You seem to have been watching the gaming world with some care. Your comments are interesting.
Do you react to TeamStar's comment on the importance of the highly refined individuality of Tropican
units as I do?
Just gonna comment here:
I have played many citybuilder games, the Caesar/Pharaoh line, CivCity, Childrens of the Nile, SimCity 1-4, Anno 1701 beeing the most prominent. I also always gather info on forums such as this one : ).
Each game has its own system, but they do tend to fall into two catagories. The Caesar/pharaoh games had a building based system. In those you placed a house, and that house got it needs fulfilled from having "walkers" pass the house so the whole layout had to be based on getting the right people to walk by.
There is one particular moment I remember very well from this game, and that was when I had many houses that very of a high level, meaning they needed to be supplied with lots of stuff. Now I needed workers for a specific task so I changed the priority in which workers where assigned, but this meant that a lower level need was understaffed. After a bit this started a chainreaction, where first this understaffing caused a lower level very general need not to be meet. This again meant that all the houses devolved, and since each level of housing had limits to occupants, higher ones having more, it also meant that loads of people had to leave the city which then again meant that further services became understaffed.
I really thought this was actually rather cool, because a giant city could collapse by making one mistake. Had their not been any limits on occupants per house, this would not have happened though, but I liked the chainreaction. The fact that when a general need was not beeing meet, it affected everything else.
A bit OT, however the point beeing Caesar/Pharaoh was not based on individual citizen. You placed a house and that house was your unit so to speak. "Walkers" was sent from each need supplier (market, fountain, school etc.) if it was staffed and when these passed your house that need was meet.
This system kind of limited the layouts to huge loops with services in the middle, houses on the outside and finally industries outside of the loop who picked up their employees by having a long "backroad" beeing near the houses.
What I really liked with Pharaoh especially was that you followed a dynasty through time rather than a single person such as in CivCity and Caesar.
Also this game together with Simcity 4 took into account the age of the whole population, so you could see how many was too old or too young to work, but STILL CONSUMED goods. If the average age of workers became too high, there would be a need for new younger workers, just like in real life. This was a very nice feature.
CivCity and COTN (Childrens of the Nile) worked around individual citizens, however they did not completely seperate the individual from their houses.
In COTN you place each house and that house also has a function. So you place a farmers hut, a bakery, a furniture shop, and then an occupant takes residence in the building. But it does not evolve. The citizens can only choose to live in the houses you built for them. They can move to another house/business, but they cannot change it into something else. You placed a bricklayers house, it stays a bricklayers house.
I didnt really like this, because there was no indication of how well you citizen where doing. The only way of telling how life was going was to click on the house itself and see if any needs where NOT meet, as there would be an indicator for this.
Actually it worked around "families" as its units. Each family occupied a house. The good things about the game was that each family member would gather resourches for their business/home by going into the wilderness, and there was NO limit to how long they would go to get it.
Also what was good about this game was that there could be multiple problems as to why a house/business wasnt doing well. Crops where used as money in this game, so if there was a bad harvest, there would be very little money, and as a result the shopkeepers didnt sell much (and therefore not have much food) which would then cause malnutrition, which would require more extensive medical facilities.
It could also be that there simply was too many shopkeepers making the same kind of item within a small area and therefore they would not have much food (as there wasnt enough customers), or maybe the resources required was so far away that the family wasnt able to produce enough items to sell.
I really liked this aspect, as it made problems more complex to solve. Citizens where still almost like houses though. In this game you could go into each house and check the familys history. See what year they progressed from farmers to shopkeepers to take one. A nice touch.
In CivCity the individual was seperate from their workplaces and their homes upgraded to show their level of wealth. It seems the economic system was kinda limited to "if its there grab it" from stores. Kind of like a communist paradise. A bit too simple for my liking. You could adjust how much free time they would have though. That was cool. Kinda like beeing able to decide the working hours.
I liked that you could see each citizen drag home a good and place it in their home. This game was abit too focues on that aspect though.
NONE of the above mentioned games have done what tropico did though, and that was to not only have a basic need to be fulfilled (Hunger, sleep, religion, liberty) but also to have each citizen valuate these needs differently and THEN modified by political views.
Someone beeing a die-hard militarist might rate their need for liberty a 2 (making it beeing fulfilled easy) while a intellectual might rate it an 8.
This would then make each faction (something also unique for tropico) act differently in elections, not only based on how well you where doing in general but also on whom you appealed to. So you could have your facist dictatorship if you just made sure that everyone who went though school got a military oriented education and having newspapers, radios and television oriented towards the military, or you could have a free open society should you choose so.
This is what really made tropico special and unique, because the only resource for the people to be gathered was food. No furniture, no meat, oil or what have you from other games. So you could make an island entirely based on banana farms and nothing else.
There where services such as religion and healthcare as well. School however was NOT a need, but an option.
And each citizen was really individual and could be seperated from their family and the houses.
I remember 3-4 problems that happened each time.
1. was that someone who had a college degree might not take a college level job though they would live nearby it and it was open for employment and payed better. This was somewhat of a pain to reorganize.
2. was the way finished products moved from factory to dock by teamsters. Unlike tropico 2, you could always buld more teamster offices to haul your goods, but it would still take forever to get them to the docks if it was far inland.
3. roads. These was not really implemented that well as the citizens would choose their own routes to a destination.
So to summarize, what made tropico special:
- Each need was giving a rating by each citizen
- Some of these ratinings could be influenced by you (education, edicts etc.)
- Citizens was completely individual from their workplaces, houses and family (Could live in any house, work anywhere, marry anyone)
- The individual factions and their views was what gave the game spice.
Also the fantastic almanac where you could look up EVERYTHING.
So yes, I value individualism very high in a new tropico game : )