Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor
My city was perfect, until it drowned in a sea of madness.
The past few years have seen the revival of many older genres. Starcraft carried the RTS into the next generation, Star Citizen has the potential to revitalize the Space Sim, and Kim Kardashain: Hollywood proves that humanity is a failed mistake and will end in fire.
We let this happen.
But one genre never seemed to be able to keep up with the times: City-Building. Unlike Real Time Strategies, there are no hordes of enemies to defeat or bases to build. The joy derived from games like SimCity come from the successful placement of transportation networks, or the thrill of figuring out your education system. It’s a race against time to balance budgets, appease advisers, and grow your metropolis. It’s not for everyone.
Or at least that’s what many thought. After the rough launch of SimCity 2013, it appeared that the genre might have seen its final sunrise, but one studio wasn’t about to let that happen. Colossal Order, under Paradox Interactive, has released a game that has been hailed as a revelation in city-building. It’s beautiful to watch, but most importantly is INCREDIBLY fun to play. And it is accessible to every level of gamer, not just the hardcore.
Cities: Skylines takes the best choices from Maxis’ franchise series and adds a new twist. Rather than just imitate what’s been done, Colossal Order has innovated and refined, putting out a AAA title that reminds us why we enjoyed playing mayor in the first place.
I was priveleged to sit down (digitally, through the art of e-mail) with Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen to ask her about the hugely successful launch of their new IP.
A: First off, congratulations are due. The latest sales for Cities: Skylines have you closing on the 1,000,000 mark. When you first conceived of Skylines, did you think it would be so well-received?
MH: 500 000 sold copies in 6 days is really incredible and we did not see this coming at all. It has been extremely rewarding for us to see so many people playing Cities: Skylines and enjoying it as well, as being so creative and using the modding options to the fullest!
A: Your previous game–Cities in Motion–focus on creative traffic puzzles rather than traditional city building and management. What made you want to take on the challenge of developing this type of game?
MH: We have always wanted to create a city builder as we are fans of the genre. It is a challenging game to develop because there are so many details and features to balance. However it is very interesting and fun to work with such complex mechanics and figuring out how they work together.
A: Fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. How does it feel to have unseated the reigning champion of city-building, SimCity?
MH: We really don’t like to compare ourselves to Maxis as they are our idols and created this entire genre for so many to enjoy.
A: Were there any features you were unable to fit in for launch? Are you planning on bringing them in later, either as DLC or an expansion?
MH: Having only 13 people working in the company we really had to keep a close eye on the scope of the game. There are many ideas we are looking forward to bringing to Cities: Skylines in the future in both bigger expansions and smaller DLC. Some of these will be free updates like the already announced tunnels and European buildings.
A: One thing that impressed a lot of gamers was your rapid response in patching launch-day issues, as well as your active communication during the opening days. Is the entire team devoted to Skylines now? Are you bringing in new staff members just for this?
MH: We are fully focusing on Cities: Skylines and we are also hiring as the success of the game allows us to keep developing it.
A: Suffice to say, Paradox Interactive must be pretty happy with you. Are they giving you more leeway to tackle new projects?
Yes, we are both very happy with each other and we have always had a good working relationship so no more leeway than we already have is needed.
A: What is on the horizon for Colossal Order? Will you stay in this genre, or branch out into something new?
There are many interesting projects and ideas that we could move on to. First we take a moment to enjoy the success of Cities: Skylines before making any decisions about the next game.
Author: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor