your budget a bit, but you'll be okay. (That's why you should be making at least $1000 a month before starting this: to ensure that you have plenty left over.) Third, after three months pass, check the funding again. Adjust it so you have enough capacity to hold 50 more students than you currently have. From then on, any time you're alerted that the funding is too low, bring it up again to make it 50 more than the current number of students. If you put in more funding than that, you're just wasting it, and at this stage, every simoleon counts... especially with schools, where the costs are so bloody high that you might wonder why you bother with it in the first place. Trust me, though, that education will pay off... you just won't see it in the short-term. After you initially build your school, there's nothing more to do for now. Let your city run itself for awhile. Hope for a profit, but know that your large treasury will hold out for awhile as long as you didn't go crazy with building things earlier. Do nothing until you're again making $1000 profit a month. With the school in place and running smoothly, land values will rise, and all residents that the school covers will start paying much more in taxes without complaint. (I think real life is like that too. Most people don't mind paying more in taxes as long as the money actually goes to something worthwhile.) Anyawy, once you're making the money you need, put down a hospital (NOT A CLINIC) to cover the residential area. The radii of hospitals have increased thanks to the expansion, so they reach a much larger area for the same price. Still, adjust the ambulance funding to make the radius tightly cover the residential zones, like you did the school. Once a few months pass, adjust the main funding to hold the current number of patients plus 100. Placing the hospital too will increase land value and taxes further, and the hospital will soon pay for itself as well. Sim the game for awhile until you get roughly 3000 people. (If your population deadlocks before that, you probably have too few residential zones). Once you hit that milestone, your sims' throats will feel a little too parched. Fix that by giving up some cash to build a water pump. Water towers are cheaper, but offer much less water. (Only use towers if you're playing a city in the smallest land size.) Choose a site far away from pollution, or else black liquid will come out of the faucets, and I'm not talking about oil. Once the pump is placed, use water pipes to connect your tower to the rest of the city. Water pipes have a six-tile radius, so you don't have to cover every square inch of your land. An old strategy that I used to subscribe to is to line your roads with water pipes; that way, you can guarantee that every building is watered. However, since you have a monthly fee for every section of pipe that is laid in the city, you can't do that anymore, at least not starting out. Sometime during this part, you'll probably be offered to build a church and/or graveyard. They take up valuable land and don't pay taxes, but they improve your people's morale. As everything, it's up to you; personally, I always build them. All right, your sims now have the Big Four Services, as well as garbage disposal and water. Everything is in place to make your city run... but there's probably one major problem you've got, and it plagues all young towns no matter how well experienced the mayor is: money. +------------------+ |+----------------+| ||6. MEDIUM CITIES|| |+----------------+| +------------------+ With the services in place, you're probably making more than enough to fund those services, but you may not be making enough to really get a nice nest egg going to expand the city. That's what this section covers: getting enough cash to expand to the next level. For the first step, I'll teach you about a really, really nice tool. Click the Data View tab (the top-right one in the batch of sixth), then click the Desirability category. Here you can see which class of people want which plots of land. Generally, the low class will be happy anywhere, and the rich class will only be happy with places provided with the Big Four Services. If you built your police station, fire department, school, and hospital relatively close to each other, the land value for the radii is astronomical. High land values attract richer people, but you can't soak their cash from their rich little fingers if they have nowhere to live. Either start spending money to expand zones outward (make more zones), or expand the zones upward (make them denser). Spend any remaining money you have to do so. Remember that if you want to make them more dense, you DO NOT have to destroy the existing buildings. Once you've upgraded the residential zones, upgrade your commercial zones as well. Be aware that you'll need more commercial zones also; your city gets more and more commercial as the years go by, especially in the early days. Reasons are explained later. With all that expansion, you cannot neglect your industrial zones. Expand, expand, expand. Your city is gaining physical size pretty quickly, so consider upgrading your fire department and police station to their larger cousins. One large police station or fire department covers almost an entire city built in the smallest city size. If you took my advice and are playing on the second-smallest plot, a large station effectively covers a quarter of the map. Feel free to upgrade your police station and primary fire department, but you may want to leave your small fire station that is guarding your power plant. Of course, if you CAN eliminate it through intelligent fire coverage, feel free. Unlike zones, you'll have to destroy the original building to replace it with a bigger version. Avoid upgrading your school for now. It will just eat up your money. However, you SHOULD increase its funding if it's running at or over capacity. Your hospital should be doing fine, although you need to watch its funding as well. Don't build a second hospital yet, as it would just eat up money quickly. +----------------------------+ |+--------------------------+| ||7. METROPOLISES AND BEYOND|| |+--------------------------+| +----------------------------+ For better or for worse, the rest of the game is reactionary. I've found that generally the more you try to make things happen (the Peanut Butter Point excepted), the worse they get. Don't force the issue; if you're impatient, just speed up the sim time for awhile. The goal of the game is whatever you want it to be. Assuming you want a friggin' large city, then you'll have go slow and steady. From your medium city that you've got running, expand outward. Try to fully envelop the radii of your services before seeking out new places to conquer. Keep those land values up, the rate of expansion down, and you'll have success! After you get done upgrading your services, you may find yourself in the red. Rest assured that it's normal and easy to recover from if you're smart. Take out a loan, then prioritize zoning or building money-making ventures. The easiest way to gain cash is through taxes, so keep those zones filled at all times. Only stop zoning if you're short on cash or there are still empty zones for you. Keep tabs on the population by listening to your advisors. They really do know what they're talking about, although catering to everyone's wishes will leave you broke. Pick and choose what you believe will be the most effective strategy, whether that means blitzing for cash, or blitzing for people, or whatever. One thing that I've noticed make people more happy than anything is education. I detail education and its entire role in your city in a later section. +----------------------------+ |+--------------------------+| ||8. THE PEANUT BUTTER POINT|| |+--------------------------+| +----------------------------+ In all four SimCity games, there's always been one problem that stumps most rookies and many vets alike (myself included). Unless you've got a tiny city or are ridiculously lucky, you will come to a point where the city will simply stop growing. Your education levels will level out, your hospitals will be exactly where you want them, all zones will be filled but no more will be asked for, and you'll be getting a steady income with average-or-less complaints about tax rates. The city becomes stagnant as far as growth goes; it becomes a sticky trap, where nobody comes in, no one leaves, and everyone reproduces enough to replace the dead. The stickiness is what I call the "Peanut Butter Point." Get the pun? Ha ha ha! A-hem. Anyway, the Peanut Butter Point is deadly, because you may think your game is over. It seems that if you try to make any additional zones or other things, no one wants them. If you take stuff away, then you're defeating the purpose. What's the point of continuing? Of course, you can always start a new city, but I don't like doing that until every single tile within city limits has a purpose. Okay, let's say you've got a good-sized city going. Even if it seems no one is moving in, you may not have hit your Peanut Butter Point yet. Here's a checklist... -Are ALL your schools funded enough to avoid overcrowding? -Are ALL your hospitals funded enough to avoid over crowding? -Are ALL your libraries and museums funded enough to give the people what they want? -Do you have enough police stations and fire stations to cover your whole city? -Do you have enough jails so they have room to accommodate more prisoners? -Is your trash amount under your capacity? -Are you getting few (if any) complaints on the tax rate? -Are all zones and buildings powered and watered? If the answer to any of those questions are no, then the problem(s) is/are easy to fix. Of course, if you answered yes to all those questions, here's the second (shorter) list... -Are ALL your zones set to maximum density? (assuming you want maximum density; farms can't be in areas that dense, of course) -Do you have an airport complimenting your commercial sector? -Do you have a seaport complimenting your industrial sector? (assuming you've got water access) If the answers to those questions are "yes" also, then you've hit your Peanut Butter Point. +-----------------------+ |8a. What To Do About It| +-----------------------+ The Peanut Butter Point is not the end of your game; in fact, it's the start of a whole new set of challenges. I personally love dealing with it. The first thing you need to do when hitting that point is not to panic. In my rookie days, I used to think that the reason people weren't coming in was because there was something wrong with my policies. So, I lowered tax rates, issued more ordinances, built tons of parks, and generally threw in a whole bunch of stuff to make everyone happy... or so I thought. Between the lowered tax and new ordinances, though, my money well quickly ran dry. The question you're asking by now is, how can you make your city overcome that Peanut Butter Point. A common phrase in comedy and the entertainment industry in general is "Leave your audience wanting more." Concentrate on what is RIGHT in your town. There is very, VERY seldom the perfect city. If you've hit the Peanut Butter Point, it's not because the city is too bad, nor is it that your city is too good; it's because there's too much of a balance between what you have right and what you have wrong. I hate saying this, but for the sims' own good, the best way to make your city get out of its sticky trap is to piss everyone off. Before starting, make sure you have plenty of cash. This method can get a bit expensive. Find the best part of town. Just check the map and look for whatever place has the highest land value and highest city aura. If you have multiple spots, pick an area that is pretty big, but not the biggest. Call this place "Ground Zero." Find out why the land value is so high; it's usually high education and low crime. Grab the keys to your trusty bulldozer, start that MF'er up, and give the kiddies a permanent vacation from school--break open the jails too, while you're at it. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me. Let the city be confused for awhile. They'll complain and yell about how crappy the town is, but believe it or not, that's what you want temporarily. Take some money (in your coffers, if you can, NOT a loan), and go to some land that is unoccupied. Start a "new city" over in that corner. Pretend you're starting a new game, just with an inflated bank account. Build a new, cheap power plant. Build some zones of all three flavors, use streets instead of roads, avoid any police or fire coverage, and refuse to give them any education. Meanwhile, head back to Ground Zero and take out a few dozen parks or so... Do NOT re-zone or destroy any existing RCI buildings. After a few months, the city aura and value in Ground Zero will just absolutely plummet. However, your sims try to move across town before across the nation. They'll see that new little area you've got developing in the corner of the map, and they'll take interest. While they're thinking of the good ol' days, cut off their water. Back at the new colony, start giving the most basic of the Big Four Services: one elementary school, one clinic (not a hospital yet), one small police station, and no fire stations... well, maybe a small one, if you feel sorry for 'em, and to protect the power plant. You MIGHT already have a few people coming in, but still not enough to make you get out of your trap. After that little colony is established, expand it out. Again, pretend it's a new city; just ignore that big mess of people on the other side of the river. Build some parks and other recreational areas, and raise the zones' densities now and then. Once it looks pretty solid, build a road that connects this little colony to the main city. Get a subway connecting the two also if you can to make any commuter stupid enough to make THAT trip happy. People will start to come into the new colony SLOWLY. This is not an instant method here, it takes some time. But, while you're biding that time, you can help out other sectors. For example, one thing that's commonly overlooked in SimCity 4 is your industrial zones' distances to freight access. They like being close to extra-city connections, especially railroads. If that's not an option, they want a freight station (linked to a railroad going out of town, of course) that's very close by. Try to improve that too. Eventually, the demand will be met for the colony, but because it was smaller than Ground Zero, there will still be demand for the city as a whole. Your instinct will be to start upgrading stuff around the colony (like bigger police stations and such), but don't. If you feel the need to give them SOMETHING, let 'em have water. Otherwise, that's the ghetto of your city; let it suffer for now. So, to fill the rest of that demand, you need to restore Ground Zero. Work backwards: give them back water, then parks, then their services. Do it slowly enough that the area doesn't get flooded, but work fast enough that no one forgets the place exists. I find that restoring one part of Ground Zero ever three to four months works the best. In time, people who moved to the colony will move back, or the newcomers who started in the colony will move into Ground Zero. That will free up room in the colony, and it's STILL cheap land for the poorer classes to afford. Once Ground Zero is restored, start upgrading the colony to make it a full- fledged suburb, or maybe a large city of its own. The main thing is to keep low land value areas that are ripe for the poor to live in. This way, you're always "leaving your sims wanting more." They want better education or whatever in the new colonies; don't give it to them unless 1) it's all that's left for your city borders, or 2) you have plenty of low-value area as well. +-----------------------+ |8b. An Alternate Method| +-----------------------+ The thing about the above method is that it's risky. If your Ground Zero is the heart of the city, then everything will end up collapsing, and you may never recover. It's ridiculously expensive too, because you'll be going on abbreviated taxes until everything gets restored. There are a couple more tips I can offer if you don't want to risk the above technique, or you don't have the cash. This is a little less sure and slower, but if the sims don't bite, you won't lose nearly as much. The basic thing is that you still have to force the sims' polygonal hands. There's no Utopia; all cities can be improved. You have to isolate one part of the city and make it so damned attractive that anyone who's anyone will want to live there. Find an area like Ground Zero above, the best of the best districts in your city. Double-check all its civic buildings and services. Check the roads and intersections. Check freight times for industrial zones and commute times for residential zones. Improve the obvious first. Next, look for ANY spot of yellow on the crime map. It doesn't matter how big or small. Take out whatever building is on top of the area no matter what it is and plop down a large police station with $250/month funding. If there's a region of parks, take them out and try to get in zoos or stadiums or something bigger instead. Find the corner of the area that's just the SLIGHTEST below maximum value, take out all buildings directly at the area, and purchase a landmark to put there. If you put a landmark near that high-value area, especially near the fringe, then you'll really make people want it. You can also look to steal people away from other cities. Enact a few tourist ordinances, give them a year to kick in, then zone and build a colony like I stated above. The tourists will stop by and see your city, drool over it, and want to be a part of it. Give them a place to go, and you'll have growth faster than you can say "Choosy moms choose Jif." Oh, one more thing. Get rid of any business deal buildings if you can, such as casinos or toxic waste dumps. Large cities shouldn't need them, and you'll make the general aura of the ENTIRE city better by tossing them. That alone can do wonders for growth. +----------------+ |+--------------+| ||9. MY SIM MODE|| |+--------------+| +----------------+ By clicking the third button in the main group of three (it's to the right of Mayor Mode--it has a picture of a pair of sims), you can insert a sim into your city and get one-on-one advice. This provides you with exacting detail about one part of town, and you can hear about problems a little sooner from your little sim than your advisors. I normally keep about two or three in my larger cities to stay on track, though I normally know about their problems before they tell me. Prior to the Rush Hour expansion, the My Sim Mode fell partially short of its goals. Your sim was fairly worthless about giving you problem reports, with information limited to "no school," "no police protection," and the like. My Sim Mode has gotten beefed up, though. Your sim is very helpful now, accurately telling you how to run the part of town he lives in. You can also send him out to a particular part of the city (of your choosing), and you'll see a word bubble over his head as he tells you what's good and bad about that part. Finally, you can give him a destination, and he'll drive it, which will show you what route he takes and whether there's any traffic problems along the way. Also, your sims are no longer stuck in the same house forever. You can now move your sims in and out from houses and jobs on a whim. The only catch is that you have to keep a sim's status in mind. That is, you cannot move a sim from a trailer to a mansion. This helps though if the neighborhood your sim lives in is really good, and you want to move the sim to a less developed area for assistance there. If you're lucky enough to also own a copy of The Sims and/or any of its seven expansions, you can put your created sims in the game. However, any sim is like any other sim: the ones that ship with SimCity 4 are no better or worse than your own creations. Anyway, to start off, click the My Sim Mode button. You'll get five empty portraits; click one to bring up the list of available sims. Your sims from The Sims aren't on the list at the start. To get them there, click the Import Sims button, the one that looks like a computer. SimCity 4 quickly scans you're the Sims directory and adds any and all sims to your roster (except for any CPU- created for populating Downtown, Vacation Island, Studio Town, and Magic Town). You'll only have to do this once, unless you make more sims in The Sims and want to move them in. Select any sim, but be advised that they're only faces and names. A kid sim will be no different in your town than an adult. Once you select a sim, you'll get an arrow. Point it to the house you want the sim to move into. Doing that will immediately make them take on the personality of the house... if you move them to a rich house, they will have mucho dinero and high education. They'll take a job based on their class, and you can see them drive to and from work every day. You'll get reports on their lives through the main news screen, or you can click their portrait in My Sim Mode. You can choose to just ignore them and let them deal with your decisions, or you can actively try to kill their problems and improve their assets. They'll keep you guessing, sometimes changing careers, sometimes moving across town... check out their reaction if you bulldoze their house while they're at work. ^_^ Your sims have life spans, and once they reach a certain age, they'll snuff it. Luckily, they'll be replaced with a new sim with the same name, just with a number. (Pyro Falkon's replacement is Pyro Falkon the 2nd, whose replacement is Pyro Falkon the 3rd, etc.) +------------------+ |9a. The Microphone| +------------------+ New to the expansion is the microphone. This is a simple tool in My Sim Mode. All you have to do is click the microphone button, and then click any sim in your city. That sim will immediately tell you what he thinks about the current area he's standing in. It's nowhere near as detailed as actually having a sim in a house in that area, but it's good for a quick survey. +--------------+ |9b. U-Drive It| +--------------+ The new U-Drive It mode is almost a game within itself. When you build certain buildings, you get access to vehicles and can run missions with them. These missions are not merely busy work. You can get access to build advanced buildings by completing missions so you don't have to worry about getting all the prerequisites! The controls of all the vehicles take some getting used to, so play around a bit. The nice thing about U-Drive It is that you can do Free Drive, which is where you choose one vehicle and joy ride as long as you want. I will not tell you how to complete missions because they're totally random. For example, if you choose the police mission that has you following clues, a number of random houses around your city will actually contain the clues, and it would be different each time. If you made your transportation lines really well, you should be able to reach any point within the time limit. If you didn't... well, this'll be a good way to see what's wrong. I will also not tell you what the missions are. You can find a complete list in the back of the manual that you got with your game. U-Drive It missions are definitely worth it in the beginning. When you start making $10,000 profit per month, then it's probably not that big of a deal. I do have a couple pieces of advice for you on the missions in general. First, whenever you do aerial missions, try to stay between 50-100 units above the ground. (I say "units" because I don't know whether they're measuring in feet or meters or what.) Any more and you'll lose track of your footprint; any less and you run the risk of smashing into a building. (As a side note, no matter how hard you try, you can't actually crash into a building with any aerial vehicle because the vehicles have infinite hit points. Something tells me that Maxis has done the same thing Microsoft did after 9/11.) Second, don't accept any train missions unless your tracks go in a complete circle. Trains can't go backwards, and a lot of times when I accept missions, I'll start at the end of track with nowhere to go. It's a good idea to have a complete circle of tracks anyway: very efficient. ====================================================== | PART 3: REFERENCE | ====================================================== This part of the FAQ deals with a database of power plants, their costs, and value, along with personal comments. Also is a description of the various ordinances in the game. However, this section is NOT strategy... that comes later. +------------------+ |+----------------+| ||10. POWER PLANTS|| |+----------------+| +------------------+ Here I list all the power plants alphabetically, their requirements (if any), their costs, their values, and my opinion on their operation and efficiency. +----------------+ |Coal Power Plant| +----------------+ Requirements: None Initial Cost: $10,000 Monthly Cost: $250 Power Generated: 6,000 MWh Value: 24 MWh/$1 Comments: The power plant with the best value is also the dirtiest. Its low monthly cost, however, and high value make it perfect for young cities. At the beginning, avoid this one only if you're bound and determined to keep your grass green from start to finish. +--------------------+ |Hydrogen Power Plant| +--------------------+ Requirements: 4,000+ high-tech jobs 30,000+ MWh/month demanded Initial Cost: $100,000 Monthly Cost: $10,000 Power Generated: 50,000 MWh Value: 5 MWh/$1 Comments: By the time you CAN build it, you can probably afford it. It's extremely clean and totally reliable. There are other alternatives, but for its capacity and cleanliness, you can't get a better deal. +-----------------------+ |Natural Gas Power Plant| +-----------------------+ Requirements: None Initial Cost: $9,000 Monthly Cost: $400 Power Generated: 3,000 MWh Value: 7.5 MWh/$1 Comments: Although cheaper than a coal power plant, it makes far less power. Then again, it's MUCH cleaner, and you can get your people to live just a BIT closer to it. A nice alternative to coal if you're starting out. +-------------------+ |Nuclear Power Plant| +-------------------+ Requirements: 85,000+ overall population 25,000+ MWh/month demanded Initial Cost: $40,000 Monthly Cost: $3,000 Power Generated: 16,000 MWh Value: 5.3 MWh/$1 Comments: Nuclear power doesn't pollute much, but there's a chance that the plant will meltdown, especially if it catches fire. If it does that, it will make a rather large radius of land radioactive, and you can't do anything with radioactive land for the rest of the game. Although that's a high risk, if your power plant is well covered with fire stations, you'll be fine. +---------------+ |Oil Power Plant| +---------------+ Requirements: None Initial Cost: $17,000 Monthly Cost: $600 Power Generated: 7,000 MWh Value: 11.7 MWh/$1 Comments: The second-best deal on the market has a high initial price tag. It's cleaner than coal, so you may want to trash your coal plant in favor of oil once you're making a large profit. +-----------------+ |Solar Power Plant| +-----------------+ Requirements: 3,000+ high-class residents +55 or better Mayor Rating Initial Cost: $30,000 Monthly Cost: $1,000 Power Generated: 5,000 MWh Value: 5 MWh/$1 Comments: Cleaner than your grandma's kitchen, this plant is a reward for having rich people inhabiting your town. People have little problem living next to it. The problem is that it's darn expensive for clean power, and one little solar plant doesn't produce nearly enough power to keep a large town satisfied. Only build these if you're simply expanding your power, not replacing it. +---------------------+ |Waste-to-Energy Plant| +---------------------+ Requirements: None Initial Cost: $25,000 Monthly Cost: $1,000 Power Generated: 5,000 MWh Value: 5 MWh/$1 Comments: A cheaper version of the solar power plant, this type is available from the start. However, its initial cost is a little high for young cities, and the pollution it generates is ridiculous. It reduces garbage, but don't look here for a permanent waste OR permanent energy solution. +--------+ |Windmill| +--------+ Requirements: None Initial Cost: $500 Monthly Cost: $50 Power Generated: 200 MWh Value: 4 MWh/$1 Comments: The cleanest form of power is the worst deal. However, windmill plants are excellent to use if you need temporary bursts of power when you don't have the money or desire to get a full-sized plant. Unless you want to lose a bunch on money, don't rely fully on these. +----------------+ |+--------------+| ||11. ORDINANCES|| |+--------------+| +----------------+ This is a complete list of all the ordinances in the game. To access ordinances, click your budget tab, then expand it, and click the eye beside the City Ordinances line. Ordinances should not be used to fully stop problems. Ordinances basically cure the symptoms, not the disease. If your city has insane pollution, you can enact every pollution-cutting ordinance, but it won't help that much. You need to first clean up your industries before ordinances will help. Except for the legalized gambling ordinance, small towns shouldn't even bother with them. The problems faced by tiny towns don't warrant ordinances and are easy to stop. Besides, all ordinances cost cash, and in the beginning, every simoleon counts. Ordinances are listed here in alphabetical order. +---------------------------------+ |Automobile Emission Reduction Act| +---------------------------------+ That's a mouthful, isn't it? Enacting this will set standards for cars so their pollution is reduced. This cuts air pollution to a pretty large degree, but only around busy streets. There are no negatives aside from the cost, although this won't cut down on traffic like other ordinances will. Still, I enact it once I can afford to. +-------------------------+ |Carpool Incentive Program| +-------------------------+ This funds little things like carpool lanes and other benefits for sims who decide to carpool to and from work. This cuts down on road congestion, which also cuts down on air pollution, especially around main streets. This isn't too bad of an alternative to busses, though both can be used in tandem for best effectiveness. +-------------+ |Clean Air Act| +-------------+ This money is used to set standards for air pollution. This will cut down air pollution from industries pretty well, but it will tick off all dirty and manufacturing industries. Of course, if your aim is to have a clean, high-tech city, go for it. The cost is rather steep, but the payoff is worth it once you can afford it. +------------------------------+ |Community CPR Training Program| +------------------------------+ A small amount of money is taken from the treasury to teach people how to perform CPR. This increases the life span of all sims, and it improves their overall attitude. I recommend it once your city gets going smoothly to assist your health clinics and hospitals, but not from the outset of the game. +------------------------+ |Commuter Shuttle Service| +------------------------+ The city creates and maintains mini-busses to help people get to mass transit stations like bus stops and train stations. This gives people more of an incentive to ride mass transit, which reduces traffic and air pollution along the busiest streets. However, you'll need SOME mass transit in place for this to work; don't bother enacting the ordinance if you have no bus stops or train stations. +-------------------+ |Free Clinic Program| +-------------------+ Places are set up throughout the city to give free medical treatment to your poorer sims. City-wide health greatly increases at a monetary expense. I don't like this one, because I prefer to have rich people in my cities who can afford to go to hospitals. If you have a lot of lower class sims, though, go for it. +---------------------+ |Junior Sports Program| +---------------------+ The city funds schools for uniforms and other sports equipment. This cuts crime because the kids have something to do in the afternoons aside from holding up 7-Elevens, and it increases schools' effectiveness because the kids want to work hard and maintain good grades to keep their athletic eligibility. This comes at a mediocre cost to your budget. +------------------+ |Legalized Gambling| +------------------+ The only ordinance that will actually make money instead of costing it, this will put a guaranteed $100 in your bank every month. The problem is that it's not scalable, and once you hit several thousand people, $100 per month isn't going to be worth much. Still, young cities seriously benefit from it, and it leads to getting a casino business deal. +--------------------------+ |Neighborhood Watch Program| +--------------------------+ Your vigil sims will assist the cops in cutting crime in residential zones. Not too bad of an option, considering its relatively low cost, but I don't normally use it. +-----------------+ |Nuclear Free Zone| +-----------------+ For a fee, you can declare your city as being nuclear free. This eliminates the option to build nuclear power plants and toxic waste dumps, but the environmentalists will be happy, and aura will improve city-wide. This ticks off the dirty industries, but not to a very large degree. +-----------------------------+ |Paper Waste Reduction Program| +-----------------------------+ The paper waste reduction program cuts down garbage and ticks off industries in the process. Don't enact it if there are industrial zones empty, because it will be that much harder to get businesses to move in. Use this one to support your sanitation department, but only if you're desperate for a higher environment score. +----------------------+ |Power Conservation Act| +----------------------+ This one reduces city-wide power usage, so you get more out of your power plants. However, this ticks everyone off--especially industries--and comes with a nasty price tag. +--------------------+ |Pro-Reading Campaign| +--------------------+ This gives assist money to libraries and schools, which improves education. It does not impact museums. +----------------------+ |Smoke Detector Program| +----------------------+ This program installs smoke detectors on all buildings. This cuts down on city- wide flammability, assisting your fire departments. The only downfall is the cost, which isn't much at all. I recommend you enact this one as soon as you can. +----------------------+ |Tire Recycling Program| +----------------------+ This reduces pollution and generally improves city aura and beauty. In SimCity 3000, this also reduced road costs by $1 per section, which REALLY added up. Sadly, that discount is no longer a part of it. +-------------------------+ |Tourism Promotion Program| +-------------------------+ This one advertises your city to other cities. More people will come to check out your town, which adds to your commercial sectors' coffers. This increases your commercial demand, but can congest your roads when people come to visit. Also, you should have some good attractions (landmarks or rewards) in your town before enacting this, or it won't work as well. +--------------------------+ |Water Conservation Program| +--------------------------+ Money is spent to reduce the amount of water all buildings use. Residents don't have a problem with it, but industries don't like it one bit. This reduces the industry demand, but seriously increases your water capacity. It comes with a hefty price tag, though. +----------------+ |Youth Curfew Act| +----------------+ All young sims have to be in their homes in the late evening. This highly cuts crime, but it ticks off every kid in the city. Be careful; it's a good assist for the police, but you'll have issues with city morale. ====================================================== | PART 4: STRATEGY | ====================================================== Come on, admit it: this is the reason you clicked this FAQ in the first place, isn't it? +-----------+ |+---------+| ||12. ZONES|| |+---------+| +-----------+ Here I'll talk about the different zones and their densities in detail. I'll also talk about what each type looks for when choosing land. +----------------------+ |12a. Residential Zones| +----------------------+ Residential zones come in three flavors: light, medium, and dense. Generally speaking, as you get more dense, you get more money through taxes, but that is not a rule set in stone. Don't confuse light, medium, and dense with poor, middle-class, and wealthy. Wealthy people can live in light density zones and the poor can live in dense zones. Densities are only related to the physical size of the building. Light density buildings are single-family homes, but that can be anything from townhouses to mansions. Dense buildings are sky scrapers and can hold thousands of sims. The wealth of your cliental depends on services. Poor sims don't really care where they live, and will consequently take houses in crummy neighborhoods with high crime or low health care. They never make much money, so you can't get too much in the way of taxes from them. However, at the beginning of your city's life, they are your lifeblood. These sims will take low-caliber jobs like fast food cooks or factory workers. Middle-class sims need water and at least one or two of the Big Four Services. It's cheap to get fire protection, so you'll probably have some middle-class sims coming in even in the beginning. They make some more money than the poor, and they'll take jobs in pretty much any position. Wealthy sims need at least three of the Big Four Services, water, and garbage disposal. They also need to have jobs available to tax their brains, so if you have nothing but farms, no rich sims will move in no matter how nice the residential areas are. You'll get plenty of cash out these sims, even if they're in single-family homes. +---------------------+ |12b. Commercial Zones| +---------------------+ Commercial zones come in the same three flavors of residential zones. Light commercial zones provide local shops. These offer cheap services for cheap prices, employ cheap people, and pay cheap taxes. You see things like ice cream parlors and car dealerships here. They will set up practically anywhere, so long as they're relatively close to customers. Medium commercial zones hold two types of buildings: services and office buildings. Services employ workers who are paid a little more than the local shops, but still less than other forms of commercial areas. They require workers with minimal education, and the buildings do very well around pollution as long as they're not on top of industrial zones. Office buildings employ white-collar workers who are paid a good wage. They pay more in taxes and employ workers who have decent education. Office buildings must be farther from pollution than services. Dense commercial zones hold both offices and services, too. Your tallest buildings will probably come from dense commercial zones. Businesses include malls, which accommodate customers from all classes, and which make absurd amounts of money that you can tax to death. They've got to be practically on top of customers, and very far away from pollution. Offices are even more picky than businesses, and employ more educated sims. +---------------------+ |12c. Industrial Zones| +---------------------+ Industrial zones come in the same three flavors as well, but there's a slightly different spin on the way the buildings are made and the way taxes are collected. These zones will provide the most jobs to your city, and in the beginning will be in higher demand than commercial zones. Light industrial zones, also called agricultural zones, are areas that you zone for farms only. Farms, unlike all other zones, can be as big as you want them to be. They don't employ too many people, but they're pretty and are required for larger cities (although cities can share that demand, but more on that later). Prior to the expansion pack, you got no taxes from farms. That's changed, but you still don't get much. So, if you're short of cash, don't even consider it. Farms appear once given road access, provided there's little to no pollution. After they're created, only pollution will shut them down. Medium and dense industrial zones can house any of the other three industrial buildings: dirty, manufacturing, or high-tech. Again, the density difference only affects the physical size of the buildings. Dirty industries employ sims with little to no education, and they pay low wages. You'll be relying on dirty industries in the beginning of the life of a city. They pollute badly and throw crime all over the place, and they are always horrible fire hazards. Still, they'll set up anywhere, especially where land values are low so they get deals on the land. Manufacturing industries employ slightly smarter sims who in turn get paid more. Manufacturing industries don't pollute as much as dirties, nor do they produce as much crime. They are far and away safer as far as fire is concerned. They'll setup practically anywhere, though they tend to dislike heavy polluters. High-tech industries are clean and rich. You'll need well-educated sims in the city for high-tech industries to hire. HT industries hate pollution, so you'll never see any HT industry next to a dirty one. HT industries get along with manufacturing industries, but HTs still prefer to be totally isolated from pollution. They give tremendous taxes, little crime, no pollution, and practically no fire hazard. If you ever want to switch a large industrial zone from housing dirty industries to clean ones, you'll need to actually DESTROY all the dirty industries. If you don't, there will be some pollution, and HT industries will definitely not move in. This will cost you a lot of money because while those industrial zones are empty, you're not gaining any taxes. However, if you have plenty of money in the treasury, then try it because the money you gain from HT industries will more than make up for any you lost during the switch. Industrial zones (farms excluded) need two additional things to grow. There has to be some way for the goods to get from your industrial zones to your commercial zones and other cities. All industrial zones make freight trucks that follow your roads, but there's a more effective way. For maximum speed and effectiveness, you'll need trains. Place a rail DIRECTLY NEXT TO industrial zones. As long as the industry building is in a zone directly touching a rail, the building will have the shortest freight time. If you cannot do that, place a rail line anyway as close to the industrial zone as possible, then place a freight train station linking the rail to a road. The industries will ship their goods by truck to the freight train station, which will then in turn carry it away. Be aware that the longer the freight time, the more ticked off industries will be. Freight stations, by the way, are departure-only stops. You do not need to place them at destinations, so don't, or you'll be losing cash with the monthly cost for no reason. +--------------------------+ |12d. General Zoning Advice| +--------------------------+ Zones need to be directly touching roads to function. Every individual plot of residential or commercial land has to have road access at its FRONT DOOR (putting a road at the side of the house only isn't going to help). Industrial zones can be up to four tiles away as long as the zone is unbroken and one part of it touches the road. Zones expand and grow (in terms of building size) when provided with the right services. If a dense zone doesn't seem to be developing, query it to see the problem, and try to fix it. Zones can be re-zoned to something more dense without the buildings having to be destroyed. Just "paint" over the existing zone with the new one. One strategy is to use the densest zone type right from the beginning. That prevents you having to spend additional money on re-zoning later. I believe, however, that the initial cost of the expensive zone is too great; young cities won't see the potential of dense zones, so there's no point in building them. However, that IS just my opinion... if you can get it to work with dense zones from the outset, go for it. Young cities favor industrial zones because industries are looking for the cheap land. As cities grow, they become more self-sufficient, so they favor more commercial zones. Adjust your zones and zoning techniques as you need to based on your population. +---------------+ |+-------------+| ||13. EDUCATION|| |+-------------+| +---------------+ While we're on the subject of highly educated sims, we should discuss how to go about getting those little sim brains filled with big sim thoughts. Educational buildings are divided into four classes: young kids, old kids, young adults, and adults to old people. Elementary schools educate the young kids. Small schools hold a maximum of 500 students, and the deluxe ones can hold 3000. No matter the size, they have a radius that represents the bus range (no more stacking all your schools in one corner of the map like in SimCity 3000). Place them in the hearts of your residential areas, because no one from businesses or industries will be heading to school. Deluxe schools have a much larger radius than their small cousins, and the bus fund is accordingly higher. High schools educate old kids. Small schools hold a maximum of 750 students, and the deluxe versions hold 4500 students. High schools further increase sims' EQ as they become old kids. They also have a radius representing buses, so plop these in the middle of residential areas too. Again, the deluxe version has a larger radius and higher bus fund than the small version. City colleges and universities help out the young adults. Getting a degree is one of the greatest feelings in life for a lot of people, and it opens the doors to higher-paying jobs (which in turn leads to more money you can bleed from your populace). Colleges hold a maximum of 7,000 students, more than enough room to hold quite a few generations. Also, the college does not have a radius since most people will live on campus. Universities hold no students, but instead act to assist and improve colleges to make their education better. Local branch libraries and the Main Library let sims of all ages (excluding the seniors) maintain their education. Libraries are essential to keeping adults from forgetting everything they learned in college, which could lead to a loss of job or status in the city. Local branch libraries hold a number of books, which represent its radius. Main libraries assist the local branches. City museums and Major Art Museums offer relics of old for the people who routinely tell kids to get off their lawns. The presence of museums assists the schools and prevents seniors' brains from turning as mushy as the rest of their bodies. Don't bother with them until you have a fair number of years behind you. In my experience, you can do without libraries and museums until your city is 25 years old and/or having a population of 10,000 people. Also, you can do without high schools entirely as long as you have a strong college. Although EQ will be a little lower, it won't be low enough to prevent sims from getting those super-high paying jobs in high-tech industries or wealthy offices. +--------------------+ |+------------------+| ||14. TRANSPORTATION|| |+------------------+| +--------------------+ Here I'll talk about the nuances of bridges and tunnels, along with all other stuff relating to moving sims from point A to point B. +------------+ |14a. Asphalt| +------------+ You know what the best way is to punish a 16-year-old? Take away his keys. Sims love driving as much as humans do. There are twice as many cars on the road as there are people if not more, but no one is going to be moving their gas guzzlers without roads. Streets are minor, low-capacity and low-speed routes. You probably live on a street as opposed to a road; the best indication is the presence or lack of a line painted down the pavement. Streets have no line, because the drivers should be going slow enough that no one is in danger of hitting anything. Use streets to connect out-of-the-way neighborhoods to main roads. Streets cost less, both initially and monthly, so use them when you can, especially in the beginning. Roads are the basic route to get sims around. These are medium-capacity and medium-speed paths, designed as major linking paths between zones. All vehicles will spend the majority of time on roads, so make sure they're well kept. Any street you have can be easily replaced with a road by "painting" over it, and the original street will not have to be destroyed. If you can afford it, you may want to just get rid of streets entirely once you have a medium-large city. It makes transit quicker, and it's just a little more orderly. Your advisors (and sims) will complain that there are no streets (and therefore no "neighborly feeling"), but screw 'em. One-way roads are just that. They have the capacity and speed limit of roads, but only allow travel in one direction. You can regulate the flow of traffic very easily with these. When used properly, sims can get from any point in the city to any other point in the city with minimal fuss. You'll find that one-way roads are usually used extensively in the morning or evening, but not both. Avenues are basically pairs of one-way streets. They are high-capacity, high- speed routes that handle MUCH more traffic than roads, but don't cost as much as highways, and connect much easier to roads and streets. If you need to connect two major sections of your city, avenues are the way to go. The only problem with avenues is that it's hard to turn a road into one because of the size difference. If you think you'll be using an avenue, you may want to build it from the beginning. It'll be a waste of money at the beginning, but you won't have to do anything really destructive later. Another problem with avenues is the median. Cars cannot hop over the median, so if you have a house on an avenue, its occupants will have to go the LONG way around to get home. Avenues should not be used for routes to and from houses; they should only be used as links between two sections of the city. +-------------+ |14b. Highways| +-------------+ Highways are extreme-speed, extreme-capacity monsters that can accommodate huge quantities of cars and shoot them across the landscape in a matter of moments. Seldom are highways clogged, unless it's the only route to get between zones. If given the choice, sims will always take the faster route, so running a highway parallel to a busy road (or just replacing the road entirely) will guarantee its usage. Highways are expensive though, so don't bother with them until you can foot the bill. To get onto a highway, you need an on-ramp. On-ramps, in short, connect roads to highways. There's massive strategy to on-ramps because they come in two flavors and have to be placed on both sides of the road at the arrival AND destination. That's four on-ramps at least for any given stretch of highway... although the payoff in low traffic density is worth it. The two on-ramp types are overpass and side. Side on-ramps let drivers hop from the road to the highway without slowing, allowing smooth transfers and minimal congestion. Overpass on-ramps usually force drivers to bottleneck at that point, but the drivers can get to the other side of the highway by cutting under it. Your on-ramp choice depends heavily on your zones. If you have the highway simply as a link between zones, you can get away with a side on-ramp. However, if there are zones actually AROUND the highway, then an overpass on- ramp is the best way to go to avoid forcing commuters to taking longer trips than necessary. If you have multiple highways, you can link them provided they cross at 90- degree angles. One has to be going north-south, and the other east-west. Once an intersection is created, use a cloverleaf or T-section to combine both into one super highway. Commuters can hop from one highway to the other with little to no delay. With the expansion pack, you can now build T-sections, cloverleaves, and on- ramps before the actual highway itself. That way you can plan highways before spending obscene amounts of money. Also new with the expansion pack are ground highways (as opposed to the normal elevated highways). They cost only a third as much as elevated highways initially, although they cost the same in maintenance. The only downside to ground-level highways is that you can't cross them other types of transportation, like railroad tracks. +-----------------+ |14c. Mass Transit| +-----------------+ Cars produce insane pollution. Even with the Automobile Emission Reduction Act active, a large city will produce many drivers who are all polluting. To combat that, bring in mass transit, which by definition has many sims using the same bus or train or whatever to get places. Buses are the cheapest way to cut traffic. Sims will board at a bus stop, but they can get off anywhere, so you don't have to litter your landscape with stations. Sims don't like walking to bus stops, though, so make sure there are enough to give sims plenty of places to board. Rich sims hate the bus, and poor sims love it, so adjust the number of your buses depending on your population. Trains take more passengers than buses, and are faster. They can travel much farther too, but they cost more. First, you'll need to build rails where you want the trains to go. Also, unlike buses, you'll need to put a train station for every place you want the train to stop. Rich sims don't mind riding trains as much as they do buses, so use trains all you can. Besides, you can combine passenger routes with freight routes for maximum efficiency around your industrial zones. Subways are underground trains. They operate like trains in practice, but they're more expensive. They take more people, though, and are even faster than trains. They're small, so they won't take as much room as train stations. Best of all, because the tracks are underground, you can make direct lines to each station, and you won't be wasting valuable real estate upstairs where it counts. Rich sims LOVE subways, so they're great for rich neighborhoods. The thing about subways is that they are EXTREMELY expensive. A new mass transit system is elevated trains, usually called "el-trains," or sometimes just "the el." Chicago is a prime example of how effective el-trains are. El-trains hold the most passengers, and the rich love them. El-train tracks can link to subway lines too, which makes for a great system. You can use the el as long as you can, but if you run into zones you don't want to demolish, you can slip underground until you're on the other side. The other new mass transit system is the monorail. The monorail cannot hold as many people as the el or subways, but it absolutely screams across the landscape at full speed. If you have a long-distance to go, monorails rock. Placing a parking garage adjacent to any mass transit station will increase that station's usage. Instead of sims having to walk to the station, they can just drive to the garage, park their car, then use the station. Parking garages are absolutely fantastic, so try to put one next to every mass transit station you make. If any station of any of the five mass transit types fails for whatever reason, your transportation advisor will inform you with a hyperlink to the offending station. He alerts you to the stations that make no profit, which means, as the game puts it, are black holes of money. Take them out with your trusty bulldozer to stop losing the cash. Placement for mass transit stations requires some degree of planning. The easy way is to build the mass transit routes first, then build around them. You can't do that without a lot of money, and at the beginning, you won't have it. So, you'll probably be doing most of your mass transit lines after you have established routes. Until now, it's been almost impossible to know where to put stations. Luckily, the new route query tool is totally invaluable for this. Here's the process: 1. Open your Data View screen. 2. View traffic congestion. 3. Route-query a piece of road that is orange or red. 4. Turn off Data View. 5. A bunch of lines will pop up indicating routes. Look for a bunch of arrows going to the same area. 6. Place a station in the area. Bulldoze a couple buildings if you have to. 7. Route-query a building in that area. 8. Different arrows will appear. Follow them backwards from the place you just queried. 9. Look for a "pocket" of arrows at the end of the line. 10. Place a station there, too. 11. Link the two stations however you can (bus stops excluded). +------------------------+ |14d. Bridges and Tunnels| +------------------------+ If there's a body of water or a mountain in your way, you have three options. The first is to go over it, the second is to go around it, and the third is to go through it. Mountains can have roads and rails over it, but this will make for a horrible driving experience, and some trains won't be able to make some climbs. Going around the mountain is an option, but that can be a long and expensive trip. The best solution is to just drill through the mountain to make a tunnel, giving your cars and trains a flat path to zip along. Bodies of water are similar. Again, you could go around it, but some rivers may take the length of the map. Build a bridge to get your cars past the obstruction and get them on their way. To build either a bridge or a tunnel, first plan on where you want it. They can get expensive, and you don't want to continually be destroying and re-building them. Make a strip of road where you want the tunnel or bridge by dragging OVER the mountain or river. Go a little farther along the land until your highlight turns green. After you let go of the left mouse button, you'll be given the cost of the bridge or tunnel, and you'll be asked to confirm its construction. If you decline to build a tunnel, the game will make the road you selected, but it will be going OVER the mountain. Declining bridge construction makes your engineers build the road you drew minus the bridge itself. Bridges cannot cross each other, but tunnels KIND OF can. If you build a tunnel through a mountain, you can still build a road ON the mountain as well. You can't make two tunnels on the same level cross, but you can make two or more tunnels run parallel if you need to. Highways, roads, and rails can all tunnel or bridge. By the way, you can also bridge over a canyon. One of my prides and joys is Canyon City, which features a huge canyon splitting two huge mesas. The northern mesa has the industrial sector and other pollutants, and the southern mesa has everything else. Highways bridge the two mesas, giving people easy access to their jobs. I lost all my old cities, including Canyon City, last year on July 11, 2003 when I fried my computer. As of this writing, I haven't re-made Canyon City yet in Rush Hour, but I plan to. I'm going to see if it works with el-trains and monorails and things. +--------------------------+ |14e. Seaports and Airports| +--------------------------+ Seaports and airports do help send sims this way and that, but they are mostly assists. Seaports assist your industries by hauling their goods across the oceans and rivers of your region. Although passenger boats aren't rare, you'll get far more people with neighbor connections than sea routes (more on that in a second). By building a seaport or two, the demand for your industry of all types increases. They pollute heavily and are expensive, so take care. Airports provide more people than seaports, but they help commercial zones instead of industrial zones. Airports bring in planes with tourists, who will add to the coffers of your city's businesses. You'll get more tourists with more landmarks and rewards, so don't be too stingy. +-----------------------+ |+---------------------+| ||15. YOU ARE NOT ALONE|| |+---------------------+| +-----------------------+ SimCity is not the isolated lonely existence it once was. It's not even as lonely as it was with SimCity 3000 (although until you make more than one city, you will feel a little isolated). After getting your one city running well, save it and exit to the region. Start a new city within the confines of a plot of land adjacent to your first city. Once you have two cities, you can link them in a number of ways. Two cities can very easily support each other, so just imagine when you link up a city to four other cities or more! The basic way to link cities is by road or highway. You'll have to have room on both sides of the border to accommodate the road connection, but it only takes one or two tiles. With a simple road connection, all sorts of things happen. First and most importantly is the shared demand. Two cities that are linked share their RCI meters. If City A has a bunch of farms, and City B desires farms, linking them will benefit both. Residents from one city DO cross the border to work at other cities as well. There's no hard number to get an actual fix on how many people are doing so, but you can route-query the connection to see how many vehicles are hopping the border. (By the way, using the route query tool, I found out that sims will actually travel to MULTIPLE towns. I traced a sim who went on a highway from City A to City B, changed highways, then went to City C to work.) Second, the cities can import or export each other's trash. If one city has the landfill to spare, it can take garbage at a cost of the exporting city. It's a pretty lucrative way to get a profit in the early days. Third, the cities will share tourists. If one city has enough tourist traps like landmarks and rewards, its commercial sector will get a boost when the second city's people come to visit. You can also link cities via water pipes to share water, power lines to share electricity, and rails to share people and industrial goods. A lot of the sharing happens without your knowledge in the background, so if you make two identical cities, one linked and the other not, the linked city will probably prosper better. There are also business deals you can make internally with your own city only. If you ever find yourself in debt, you are usually given the opportunity to build a building at no cost that will net you a decent monthly income. Young cities will have to practically depend on these buildings to survive, and there's no shame in using them. However, they all bring their own problems, so if you can sustain yourself without them, do so. +-----------------------+ |+---------------------+| ||16. READER STRATEGIES|| |+---------------------+| +-----------------------+ Back by popular demand from my FAQs on the The Sims series, I'm providing this section of the FAQ for any strategy you may have. Send it to email@example.com, and I'll post it here with all due credit. Unlike I've done in the past, I reserve the right to edit your submission for grammar, spelling, and profanity, but I will NOT edit the game content. ====================================================== | PART 5: GOD MODE | ====================================================== So... much... power...! After clicking a plot of land without a city, you are given the power to change the land to your liking WITHOUT COST. Beware, because once you engage Mayor Mode, God Mode becomes extremely limited and nearly worthless. Plan your city now before you make some mistake that you'll regret once in-game. +--------------------+ |+------------------+| ||17. GOD MODE TOOLS|| |+------------------+| +--------------------+ There are plenty of fun buttons to play with here! I'll go over everything for your reference. +----------------+ |17a. Landscaping| +----------------+ The first button on the God Mode list is the Landscaping tool. It features Raise Land, Lower Land, Level Land, Add Trees, and Add Animals. If you choose to raise your land, there's a variety of ways you can do so. Create cliffs to mark sheer raises and drops in altitude; make several to create a stair-step effect. Mesas raise a circle of land and top them off, giving a nice area to plop down a landmark, but denying direct access from the bottom. Mountains are just that, and you can make them as tall as you want; to get a mountain range, just slowly drag the mouse across the landscape. Steep hills and gentle hills are self-explanatory. Lowering your land is pretty fun too, and lowering it enough makes bodies of water. Shallow valleys, valleys, and steep valleys give downward slopes to your land. Craters lower the land at the center of the tool but also steeply raise the land at the tool's edges. This creates a nifty little in-mountain lake or something. You can also add shallow or regular canyons, which lower land in a very small area. Leveling your land is not a one-option affair, either. Using the plateau tool lets you make an area all the same altitude with extreme edges. Plains level the terrain too, but the edges will be gently sloped. The quick level brush allows you to easily get your land all the same altitude with extreme edges; useful if you made a mistake. Erosion gives your beaches and cliffs a rocky appearance, whereas the soften tool makes those beaches and cliffs smoother. Adding trees gives your city some personality from the start. The more trees there, the bigger the danger of fire, but the less pollution there is. Adding animals is cosmetic only. +-----------------------------+ |17b. Winds and Global Changes| +-----------------------------+ The second button gives you access to the wind tools, and gives you the ability to make extreme changes. You can issue the erosion command to make your cliffs and beaches rocky, or you can use the soften tool to give everything a much cleaner appearance. Finally, you can raise or lower the entire city's terrain by one whole level. This is useful if you made a couple mistakes but still want the basic shape of your created land. +--------------------+ |17c. Reconcile Edges| +--------------------+ To make the game more realistic and give your region a cleaner look, you're given this tool. It compares the borders of your city with all the ones around it, and it changes your current city's land to match its adjacent borders. This way you don't have, say, half a mountain on one side of the border and nothing on the other side. This is optional; you never HAVE to reconcile edges. If you do want to but don't want to bother hitting the button, there's an option in the options screen called Auto Reconcile Edges, which does what it says it does. The reconcile edges option is one that is still available in Mayor Mode. +--------------+ |17d. Disasters| +--------------+ What would be the fun in making cities if you couldn't whack them now and then? This tool stays in its entirety even after the city has been established. Two new disasters were added for Rush Hour: Autosaurus Wrecks and the always- popular UFO. AUTOSAURAUS WRECKS: Magically summon a monster composed of a variety of vehicles. It will stomp buildings flat, and you can control its path with click-dragging. COMET: Summon a flaming comet from space. On impact, it will set fire to a bunch of stuff and make a small crater in the ground. If you throw a couple down before the city gets established, you'll have a pretty nifty land shape. EARTHQUAKE: Point and click to make a tiny tremor. Or, for more fun, click and hold the mouse button for a few seconds, THEN release. That will rip the map apart, sending buildings flying and sims screaming. Woo hoo! FIRE: The basics are back. Point and click, and whatever unlucky object you choose catches flames. Fire leaps from one flammable object to another, so trees and buildings are all subject to heat. LIGHTNING STRIKE: This is a quickie. Summon a bolt of lightning to any object you choose, and that object will catch fire and/or be destroyed. It's like the fire disaster, but it's a little more precise. ROBOT ATTACK: Servo is fed up from doing all the chores for all the sim families. He's managed to make himself 10 stories tall (that's like 70 to 100 feet, you math whizzes), and now he's launching grenades randomly. You can control him yourself and direct him to specific parts of the city you want to level. TORNADO: I live in Xenia, Ohio. We got hit by two rather devastating tornados: one in 1974, and one in 2000. Luckily, neither was this bad! You can change the tornado's direction to send it to different buildings to take it out. Although it sets some things on fire, its primary purpose is to cause destruction. UFO: The closest thing you're going to get to a nuclear strike in SimCity 4, the UFO disaster will first summon the mother ship to the point of the city where you click. (It'll take a few seconds to arrive, so don't panic when you don't see it at first.) Once it settles over your city, it'll charge its laser beam and absolutely demolish anything around, a la Independence Day. After that, three tiny UFOs will pop out and start randomly shooting at things. You can control the direction of the little UFOs to a degree, but you have no control over what they fire at. VOLCANO: A miniature mountain springs up and erupts lava. The lava will flow down the hill and burn up everything in its path, including buildings. You get to choose where you want the volcano to appear: just point and click. If you ever get ticked off, make a volcano appear in the center of downtown. +--------------------+ |17e. Day/Night Cycle| +--------------------+ The game has a clock so you can see your sims going to and from work. (You can see what sim time it is by hovering your mouse over the date display.) The sun rises and sets, and it changes the color of the land with it as it does so. Also, buildings will get lit up at night. Call me a sucker, but seeing from a distance a huge skyline all lit up is one of the greatest sights in existence... SimCity 4 does a darn good job emulating it, but I digress. You can keep the passage of time, or you can elect to force the city to spend all its time in daylight or nightlight. The night brings beautiful graphics, but the day lets you see what you're doing better. If you're working on a lot of zoning, you may want to leave the sun turned on until you're done. No matter what you choose here, the time will still proceed. It just affects what you see. +-------------------------------------+ |+-----------------------------------+| ||18. GOD MODE STRATEGIES AND EFFECTS|| |+-----------------------------------+| +-------------------------------------+ Unless you're just learning about the tools, avoid just screwing around with God Mode. If you mess around too much, then the city you establish will have its own set of problems... which is why I recommended that you start your first city on a totally flat piece of land. Sims both like and dislike hills. Houses build on hills or mesas are automatically valued more due to their view. Windmill power plants also produce just a LITTLE more energy the higher they are. However, sims hate driving up and down steep slopes, and if you make your cliff too steep, it can't be traversed at all. Water is a slightly different issue. Sims love water as much as they love hills. Property values around water are higher, which leads to higher taxes, and lakes can easily be driven over or around. Oceans give you access to seaports, which help industries, which add money. The problem is that for every tile that is occupied with water, that's one less tile for something else, like a house or road. Unless you have some specific strategy in mind, you need to find a balance between aesthetics and efficiency. A couple of lakes, a few gentle hills, and one or two steep hills in an otherwise flat area is fantastic. Having a little of everything lets a lot of different sims be happy, and as they say, variety is the spice of life. That's not to say that specific strategies are bad. If you want to make an island, you'll have to give up a lot of land to do it... but maybe that's your idea. Your city is your city... just make sure that whatever you do in God Mode won't bite you in the butt later. As long as you know what you're doing and what you're limiting yourself from, you'll be fine. The only thing I always recommend is trees. Trees won't catch fire by themselves, and they'll cut down pollution from the start. It doesn't cost that much more to build things over trees (there is an added cost to compensate tearing the trees down), and it costs absolutely nothing to zone over trees (because the land owners will cut their own trees down). Besides, trees add land value too. If there's any space on your map that has no trees, you don't have enough. ====================================================== | PART 6: FAQ STUFF | ====================================================== This part of the FAQ is about the document itself. +------------------+ |+----------------+| ||19. CONTRIBUTORS|| |+----------------+| +------------------+ This is where I'll list everyone who has contributed anything to me. I'll list your name, e-mail address (unless you tell me not to), and what you contributed, along with what version of the FAQ you did so. Send all contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org. +---------------------+ |+-------------------+| ||20. VERSION HISTORY|| |+-------------------+| +---------------------+ v1 (26 February 2004) First release, yo. (What does "yo" mean, anyway?) +--------------------+ |+------------------+| ||21. COPYRIGHT INFO|| |+------------------+| +--------------------+ This document is copyright 2004 for J. "PyroFalkon" Habib. If you plan to use any of it as part of another FAQ, you need my permission first. However, if you plan to post it on a website or e-mail it to someone or whatnot, you may do so without my permission AS LONG AS IT IS NOT ALTERED IN ANY WAY. I'd like you to drop me an e-mail so I know where you're going to take it, but I will not require you to do so. You may download it or print it at your leisure. The most updated version will always be found at these sites: http://www.gamefaqs.com/ http://faqs.ign.com/ Other sites may have up-to-date versions, but check GameFAQs or IGN first. +------------------+ |+----------------+| ||22. CONTACT INFO|| |+----------------+| +------------------+ If any information is incorrect, or you wish to submit something, please e-mail me. My address is found on the bottom of the FAQ. Credit will be given where it's due. Do not ask me for the serial number to SimCity 4. I will delete your e-mail and insult you. If you submit something to me, I will credit you by the name you signed in the message body or by the name attached to your e-mail. I will also post your e- mail address unless you specifically tell me not to. If you wish to be e-mailed when this FAQ is updated, send your request to me. If you have a junk mail protector on your e-mail program, make sure you put my e-mail address on the safe list, or my messages may not get through. email@example.com Good luck in SimCity 4: Rush Hour, and may all you enjoy your rides through your cities!