The Let's Play Archive

SimCity 3000

by The Deadly Hume

Part 35: Interlude : Chartsengrafs

Interlude : Chartsengrafs

I found myself on a boat. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but soon enough I realised that I was on the top deck of the steamer that had brought me - and my advisors - to the site of the city all those years ago. But around me, the city looked much the same as it did yesterday, early in the year 1980.

(click for big)

I was trying to figure out what was going on, when I saw a man I knew from very, very long ago.

"Bob? What the hell are you doing here?"

"Having a look around your city. Very impressive, Wal. You handled this well!"

"But shouldn't you be... dead from old age or something?"

"But not you, Wal? After all, you've lived through 80 years in this place. And yet you haven't aged a bit. At least not more than the six months you've really been here."

"What? I mean, I knew something was up back around, well, when we had that earthquake around here, that was fifty years ago, but I didn't look any different to when I started. So you're saying I'm just aging really slowly."

"I have to be honest, Wal, I cannot explain all of it, though there is clearly some kind of time dilation effect. Remember how your citizens complain about stopped clocks about every five years or so? Anyway. I'm not here to give you a physics lecture. I'm after a report on your project."

"Oh. What? Now?"

"Sure. What's that you're holding in your hand?"

It was only then that I noticed that I was indeed holding a Manila folder, full of maps and charts and graphs. How did that get there?

"C'mon, let's go below decks, the wind is a little brisk up here."

"Hmm, a little sketchy on the law and order front?"

"We have to make cutbacks somewhere... and besides, with the way the city's been growing of late, sometimes suburbs bust out before we can even think about police coverage."

"Very well, then. Carry on."

"OK, this is the density map. We tend to zone a mix of light, medium and high density for most residental and commercial districts, whilst the industrial areas are mainly medium with some high density zoning for heavier industries."

"Shit Wal, do you want the city to burn down?"

"Well, not necessarily, but, well, we actually had an earthquake recently, but I found we had enough fire fighters to deal with the aftermath."

"Needs improvement... but I guess you need the money, right?"

"Right, Land Values. Obviously, the most highly valued land is near the centre of town, though you can see that anywhere there's a factory land values plummet. Very few slums, though. It's making for a very solid tax base, actually."

"Right. Well, you know, if you correct the deficiencies in police and fire coverage, even the outlying areas will get a boost in land valuation. That's if you feel that justifies the cost of funding the stations, of course."

"I'm neither here or there on that."

"Pollution is well under control, the only hotspots are where you would expect them, near factories and power stations."

"Now that is impressive."

"Basically, we've achieved these results by bringing in a bunch of ordinances to penalise high polluters and to encourage cleaner industries; an extensive tree planting program particularly around the river banks and also the green belt between the Old Town and the nearby factories; and phasing out coal and oil plants in favour of nuclear plants."

"Oh you went nuclear. Interesting move. Courageous, in fact..."

"Well, my policy is to keep them well below capacity, even if that means having to build new stations sooner than some might. We also have a power conservation ordinance in place to give us some breathing space, however."

"Just about every rail line is used to capacity, particularly the ones connecting Funkytown to other cities."

"People use your freeway!"

"Yes, that's kind of the idea."

"Shit, most of the ones I've seen end up getting torn down because they just don't get used."

"Well, you know, freeways look pretty. We've also got a pretty good subway network, though it's still unfinished in my opinion. Probably a line out to Bunkleyville and Snottingham is the next big project for that."

"Oh yes, your usual crappy patchwork of zones. Got a pretty nice business district happening, though, saw that you just had a stock exchange built there."

"Yeah, well, I usually lay down the residential areas first, and then put down potential shopping strips where they make sense. Industrial areas I just to cluster but make sure they're easy to get to. That's one of the reasons the freeway works, most residents can use it to get to any factory jobs without having to go to far."

"Geez, your city's full of swots."

"A university, four colleges, a fuckload of schools and museums, yeah, those tends to do that."

"So your cleaners have PhDs."

"Yeah, they don't just vacuum, they philosophise the dust out of existence by PURE THOUGHT."

"No-one over 75, though, but I guess that means you don't have to have too many retirement homes"

"Well, I'm over 75."

"You're not, really, that's just the numbers on the calendar making you think that."

"Anyway, over two-thirds of Funkytown are of working age, though quite a few are unemployed."

"Not too much call for existentialist janitors, I take it. What do they do instead."

"Visit museums. Play soccer. Quest into Firetop Mountain, or something..."

"You may be a little too soft on them, you know."

"OK, as I mentioned, we've been phasing out all the dirty power stations; we have to be careful using nuclear energy, but it seems to be working out for us. Hopefully something less risky will come along before too long, though."

"Interesting waste disposal strategy. You just burn it?"

"All the stuff we can't recycle, at least. That's not quite optimal, we can get that up to 45%, but we just need another recycling centre or two at this point."

"Well, you've done a pretty impressive job growing the town, in a lot of cases cities just kind of stagnate, but you've managed to keep things moving pretty well."

"We've had a few lean years, a few setbacks, but for the past couple of decades it's been nothing but go go go."

"Education standards are starting to level off though it's still growing, life expectancy's not bad either, but land value hasn't really started to pick up until the 1960s."

"We did have a few problems with crime early on, but it's been well in check since gambling was outlawed again. Pollution, well, I discussed that earlier."

"OK, that's all very impressive."

"OK, we've got quite a few unemployed, but most of them seem quite content. Probably get too many people moving for that reason, but, whatever, even if they don't have jobs, they behave themselves. In fact there's kind of an interesting 'scene' or subculture or whatever it's called going on. I suspect, in fact, that most people have jobs but some work harder than others."

"OK, that seems all in order. I'll be sure to give a positive report when I get back."

"Bob, why am I still here?"

Bob shrugged.

"I can't explain. I will say, however, that the Party is pleasantly surprised at your progress and would be thrilled to have you return.

"So when can I come back?"

"When your work here is finished."

"And when will that be?"

"You'll know. Look, I realise the circumstances under which that you have been ... put here are unusual, to say the least, but it is a real job. You must take it seriously. We're not just pissing in the wind here, you know?

"It seems kind of pointless though."

"You just have to keep at it. You'll know your purpose before too long. Besides, you're not ready to come back."

"Like hell I'm not."

Bob looked at his watch.

"Trust me, you'll succeed. You're only halfway there, but from what..."

"HALFWAY THERE? What the hell? You mean I have to spend another 80 years here?"

"Shit, I hadn't meant to say that. But, yes, another 80 years, give or take a few"

"Oh fuck you. Why are you doing this to me?"

"It's not my decision. Anyway, the boat's about to leave, I'd like to get back before dusk."

I glared at him. I really didn't know what to think. For a moment there I thought it was going to be all over, and I could return to my old life, but it seemed not. They were just checking up on me. Making sure I was doing what was expected of me.

Whatever that was.

"I won't forget this, you old bastard."

"You need to calm the fuck down, Wal. It's not the end of the world."

The steamer's whistle began to blow, as I felt its engine fire up underfoot.

"Time for you to go. I know why you're angry - I was too - but believe me, it'll all be worth it."

I gave Bob the stink-eye one last time, and then trudged away, crossing the gangplank and alighting on the docks.

By the time I got to the security gate from the visitor's car park, I looked back and noticed the steamer already casting a wake across Grenade Island. I found Rasputin leaning on my limo, reading the day's Boogle. As he noticed me he folded the paper and opened the door for me as I got in the car.

As he took the driver's seat, he looked at me through the rearview mirror and commented "it ain't easy, is it?".

I just nodded, then told Rasputin to drive me home.