Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Open-Source SimTower

Someone emailed me about this new SourceForge project called OpenTower, designed to be a SimTower clone. Not surprisingly, these folks have been pretty alarmed how the once-great Maxis fell from a brilliant software developer to EA's pawn cranking out mindless Sims games and games with long development times and barbaric copyright schemes. A similar tactic had been tried to make an open-source SimCity, but it's going nowhere pretty fast.

But about this "OpenTower"...what is it? It's certainly gone more than Simtropolis 1000 in less time...a Wiki, a team, a blog, even some graphical mock-ups. However, that's about when it ends. OpenTower's goal is to make a "better SimTower clone". First of all, what's wrong with existing SimTower? Ask any SimCity fan what's wrong with SimCity, and they'll rattle off several things before even getting to their requests. But SimTower? OK, it's a bit pesky that you can't demolish housekeeping or security. And that the Lobby gets exclusive dibs on the first floor. And the parking is screwy too. And it's dated.

But what's the point, besides updating it to current OS standards? Currently, the only things OpenTower has to show is some cheap-looking graphics, something Yoot Tower and SimTower have bigger priority over. These people HAVE heard of Yoot Tower, I hope. Maybe they don't. Yoot Tower has some rough edges compared to SimTower, but overall, it could've been a superior program.

Another fundamental problem with SimTower (and Yoot Tower to an extent) that they have yet to address is it starts off pretty fun, but then you end up having a massive complex with hundreds of offices and elevators with long lines. It's much cooler, in my opinion to simply go for the other purposes in the tower. No real building has offices, condos, malls, and hotels all in one. The Galleria in Houston, Texas has offices, mall, and hotel in one, but the main focus is the mall. The late World Trade Center on the other hand focused on the offices.

But back to OpenTower. OK, I was wrong. OpenTower does indeed have goals, but they're not particularly noteworthy or ground-breaking. Larger maps and locale mapping is just one of the "bigger is better" goals, higher quality graphics, which is not particularly encouraging given said simple graphics earlier.

And that, my friends, is an empty condominium. OpenTower also wants improved GUI (will likely lose charm in process), plug-ins and interface for easy additions (Yoot Tower, except no extra add-ons ever came out), a larger tech tree (hotels? offices? condos? mega-malls?), drop-down disaster menu (I KNEW IT!), and better elevator AI, which is essentially the true root of the program.

Still no word on whether they will resolve underground parking.


bob27 said...

Thanks for making a post about us! I really appreciate that! It's good that people have noticed us (and that nothing's been done)
Here's the thing though. We need help if anything is going to be done on OpenTower. We need programmers, graphics artists, and testers.

So if we can get help from anyone, you can be sure that OpenTower will evolve into something great with cool new features!

Bob27, Admin of OpenTower

Jonah Norason said...

Thanks for commenting. Bob, if OpenTower is to be a success, it needs a lot more than just a large team of programmers, artists, and testers, it needs vision. I love SimTower and Yoot Tower, and it is stated in the older posts of this blog that I had "grand intentions" to build additional Yoot Tower modules, but it simply fell flat because I didn't have that vision. Encourage others to comment on this post, something cool may come out of the discussion.

Anonymous said...

One thing that is being missed it that neither Sim Tower or Yoot Tower is for sale anymore (except maybe second hand). There are lots of people who would probably like to play a Sim Tower type game, but cannot get a new, legal copy. OpenTower would finally allow many people to play a Sim Tower game and would also be free.

crazy2be said...

What about HighRise Developer? It's not there yet, granted, but it's getting closer all the time. Simtower has a lot of room to improve, a few things that should be added:
-> Compatibility with modern OS's, including linux, mac OSX, and windows
-> Customizable rooms that can be created by users and shared though some kind of web interface
-> Customizable AI
-> Extensions and in-game scripting, though python or javascript (lua is also an option)
-> Skinning of the entire game

In essence, the biggest things i want fixed are the limits (30 elevators is a tough limit to live with when you get a huge tower), and the extendability/customizability (since simtower is so old, you can't easily extract and change images in the executable, and even doing that is harder than necessary, and rooms cannot be customized in cost or function).

crazy2be said...

Sorry, that should be this link (the one above was missing the http://)

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents for making this game great (this is probably ANCIENT now, didn't look at the dates) is to have more goals. sitting in yoot and sim tower on 1000 people and aiming for 5000 or whatever it was took ages, should have smaller goals - say 20 star, 10 star bld etc. (yes it makes no sense but its more goal driven and fun). thanks for the 'cheats' on your site too, its the only place on the entire web that says what you need to advance star levels, i check it out every year or so that i start playing my yoot again :P

Marco said...

Sorry, I do not have a Blogger account. This is Marco aka AzemOcram, Ocram and Ilikeseattle. I am the graphics artist for the Open-Source SimTower clones (I continue my work as long as I can find a project). I have made my own versions of most graphics of SimTower and I have released them separately at different places but I have recently collected all of them together and posted them at the Highrise Developer forum. My images are higher quality than the original OpenTower images but they are just as cartoonish (except a couple of downscaled plants).

ForeignAwareness said...

Wasn't there add-ons for the Japanese version of Yoots Tower?