The goal of Cities: Skylines is to create beautiful utopias, in which your citizens (or "Cims", for those who remember its spiritual predecessor SimCity) can live happy lives in the wonderful cities you create.
Or is it?
Despite our lofty goals, we seem to keep inadvertently creating things that must be hellish to experience from the perspective of our Cims. So we wrote down this fanfiction of moments of the life of some poor ass dealing with the civic distress we've caused.
We had previously posted these on our joint Tumblr account, No Egrets, but we now have Staircase Spirit exactly to avoid having posts like this one lost to the depths of the time-bound and unsearchable tumblrs, so, here they are again, together with a bonus explanation of what was going on in the game that spurred these thoughts.
There used to be schools in town; they’ve been disappearing, replaced by farms and corn fields. You start to suspect something. Nobody remembers that there have ever been schools in town. ▼
Cities: Skylines has a mechanic where highly-educated Cims will poo-poo on jobs that they see as being low skilled, like farming, the lumber industry, etc. Even though, in real life, there is totally a need for highly educated workers in those fields. But, no, the Cim with three Ph.D.s will only be content working in an office so, good luck getting any Cims to be happily employed in the farming zones while you also have small class sizes and a well-funded university. The twisted solution? Destroy the educational system. Remove the schools! Wait for the next generation to be under-educated and more willing to work in the fields. Mwhahahaha!
You’re driving home from work. All of a sudden, you find yourself driving in a roundabout with no exit. You keep on driving in a circle until you feel yourself disappear. The embrace of death is so sweet. ▼
Denise likes fiddling with the roads in Cities: Skylines. She dreams of creating a utopian road system without any traffic problems, but usually ends up inadvertently creating horrible gridlock nightmares spanning miles. Colossal Order touts roundabouts as being the solution to any and all traffic issues but: 1) they're lying and 2) it's really hard to get a roundabout placed into an existing road system. This usually means that Denise is demolishing half the city to make room for a new roundabout. If you don't pause while editing the roads, the Cims will continue to drive into this new roundabout, even if there is no way out. Even if you delete the way they came in. And now they are trapped in a circle of Hell. Eventually, the game determines that this poor lost soul of a Cim cannot reach its intended destination, and so, they vanish.
You hate the lumber industry. You wish this town didn’t endorse chopping down all our trees. You hate the lumber industry. You work there. ▼
Cities: Skylines heavily attempts to feature Chirper, an in-game simulated Twitter, so that you can read all the Cims chirping about how much they disagree with everything you are doing. No matter what industries you put into your town, Cims will be complaining about them. With our godly mayoral powers, we are able to click the chirp and find out a little bit of information about who posted it. We've clicked on people who were whining about the existence of the lumber industry... to discover that they were currently driving to work... at the lumber industry.
You’ve been driving along this road for a while. You thought you knew where you were going; you didn’t notice that this was a one-way street before. Rapidly, you spin around to follow the one-way signs and look for an exit. You see the signs again and realize this is also the wrong way. ▼
Sorry, that was Denise flip-flopping the direction of one-way streets. When you flip it, the cars all scurry around try their best to follow the law. And they'll immediately pull another U-turn if you flip the road's direction again. Sorry...
You chirp about your disapproval of the presence of oil industry in town, and then you go about your life. You meet your friends at a bar. They all greet you with “Hello, Asshole”. You don’t think much about it, until you have to show your ID to the bartender. That is when you discover that your name is now Asshole McShitpants. Your own mother does not remember the name you used to have. You don’t use Chirper anymore. ▼
With your godly mayoral powers, you can rename anything in town. Anything. Especially assholes chirping shit about your latest policies. Serves Asshole McShitpants right.
The road was here a second ago. The road was here, a second ago! ▼
You can edit the roadways while paused, literally removing the street out from under your Cims' tires. When you start time again, the cars will frantically scramble to get back onto whatever is the closest road. That must be so horrifying.
You wish you lived closer to a park, you think, as you walk home from work. Your commute has lasted three days now, but walking is safer than driving. As you finally arrive, you see your house is now a park. Your neighbors are thrilled. ▼
Two things here.
In Sim City, the game jokes that the Sims are not willing to walk anywhere. Therefore you need to put bus stops at like, every street corner and, just, really, good luck reducing traffic. For contrast, the Cims of Cities: Skylines will walk anywhere. Really. We've set the camera on a random Cim out of curiosity, just to see where they were running to, and they kept running, and running, through blocks and blocks and over Denise's ridiculous soaring bridge of hell (it's a shortcut for the garbage trucks to more quickly reach the dump and thereby alleviate traffic on the surface streets!), still running and running as the in-game days pass by, until, finally, they reach their place of employment 72 miles from their home. Oh my god.
But given the way roads just change under your car, we guess we can't blame them for thinking that being a pedestrian is a safer option.
The other point here is that the game offers heat maps of where are certain services in your city, letting you see where you're covered and where the problem areas are. This includes how happy your Cims are about parks. People living near parks will be shown in bright turquoise and happy, and people far from parks in dark teal and unhappy. Since the darker spots are the epicenter of unhappy, the terrifying conclusion is that they are the best location to put a new park. So, the person who complained about wanting more parks... gets their house demolished to make way for a new park.
The neighbors are celebrating again. You ask why, and Mrs. Jones informs you, with a big smile, that a new cemetery has been installed across the street. ▼
When you install new services, you will see the reactions of the Cims in the affected area. This is in the form of either a green smiley face, or a red frowning face popping up over each individual house. This smiley face doesn't seem like an appropriate reaction to the opening of a new cemetery of all things, but...
It has been night for ten days now. When will you ever see the sun again? ▼
A later update of Cities: Skylines added the much-requested night and day mechanic. However, since there is a calendar that, depending on your speed, switches days pretty quickly, they couldn't make night and day flicker along with that calendar. So, instead, the sun follows a completely other schedule. While that's fine by the player, the in-universe result is a bit more worrying.
You received a call about the death of your uncle. You’ve been trying to reach the building where he lived to collect the body. You arrive there; the area is unzoned. Nobody remembers there ever having been a house. A large tree grows where the house used to be. ▼
Once, we were playing the game and noticed there was a dead body in a house that we were planning to demolish for a new road. We figured the game wouldn't let us demolish a house containing a dead body, but we clicked it, and it did.
When you demolish things, the underlying nature is restored, immediately. A ginormous evergreen tree sprung out of where the house used to be... No one will ever know.
Mr. Smith is annoyed. The park is gone. Wait, now it’s down the street. He laughs. ▼
Continuing with the mechanic of the Cims' reactions being shown as either the smiley face or the frowny face... When you are moving a park, the Cims get a negative reaction to the park leaving, but, considered you placed it down just a few feet over, the same Cims are then happy that there is a new park. So you see this flashing of angry and then happy. The Cims have such mood swings.
Mrs. Green next-door has died. Ten hearses arrive. They fight over who gets to transport the body to the cemetery across the street. Traffic has backed up in the road for miles. ▼
This is just something that happens...
You know you are driving the right way this time. You drive along a road as it rises into a bridge thousands of feet over the ground. Suddenly the bridge stops, a dead-end in mid-air. You suppose this wasn’t actually the right way, and make a U-turn. ▼
The Cims are just so used to these absurd roads that they'll calmly make a U-turn in this situation. Try it out yourself to observe.
The cemetery across the street has been full for some time, but lately it seems awfully busy, with hearses leaving at all hours. One morning as you walk by, you realize they are digging up the bodies. The new crematorium across town is always smoking. The gravedigger says they will be open for business again soon. ▼
Yes, you can dig up the bodies from a cemetery, and you can place them in a new cemetery... or burn them. We don't think that people would be okay with this nowadays.
They built a new park next to the cemetery. They call it “The Fountain of Life and Death”. There is no fountain. There is a sculpture in the middle. The sculpture is so loud; it keeps you awake at night. It is so loud. ▼
Well, do you see a fountain in there? We don't. And when you view it on the noise pollution map, the statue is an epicenter of loud. People will get ill from the noise pollution of that statue. What is it.