The first version of Sim City came out in 1989, but the concept continues to thrive these decades later. The most recent example is a quaint little Facebook application called Tiny Town from the developer Domisuto.
The premise of the game is that you are a giant construction worker, helping the mayor of Tiny Town to build up the city. When starting out, all that is available is the City Hall and a strip of road. Using a decent amount of starting money, players begin paving roads and placing buildings.
Each building must be constructed next to a road, so the user is tasked with moving about and laying out the city streets. It’s nothing too difficult and fairly intuitive, so it requires no real instruction. From here, it’s time to start plopping down some buildings and meeting the requirements demanded of your city.
These requirements are what actually determine a player’s level, and as they level up (done by meeting said requirements) new tasks, for the new level, are made available. When first starting out, the only real goal is to reach a certain population and open up X amount of jobs, with the amount needed viewable by mousing over a tool bar at the top of the screen.
Each house will allow for a stated amount of citizens to live there (i.e. the most basic, mobile home allows for eight individuals) with the more expensive and elaborate structures granting more. Buildings like gas stations or general stores will open up a set amount of jobs. Interestingly enough, the game doesn’t stop at just this.
The construction itself also turns into a time-versus-funding form of micromanagement as players have to choose how many workers to assign, which determines the cost of placing the structure and how fast it completes. Regardless, as housing and businesses are established, your city will grow and flourish.
As the user levels up further, more expensive demands fall upon their gargantuan shoulders. At level five, electricity and water become an issue, and at level 20, waste, education, and health enters the picture; all of which play a part in reaching the ultimate goal of making a city that supports 1 million citizens.
As one might expect, however, creating such a metropolis can become a bit pricey, so primary funding comes in automatically in the form of taxes (small amounts of funding also come from clicking on a new building after it has been completed). Periodically, the user needs to log in and cash a vault of taxes that will go into their spending fund before it is maxed out and cannot collect more. This is an interesting means of coaxing frequent returns for players and similar to how income works in Booyah’s MyTown 2.0.
It is also prudent to note that this isn’t the fastest means of income, so for those that do get into the game, there is always the option to purchase – via PayPal – the in-game currency (Coins), and, in the future, a virtual currency called “Domi Cash.”
Unfortunately, the virtual currency in this game is a bit obnoxious because of the whole “in the future” aspect to it. There are buildings that only cost Domi Cash, yet there is no way to obtain it at the moment, just the text “Coming Soon” when you mouse over the icon. This begs the question, why include it at all right now?
As a matter of fact, that question applies to a few other elements to Tiny Town as well. The biggest one, no pun intended, would have to be the oversized avatar representing the player. Why? Frankly, it seems to serve no purpose, and really just doesn’t fit in with the game. Actually, it is a bit annoying as it often gets stuck or hung up on decorations (like trees) and even buildings. As you can imagine, as the city gets bigger and bigger, this annoyance only gets worse. The game is dubbed beta, so hopefully, such bugs will go away soon.
Luckily for Tiny Town, its social elements do make up for this a bit. Like with many virtual space games (be they farming, restaurants, or otherwise), players can add and visit friends’ cities. Not only does this feature allow for a little bit of virtual show and tell, but allows players to help one another out by picking up trash around each other’s town and earning a little extra coin in the process.
Overall, Tiny Town is a pretty fun game if you like these city-building applications. Granted, it is a lot like SimCity, and it does fall short of the depth that the classic PC title and its sequels have to offer, but for what it is, this Facebook game is still pretty enjoyable.
We’re currently tracking around 1,400 monthly active users for the relatively new app.