Development Diary #4 – Zoning & Building, Oh My!


Hello everyone. Welcome to the 4th Development Diary for Metropolisim: The Deeply Complex City Building and Management game.

Before I start off I want to address what unfortunately seems to be a common concern about the game that keeps popping up. There have been a lot of questions about whether development is still underway, has the game been cancelled, abandoned, etc. I assure you this is not the case. I have a timeline for how I want to release information and I am following it to the best of my ability. Solo developing a game of this scale is hard work. Please don’t read too much into it if there are no updates for significant periods of time. I will still be working on the game behind the scenes and will share as much information as possible when the time is right.

I would ask that those of you who enjoy participating in the community please try to stay positive and not dwell on the fact that there hasn’t been an update in whatever timeline you think one should be released.

My motivation for making Metropolisim is to make an outstanding, fun, and challenging city builder. I am doing it for myself more than anyone. I’m making the game I want to play. It’s not about a quick cash crab otherwise I would have released the game already. I want the game to be of the highest quality possible, and therefore, it will take time.

Now, let’s jump right into the information I have for you today. 

This development update is going to familiarize you with some of the most important features of the game which will bring your city to life and make it unique – zoning and building! I say “some of” the features, because there is a lot I want to leave for surprises for you as players the first time you start the game, so I won’t be giving away everything just yet.

Before we start let’s familiarize ourselves with some terminology I’ll be using throughout.

Zoning – The process of designating plots of land within the city for development by citizens (residential), businesses (commercial, industrial, etc.) or state/government use. The player’s responsibility is to determine what type of zones they want to lay out to grow their city, but once they zone, it is up to the citizens of the city to occupy and decide what gets built on that land.

Building – Unlike zoning, constructing building allows the player to place buildings directly on plots of land within the city. This is the main way the player will deliver essential services to the city such as crime prevention through the construction of police stations, health services by constructing hospitals and clinics, etc. There are also other entities who will want you to build things for them within your city. More on that in a little while. I will refer to this as “placing” buildings in the rest of this article.

Zone Types

Zoning is split into a number of categories based on the type of buildings you want to grow in certain areas of your city. It is important to understand the land you are building on to make the most educated decision about what type of zoning you use in each area. Each parcel of land will have a land value for each zone type. For example, one parcel may me more valuable to commercial retail zones than it is to residential based on the amount of traffic passing by that parcel of land. For commercial retail the land will be valuable due to the number of customers, and oppositely, for residential, it will be less valuable due to high traffic noise. As you can see it will be important to evaluate land and properly plan before laying out your zones.

Land value will be affected by a number of factors and again each zone type will have it’s own land value for each tile in the game. Things like crime, traffic, access to cultural attractions, access to healthcare, access to customers, and much more will affect the land value uniquely for each type of zone. 

There are three levels of wealth – high, medium, and low. The higher the land value the more likely that higher wealth buildings will grow or be upgraded on individual parcels of land.

Additionally zones are split into categories based on density. When you zone a piece of land you can determine what density you want to place. For example, residential categories are:
1.Single Family Home
2.Low Density
3. Medium Density
4. High Density

Placing Government, Service, and Event Buildings

Of course, simply zoning areas of land and waiting for residents and businesses to move in isn’t enough to keep a city running. Eventually your citizens are going to start clamoring for utilities, essential services, leisure activities, cultural pursuits, and more. To provide these to your city you will be responsible for strategically placing the service buildings necessary to keep each neighborhood in your city running and your citizens happy.

In addition to this there will be events that occur throughout the early, mid, and late gameplay stages of Metropolisim that will require you to actively make decisions about whether or not to place certain buildings in your city. During these opportunities it will be important to balance the pros and cons of your choice before acting. More on this further down in this diary.

For now, here are some examples of the buildings you’ll have the opportunity to place in your city, by category:

Small Clinic, Large Clinic, Small Hospital, Large Hospital, Resarch Hospital, Hospital Offices, Surgery Center

Elementary School, Elementary School (Private(E)), High School, High School (Private), Trade School, Community College, University, Research University

Regional Justice Center, Local Court, City Court

Utilities – Power
Coal Power Plant, Oil/Gas Power Plant, Power Repeater Facility (Local)

Utilities – Water
Water Tower, Water Pumping Station, Water Treatment Facility

ISP Data Center, ISP Offices, ISP Storage Facility

Utilities-Cellular Phone
Cellular Provider Offices, Cellular Tower, Cellular Repair Facility

Law Enforcement
Police station, Police Command Post, Police Air Unit Station, State Police Barracks

Small Jail, City Jail, City Jail Offices

Fire Station, Central Fire Command, Fire Air Unit Station

Garbage Depot, Recycling Depot, Landfill, Waste Treatment Facility, Fleet Maintenance Facility

Air Travel
Small Airport, Regional Airport, International Airport, Helicopter Airport, Maintenance Facility

Mass Transit
Bus Stop, Small Bus Stop, Large Bus Stop, Transit Depot, Train Station, Large Train Station

Church, House of Worship

This is just a glimpse at a portion of the buildings that will be available at Early Access launch. There are already more in development as well as many more that will be added after the game launches.

Focus Buildings

Focus paths are specialties that a player can choose each time they embark on managing a new city. They are large-scale, long-term pursuits and endeavors that will keep the player occupied from early through late game. Focus paths are completely optional, but add quite a bit of depth and realism to the game.

Each focus path contains a number of challenges and unlocks, each of which has multiple pre-requisites that the player must meet before moving onto the next phase.

One example of focus paths is for sports teams. There are focus paths for multiple sports including basketball, baseball, football, and soccer. Taking baseball as an example. The focus path will start out requiring the player to invest in local educational programs through their schools to fund baseball athletics. Next, as the city grows, and there is enough talent within the city, a minor league baseball stadium can be constructed. After which, the player will need to invest in television and radio contracts as well as complete other tasks in an attempt to raise support for the team. Eventually, if the team is supported at a high enough level in the city, and the city has grown to a size worthy of a professional team, the player will be able to construct a major league baseball stadium (if they can afford it.) 

Of course this is just one example of focus paths and I have simplified the description for the sake of explanation. There are many more that will be in the final game and they will vary in difficulty to execute.

State & Federal Zones and Buildings

Frequently, as cities grow, next levels of government above the city (state and federal) may require land for use for constructing service buildings for things like government offices, motor vehicle departments, prisons, research facilities, federal or state law enforcement, space exploration, and so forth.

There are two ways the state or federal government can get the needed land within your city. The first is by requesting that you zone an area of land for them to build on. In this case you will be allowed to choose where the building goes. You may even be allowed to decline the construction, depending on the event. For example, the state may request to build a state prison in your city. If allowed it will bring in blue collar jobs, reduce crime overall, generate a bit of revenue, but ultimately lead to unhappiness for any residents residing around the prison.

The second is that the government will choose an appropriate spot within your city and you will receive an event notification that the government will be beginning construction on an area of land within your city.

State Office Building, Federal Office Building


Military Base, Military Air Wing Base, Military Command Center, Military Prison

State Prison, Federal Prison

Law Enforcement
State Police Barracks, Federal Bureau of Investigation Offices

Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles


Space Research Facility, Rocket Development Laboratory, Rocket Test Site, Space Shuttle Launch Pad, Rocket Launch Pad

Building Variety
I am incredibly passionate about building variety. My goal is to limit building repetition as much as possible. Buildings of the same model will have multiple color palette and lot-position variations to keep the game pleasing to the eye and interesting to look at. No two cities will ever look the same. In addition, there will be urban and suburban variations of many of the larger commercial buildings. Suburban versions will have larger parking lots to support their workforces, while urbans will sprawl vertically on a much smaller lot with less parking, expecting the use of mass transportation to reach these destinations.

Poverty & Homelessness

This is something I have kept under wraps for quite some time but I am incredibly excited to share today. The addition of simulated poverty and homelessness within the city. To my knowledge, something that has not been tackled before in a city builder.

The way it works is, for most other areas of the game the player is able to designate where they want to zone or place buildings, controlling the direction of their city including what goes where. But there is always the potential for things to get out of control. It is up to the player to manage their city adequately or risk poverty taking hold. 

When homelessness increases to an unmanageable level the homeless population within the city will begin to take over areas of land that hasn’t yet been occupied and construct their own settlements there. You will see tent cities emerge which will lead to crime, public health crises, and unhappy citizens. The longer you fail to act the worse it will become. Eventually it will become very difficult for the city to remove them, and the longer you wait, the more they will lead to unhappiness in the surrounding area for existing residents. More to come on the logistics of city and economy management in future development diaries. Needless to say, you’ll want to read those.


Hopefully you enjoyed this update. Hopefully in the next month or so I will be switching gears to provide smaller, but more frequent updates. As usual, if you have any questions please feel free to share and I will do my best to answer.



  1. Put simply this is awesome,

  2. Mass Transit: buses & trains and what else? That’s all? And you are calling your game deeply complex… Trams, trolleybuses, metro, monorail are overboard… City transport is as important thing of city life as the others.

    • All of the above. There will be a separate dev diary covering mass transit. Buses and Trains are planned for Early Access launch with more being added as the game is in development. Honestly, I already have an incredible system for mass transit programmed. Adding in more types is simply a matter of creating the 3d models. They all will function very similarly programmatically, with small differences in the way they operate, costs, maintenance, etc.

  3. HYYYYYYYYPED!!! As a kid who wants to be a civil engineer I am more than exited for this. I sent you an email actually telling you how exited I am for Metropolisim. No more boring models, broken systems, small maps and repetition. Just pure pleasure and challenging immersion. The level of complexity and micro- and micromanagement from a solo dev is incredible. Keep it up Roy.

  4. Just heard about this game and it seems awesome. Keep up the good work.

  5. Looking forward to the first version of this game. the ideas are very good. will succeed and visual I loved it. just have not seen any image of the city is with various constructions. BRAZIL!

  6. Great! Amazing you’re all doing this on your own, it’s worth the wait 🙂

  7. Very excited about this game, been looking forward to a richer human-scale city sim since I figured out what city sims were.

    Also, Tropico is the closest I’ve seen to having homelessness, but they just build trash shacks and go to work on time anyway. Your model for it sounds quite cool.

  8. I will support your work. It seems geat already. Take your time and do this game as you want it. Nice update btw!

  9. I am really excited about this game. I see many ambitions in this game and a great future if everything runs as described. Yet at some points I come to wonder how “Utilities-Internet” is a thing while I have not even heard about the construction business and sites. Maybe that is just a personal flavor but it is what it is and I still love it very much.

  10. I’m watching development closely. I hope this turns out to be the “parkitect” of city builders! Love mass transit focus and hope this turns out great.

    I’ve been a simcityer my whole life and found that each city builder has something missing. Simcity 4 was beautiful but felt impersonal and was not that customizable. Simcity (new one) had beautiful graphics (my favorite) but did not deliver on mass transit systems and of course, city size. Cities Skylines seems like a drawing pad rather than a interconnected city development experience, with disappointing graphics, albeit with the flexibility of infrastructure systems. My perfect citybuilder combines the graphics and management of simcity5, citysize, infrastructure of cities skylines, and the ease to build that simcity 4 had, and i’m seeing every sign to be excited about this game. Keep up the work!

  11. I’m genuinely so excited for this game, I’ve been keeping my eye on this since January. Keep up the great work!

  12. Gday Roy. I just found out about your game and it looks really cool! I noticed that you’ve separated both trains and subway, and I’ve got a few questions. What would be the difference in the game? From my reading, there’s no real difference between the two, but I’m curious as to what you think.

  13. Hey man can you make it so that plopable buildings (fire station, police, school etc.) still have to be constructed? That’d be sick and would differentiate you.

    It would also help the pacing. It’ll be cool to not immediately have the police/school/firehouse effect but to have it come in a few minutes later.

    You’d plop a construction site instead of a whole fully built police station. Plopping isn’t fun

    • Already part of the game my friend. Pet peeve of mine as well. The building will appear for visual only while plopping, but when you click to actually construct it will start as a dirt lot and begin construction animation.

  14. Super excited about this game. Thank you for working so hard to make sure you have it just right, even though I completely wish it was out so I could play. If you need admin help with anything that is not related to crushing video game building I’d be happy to pitch my nerdy admin resume to you to help. In the meantime I’ll be watching closely. We’ve got a house full of people super anxious to play.

  15. Benjamin L. Ervin

    Will you embed disease propagation into the game (e.g., colds, influenza, other pandemics) and keep track of related health statistics?

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