SimCity Societies: joy is the enemy of clerical work

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Behold the humble office building! Not too expensive, not too high an upkeep cost, not too substantial an income, not too big a footprint considering it employs 20 sims. You might think it’s a boring building. In any other game, you’d be right. But this is SimCity Societies.

After the jump, the slippery slope from clerical work to mind control

On its own, the office building is pretty boring. But like every other building in SimCity Societies, it’s never just on its own. The office building is actually a pretty dramatic structure for all the synergies you’ll discover as you build your city. There are actually three flavors of office buildings that vary by size and requirements. The low rise office building needs authority in your city, the vanilla office building needs productivity, and the corporate hive — a sort of deluxe office building — needs prosperity. You can think of authority, productivity, and prosperity as different types of, uh, mana? Resources? Values? They’re points you earn from other buildings.

The most immediately apparent synergy for an office building is the same boost you’d get to any other workplace when you surround it with support structures like courthouses and treasury HQs. The squat compact office buildings are perfect filler for your financial districts.

But many buildings in SimCity Societies have special abilities. These are active powers that give you some bonus or that trigger some effect or that let you temporarily buff a nearby building or spawn a particular special sim. For instance, baseball fields let you pay $800 for root beer night, which makes everyone who visits the game happier. The police station lets you spawn a gaggle of police officers for $500 in case you need a crimefighting boost.

The special abilities for some of the workplaces are to dump a lump sum of money into your treasury. For industrial buildings like an oil refinery or brewery, this happens after a certain number of workers has showed up for their shift. Once 75 people have done a day’s work at the textile factory, you can press a button and get an $8000 bonus. Actually, you probably right-clicked the button so it will automatically trigger its power whenever it’s available. But the point is that industry tends to give you cash bonuses from time to time.

The office building works similarly, but with an important exception. It only counts a day’s work towards the cash bonus if the worker is content. Not content or happier. Content. Specifically content. On SimCity Societies’ happiness scale from angry to ecstatic, content is the exact middle ground. Those are the people who apply credit towards an office building’s cash bonus.

If you’re playing a normal city, where you want everyone as happy as can be so they’ll make the maximum amount of income at their workplaces, this is going to be a crap shoot. Occasionally an office worker will be content and the counter will tick up over time. But to really make your office buildings pay dividents, you’ll want to engineer a city towards making citizens content. No happier, no sadder. Just content.

And this is where the concept of conditioning comes into play. Some buildings apply conditioning, which pushes a citizen’s happiness level toward the middle. If your city is miserable, conditioning can be an effective way to keep everyone from rioting. It will tamp down the upper level of happiness as well. But if you’re not making a play for ecstasy, who cares? Conditioning is a mood stabilizer to even out the extremes, making sad sims happier and happy sims sadder. Urban prozac.

And if your city is primarily corporate, relying on office buildings for income, conditioning is a great way to optimize your economy by ensuring that office workers will show up merely content, not sad, not angry, and certainly not happy, elated, or ecstatic. Content. Which credits them towards those periodic cash bonuses that make office buildings so profitable.

So in the fiction of SimCity Societies, what makes for a city with the best office workers? How does conditioning happen? Incarceration is one way. When a sim is thrown in jail, it’s usually because his happiness level was so low that he was rioting. Conditioning is applied to get him back to normalcy. But the more practical way to apply conditioning is with really fun buildings like re-education centers, behavioral science labs, state housing projects, and the conditioning theater (which also saps money from visiting tourists!). Nerve stapling won’t be invented for another century or so, and it will be light years away. Until then, there’s SimCity Societies’ conditioning, which makes office buildings sing in their natural habitat, like so:

office_buildings_in_the_wild

Up next: the state of EA’s post-release support
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