MicropolisJS lets you play the original SimCity in your browser

micropolisjs Graeme McCutcheon

It’s barely a week since we had Maxis’ latest SimCity updated with an offline mode, something we’ve been asking for since it launched, and another always-online SimCity has popped up. This one’s a little more understandable, though. It’s a remake of the original 1989 SimCity that you can now play in your browser.

I’ve been playing it all afternoon and I’m a rubbish mayor.

Everything seems to be going great for a short while – my residential districts are densely packed with citizens, my industrial sites are thrumming with the sound of cheap labour, and my commercial sector is booming. Then, almost in unison, all three facets of city collapse and I go bankrupt. I reckon it’s a conspiracy, there’s dissent in my city’s ranks. It’s those 99%, fighting for equal rights and liberal wishwash. Well, I’ll let them stew, leave the game running so their trapped in their rundown broken city.

You too can join in the despotic fun times but clicking this link and being transported to MicropolisJS.

“In 2007, the source code for EA’s original city simulator was released,” writes Graeme McCutcheon, the programmer of this javascript port. “Now, here was something I could work with. If we can run Unreal Engine on the web, then an elderly game shouldn’t be out of reach. By eschewing the Emscripten route, I could have a peek behind the curtain, and see how the simulation works.

“So, micropolisJS was born, built using HTML5 canvas and JS. There are more than a few rough edges, but it’s shaping up. There are a few missing features: loading/saving, sound, scenarios, graphs, overlays, and choosing the game level to name a few. The frame rate isn’t quite where I’d expect it to be.”

When McCutcheon first wrote about his port back in October he had big plans of what to do next with MicropolisJS: “Although it’s an interesting artefact itself, I’m more interested in where we can take it beyond basic functionality. Games on the web don’t need to be like games elsewhere. Don gave a talk at Hacking At Random 2009 where he outlined his aspirations for the game, particularly with regards to education. I think we can really deliver on some of these, using the power of the modern web, for example leveraging Together.js for collaborative play. We can definitely make it more moddable: the painting code already supports switching to a different tile set (if anyone has the patience to put one together) although there’ currently no UI to support this. I’d like users to have the ability to define their own zones and see how it affects the simulation. Perhaps you want to add a windfarm, or a shopping mall.”

Unfortunately there’s been little visible change to the game since then. Still, in it’s current form it’s a good afternoon lark.