The celebratory atmosphere at Finnish indie outfit Colossal Order was tinged with sadness last month – just as Cities: Skylines launched to the sound of trumpets, EA were closing the Maxis studio behind SimCity.
“That was so sad,” said Colossal CEO Mariina Hallikainen. “Maxis has been the inspiration for us. We were all teenagers playing the Sim City games, wanting to get into the games industry to create something similar, in that spirit.”
But Hallikainen believes that her team would never have been given the opportunity to make their own city-builder had SimCity not crashed and burned so badly.
Want more Cities: Skylines? Here are the best Cities: Skylines mods.
Hallikainen has been pitching the idea of a SimCity-style Cities game for the last five years – but Colossal Order were simply too small a studio to split their efforts. Then, while Colossal worked on Cities in Motion 2, the SimCity reboot was announced.
“I thought, ‘OK, that’s it. Nobody will ever fund our project now’,” Hallikainen told Rock, Paper, Shotgun. “I thought they’d totally nail it and it’d be ten years until anyone was interested in our pitch. We were devastated.”
Of course, something very different happened. The SimCity launch was disastrous, and Hallikainen pitched her city-builder once more to Paradox – who accepted.
“If SimCity had been very successful they wouldn’t have gone with us to make this project,” she said. “It wouldn’t have been a smart thing to do. I think we got very lucky. And everybody loves an underdog. A small Finnish company making a city-builder because it’s their passion.”
That said, Hallikainen is keen not to benefit from the failure of others.
“I want Skylines to stand on its own feet,” she said. “We have made a good city-builder and that’s what we want to be proud of. We don’t want to have succeeded because some other games have failed. That’s not the kind of mentality that we want to encourage.”
Cities: Skylines was Paradox’s biggest ever launch game, selling 250,000 copies within 24 hours at release. And in a particularly odd twist, a former Maxis artist is designing Cities: Skylines buildingsand funding his work via Patreon.
Who’s playing Skylines, then? Put your hands in the ay-or, mayors.