The initial announcement revealed precious few details except that it would be built specifically for mobile, would be “bigger and better” thanks to the capabilities of Apple’s latest devices and launch sometime this fall (an Android version is also in the works). Fortunately, Jason Willig, Vice President and Group Manager for EA Mobile, kindly took some time out to answer a few of our questions and give us a clearer idea of what to expect.
App Trigger: From the early screenshots, SimCity BuildIt looks like it takes its visual cues from the most recent SimCity game on PC. Does it owe more to that game, older SimCity games, or a mix of both?
Jason Willig: SimCity BuildIt captures the stunning visuals of the SimCity PC game and incorporates iconic/classic elements from the franchise, but in a completely new, mobile-first design, built from the ground up to engage and delight a new generation of mobile gamers.
AT: Is there an overall story to the game, where you are building your city to complete certain scenarios? Or is it more of sandbox affair where you can build a city in whatever fashion you’d like?
JW: SimCity BuildIt unfolds using what we call a “user-generated narrative,” unique to each player. The game has a mix of directed and open ended play, but no specific, structured scenarios to complete. There are Boat Missions and city Specializations which represent more directed activities, progression and content paths for mid-stage players. There are also Disasters for late-stage players, and there is a lot more coming!
There are certain sandbox elements in the game but they’re decidedly different than the PC version, tailored instead for mobile players in shorter sessions. Players can really design and operate their city how they want, and make important choices but within certain constraints…those aspects are streamlined & balanced with more traditional mobile design elements consistent with shorter session play, etc. Sandbox games can be intimidating (they are to me anyhow) which we want to avoid. There are trade-offs here and we think we found a good balance.
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