Urban planning is much more fun in game form

13 Apr

Though Jakob gave me a pet wolf to keep me company when he’s unable to visit with me in Second Life, I didn’t open SL all weekend while he was in the hospital. The weather was gorgeous and I spent some time puttering in my yard or sprawled on the deck, enjoying the sunshine. I also needed a distraction rather than a reminder of Jakob’s illness.

Screenshot of street view from Cities: Skylines game

Enter Cities: Skylines, available on Steam. It’s how SimCities should have evolved but didn’t, and it’s an engrossing game. I found it frustrating at first while I learned the game mechanics — how to move the camera, how to build a bridge, how to place stops for a bus line — but it’s simple to enable mods for unlimited money and unlocked progression milestones and play less carefully while learning.

It’s exciting that there’s an active modder community, developing items from custom buildings to improved management panels for public transportation to color correction and different lighting models. One of the things I love about SL is the creativity of other residents and I’m a huge fan of user-created content. The company-created content is good, as well. While writing this post I discovered that both the CEO of Colossal Order and the Lead Game Designer are women. Woo-hoo!  That shouldn’t matter, but until it’s more common, I think my moment of celebration is reasonable.


Jakob remains in the hospital but his sister says he is stable again. This was a close call; he was too weak and confused after chemo to remember to check his blood sugar, which zoomed upward to critical levels. Living alone isn’t very safe. I have mixed feelings about our upcoming trip. On one hand, I’ll be with him, so I can get him care promptly. On the other hand, that’s a lot of responsibility, especially in a small mountain village in a country where I barely speak the language. Thanks to Google Maps I’ve located a hospital about twenty minutes from where we’ll be staying, and I can explain his illness in German if needed. Thinking ahead gives me a little more confidence.


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