The future ain’t what it used to be. Or is it?
50 years don’t seem that far away in SimCity Cities of Tomorrow, the new expansion available on November 13. The trailer released today features buildings that have cool names and looks futuristic but really aren’t all that. There’s an Academy, a Wave Generator, Maglev Station, Garbage Atomizer, and an OmegaCo Factory. Towers can be upgraded.
None of this is new. In fact, the general purpose of these “future” technologies are similar to what can be found in SimCity 2000 or even in the antiquity sim, Caesar, set thousands of years in the past. Maglevs are roads. Academy is an academy. Garbage Atomizer is a recycling plant or a Roman bath, perhaps. Factories are factories. Drone-makers that produce police drones are prefectures in Caesar 3. Oh, but there’s a surprise at the end of the trailer. An alien robot crashes the party, dropping out of the sky in War of the Worlds fashion. This is new. Well, not really. I can’t count the number of times I got invaded by Carthaginian “outlanders” in Caesar 3.
Tomorrow needs to be further away than 50 years. No Maglevs. Let’s have flying cars like in the Jetsons or in Star Wars’ Coruscant. No more towers, and actually, no building whatsoever on the ground. No one lives on solid dirt except the scum-of-the-earth ground-dwellers. Cities are suspended in the air. Solar energy generators power the entire city. All water is continuously recycled and never ever becomes lighter than air.
Finally, what’s more interesting in science fiction is not the technology, but the laws that govern society in the future. That’s what makes Elysium or District 9 or Blade Runner or Minority Report or Gattaca so intriguing. People with genetic defects are tagged and persecuted. Aliens are enslaved or segregated into slums. There’s an age limit to life as in Logan’s Run. Have a series of these crazy future laws, allow the player to enact and let it fly. And then we’ll see if tomorrow is really worth looking forward to.