I hate Facebook games with a passion. However, the blinking lights of a particular one really caught my eye as an aspiring city planner: Cityville. Made by the creators of Farmville, this game takes everything you loved about the farm, crops and all, and brings it to the city. While those of you who prefer SimCity may be disappointed by the lack of true interaction, be excited, you get to incorporate your real friends!
For my city, the goal was to incorporate smart growth principles as much as possible. I even named the place Sustainability. Another goal was to not spend any real money in the game, but earn as much with fake money as I could.
I started out with the house options they gave me and a few plots of strawberries. A few hours later I broke ground on my downtown, adjacent to my farm operation. My first business opportunity besides the farm was a bakery(?!). My second and third options were a flower kiosk and a coffee shop.
At this point, I knew things were going downhill. Although I figured out I could move my buildings, roads and decorations(trees, flowers, even a brown cow) around, to build the city would require spamming my friends. I could build a city hall and a post office, but if no one wants to work at them, then they don’t open. And if they don’t open, I can’t increase my population. Also, the natives get restless and unhappy if they don’t have open community buildings. I also have a limited number of things(collecting rent, harvesting crops) that i can do before my energy levels run out. If I don’t earn more energy on my own fast enough, then I have to buy energy, with real money.
Either way, I’m gradually adding new buildings and figuring out what crops don’t wither if I can’t get back to them on time. As I advance in levels, I get more energy whenever I come into the game. All these things are helping me see how much the game isn’t that far off from real life. You have to staff your city buildings by spending money and/or getting friends to work there. You have to plant crops to supply your businesses(or get involved in lucrative shipping or agribusiness contracts). People will not be cool going to the same places all the time. Houses don’t fit where you want them and should be connected to streets. The only disappointment seems to be lack of transit, however, everyone in my city(really a town at this point) walks wherever they need to go.
Although there are times when the game is exhilarating and times where it bores me to tears, I’ll stick with it until I can get a sprawling (but sustainable) metropolis.