Sim City 4 is the fourth installation in the Sim city series, a city-building simulation computer game developed by Maxis. These games allow players to create a region of land by terraforming, and then to design and build a settlement which can grow into a city. Players can zone different areas of land as commercial, industrial, or residential development; as well as build and maintain public services, transport and utilities. For the success of a city players must manage its finances, environment, and quality of life for its residents. Although Sim City Societies is out, I still recommend Sim City 4, since it is a superior (albeit old) game. Most people think of building a large metropolis when they think of Sim City, but Sim City 4 is a lot more flexible when it comes to building cities, for small towns are actually feasible now.
I have built both bustling megalopolises (7.2 million people in one region) and a more peaceful region populated by small towns. In terms of gameplay, both are the same, however, it is slightly more difficult to maintain a smaller region. I have stratagy guides and tips for building successful cities, but those are only guidelines. Besides, the formula for success always seems to be the same: manage your money well, build parks, landmarks and gifts, provide proper services and utilities, and make neighboor connections. However, the game doesn't need to be played exactly as what is presented by others. Bigger isn't neccessarily better. If you are not interested in making a large city, why not make a region of agricultural communities?
Some players consider Sim City to be serious business: there are those who have spent years at a time trying to recreate real cities, most commonly New York, and in SimCity 4, embarking on enormous region-wide building projects. Also, architecture students often use SimCity 3000 and 4 to test the theories they have learned in urban planning class. Many high-up veterans often tell you how to build the "proper" cities, right down to what zones and transportation types to use. While I consider myself to be a veteran, the guides I create are only guidelines: ultimately, it is up to the player to decide how they wish to operate. I do wish to be of assistance, and thus, here are two guides I've created. I originally uploaded these guides to a file sharing site in 2002 in the .txt format, but I've since streamlined them using the .pdf container for better access.
Starting SimCity 4 can be a daunting task, even if you are an experienced simulator of a previous version. The trouble is that SimCity 4 now provides a vast array of options and tools for you to balance your budget, keep your Sims happy, and create the city of your dreams. In all the new complexity the basics are still as simple as ever – supply versus demand, income versus expenditure and of course sound planning! Here is a step-by-step instructional guide to creating the city of your dreams!
I presume this is your first city in your new region; you’re in God mode now and your tearing up the countryside. This is the easy part; just make sure you have enough ground for development without further terraforming and that you have adequate water and high ground to ensure that land value will not be low all over your city. Lots of trees too, these help out early on with pollution and make it all seem nice and lovely for your first Sims. Remember too that if you want your city to have a massive bridge, then be sure to build a massive canyon to accommodate it. Oh and be sure to have hit pause, this will just make things easy when you start your city.
So now you have names your city and declared yourself Mayor, hooray, sit back and watch the fireworks spring out of the ground. So from here on in this is where you need to work in a series of steps to ensure your growth is sustainable, follow this guide and your city will flourish and do so quickly.
Unless you go nuts with spending this is the easiest part of the game!
You can start by creating some power, and you don’t need to spend too much to do it! The choice is simple; you can build a coal power plant (the cheapest power for most cities) or a wind power plant. If you choose to build a wind power plant you will have to build more as you grow and you will eventually (at about 5 wind power plants) be forced to build a coal power plant, as the number of simoleans you will spend on maintenance is ridiculous!
Now that you have power you must build a road to travel on. Try and connect this road to a neighbour, even if you have no neighbours it will make life easy later on! Then start zoning, not too much but just enough! Ensure you have some agriculture or even medium density industrial, a few light commercial zones and a reasonable amount of light Residential. When you are zoning, keep the big picture in mind as your city will expand and you want to keep your industry away from your residents without increasing the travel time to work by too much!
During this first step your city will grow in size to around 500-1000 people without too much difficulty. Remember to keep an eye on the RCI graphs and be sure to provide enough Residential zones to allow growth to continue. You will be rewarded with a mayor’s House, and choose your location wisely as high wealth Sims will move in next door! Again, unless you go nuts with spending or you have totally botched your city design then this will be a pretty simple step!
Provide some services to your population! Build one small fire station and one small police station in a place that will ensure the radius of each cover the majority of your city. Your people may say your coverage is poor, but this is all you can afford to maintain right now. Be sure to NOT change the funding of these things. Turn on your analysis tools and see which roads have traffic. Be sure to establish main roads over those areas the need it. Be sure to do this regularly; it is an easy way to keep your Mayor rating on the up early on!
It will also be a great idea to establish a landfill, be sure to place it in a location when you can cut it off from the road in the future so you can get rid of the trash for further development. (You may pass your trash to another city sometime in the future). You will start to grow quickly for a short period of time and if you keep zoning smartly you will hit around 1500 people very quickly. Be sure to keep things small however to ensure that your fire and police still cover your entire city! At this time you will have low education and low health, but you can’t afford that yet to bite the bullet!
Now we start to raise the difficulty and test your planning skills, this phase will begin to strain the budget so expect to be running low shortly. Establish your first Health Care Clinic and Elementary School. Be sure to adjust their local funding to cater for the correct numbers so you don’t over spend! Be sure again to check this every 3-5 months. You will also need to start a water system, which is too easy to stuff up! Build one pump and start laying down pipes, simple! You may also pass some basic ordinances if you choose, but be sure to pick wisely as they all cost money. There is no guide to what you should choose, but pick ones that suit the type of city you want to run!
You will start to grow beyond your police and fire range, don’t be too tempted to build new ones as you can’t afford it yet! You will notice your budget is hitting rock bottom and you will be offered a military barracks, then a missile range to keep in the black. You will only be offered these if you about to go into the negative. Form here it is the balancing act of creating new maintenance costs in police stations and so on while still being able to maintain a positive income. Your city should grow to anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 people.
This is the first step where your chances of failure are starting to become greater. The balancing act is going to be tough and your Sims will want you to do things for them that you can’t afford. This is where your decisions will have the most impact. Start to change your taxes, 9.0% is a safe level, but you can encourage growth by lowering the rate and obviously stunt growth by raising it. For example you could make dirty industry pay 11% while high tech industry cruises at 6%. This will bring more high tech industry, but you’ll need to Dense Industrial zones to handle it. If you have a significant industrial base then build a freight rail system to connect to another city. It does not matter much now, but you created another city and connected the lines you will begin sending your cargo through the rail system, which will bring untold benefits to your city! Keep zoning; out as much as possible but some medium density Residential and Commercial will be required. Ensure your have adequate roads, water, power and that your keep up the coverage with police, fire, health and education. There is no need however to build anything larger than the smallest of these services, so don’t go building a massive hospital or something.
Growth will sky rocket if your doing well, and your budget will start to become an extreme balancing act to keep it in the black! Some of your original development will be replaced and your terrain will begin to play a part in the development of your city. You Mayor Rating will probably take a few hits and traffic will begin to plague you, you will also need to address growing pollution and quite possibly the water system will become polluted requiring a treatment plant (which will cost you!). This period lasts up until about 20,000 Sims! Now we start to consolidate your growth and focus on specifics rather than pure expansion. Start to judge the needs of your city, pollution levels, traffic, and trade and so on before you make any decisions. You will need to start spending some big bucks and start incurring some massive maintenance costs. You are now looking at a city at a higher level! Introduce the large facilities such as Hospitals, larger fire and police stations, Libraries, Museums, parks, recreational areas and so on. You Sims will want these if they are going to stick around, and this is the only way to start attracting the high wealth Sims to your city. Start a bus system if you have not already; start to think about saving for a subway system or highway to provide adequate transport to and form work and to other cities. If you have another city, people will drive from there to work in your city so you need to help them out.
Pass a fair few more ordinances to keep the masses under control and be sure to have addressed pollution as it will begin to have a negative effect on your city if you have not already attended to it. You may get negative growth from this (the silent killer) so be careful and zone correctly. Hopefully your high wealth growth will begin to increase and your Mayor Rating will begin to regain some respectability. There may be some demand for airports and seaports on the horizon too. The growth will appear to cap creating a problem for your planning. You will start to find that your decisions need to be based on as much information as you can gather from the tools provided, otherwise some decisions may put you into the red for good! It will also be hard to expand as your running out of space. You may want to consider developing a neighbour city to assist in sharing the load.
Now it begins, the making of a large city and the guts of a thriving economy are the focus here. Your will need a neighbouring city to start this step or your city will stagnate and growth will fail to continue. With a neighbour however things will skyrocket! Start rezoning to Higher density, upgrade your transport system and invest in mass transit solutions ensuring to base decisions on the analysis tools. Adjust your taxation rates to ensure the correct kind of growth is occurring at sustainable rate. You will also need to develop neighbouring cities and even begin deals in terms of water, garbage or power between each city. You’ll need to pass a number of ordinances and begin adding more parks and recreation; these will keep you Sims happy. Increased wealth, more growth in your chosen zones, more commercial demand and greater revenues. If you have done the hard work, it is beginning to pay off. You will also find your redeveloping on a large scale to accommodate your new choices; you’ll need to remember that bulldozing costs money. On top of this your services like health, education, fire and police will begin to strain under the increase in high density Residential Zones, be sure to keep things under control. This stage will last up until around 50,000 Sims in this city alone.
Your on the way now, your city is starting to reach its limits and you’ll need to develop the region to sustain any further redevelopment. Start to specialise regions and co-ordinate deals to trash and power and so on. Maintain adequate transport, health, education, police and fire services based on the data you have. More parks and recreation, more ordinances and micro management of local areas to ensure maximum potential is reached. Start to develop your region as one large city with specialty cities for commerce, agriculture, industry, suburbia etc etc.
If you hear now then you’re making the right choices! This is about Major growth and specialisation. You’ll have major traffic problems and major troubles with your budget in terms of maintenance costs. You will need to rely on your neighbour to assist with the load. You will find previous development is in the way and you will need to do significant redevelopment to get the right recipe for success. This stage will continue growth above and beyond 50,000 Sims and you will need to have a significant population in the region (100,000-200,000) to maintain growth. Expect to reach 100,000 in this city alone if your doing the right thing.
From here on in it is about the region rather than an individual city, you will have a very complex integrated system that will need attention. Be sure to keep up every city and be sure to make it work as one!
Build all of those gifts, even things like opera houses. You may think it is a waste of money and space, but you can always cut the funding if you need to, and it just makes for a better city. Building a major art museum and other things makes your city a better place to live in. The funding is usually so minimal that it doesn't impact your bottom line much, and new sims will probably move into your highly cultured city so fast it won't matter anyhow.
As to that effect, look at all the requirements for the different gifts. See what you need, and see if you can get the requirements filled painlessly. If you are only one library away to get the main-branch library, why not plop another library down? (provided that all the libraries are good, it needs good libraries, which means funding)
Upgrade all your old streets to roads, even in low traffic areas. It just makes for a smoother commute for everyone.
Try building an integrated transit system. If you have train stations, try linking them up to subways or bus stations. With practice, I have made systems that made enough in fares to pay for itself! (It is not uncommon in my largest city to find a trainstation subway station combo that has over 5000 commuters a day, or more).
Building highways can help keep traffic down. I noticed this when one half of my city (without highways) had really bad traffic and another half (almost as dense building wise, but had highways) had little traffic.
Try specializing cities. The main city should have massive blocks of residential and commerical, but little industrial. Neighbor cities are filled with heavy industries and agriculture. Although neighbor cities get the shaft population wise, they still end up being pretty decent.
After you are making good money, start dozing (or torching with the god tools, its free!) the bad business deal buildings (like the waste dump... yech). In the end, I'll probably keep the casino and federal prison, but I want to dump the rest (I mean, they were only tools to make me money anyhow, no hard feelings Army Base)
Many people are getting frustrated with Simcity 4 when attempting to build large residential, commercial service, and commercial office buildings. But here's a pointer: Stage Caps, a new concept in SC4 that attempts to make the simulator more realistic, will not allow medium and high density buildings of a certain zone and wealth type to be built until a certain population of that zone is reached. Phew! Thats a mouthful!
In other words, until your residential or commercial office population (of a certain wealth class) reaches 1,114; you will see no medium density developments. Likewise, you will need to achieve a population of 25,952 before any high density buildings are constructed.
Commercial service developers will first build medium density buildings at a commercial service population (of, once again, a certain wealth level)of 1,114 jobs, and high density buildings will be constructed at a commercial service job population of 15,356.
Industry (of a certain developer type) will build high density buildings at a job population of 2,447. All of these figures are out of the official strategy guide, and the entire regional population (for the specific developer type) applies to these stage caps.
Also, one bit of clarification, if you want to see high-density high-wealth residential developments, you will need a high-wealth residential population (not a global residential population) of 25,952 sims. Hope this helps!
Demand and desirability
There is a great deal of confusion concerning two very important concepts- demand and desirability. These two forces share equal importance in determining whether your city will grow, and neither is effective without the other.
Demand might be defined as the potential for a certain building to develop, and is determined by the status of a region. In a small town, for instance, there is very little likelihood that a 50 story high rise will develop. There would not be enough people to live in it, and even if there were, there would not be nearly enough jobs for them. Nor could the poor residents of a young town afford to live in a condominium. Rather, they would prefer a 2-bedroom house, or maybe an apartment. Therefore, in our hypothetical small town, we would say that demand for the high rise is low, while the demand for the house is high.
When you are trying to increase demand, the most useful tool is to imagine yourself in the position of the simdevelopers. The factors that determine demand are different for every zone type. Demand for Commercial services, for instance, is defined largely by the number of people living in the city or region, for the obvious reason that the more people there are in the area, the more customers there will be. Residential demand is driven not by population as much as the availability of jobs. Industries prefer less educated workers, while commercial offices prefer wealthy employees.
Desirability also effects what buildings are constructed in your city, but is almost entirely unrelated to demand. If demand is the potential for growth, desirability is the actual probability of growth. As an example, your city may need high-wealth residential. However, if you zone high density residential across the street from a toxic waste dump, no one is going to build an expensive condominium in that lot. Why? Because it is not desirable.
In trying to predict desirability, it is useful to imagine yourself in the position of the Sims themselves. Desirability is local in nature, and is determined by the services and attributes available in a specific neighborhood. Residential desirability is, for instance, increases when quality education and healthcare are available nearby, and there are jobs and services within a short drive. It is hurt by the presence of undesirable buildings such as military bases or dirty industry. A map of desirability for each zone type is available under the Data Views pullout (the fourth button down in the Mayor Mode control panel).
When building cities, remember that demand and desirability are both unrelated and completely dependent on one another. No matter how desirable a neighborhood is, a building will not develop unless there is demand for it. Conversely, no matter how high demand may be, the right building will never develop in the wrong place
When to build services
Many people make the same mistake when building a new city: They provide every single service imaginable, and end up with nothing but debt.
This is a quick reference guide as to when you need city services.
Settlement (0-2000 Sims)
Hamlet(3 000 - 5 000 Sims)
Village(5 000 - 10 000 Sims)
Small Town(10 000 - 15 000)
Town (15 000 - 25 000 Sims)
After this point, everyone's city will be drastically different. Just take it easy, and always run the game on the highest speed. You'll often pass many years just building roads, while making money. As you get much bigger, you'll need advanced education.
Build these things, depending on the wealth of your sims. (and yourself) $ - power - elementary schools and landfills needed to upgrade $$- water, High schools, full fire coverage - Health, some parks, and smarter sims needed to upgrade $$$-Police, rewards, advanced education, and some ordinances.
As you can see, high density gets very expensive to take care of.
Getting wealthy cities
Is your city full of little shacks and poor citizens? Do all your industries just give low end jobs. Do you want to change this?
The first thing that you have to do to get wealthy citizens and industries is make sure that there is water everywhere. People need water to live right. Then you have to provide educational buildings from elementary schools to college. Make sure that they have good funding and have enough school bus funding. Then you will have to provide healthcare. Once again, make sure that you have enough funding for the hospital itself and ambulance funding too. Also make sure that the area of your city you want to make rich has police and fire coverage, but it is not necessary. Also build parks and trees.
Try this for a while and see if it helps. If it doesn't and people just are still living in shacks, check on air, water and garbage pollution. If either of these is bad, that will reduce desireability. For water pollution, you will have to build a water treatment plant and connect it to your water system. To treat garbage pollution, build a landfill, or sell your garbage. For a landfill, make sure it's not near any area that you want to make nice. For air pollution, you will have to destroy and power plants and dirty industries nearby. As well, if you can, try not to use power lines as they are not very nice.
Once you've done all this, you should see an increase in wealth. But if all this fails, then raise the lower wealth taxes to about 13%. Lower class citizens will still probably stay but you will see wealthy people($$$) moving in and building mansions and estates. A nice thing to do is set up an area far away from your main city that has all of the above and see if you can't make a nice little suburb. Having wealthy citizens will make your whole city nicer and it will make industries become more wealthy.
All landmarks do is increase the desirability in commercial districts. However, some landmarks have more effect than others. For example, the Bank of America Building has a radius of 80 tiles, meaning that it will increase commercial desirability for all areas within 80 tiles of the building.
Airports and when to build them
Airports provide demand cap relief. This is the same function provided by making neighbor connections to your other cities with freeways, roads, avenues, rail, and subways. If you can achieve the same effect that an airport has by making neighbor connections, and therefore taking up less land, go for it! I find airports to be a big waste of space when the same effects can be obtained by building a few connections to neighbor cities. Also, airports built in neighbor cities will have no effect whatsoever on your core city.
Keeping a stable budget can be a challenge. It is important to micro budget all your city services, especially schools and hospitals. Using the query tool, click on every hospital and school and adjust the budget bar until you reduce the funding until the building provides the exact amount of the service the city needs. For example, if a school has 150 students, adjust the budget so that the school has space for about 150 students. This should help you balance your budget. Also, remove all unnecessary city services until you have enough monthly income to support them. Making mass transit efficient The mass transit issues are very common. Generally, it is best to place routes along roads with congested traffic. Also, try placing the stations closer together. The closer the stations are to one another, the more sims will use the system.
Making mass transit efficient
The mass transit issues are very common. Generally, it is best to place routes along roads with congested traffic. Also, try placing the stations closer together. The closer the stations are to one another, the more sims will use the system.
Attracting wealthy residents
Try attracting high tech industrial jobs to the city. Also, if you have demand for other high paying jobs, like CO$$$ and CS$$$, add more commercial zones. As a last resort, try lowering your taxes to 7%, or maybe even lower if you can afford it. This should spur high wealth growth in your city.
High Tech industry
To get high tech industry, and to a lesser extent, manufacturing industry, you need highly educated sims in your city. Start off early with an elementary school and a library. As your city grows in population, add the high school and the community college. Also be sure to add in additional libraries, museums, and the like, as your city requires it. I place libraries in every single residential neighborhood, and museums in many neighborhoods. This helps you to achieve the education levels needed to get high tech industry in your city. You must remember that education is a slow process, so it may take as much as 30 years to raise your education level high enough. Also, don't forget that high tech industry does not like pollution or garbage, so keep those away from your high tech areas.
Keeping dirty industry in your main city, over time it will begin to negatively affect your city. High tech industry and some manufacturing industry will not cause any negative effects in your main city if you leave them in it because of the lower pollution levels associated with those industries. The bad traffic & pollution in an industrial city does not matter. As long as there are no sims living there, your mayor rating won't matter. Hence, about the only city services you'll need to provide is fire protection. I tend to put incinerators, power plants, and other undesirable things in my industrial cities. Then I just sell power & water to the main city. It also provides a great place to put trash from the main city. Doing this will help keep the mayor rating in your main city high, because it will keep these undesirable things out.
It all starts with a high education level. Begin educating your sims as soon as you start your city. Add museums, libraries, and schools as you can afford it. Eventually your education level will be high, attracting medium & high wealth residents. Do not forget about healthcare either. That seems to be a major factor as well. A sufficient water system, many parks, and most importantly, demand for high wealth residential must also be present, or no luxury skyscrapers will be built in your city.
There are no known issues or errors with Sim City 4 Deluxe on Windows Vista, even though Sim City Deluxe was originally set up to run for Windows XP. However, slightly higher performance specs are required to run the game properly, since Vista itself is slightly higher in demand for system requirements. The recommended configuration of your machine should be as follows if running Windows Vista.