Saturday, February 14, 2015

KickStartKentucky: Build Lexington in SimCity

KickStartKentucky is a new feature at Kentucky Geek Girl where I scour the web for interesting, Kentucky-based crowdsourcing projects. It doesn't have to be Kickstarter, projects can come from Indie GoGo or any platform. The only criteria for this feature is that the project has to be about Kentucky or based in Kentucky. If you have a project that you'd like for me to feature, just send me an email!

In this inaugural edition of KickStartKentucky, I'm sharing a project by Nolan Gray called "Help me build Lexington, Kentucky in SimCity (2013)." The title is self-explanatory. Nolan wants to construct the Athens of the West, the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, Kentucky in SimCity.

I am fascinated by cities and city planning. As a historian, I find it interesting to see how a city changes over time and Lexington is no stranger to change. Starting from a town plat which spanned less than ten blocks, Lexington became a sprawling city, especially in the mid-20th century when urban sprawl was the norm all over the country. Even today, new subdivisions are cropping up all over as more and more land is taken in by developers. The landscape of Lexington has changed tremendously even in the 10 years that I've call it home.

I asked Nolan a few questions about his project and what he hopes to accomplish. More from him after the break.

Kentucky Geek Girl: Have you utilized any crowdfunding projects before?
Nolan Gray: This is the first time. I used to think Kickstarter was only for big engineering projects, or new businesses. Then I heard about the guy who made potato salad through Kickstarter, and thought "Hey, maybe people would want to help me take on this SimCity project!"

KGG: How long do you expect the build to take? 
NG: I expect it to take around a month. Given that this project involves playing by the rules of SimCity AND creating a model, it'll definitely take some work. Mapping streets won't be too tough, but mapping out land-uses, schools, and utilities, all while creating an in-game city that actually functions, will definitely take time.

KGG: You mentioned that you don't own the game. Do you have much experience playing SimCity? 
NG: Well, my sister and I pretty much grew up on Sims games. Sim Theme Park, The Sims, SimCity 3000. Lately I've been playing a lot of SimCity Societies, which is more about aesthetics, and SimCity 4, which is more technical. Since starting the Kickstarter, I've also been watching more strategy and design videos for SimCity 5, thinking about how I might build stuff like the Harrodsburg Road Double Crossover Diamond Interchange.

KGG: What's your favorite thing about Lexington that you hope to capture? 
NG: I love that feeling of driving to a part of town you've never been to, and feeling like you're in a totally foreign place. Lexington is a decent sized city, and as with all cities, it's easy to get locked into your own small neighborhood and commute. My hope with this project is to encourage Lexingtonians to explore the variety of neighborhoods and streets that make up their city.

KGG: How different do you think that it would be to construct Lexington in another program, like Minecraft? 
NG: The cool thing about SimCity is that it forces you to think about how cities work. A game like Minecraft allows you to build recreations of structures perfect in scale and design, and in this sense it's an architecture game. In contrast, SimCity only lets you build the infrastructure, establish zones, and provide basic services. It's a city planning game, requiring that you lay limited ground rules and yield to the spontaneity of the city. So really my project is more about showing how Lexington works (or doesn't work), than it is about creating a perfect physical model of the city. That said, someone should totally set up a public server and website for people to gather and build Lexington in Minecraft.

As of this writing, the project is funded. If you're interested in kicking some more cash toward Nolan, you may do so in the widget below. I will say, though, that the high-tier rewards are gone and there are no stretch goals attached to this project.

Best of luck to you, Nolan, and all of your Sim adventures!

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