While most gamers around the globe sat down to play Red Dead Redemption 2 last weekend, I opted for something else entirely on Saturday night.

Rockstar Games recently released their much anticipated Western-themed action-adventure game Red Dead Redemption 2. The game is only available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, of which I have none. So getting it was never an option for me.

Instead, I took a dive into a very different title; Colossal Order’s Cities: Skylines. It’s a city-building game, much like the beloved SimCity. I am, of course, referring to the original Sim City, and not the disaster that was the 2013 remake.

Cities: Skylines has changed a lot since its release in 2015. Since my review the same year, it has received a massive amount of free updates and paid expansions. As of right now, I count no less than 19 available DLCs. I’ve picked up every single one of them on various sales, including the latest Industries expansions. And with all the DLCs installed there is so much you can do. So. Amazingly. Much.

So, on Saturday night, I poured myself a glass of Grant’s Family Reserve, and sat down to build the greatest city of all time!

October 2018.

From the Mayor’s journal:

Nothing smells quite as good as a plot of untouched, virgin land. Ah, the potential! Here, we shall build the most impressive city the world has ever seen. It will be a self-sufficient, green city, void of dirty factories, and pesky combustion cars. Electric vehicles and bicycles will fill our streets, and our sidewalks will be filled with happy citizens. Our stores will overflow over with locally produced, organic food, and our universities will foster the brightest minds of all time.

Or that’s the plan, at least. The path there will be dirty, since green alternatives will not be available to us when we lay down the foundation stone. First, we have to lure, I mean, attract a certain number of citizens to our Springwood.

The main road in and out of Springwood.
All roads lead to Springwood.

January 2019.

The fine city of Springwood now has 800 happy, law-abiding citizens. Some mayors would probably be happy with that number of minions, but we’re not stopping here. Oh, no.

The county has given us the option to specialize districts, and we’ve decided to create three districts. Hickory park, a commercial district with organic produce shops, electric car charging stations, etc. Valley Square, a residential area with self-sufficient buildings. Self-sufficient housing means less garbage, less electricity, but also less taxes. We’ll see how that goes. The third district is Pearl Square, our industrial area.

We’ve also opened a brand new recycling center!

October 2019.

Springwood is expanding. We’ve purchases a new plot of land, and the citizens rejoice. Little do the know we bought the plot to make room for toll booths. While they probably won’t discourage people from driving, they’ll mean some badly needed income for the city.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned, though. After demolishing both the main roads in and out of the city, it turned out we only had enough money for a singly toll booth. Then, the contractor informed us the toll booth needed both water and power. Unfortunately, we used the entire city coffer to buy the toll booth, and repair the roads. Now there no money to spare for water pipes and power lines. Whoopsie.

While we tried to fix the minor toll booth hiccup and the blown budget, one of the factories in Peal Square caught fire. No one bothered to tell us, and since we don’t have a fire station yet (remember the toll booth?), the building burned to the ground. Fortunately, the fire didn’t spread. Next up: Build a fire station.

We’ve been activating a lot of new policies lately: Recycling, a park maintenance boost, and free Wi-Fi for everyone! It’s probably not the best timing to do this, since every new policy takes out a bite out the budget. But we’re not in the red. Yet.

Burnt down factory.
The unfortunate aftermath of not having a fire station.

December 2019.

The new toll booth is a total disaster. It costs the city ₡120 per week to operate. Last week, only 7 cars were charged, bringing in a total of ₡10.

We’re still a few thousand ₡ away from the fire station. The city is also screaming for more residential areas, but we have to save the money. Zoning is free, but building roads are not, and all the roads require maintenance, which also costs money. It sure is tempting to take out a loan, but we don’t need the fire station yet. The city council’s reasoning behind this is that nothing is currently burning.

To get rid of some of the cars on the road, we’ve got a great plan for the future: Build roads with cycle lanes. This type of road will become available to us as soon as we reach 4200 residents, and we’re currently 600 residents away from reaching that goal.

Also, we need some buses. Unfortunately, the bus depot costs ₡30,000, so we’d either have to take out a dreaded loan, or hope that he bonus we get when we… shitshithit! Both of the coal powers plants are on fire! You’d think someone would perhaps send out a memo! The number of citizens is 3,666, which can’t possibly be a coincidence.

All the stars and planets have aligned, though, an we also just now got enough money for a fire station. What amazing timing! We build it smack in the middle of our Pearl Square industrial area. The station has 5 fire engines, let’s hope they can save the power plants!

An entire city block on fire.
Now is a good time to build a fire station.

January 2020.

The brave men and women of the fire brigade managed to save both  powers plants, and the surrounding buildings. A town house in Valley Square also caught fire, but that was put out in a jiffy. We’re now installing smoke detectors in every singly building throughout Springwood to reduce the risk of fire.

Just as the citizens of Springwood were done cleaning up after the ticker tape parade celebrating our firefighting heroes, life threw us under the bus once again: The city’s scientists reports that a size 3,6 meteor is about to hit the city!

We’re not prepared for this. There’s no money in the budget for emergency shelters (or anything else for that matter). That damn toll booth!

When it rains, it certainly pours. Brace for impact, citizens!

The infamous toll booth.
The infamous toll booth.

February 2021.

We watched the meteor from the town square. The huge stone flew straight passed the city, and crashed into the ground in an open area just North of the high way. Hooray! Another ticker tape parade is being planned by the city’s Ticker Tape Parade Committee.

There was no direct casualties, but one factory worker suffered a heart attack as the meteor flew past. He’s now laying dead on the factory floor waiting to be transported to the cemetery. The only problem with that is that we don’t have a cemetery right now.

On top of that, we’re running low on power (again), and need an additional power source.  After discussing it with my economical advisors, I see no other option than to take out a loan. Damn it.

We have other pressing needs as well. Not only are people laying dead all over the place (I was just made aware that there’s a couple of corpses decaying in Valley Square as well), we’ve got over 1,000 eligible high school students and no high school! A high school will set us back ₡24,000.

This is the plan now: First, a cemetery to get rid of the bodies, then a high school.

Meteor impact just North of the high way.
Impact!

March 2020.

We found a nice plot for the cemetery just North of Valley Square.  The hearses did their job, and moved all the corpses they could find to the cemetery. No more potential zombies laying strewn in the streets anymore!

On the 16th, the proud city Springwood reached a population of 4,200 population, which makes it a busy town! We celebrated with fireworks. A lot of new buildings we certainly can’t afford was made available to us. But we received a ₡40,000 bonus, which means that James Woods High School is a go!

I’m thinking that perhaps we shouldn’t focus too much on expanding right now. There’s a high demand for all kinds of zones, industrial, residential and commercial, but we’re also have a couple of problems we should try to tackle first: Education and traffic.

Sure, we got James Woods High School going, but we’re short on desks. The school can only house 1,000 students, so there are still 200 young people roaming the streets of Springwood in need of a high school education!

Also, there’s a traffic problem looming. Will we ever catch a break?

The Valley Square cemetery.
The Valley Square cemetery.

May 2020.

To take some of the load off the main (only) roundabout, we’ve decided to extend the William Bridge so that it connects directly to the highway. The preliminary numbers looks like this was a strike of genius. Much of the traffic to and from the Pearl Square industrial area is now taking the bridge instead of the roundabout. The traffic still has to pass through the outbound toll booth. It brought in ₡56 last week, so it’s still very much a money drain.

Still, there are some good economical news: While we were concentrating on extending the William Bridge, the city bank account slowly filled with money. We can now afford a second high school! The city council is still trying to find a proper name, a process that is likely to take longer than to get the high school built.

One of the buildings on Crowley Street was abandoned. It was a drug store, probably abandoned because of the lack of higher educated citizens. We’ll have that fixed soon, though. In the meantime, the old drug store is bulldozed to make way for a little less educationally demanding store.

Springwood's William Bridge.
The William Bridge, one of Springwood’s finest architectural achievements.

June 2020.

Change of plans! We’re not building the new high school after all. Instead, we’re expanding to allow the population to increase to 6,500. When that happens, it triggers a lot of interesting events. First and foremost, we’re allowed to zone office areas. This means that we can start getting rid of the dirty industry.

We can also build a university, which will make sure we can fill the offices with highly educated, mindless drones.

Let’s get cracking!

September 2020.

Springwood is growing. It now houses 5,331 happy citizens, and we’re getting closer to our 6,500 goal. A university will great, as there are now close to 500 people eligible for an university education in the city.

The smart thing to do would be to save money for a university when we’re eventually allowed to build one. But for some reason, the city council has decided to lay down a city park just west of the Hickory Park commercial district. Unfortunately, none of the city council members has ever built a city park. It’s being constructed on a trail-and-error basis, which is not good for the city budget. I’m sure the end result will be quite marvelous, though.

In the middle of park construction, we ran out of electricity again. This means we had to shell out another ₡19,000 for our fourth coal power plant. So much for a green city. There are better options in the electricity producing department, like a solar power plant. But we’ll have to get to 17,000 citizens before we’re allowed to build one. Yikes! We might have to look into oil powered energy as an alternative until we get to that staggering number.

Springwood University main building.
Springwood University. Go Aphids!

January 2021.

We’re officially a big town! 6,500 unwary citizens. This opens a wide range of interesting policies, and zoning options for us. We can also build a university now, which will be a very welcome institution in our town. There are almost 600 citizens desperate for a university education. We’re currently ₡7,000 short of cash, though.

It seems like we allocated way too much real estate for the our brand new park, Cypress Garden. The good news is that its size makes it future proof. The bad new is that we have to burn every piece of evidence we built it. Future history books will show that Cypress Garden was already here when we laid down Springwood’s foundation stone.

Cypress Garden.
The very spacious Cypress Garden.

March 2021.

The university has been built, just South of the Cypress Garden! It’ll be a landmark, and the students are flocking to it.

We’ve also de-zoned a few block in the Pearl Square industrial area, and created Evergreen Square. The new office zone will provide less polluting jobs. To further push the green shift, we’re giving offices a tax relief, and have started to encourage biking city wide. A push to convert all the cities two-way roads to two-way roads with bicycle lines is also ongoing.

Three office high rise buildings in Evergreen Square.
The humble beginning of Evergreen Square.

June 2021.

Every important road in the city now has bicycle lines. Hooray! We’ve also built a second high school, Beverly Hills High, to meet the growing demand for high school education.

The university is doing great. Actually, it’s doing too good, and we’re having problems getting enough uneducated workers in our factories. Everyone wants an education, it seems. Several of the factories have been forced to shut down. This doesn’t have any impact on the need for residential areas, though. People are just switching from factory to office jobs. This shift means more tax income for the city.

We’ve decided to turn Evergreen Square into an IT-specialized zone. The transition from a dirty low-tech industry to cleaner IT industry, also means that the demand on the roads has decreased considerably. We used to have a major congestion problem in and out of the city, and the Pearl Square industrial zone, but that problem is all but gone now.

On the flip side, less traffic means less income from the damn toll booth.

September 2021.

The city of Springwood now has a population of 8,000. We’ve just plopped down our third elementary school. The number of heavy industry in Pearl Square continue to decrease, while the demand for residential areas continue to increase.

The city is booming, and I’m not sure how much more time I can dedicate to this journal. Springwood is demanding all my attention, and being on my third glass of Grant’s, I have to concentrate to make sure I don’t make any catastrophic choices, or accidentally demolish the precious Springwood University.

Fear not, though. With all the money that’s pouring in, the city can afford to hire a secretary whose only task will be to write my memoirs. This will not be the last you see of Springwood!

Valley Square with Evergreen Park in the background.
Valley Square with Evergreen Park in the background.