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Magnasanti: The Largest and Most Terrifying SimCity (2010) (rumorsontheinternets.org)
272 points by riboflavin 54 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 105 comments

Not to anywhere near the level of this but i've been playing a map on city skylines where i've been trying to make it as dystopian as possible, though at first I was just trying to model my city, the sad thing is, on a superficial level, it still resembles it.

Industrial areas lined with low income housing. A whole neighbourhood with schools next to oil refineries, a prison island that receives its drinking water from the sewage run off of the rest of the city, I created roads and bridges everywhere, there's several 'nice' areas along the non polluted areas of water with large mansions, there's a big bustling urban center full of office buildings and highrises not far away from squat, squalid apartments underneath highway overpasses, schools next to landfills, a lack of hospitals and fire departments, many police departments, i've intentionally clearcut as much of the forest surrounding the city as possible, the next step was to create a small gated community out away from the city, for those with money who can't handle the horrid amounts of traffic and infrastructure...

I may have also accidently poisoned the whole city briefly when trying to build the prison island and killed 30% of the people there, but things have been looking up, population growth is finally starting to rise again, though the health of the population is questionable.

Sim City 3000 might be the pinnacle of "Sim Cities" when it comes to the feeling of making a big scary city.

I would rather play Skylines than 3000 today due to nice feeling and the roads, but the limit that 6 squares depth from the road is as far as housing will "grow" and that you can't make deep neighborhoods or more angled zones, is a sour thumb for what would otherwise be a perfect game. 3000 neighborhoods felt deep and the isometric view didn't make me sad about not doing angled zones.

If Skylines could make roads free of the square course why not the buildings that seem to have to be orthogonal to the tangent of the road.

Sim City 3000 is my favorite too for all the same reasons and I really wish SC3U shipped with multiplayer like the leftovers suggest it would have: https://tcrf.net/SimCity_3000_Unlimited/Unused_Multiplayer_T...

Looks like the commands for an IRC client, I wonder if they were intending an in-game community based on IRC?

I'm not sure it indicates actual multiplayer capabilities, or just the intention. It just looks like someone dropped an IRC client library into the repo at some point.

Totally speculation of course, but maybe even just a dev tool in the repo that got sent around to different devs/studios so that they could communicate. Slack being IRC for work wasn't a new concept after all.


"The server does not automatically pause when all players are logged out."

So you were supposed to like log in for 30 min per day and play a little and then wait for tomorrow with the game server running? Seems like a Minecrafty way of playing. It would probably be fun for some IT-department to have an instance but it feels very niche.

It used to be pretty normal for someone in a friends group to run "the server" I think, for whatever game it may have been. Often just from a PC on their home network. I don't think it would have been a stretch, but it would have definitely been niche.

I really wish SimCity 3000 shipped with 3D views.

I remember reading articles on Happy Puppy around 1998 or 1999 that talked about the “promised land” with screenshots of 3D cities. These are still around if you look around

I am hopeful that someone on here that could share some lore about the development of that 3D version.

There was a racing game called Streets of SimCity, which was mediocre (an euphemism, actually it was just bad) as a racing game, but had the amazing feature that you could drive around your SimCity 2000 cities in glorious 3D.

Sadly I don't know of an equivalent for SimCity 3000.

SimCopter also supported SimCity 2000 cities.

Skylines, at least without the mods, feels like an incomplete game in general. It's fun, but it's lacking the depth I expected. Though reading about all the addons and mods, it looks like they add in just about everything I felt was missing, it's just a lot of money to drop on a game I don't really have enough time to get that into.

They do a lot of sales. About four sales let me catch up pretty cheaply. Skip the decor stuff and buy the stuff that actually adds play items.

As for mods, really the move it and traffic manager president edition is basically a minimum to not be frustrated.

Honestly, despite my op, the one I would really like is the park management one. The one that lets you designate custom size parks and stuff. I mostly got disheartened and pollutey when I realized I couldn't turn the large forest into a park. So I cut it all down and proceeded to lower the quality of life for all.

I was tempted once to grab them all during a sale, it would have been $40 down from like $160 or something, but I also don't want to get sucked into a game like that. Games like civ and simcity eat too much time i've been down those rabbit holes before. Even as it is I spent literally two days straight doing nothing but playing this game when I started that map.

I feel the same way about it being a time suck, and the same way about the parks expansion. I did end up getting the parks expansion for free when they had some event recently, and it's ok. It's ok, but sort of just that. You still have to build entrance gates on flat edges of roads, and you can only place park specific buildings inside, which is just annoying. I like the addition of bike transport though. One of my biggest gripes with the game is that I can't see where a given workforce is living, so I can't really work on bottlenecks in their commute. Otherwise, I've found that uninstalling the game occasionally helps me get out of the Skylines zone for a while, then I reinstall when it's raining and have some fun.

>that I can't see where a given workforce is living

With the early game it wasn't so bad, like one or two districts, but as the city grew, it became too much, hence the residential surrounding industrial stuff.

Most of the dystopian stuff came from my frustration with limitations in the game. The massive amounts of roads and bridges came from the traffic congestion problems and my lack of patience in rebuilding roads or designing transit lines, though i do have 3 massive metro lines that crisscross the city.

The interesting thing to me was the disparity in my city and the dystopianness came from my negligence and lack of patience or caring. The ghettos and ramshackle neighbourhoods built themselves around the zones i built out of just the hell of it much of the time. A lot of it came from stuff the game just generated. Zooming into the close up view in some areas was kinda heart breaking.

It mostly showed me how intentional negligence leads to some of the most nightmarish outcomes and that the games modelling of neighbourhoods based on zoning and surroundings is scarily accurate.

weird I've never managed to enjoy 3000 coming from the first and 2000, which was to me the best; in 3000 I always felt too much in control of the city, while in the other it was a constant struggle against problems.

SimCity 4 felt an incomplete and shallow game at start, but I've come to enjoy it greatly with the rush hour expansion of the deluxe edition, which made the city dynamic enough to feel compelling to work with.

back then it was hard to find in depth technical commentary of the game internals, so I don't know how much my feeling match reality

You can use zoneable paths to break some of the dependencies on roads. And with MoveIt, Anarchy and other mods you can pretty much bend C:S to whatever you want.

Well, with the Steam version anyway. It's the only version that has mods and access to the Steam Workshop with all the community created assets.

For example Sunset Harbor added above ground metro's but the modding community provided a solution years before.

I sure hope they come out with a follow on version that can scale more than the current version but even as it is I love Cities:Skylines!

I never played 3000 but was going to make a comment a lot like yours about Sim City 4

So ready access to roads is preventing the creation of an urban nightmare a la Bladerunner? We better protect our road networks.

> Not to anywhere near the level of this but i've been playing a map on city skylines where i've been trying to make it as dystopian as possible, though at first I was just trying to model my city, the sad thing is, on a superficial level, it still resembles it.

That's NYC, isn't it?

I wasn't trying to take a dig at NYC with this, rather the prison island and geography reminded me of NYC and I should've quoted that part of the grandparent to be more clear.

That's a slice of the horror of our civilization lololol

I know it's cool and trendy to trash our current society and treat it like it's the worst time to be alive in human history, but in reality there's never been a better time to be alive in the history of our species. Poverty, infant mortality, childhood mortality, crime...all at all time lows. Literacy, income levels, food quantity, public health...all at all time highs.

It's always the same comment. Yeah most things are strictly better than they have been throughout almost the whole of human existence. Good. Guess what. I'm not content: I want them to be even better.

And other things aren't that good. Some things are worse, and we should understand why and focus on that. In fact it may not be clear that the world is better today that 20 years ago (again, in some aspects unequivocally yes). The typical "it's the best time to be alive in human history so far" sounds almost defeatist, like a license to become lax.

Also, nobody claims "this is the worst time to be alive".

> I'm not content: I want them to be even better.

Want what you like; but (1) pretty much everyone else wants that so it goes without saying, (2) it is common for people with plans to make things better achieve the opposite because they are lousy planners. The existence of things we don't like doesn't mean we know how to deal with them. People come up with ideas that sound good and don't work.

> Some things are worse

Such as?

Speaking as a USAian, we are 20 years further along the Global Warming/Climate Change path with no significant improvements. Wealth inequality is worse than it has ever been since WWII at least. Access to healthcare has improved, IF you can afford it. A significant percentage of our countrymen can't. Oh, and there's a pandemic going on that our nation's leaders would rather sweep under a rug and call fake news or a Democratic hoax.

If you live in a country whose population gives a fuck about other people, YMMV.

Purchased on the credit card of carbon release. We might get lucky and see some technological or social innovation negate or stop the coming disaster, or civilization could snap back to where it was centuries ago.

The worst part is not the horror of mass extinctions and runaway greenhouse gasses might eventually resolve itself on geologic timescales, but that the society that rebuilt might find it impossible to get out of the stone age; much less through an industrial revolution: we've pillaged the highest-yield mines, germs have been developed into antibiotic-resistant superbugs, we've extracted the easiest-to-reach stored hydrocarbons, and replaced natural, hardy, diverse crops and the "basic 5" domestication-friendly animals with inbred monocultures.

I do wonder how much our extractive technological culture would play to the benefit of a child society that intended to learn from us. There'd be an awful lot of material at the surface that could be recycled or repurposed, if we're talking a reboot on the order of centuries. Idle thought.

There are, but a lot of them can't be reconstituted without other resources. Take, like, rebar, which is the post-apocalyptic author's favorite source of "chunky metal"--it's low-grade steel that melts north of 1200 deg C. If you don't have access to fossil fuels (or an electric arc furnace, and then how are you going to power it?) you're probably looking at a charcoal forge. Charcoal forges require a ton of airflow (relatively easy, if potentially work-intensive) and a ton of fuel to get hot enough to melt even iron, let alone steel (and remember that modern shitty steel is still pretty good by historical standards!).

You can absolutely do it, but you're crawling by your fingernails. And then you have to multiply that by thousands of different factors and different problems. I've thought about this a bunch through the lens of building a game in a world like this and done quite a bit of research, and I tend to think that most of what you might consider "ready resources" in such a world require a pretty significant amount of re-bootstrapping that become really, really hard without easy hydrocarbons.

Maybe doable! Probably really really hard.

Thought provoking. Thanks!

Something like this is part of the background of Gene Wolfe’s “Book of the New Sun” series, totally wild books that are set in a far future earth. Mineral wealth is totally exhausted, and “mining” just means digging up the detritus of forgotten civilizations.

I’m really tempted to post spoilers by way of example, but part of the fun of the book is putting the pieces together and realizing what’s going unsaid because the narrator either takes it for granted or doesn’t understand it himself. Very strong recommend if you have any interest in sci fi/fantasy.

>but that the society that rebuilt might find it impossible to get out of the stone age; much less through an industrial revolution

I don't disagree, necessarily, but I would be fascinated to know if there are any books or articles that game out this scenario in detail. What would industrialization without massive reserves of hydrocarbons look like?

There are promising approaches to break down organic matter into basic hydrocarbons. Also, landfills generate huge amount of natural gas. These approaches are not mainstream yet because hydrocarbons from oil reserves are still cheaper. But if they are not available, it might be worthwhile. Again, this assumes sufficient knowledge in chemistry and a vision on what to do with in the first place. Both might or might not be present in a future civilization.

For how long would bacteria maintain their antibiotic resistance once antibiotics stopped being used?

Most adaptations come at significant metabolical costs. Molecule complexes that funnel toxins out of the cell, alternative metabolimal pathways, exotic cell wall configurations and the like all have disadvantages in the race to the bottom that bacterial evolution is. But it's hard to say how long it takes until gene drift gets rid of them completely. After all, many are derived from the chemical weaponry of fungi.

==the "basic 5" domestication-friendly animals==

Can you expand on what you mean by this? I’m not finding much through search.

Sorry, that was a point from Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I should have just listed the cow, horse, sheep, goat, and pig.

Those are the basic examples of the few animals which are docile herbivores, breeding in captivity, growing to a large, breeding adult in a couple years, and which live in social groups that accept humans at the top of the hierarchy. Building a society with protein and labor from cows is much easier than, say, harnessing turkeys. There are a billion cows on the planet, but if human society grinds to a halt and we stop artificially inseminating them and running the feed plots those species might not survive.

Thank you! This book is actually on my night stand right now, next in line.

The list is generally cows, pigs, goats, sheep and horses. But it's not a rigid list; sometimes goats and sheep get merged, and sometimes chickens get added.

This is a perfect example of the trendy "everything's leading to a doomsday" sentiment among some people on this site.

"We might get lucky" - humans have overcome every adverse condition in our 2 million years alive, why do you have the hubris to believe that you know we can only survive if we get lucky.

"stop the coming disaster" - again, hubris to think that the only possible outcome for humans is a disaster.

"could snap back to...centuries ago" - this has happened once in the past 2000 years, you really think you're going to be alive when we enter a 2nd Dark Age.

I think it's the same sort of thinking with the "Jesus is coming back in the next 5 years" religious crowd. You want to feel important and part of something bigger than yourself, something planet-wide, so you're almost looking forward to being a part of it so you can feel like you're part of history.

By the same token, one could argue your comment is part of the trendy progress worship that's been happening since the beginning of humanity.

Mental disorders are at an all-time high. Extinction levels are well beyond their natural baseline rate, due to human activity. Environmental destruction is at an all-time high. Now, with the Internet, we've managed to build a system that can amplify nearly every negative aspect of human society but at the same time offers a shield of sorts from those effects.

Yes, humans are likely to survive in the same way that a virus survives. We find a way but it isn't always a virtuous path. We humans have yet to understand that nature is a balance and that we choose to operate outside of that balance. Everytime we progress we invent new ways for people and other animals to suffer.

> Mental disorders are at an all-time high

Please provide some references that show mental illness is higher now than during the Dark Ages. Or in Egypt among the slaves under the Ptolemy's.

Infinitely more people are being diagnosed now than in the dark ages

That’s probably the underpinning of his correct argument that we have zero clue and no leg to stand on to claim that modernity has more mental illness than any other, much less every other, period in history

That was the joke. ;)

They didn't say the things you're interpreting them as having said.

> why do you have the hubris to believe that you know we can only survive if we get lucky.

They didn't say we can only survive if we get lucky. The dichotomy they painted was between 'getting lucky' and civilizational regression, not extinction.

> again, hubris to think that the only possible outcome for humans is a disaster.

This is clearly not what they said: they said 'some technological or social innovation' might 'negate or stop the coming disaster'.

You can make an argument that we should lean more heavily on base rates rather than an inside-view attempt to predict the future. But here you've just psychoanalysed a strawman.

Humans being able to invent new existential threats is a very recent development. The way that we have been addressing them so far does not exactly fill me to the brim with confidence.

Seems like an awful lot of armchair psychology you're doing here.

Please soapbox on someone else's comment.

Someone had to do it.

Which is exactly how you like it so it must not be that bad.

I think it's important to remember that a "system" in a video game is a work of art just like the game itself. The systems, in a lot of ways, reflect the ideas and thoughts of the authors of that game. Magnasati's highlights and flaws help illustrate that thinking, or what tax rates are best for doing well in the game.

An example that comes to mind is Factorio, where solar panels are more tricky to operate than generators, but minimize conflict with the ingame fauna. Earlier versions of Rimworld were programmed to have men be either gay or straight, but women to be bisexual. I think both of those gameplay mechanics illustrate (or at least point to) the author(s) idea about the world.

> I think both of those gameplay mechanics illustrate (or at least point to) the author(s) idea about the world.

For good games, I don't think so. The #1 concern of any video game is "is it fun??".

Case in point: Factorio oil is infinite and a renewable resource (pumpjacks never run out). This isn't there because of some preconceived notion of infinite oil. This mechanic exists because planting new pumpjacks is far more annoying than planting iron mines / coal mines. In fact, pumpjacks are basically the only endgame mine that cannot be automated with blueprints.

As such, its best to have pumpjacks pump infinite oil for the rest of time. Because it'd be too an annoying of a game if oil ran out.


In the case of Factorio solar vs nuclear vs coal: the game developer made them different enough to make the difference fun to think about and fun to play with. But I don't believe it necessarily reflects upon the political opinion of the creator.

Huh? Pumpjacks give less oil over time. They never really run out, but eventually you’ll stop running regular trains to an oil depot because your reservoir tanks take hours to fill. Unless you have a small base and dozens of oil fields, you could never run on depleted fields alone, and thus you’re constantly needing to expand and seek out more oil fields (just like the other resource types) mimicking the way that maintaining fossil fuel based industry requires continuous petroleum exploration.

> They never really run out, but eventually you’ll stop running regular trains to an oil depot because your reservoir tanks take hours to fill.

Speed beacons + Speed Modules + Infinite Productivity gets you pretty far.

> Pumpjacks give less oil over time.

Back in 0.13, they dropped to 0.1 oil/second. Today, this minimum has been grossly buffed, greatly reducing the number of depleted pumpjacks you need in endgame. The output is also improved by infinite-productivity research, increasing their output the longer your megabase runs.

There's also Coal Liquefaction, which came a few years after 0.13. That also reduces the need to find new pumpjacks (and again: because coal mines use electric mines, its possible to automate mines with blueprints).

So Coal runs out, but is far easier + automatic to expand compared to oil. So you just turn your coal into oil products.

I think you're likely right, and that I'm being a bit overzealous in assuming that the mechanics are statements about the real world. Perhaps it might have been better to suggest from a "death of the author" viewpoint.

> Perhaps it might have been better to suggest from a "death of the author" viewpoint.

Well, I can agree with that viewpoint regardless. Even if the author didn't intend for something to be taken a certain way... if the audience took it one way, then that's what matters (unfortunately)

A friend of mine told me that old capped oil wells that ran dry decades ago are frequently opened up and found to be full of oil again. (in real life, not factorio)

very good article, thank you.

As an aside, why do you say that in Factorio solar panels are trickier than generators. To me it seems you can stick panels down infinitely and just make more power. Generators require coal trains, nuclear power, steam conversion, water lines and everything else? Or did you mean purely in construction from the start?

But you have to match them with accumulators.

First game I played, I just made far-off copper mines that would only mine during the day.

(Then I learned it's just as easy to run power lines along RR tracks)

Devs made min/maxing solar panels per accumulators is intentionally tricky, as you can't move over them and they don't line up perfectly.

And you can say, "You don't need to play the game that way," and you'd be right, but it is still part of the obsession with the game.

The solar panels evoke almost a Puritan reward-for-honest-work sense, as they don’t produce pollution.

> have men be either gay or straight, but women to be bisexual

There is some scientific truth to it: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-34744903

I think they're reading a lot into a small survey, there... You could make a similar argument about men based on the Kinsey Report, but it's now considered fairly flawed.

Yeah, I think a lot of the ideas around women being more sexually fluid are hard to separate from societal pressures. Or, I think the ways men are expected to behave romantically is a big reason why we have the term "MSM" [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_who_have_sex_with_men

Gerulf Rieger is controversial in this regard, I wouldn't take him too seriously: https://www.transgendermap.com/politics/psychology/gerulf-ri...

I think we can often get sucked into optimizing our life to limit the possibility of negative surprises - predictable reliable employment, reliable transportation, go-to meals, healthy habits that work for us - and then we can often end up in a reality where things are stable but potentially boring or soul-crushing. That's what the essay reminded me of - even if the city were ruthlessly efficient but with a nice park and bodega and deli in walking distance, it could still feel similarly soul-crushing. So I've been trying to think more about how to leave more room in life for "positive surprise" but that's kind of a difficult thing to optimize for. I'm open to ideas anyway!

Go new places, explore! Doesn't have to cost money or be a big deal - just your neighbourhood/area/town on foot or bike.

Or maybe Micro Adventures: https://alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-landing/

(2010). I distinctly remember the discussion from two years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16933265

Same here. Can’t really forget the city once you’ve seen it.

The image reminds me of Guangzhou, China. I recently looked at google earth images of Guangzhou. I then looked at images of New York City. It is incredible to me that we in the U.S. think of New York City as a sprawling metropolis when not far from the city center it is mostly single family homes on plots of land. Whereas Guangzhou has many more high rise buildings for miles and miles. Get the ruler in Google Earth and check it out.

China looks different than the last time I saw it.

Personally, I think Guangzhou or any other tier-1 Chinese city would be a great place to live if China wasn't a police state. I know a lot of people see urbanity as something to be minimized or mitigated, but I think well-designed huge cities with robust public transportation are an absolute delight. Sure it's nice to get out every now and then... but people who live in the country also sometimes like to get out and visit a big city where they have museums and theaters and 12 kinds of ethnic cuisine within 5 blocks walk.

Lockdown has given a lot of time to think about this.

Humans are social animals. We need to have contact with people outside our families.

Living in the country / distant suburbia doesn’t give enough social contact to be healthy, I think, at least in the U.K. In the past I imagine small villages were much more sociable, because people weren’t commuting out, and families lived in the same place for a long time.

So overall, I think living in a city is psychologically better for you. Not necessarily in the centre, but close enough that you can easily get there, can access lots of social venues and find people you get in with.

Of course that was pre COVID. Now is the time to go spend that year in the country, you’re not going to miss out on anything.

> The police state has essentially eliminated free will and allowed the city to maximize its size while reducing quality of life to a minimum — and still maintaining total control over the citizens.

Sounds like China as well

No, the economic growth in China is in fact vastly improving the quality of life there.

How many of those are actually occupied?

On the major cities along the yangzhou river they are mostly occupied, only on the other cities that tries to attract more investment and people they build ghost cities and there are a lot of cities in China competing for progress.

it's a false narrative that these cities are not occupied - i think you'll find that the CCP plans for decades, and the population growth of china will fill those apartments in time.

That explains that there are plans for future occupation, but does not support the claim that it is a false narrative that they are unoccupied.

> does not support the claim that it is a false narrative that they are unoccupied.

no the false narrative was that they will remain unoccupied and is just built as a form of economic stimulus.

Alphaville (circa 2000) forever rules as sim-anarchy's crowning achievement. Without moderation it quickly became saturated with the worst crimes people can come up with.

The Alphaville Herald was dedicated to it; the blog continued on for years, after the sim was shut down. This Salon article references the mag https://web.archive.org/web/20040217030353/http://www.salon....

Alphaville is one of my favorite pieces of internet history but it wasn't ever really documented. It's hard to find anything about it now.

I've never heard of it before, but the Alphaville Herald and all of its archives are still online: http://alphavilleherald.com/archives

Nice. Thanks!

There are no transportation issues because there is nowhere to go because everywhere is the same.

Reminds of the person who played a single Civ II match for 10 years.

IIRC it ended with the Celts, Vikings, and Sioux facing off in thermonuclear war in the year 3991.



Is this using the SC erasing exploit?

There's a bug that lets you delete a building tile but keep the building there in memory, meaning you can build over it but have all the same pops/crime/etc.

Lots of megopolis SC maps use this exploit.

He says in the video that he uses no cheats.

Magnasanti seems like a more tangible application of the AI paperclip maximizer. A city built to maximize population reduces the pleasantness of each life.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned that this is more or less a stochastic cellular automata.

It's essentially a grid-based parallel computer.

To quote the article:

Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t need to travel long distances, because their workplace is just within walking distance. In fact they do not even need to leave their own block. Wherever they go it’s like going to the same place.


Maybe OP posted this after working from home in quarantine for one week too many.

Anyone else here play foundation?


Interesting game to max out, not sure if anyone has tried though...

In a some tangential way this makes me think of Derek Parfit’s “repugnant conclusion”:


Curious to why it is called "Magnasanti"; possibly related to Arcosanti [0]?

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcosanti

It is also a Civic in Beyond Earth. https://civilizationbeyondearth.gamepedia.com/Magnasanti

Kind of surprised that pollution is a problem with no roads and no industry.

Densely packed skyscrapers block wind maybe?

Magnasanti in Italian sounds like "Saints' Eater". Poetic, isn't it?

Wonder if we'll ever get planet scale Simcity for sweet Ecumenopolis planning.

as a purist sim city 2000 player, i love this

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