Updated: December 11, 2015
Okay, I bored you already with two admittedly lovely articles on Cities: Skylines. The first one was a review, and I've not been so enthused about a new game in many years. The second one was more sort of a tutorial about how to battle and tame the network in Cities: Skylines and make your city flourish and grow. Roundabouts seems to be the answer. Almost fanatically so.
Now, I want to touch on another aspect of this fine little urban simulator, and that's the mods. The one piece that brings the community together, and in the darkness binds them, in the land of Gabe, where the discounts lie. Yes, as it turns out, the original urban simulator, THE simulator, SimCity, had the mods, and they proved to be ultra popular, a fantastic addition that made a great game divine. NAM, Radical Ordinance, Clean Air, Industry Multipliers, Functional Landmarks, without them, the history would be different. Now, Cities Skylines.
The mod mentality
As a rule, mods, if implemented correctly, are probably the best tool software developers can use to improve their original product. Rather than making changes to the core, which could be slow and costly, you use mods, which then enhance the baseline, quickly, easily, in a scalable manner. This mode of operation is what helped propel Firefox to its now waning stardom, helped SimCity, helped ArmA, and now Cities.
There are many reasons for this, beyond pure functionality. If you let people contribute, they will be more engaged, they will develop a deep sense of loyalty, and through their mods, they will do an extra bit of free advertising. Moreover, the collective mind can be a clever one, and when you have thousands of people contributing, you end up with some really useful extras. Especially if your game has some rather fundamental flaws. And if you can fix them by letting the thousands of your fans do all the hard work, all the better. Everyone wins. So, let's explore the Steam Workshop, shall we.
Mod as you please
Content Manager is what you want. Open it, and then you can manage your assets, savegames, mods. Click on the Steam Workshop link, and you'll be taken into a vibrant community that offers roughly 11,500 different maps, some 7,000 assets, which would be unique buildings, cars, props, monuments, and such, and roughly 400 mods at the moment, with the numbers ticking up all the time. All of these have been added by users, so imagine how much work and effort and love have gone into creating all these extras. You give people the stage, and they'll do art for you. In a way, this is a reflection of how the open-source community works. The principles are the same.
So what do we have here?
First, a word of warning. Before you go crazy installing everything, you should pay attention. Some mods only for work up to a certain version. Some mods break functionality. Some mods may cause unexpected behavior, and will eventually make your cities collapse and die. You may get tons of good stuff, but you may also accidentally undo hundreds of hours of hard work and passion that have gone into your cities, rendering them unusable, unplayable, and a whole lot worse. The game might also crash. Mods can be magic, but they can also be dark magic.
All that said, the repertoire is rich and colorful. Most mods revolve around - you guessed it - roundabouts! I mean traffic. All sorts of management and reporting, additional roads and traffic signs, anything and everything to help you manage the primal functionality of the simulation. Then, there are also some cosmetic mods, and you can also managed abandoned buildings, tree planting, terraforming, camera angle, and other crazy things.
Then, unlocking all 25 parcels is also a hot cake, and this is the one mod that I am using at the moment. I have deliberately omitted using the network enhancement, because I've made it a personal challenge to succeed in running a successful 1,000,000-mark city without altering the basic algorithms. We will see how it goes.
Cities: Skylines is only getting better and better. The more you play, the more you enjoy the challenge, the more you spend time actually thinking how you could do that one neighborhood better, how you can be efficient, how your roads can be prettier. The engineering madness gets under your skin. And then you add mods, and the childish fever only gets worse.
Mods really are a great addition to this fine title. Just think about the simple task of unlocking all that unused space. Your city can now grow beyond anything you'd have thought the first time you started playing, and the thrill, the drama, the fun are soaring. In the end, everyone wins. Users get to share their creations, others enjoy them, everyone's pleased, and Cities: Skylines have become a success beyond what the developers could have achieved on their own. For me, this is a great moment of joy. Because I can feel it, deep down, this is going to be another amazing journey, like my SimCity 4 times were. It's a rare moment when one gets to relive the wonders of the past, and through this game, I am about to do that again. And for that, I'm immensely grateful. Happy modding