How SimCity Teaches Us The Pinnacle Of Urban Planning Is A Totalitarian Death State

Vincent Ocasla says that in fashioning the “Magnasanti” metropolis, he has “beaten” SimCity by creating the max stable population of six million. It consists of four grids of identical 12 x 12 grids with everyone’s workplace within walking distance. There are no roads, the city runs entirely on subways. There’s zero abandoned buildings zero congestion, and zero water pollution. It sounds like paradise, but it hides a dark core with a sinister message for would-be top-down urban planners.

Ocasla told Vice:

Technically, no one is leaving or coming into the city. Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t need to travel long distances, because their workplace is just within walking distance. In fact they do not even need to leave their own block. Wherever they go it’s like going to the same place….

…The ironic thing about it is the sims in Magnasanti tolerate it. They don’t rebel, or cause revolutions and social chaos. No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line. They have all been successfully dumbed down, sickened with poor health, enslaved and mind-controlled just enough to keep this system going for thousands of years. 50,000 years to be exact. They are all imprisoned in space and time.

They also don’t live past age 50, which Ocasla is fine with because max population, not max longevity, was the goal.

In this over-the-top video, you can watch how Vince made the city, a process of trial and error that took four years to complete and involved burrowing into the code and math of SimCity to figure out how to game the ultimate solution. It comes off as a bit occultish and intimidating, so much so that, according to a comment Vince made on his YouTube channel, the original video was falsely flagged and taken down from YouTube for containing Satanic messages. That’s okay, it’s nearly Halloween.

Gallery of Ocasla’s graph paper equations and drawings [Shareapic]
magnasanti [via mammoth]
THE TOTALITARIAN BUDDHIST WHO BEAT SIM CITY [Vice]

Comments

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  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    But did his Launch Arco’s take off?

  2. bdcw says:

    Here’s a megalomaniac with way too much time on his hands…

    • savvy9999 says:

      better for an amateur tyrant to do it with Sims rather than with real people. Imagine if Hitler had stuck to watercolors…

      damn, did I just Godwin?

      • Balaenoptera says:

        I think so, but it’s still on topic, so I’ll let you pass.

      • outis says:

        Yes, but it’s relevant so… I think you technically broke it.

      • dorianh49 says:

        Adolf Hitler was rejected as a young man on his application to art school. One thing led to another… and the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the sovereign nation of Japan.

        • bigTrue says:

          and, some (myself included) would argue that being the only country to have it’s population nuked caused some of the more idiosyncrasies in the modern Japanese culture, like hentai tentacle porn. So, if hitler had been admitted to art school, would we not have any tentacle porn either?

          • magus_melchior says:

            Well, that would require ignoring the fact that Hitler declared war on the US, not the other way around. Japan would have gotten burned either way, but Stalin may have ended up with the bomb first, as there would have been less of a reason for Jewish physicists to flee Europe, and the geographical distance of the Atlantic was a bigger deal back then.

            Or we could have seen Command and Conquer: Red Alert played out.

          • the_wandering_monster says:

            Nope, as the fascination Japan has with tentacle porn dates as far back as *at least* the 1700′s – I couldn’t find the statue I was looking for, so here’s a painting (probably NSFW depending on where you W): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dream_of_the_Fisherman's_Wife

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    This sounds really familiar to me and I recall it having a different ending…the ending I remember involves Reavers leaving to destroy and maim their way across the universe. And the place also started with “M”!

  4. apd09 says:

    The ironic thing about it is the sims in Magnasanti tolerate it. They don’t rebel, or cause revolutions and social chaos. No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line.

    my sims did not do any of that either because as their overlord and creator I turned those functions off. Just like I did not allow that pesky tree huger mother earth to cause natural disasters. It’s my world and I don’t want anyone screwing it up for me.

  5. theblackdog says:

    I wonder what would happen to his system if you put in one square of road on one edge of the map and tell it to connect to the neighboring city.

    I think an experiment is in order.

    • KyBash says:

      It said all utilities come from neighbors. If that include garbage disposal, there has to be a connection to a neighbor.

      Not too long ago I put the finishing touches on a city plan I’ve been toying with for a long time — all residential zones are adjacent to water, all dense commercial buildings are rated astronomical, and most road and rail are in tunnels. 400,000 population, education 112, and a tax rate of 3%/1%/3% adds a couple of thousand to the funds most years. I’m thinking about gettin SimCity4 now.

  6. Wireless Joe says:

    Out of all that information, the one thing that stuck out most to me is that I mistook the name of his first city, Armadasanti, as a reference to the actor Armand Assante. I was thinking about what a hilariously obscure choice that was; was he referring to Assante’s work in the distopian police state-like city in Judge Dredd, or was he referring to The Prophecy, an ecological fable about the evils of industrial pollution? Boy was I on the wrong track.

  7. GyroMight says:

    This video is super creepy.

  8. eccsame says:

    “Zero Water Population”? So the problems I had with that game were the result of too many mermaids?

  9. OnePumpChump says:

    Since when is Satanism against Youtube’s policies?

  10. asamtoy says:

    Um…everyone knows that this is a computer game, right?

  11. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I wonder where in this city they produce food.. or do the just make McNuggets out of 50 year olds?

  12. majortom1981 says:

    He is doing this with simcity 3000 . Sim city 4 is much more difficult .

  13. veritybrown says:

    Wow, a liberal paradise! Too bad we can’t digitize Ted Rall and send him to live there.

    • segfault, registered cat offender says:

      I’d like to send Sarah Palin there.

      • veritybrown says:

        But Sarah Palin doesn’t *want* to live in a perfect totalitarian state. Ted Rall just recently said that he does.

        • magus_melchior says:

          Actually, that’s not true– she’d be perfectly fine if she were the leader of the totalitarian state.

        • DFManno says:

          Way to soundbite. What Rall actually said was:

          I’m all the way on the far left, as far as you can get, so I would like to see a completely leftist proletariat dictatorship, but what I want is neither here nor there. I don’t think that what I want is important, or relevant, or realistic to even discuss, because once you unleash the forces of revolution, anything could happen.

          • Silverhawk says:

            Yeah, a dictatorship sounds nothing at all like a totalitarian state.

            • mac-phisto says:

              dictatorship means something different here than you think it means. we typically use the term to mean a single authoritarian ruler that wields power to his own device. well, now imagine that one person as millions of workers, wielding their power to their own (collective) device.

              that’s the political theory idea of “dictatorship” anyway. it’s a great dream – the idea that we can all live happily together in collective self-interest. john lennon type stuff. requires entirely too much faith in humanity, though. we’re just not capable of it.

              • Silverhawk says:

                Yes, I have read on Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat, and I know what it means. But a dictatorship by any ideal is still a tightly controlled, small power base, whether literally a single ruler or a small group of power-wielding individuals. The result, even with “majority support” is still a totalitarian state.

                As in, a state under the control of a single individual, faction or class that has no limits to its authority that regulates all public and private life.

                • mac-phisto says:

                  not exactly, but that’s most likely what it would devolve into.

                  there is a distinction, though. it’s difficult to distinguish b/c it requires looking at the entire state of society from a viewpoint that doesn’t exist naturally.

                  i had a really hard time wrapping my mind around it (& i have a degree in this shit), but if you’re really interested in reading about it, i found the best literature on the matter to be HG Wells’ book The Open Conspiracy. it’s virtually impossible to find – it’s been out of print for almost 80 years. interesting read though (if you like political theory).

  14. Dr.Wang says:

    The really sad thing about SimCity is that after version 4 the game designers have no clue what the hardcore fan base likes/wants. After “4″ they totally missed the mark. I suspect they hired a manager from Radio Shack or Circuit City to oversee the development of SimCity.

  15. Rocket says:

    Reticulating Splines!

  16. Forbidden says:

    He essentially created a system of Arcologies. That notion’s been around for quite a while. Saw it in some scifi in the 80s when people thought Japanese megacorps would take over the planet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcology

    It’s not a bad idea, as long as you don’t take it to the extreme he did. The notion of living in a mega-building that contained work, home, and shopping is pretty comfortable. I despise commuting.

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      What do you men by “when people thought Japanese megacorps would take over the planet”? As in what’s with the past tense?
      (OK, maybe the Japanese part is a little outdated, but I guess we can safely replace that with “multi-national”)

      • Forbidden says:

        Not so much. The japanese mega-corp, or more precisely japanese-style megacorps, where a person would work for a single corporation their whole life, the corporation would take care of them, give them a nice place to live, health care, and pension in return for unwavering loyalty is very, very, different than the current megacorporate system that favor wringing as much out of an employee as possible and tossing them to the curb at the first opportunity.

    • theblackdog says:

      Now I know where they got the idea for SimTower.

    • Talisker says:

      A lot of us have that already, but not in a megabuilding. Some can already work at home and can use the internet to take care of just about any shopping need they have.

  17. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    As someone who liked the game but never got good at it, I’m very impressed.

  18. MacGyver says:

    What the Matrix is.

  19. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    Taken down for containing Satanic messages? Why is Youtube making decisions about what religions are appropriate?

  20. Cicadymn says:

    And cue the masses of hutt burt atheists to come and scream about how Christianity is destroying the world one youtube video at a time.

    I agree it was wrong to take it down for that reason, but acting like that is a story, and that the person didn’t just upload it again and was fine, likely due to the actions of one mod or small group of people flagging it, and some software automatically taking it down, rather than a giant conglomerate of evil Christians TRYING TO CENSOR THE WORLD.

    • deadbird says:

      ummm… u kind of come off as a jackass christian. no one said anything about any religious people at all, just how it was odd for you tube to be deciding one religion was valid or not by not allowing a reference to it. that’s all and it’s a decent point. calm down

    • Conformist138 says:

      hyperbolic much?

      I find it funny when one person makes a good point in a relatively calm manner and the response is akin to “OMG YOU ARE SO OVERREACTING!!!!!!!111! how dare you say mean things about anyone, you think EVERYONE IS EVIL!!!”

      No one cares about christians on this one- it’s just a question of why YouTube is deciding that Satanism is inappropriate (or a question of how they even define such things). People against censorship don’t have to even be a part of the censored group. I’m not a Satanist by any stretch, but I still question the validity of removing content with Satanic messages. I’m not a Christian, but I would question the validity of YouTube removing content if they determined that Christianity was also inappropriate. Unfortunately, here is where a lot of Christians (in my personal experience) tend to waver. They can’t stand the thought of Christians being silenced, but also don’t care to support opposing groups that are put down or censored. Too often, they seem to support the silencing of opposing views. Religion and a free society are difficult concepts to reconcile.

  21. craptastico says:

    am i the only one that gets bored after a few hours and send monsters and tornadoes to terrify my villagers?

  22. Kat@Work says:

    Plans??! 3 YEARS in development?!?! Holy SHIT! I will show this to my husband the next time he complains about how much I’m gaming.

  23. A.Mercer says:

    Kind of reflects something interesting I have seen in movies and books. Pretty much all utopias end up being dystopias when you get in there and actually see what is going on.

    • AnthonyC says:

      I think it’s inevitable. A true utopia is probably impossible. Some resources: land, status, and the like- are inherently finite, and conflicts will arise over them unless all members of society adhere to some value system that resolves such conflicts. Since humans have free will, not everyone will hold those values (at least not without exceedingly authoritarian measures). Control in turn breeds dystopia.

  24. TheGreySpectre says:

    Screenshots make it look like simcity 3000. I wonder if the same thing works in simcity 4

  25. Beppo says:

    There’s never a zombie virus around when you need one.

  26. nacoran says:

    While maximum population density may be dystopic, I’m not sure why being able to get everywhere by mass transit or walking short distances is. A couple of businesses have moved so it’s not as convenient as it was, but at one point I could walk to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, several restaurants, a video store, my mechanic (when your car needs repair it’s nice to be able to walk home from the garage), a pharmacy (actually pharmacies, there have been four but the third one closed before the fourth one opened), a golf course, a school with sports fields you can use after school is out, and all this with a view of nothing but trees out my apartment window. And I could take a bus to the mall if I wanted.

  27. DH405 says:

    Satanic messages? Can I start flagging videos for containing Christian messages?

  28. rpjs says:

    I wonder if he ever read Frank Herbert’s /The Dosadi Experiment/?

  29. kujospam says:

    Was this with sim city 2000 or later? I can’t read the article, blocked at work.

  30. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Who built this city, Ivo Shandor?