Construction and Management Simulations

Construction and management simulations (CMS) offer players the chance to build things, such as anthills or cities, while operating within economic constraints. In this chapter you'll learn about the gameplay of construction and management, and consider the unique actions and challenges these games provide. You'll also study user interfaces in these kinds of games. As an example, we will spend time discuss­ing SimCity, which was the first successful CMS.

Although they do not involve construction, we'll also look at pure business simula­tions, games that focus on managing economic processes. The section on hybrid games examines titles such as Age of Empires; hybrid games blend certain qualities of CMSs and war games. Although Chapter 14, "Strategy Games," addresses war games, some hybrid games include interesting economic elements as well; we'll refer to them throughout this chapter where appropriate.

What Are Construction and Management Simulations?

Construction and management simulations (CMSs) are games about processes. The player's goal is not to defeat an enemy but to build something within the context of an ongoing process. The better the player understands and controls the process, the more success she has at building. CMSs typically include both a free-form con­struction mode, in which the player can build things any way she likes, and prebuilt scenarios for her to manage.

CONSTRUCTION AND MANAGEMENT SIMULATIONS A construction and management simulation is a game in which the majority of challenges are economic and concern growth. Construction activity is an essential element of any CMS. Pattern recognition and exploration challenges may also be present. CMSs avoid physical coordination and conflict challenges, unless they are hybrids with another genre.

The first really successful computerized construction and management simulation was SimCity, which proved that computer games don't need high-speed action or violence to succeed. SimCity succeeds in part because it does not have these proper­ties and, therefore, appeals to a broad audience. We'll examine SimCity in some detail later in the chapter.

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