Simcity 4 - Deluxe Edition
Essential hints for a successful gaming experience
Dear player, even if old, SC4 is the last, true Simcity game released until
now, since all further games from Maxis just represent another kind of game.
Still "Sim" but not "City" anymore.
Even more, SC4 is still played and under development thanks to fans that are
producing mods and new buildings, so it is important to have a fresh guide
that helps new players to deal with the game.
This guide won't tell you the obvious but just will give you precious hints
about how to deal with some game sides.
- The basics
_ the goal
1 - residential areas
2 - commerce
3 - industries
4 - mass transit and traffic
5 - general hints (11 essential advices)
first of all, for playing SC4 you need:
1 - a PC with a very fast CPU. It doesn't matter if SC4 is an old game.
A Pentium III 500mhz, as suggested by Maxis, is simply not enough to deal with
the huge number of variables that must be calculated in real time, like the
commute path for sims,especially when working on big-size maps.
A slow CPU may create some nasty bottle-neckeffect, that will waste your gaming
experience and may "freeze" some game area. Even if buildings should upgrade,
they won't because the CPU is busy.
Even more, NEVER disable graphic options but boost all of them to the top.
Not only it gives you more satisfaction when playing, but it really does help
you with traffic congestions and with air pollution, since buildings built at
the lowest detail levels are (amazing) built WITHOUT trees!!!!!
So, this will save your time, preventing from planting tons of them to fill
your city with green.
2 - unofficial patches released by fans. SC4, including Rush an hour, is far
from being completed since it has some bugs inside and misses essential
buildings like bigger mass-transit stops.
I highly recommend downloading:
- NAM (Network add-on mod), which fixes and improves the commute time and
streets capacity, just too severe and not realistic.
- Industry quadrupler, that boost the working places offered by industries,
since the original ones are too few and not realistic.
- Working landmarks, which makes landmarks working as commercial services
or offices AND giving a boost to mayor rating, making them useful.
- then seek for bigger rail and bus stations, better graphs, unofficial patches,
like improved "clean air ordinance", "power conservation act", "legalized
gambling" and "lottery ordinance, extra tools for dealing with garbage and
These last ones have been "enriched" with radiation effects in Rush an Hour,
making some of them unrealistic and difficult to use. IE: advanced research
Then spend some time to experiment with new structures and remove the ones
you feel useless, for a better screen visualization.
What is the goal?
It depends from what you believe being "success". Having a lot of sims, moneys
or having a city that is simply running fine, with great education, health and
mass transit system.
Still, there is one VERY IMPORTANT thing that must be know to not-USA players.
SC4 simulates cities in USA style!!! In Europe, we have the severe trouble of
free space and high-density population all at once, thing that does not happen
in USA. So, in SC4 it is possible to develop downtown areas (areas that are
completely dedicated to commerce) and commercial buildings and offices
DO NOT generate traffic like here in Europe, where people moves where they
know that the commercial facilities are located, but in SC4 commercial zones
needs to be located were traffic already exists.
Then, there are two not so obvious matters.
First, SC4 represent an easier version of true life, so some things won't run
as they would
in real life, but it is complex enough to NEED each kind of available
resident, commercial and industrial structure available in the game,
including farms, $ sims and dirty industry.
Even if you can't see it, each building (especially working landmarks) will
create working places for all kind of sims ($, $$ and $$$), so you need
even the poor to deliver mails or picking up garbage.
The best thing to do, so, is not dealing with taxes. Leave them as they are,
even up to 9.5, but don't lower them if you can't afford the loss of moneys.
This will help you to deal with demand, allowing $$$ sims, offices, services
and industries to come only as much as needed. if you lower taxes and then
rise them again, you risk to see all $$$s to turn gray and downgrade to $$
or even $. Basically, each tax over 9.5 will lower demand to -100%.
Second, even if mass transit, including harbours and airports has some
maintenance cost, it represents a revenue source. All depends from
how many people do use it. So, build them when and where you believe
that they may be used and demolish them when they are not.
Now, let's see something in detail.
1 - residential areas
Of course, they all want police and fire-fighters protection, good
education, health, clean air, and low traffic noise.
Some hints may be he ones to create school-like areas where you place
all together all kind of schools, including museums and libraries.
Those are absolutely essentials, since they help to keep education levels
high even when sims end university. Do not build large schools until
requested, because they have higher range costs. For not-USA, remember
that BUS service is not an option, like in some European cities, where
many families bring children at school by car, but represent the effective
With Shift, ALT and CTRL you can give different directions and shapes when
zoning. Try experimenting with different combinations of shapes and density
and, especially, do not underestimate the value of mid and low density
residential areas (and commercial too): they will still pay taxes, will host
$$ and $$$ residents and will grant you less traffic congestion troubles,
criminality and other troubles connected with filled hospitals and schools.
If you are not expert, create only a very little high-density zone for
Try dividing the city into quarters and place each of those facilities in
each quarter. it is better in this way than building one single, huge facility.
Sims hate moving and they like having schools and hospitals near.
Then, place plazas and parks here and there and don't be afraid of placing
diagonal streets. Even if SC4 is based upon perpendicular streets, diagonal
ones makes the commute time shorter and generate some "free" space for minor
parks and subway stops.
About mass-transit stops, if you are using NAM, I suggest you to build the
on-road "buss + subway" stops. Remember that they do not affect industries or
commercial buildings but they may prevent sims from exiting their garages
if the bus stops are placed directly in front of the building "arrows" and
the stop is NOT smaller than the building itself.
B < NO ROAD
U < ZOT
U _ FINE
Remember to place at least bus stops near farms. Poor sims usually can't
afford a car! And, if you are NOT using NAM, don't be afraid to sacrifice some
space, in use from residential areas, to create bus stops. You may eventually
fill it with plazas and parks, that you still need. Build stops approximately
each 8-10 squares and remember to build them on both sides if you are building
them on avenues, since they are working like two one-way streets, moving in
Another hint is about monorail. It is basically a mass transit way that rich
sims like to use. Honestly, I've tried to use it and it helps, but it is a
risky investment and, still, an option, not a "must have".
About traffic noise, there is not much that you can do about it. It is for
quiet, low density places and the best that you can do is to keep your
residential areas at an average distance from commercial areas and avenues,
maybe dividing them with plazas and parks, that both zones need. The trouble
itself is that it doesn't matter the quantity of traffic that is passing
near streets or roads, but just the fact that a building is close to
whatever is different from a white street. You can't do otherwise because,
soon or later, they will get congested anyway.
Still, it is a good idea to start zoning using streets instead than roads,
and then "upgrade" them to one-way parallel streets to get rid of traffic
only where they are really needed. Still, be very careful about their
One last hint is to use one-way roads to divide highways or avenues when
you want them to end, instead than creating crossroads with normal streets.
2 - commerce
As told above, you need all of them, and they like traffic. Increase the land
value near them with mass-transit stops and plazas, trees to keep pollution
low and reduce crime.
Still, it is a very good idea to make commercial areas of very different
size and density and to build even some commercial areas in low-traffic
Increase land value in some of them, and don't do it in other ones, because,
as told before, you need even medium-wealth commercial areas.
3 - industries.
Here, again, we need all of them. The only problem is that dirty and
manufacturing industry cause a lot of air pollution, that you can't fix.
You need farms too: they may be beautiful to see and you can use
water-cleaning facilities to resolve their water pollution collateral effect
(weird that there is not any biological agricultural facility that does not
The best solution about industries is to prepare clean and high-wealth
zones for hi-tech industries near residential areas and to zone for
manufacturing and dirty near city borders.
Still, this may be very tricky, because hi-tech industries are very
sensible to air pollution.
So, here are two solutions: since in SC4 there is a true demand relationship
between neighbour cities, zone for industry in small adjacent maps, providing
fast connections, and tax to 20% the ones that you don't want.
I.e., you may create a manufacturing area, then a dirty-industry area in
two different mini-maps, to satisfy your main city demand, then zone for
hi-tech industries in your main map.
4 - mass transit & traffic.
You already know the basis for sure, but it is better to focus on some sides.
- elevated highways are just great for intersections with other roads, since
they take less space but do not have any greater capacity or speed limit.
- Avenues speed limit is not greater than common streets: they just have a
If you have troubles about where placing buss stops, consider about building
two parallel one-side streets with opposite directions and one blank line in
the middle, to fill with open grass area, trees, paved areas AND
mass-transit stops. It will go fine for residential areas but not for
commercial ones, since they care only about the traffic that is passing
close to them.
- remember to create crossroads on avenues, or dwellers won't be able to take
the opposite driving direction.
- for highways, if you need an exit only on one side, simply use the T-shape
intersection, then connect it with an avenue or two one-way streets.
Use perpendicular on-ramps only if you have built something on both sides.
- the best location where you may place a freight station is near map edges
or create a specific area for industries with only one exit and place the
freight station at the beginning of that exit, to "intercept" the freight
- avoid building anything along diagonal train lines or highways: it is much
harder to create connections.
- if one of your mass-transit stops goes over capacity, try to build a
bigger one if you can. otherwise, try to understand how the traffic flux
is going, destroy that stop and build more of them in nearby locations,
trying to split the work.
- when you have congestions on train lines, try building a different rail
line for freight trains and another one for passengers (you should
consider this from beginning when building high-density cities).
If you see only a train station turning red, try doing as written above.
If you see the rail turning red, try building a parallel one to split the
- when building your streets, remember that sims are quite stupid. Without
NAM, they will often take the shortest route and not the fastest so,
even if it is normal in real life to seek for highways instead than
entering avenues and suffering for stops and traffic lights, sims will
instead take all little streets and roads. Be sure then to destroy the
connections that are leading sims away from avenues, which are the best
way to connect your road system with highways, with T intersections.
5 - general hints
At this point, there is not much to say: just unleash your fantasy and do
whatever that you like more. I want to give you some extra advice:
1 - don't be afraid of destroying city quarters or changing zones from
residential to commercial and vice versa.
2 - don't build anything that you can't afford or don't need. especially,
power plants or water. Lowering funds for plants is a trouble because it
makes them to deteriorate faster, forcing you to buy a new one soon.
Don't be afraid from building coal plants if they are well surrounded by
trees and the pollution does not reach the city.
3 - wind power plants are good to give power to little islands or structures
that request few energy. Not good at all for industries, which are the ones
that drain much power.
4 - remember that each new city will affect the whole region demand: if you
fill a huge map with hi-tech industries, then you will see a low demand
even in new cities as long as you won't have a new and strong, highly
educated $$$ workforce.
5 - What I've written will even allow you to create a city which economy
is completely based upon commercial facilities.
6 - you can even build a rich-only city, but then you must even build
neighbour cities that provide medium and low wealth workforce. Use taxes
to keep away the unwanted residents, but know that you will still need to
give basic education and to build plazas and green parks even in your
Bronx, to attract a lot of low-wealth sims.
7 - if you see the trade view in your region map, you'll see that airport
and seaport routes will be effective with far away cities only if you
establish new cities, creating a path that connects all of them together.
Otherwise, your commerce will stop at the edges of each single map,
without any great result.
8 - a good way to grant a top demand for hi-tech industries is not only
to create single maps dedicated to satisfy the other industries demand,
but even a top-level education and a huge quantity of rich sims will help
9 - DO NOT use cheats that boost your demand if you plan to switch them
off later in the game. They will mess up the balance of your whole
region, boosting even dirty industry demand that you don't want and
generating more $$$ offices and services that you economy will be
unable to support. There are even $$ skyscrapers, so you don't need to
have them all $$$ for a gorgeous city.
10 - some of the working landmarks may will your commercial request,
having it to turn negative. Save before using them and, even better,
build them from the beginning of the game, so that your economy will
grow accordingly with those new values.
11 - if you want, you may even use small maps in central locations to
build a huge power plant complex, providing water and garbage treatment
facilities for the other cities. It is a very "clean" solution that
will free you from the need of building new plants and water pumps
every "X" years. Loosing $$$ due to lack of water or power happens
a bit too often and this solution fixes the problem.
12 - education and health micro-management may be something really
frustrating. The hint is to rename those buildings for an easier
finding, and to adjust funds only to RISE them.
Education goes by cycles: since the sims average age changes,
even the number of sims using elementary schools or college will
eventually change, rising and dropping like this: /\/\/\/\/
During one year, one elementary school may have 700 students,
then, the next year, only 450. This is because the sims grew up
and went to high school but in the next years new sims will
be born and will be ready again for elementary schools.
So, the best solution is to keep the funds to allow each
single structure to support the highest number of students that
has been recorded. I.e., if the top was 700 do not lower the
funds to support no more than 450 students, because in the next years
you will have to rise it again at 700, with the risk of making teachers
and sims angry and to lower your average education level.
Mattia "Orion79" Loy