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Friday, June 14, 2024

Welp, I built Saudi Arabia’s stupid skinny city in Cities: Skylines

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We got our first look at Line City a couple weeks ago, which is Saudi Arabia’s bizarre plan to spend a gazillion dollars to build a weird science fiction city along the Red Sea. According to the two-minute video above, the city will be a big ol’ straight line that stretches for 170 kilometers through the desert. The entire city will stand the height of a skyscraper while only being 200 meters wide and entirely covered with mirrors. For… reasons? Presumably, there are reasons.

While I think Line City would make a good location for a futuristic zombie movie where people have to fight their way from one end of the city to the other—by all means,  make this film—it seems like a terrible place to house 9 million people without first asking them if they want to live in a weird skinny mirrored skyscraper city. Not to mention all the people who will be displaced or worse just to build the dumb thing.

But ridiculous plans in real life sometimes make for fun plans in videogames, so I went ahead and built the longest, skinniest city I could in Cities: Skylines just to see if it’d work. To avoid being sued or murdered, I call my creation Skinny City.

And I have to admit, Skinny City sorta worked. It’s not as tall as Line City, it’s not completely mirrored, and parts of it could have been considerably straighter if I’d put in even an iota more effort while drawing my very long road. But it’s amazing how easy it is to build an incredibly stupid city when you have unlimited funds, which is what I had using Cities: Skylines’ infinite money toggle and what certain princes have thanks to them being clever enough to be born to the right parents. I also used a mod that let me unlock every square of the map so I could build all the way out to the edges.

To show off the glory of my creation I took the audio from the official Line City video above and cut together a trailer for Skinny City. You can watch it below (don’t forget to put the sound on) though it’ll honestly make much more sense if you watch the original two-minute “What is The Line?” video at the top of this page first.

As you can see, I went with trams for local transportation—Line City is a zero-car environment—so I drew my road with two-way tram lines and used a mod that let me add a tram turnabout just so they don’t have to go all the way from one end of the city to the other just to change direction. That kept out most of the cars, except the endless parade of donut and hotdog trucks, so I didn’t really major traffic jams. Line City is also supposed to have a high-speed train that takes passengers from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes. I went with a monorail for that. Total trip time: only 4 minutes (though Skinny City is 26km long instead of 170km).

Water and power took the most work, because while it would have been easy to throw pumps and some windmills along the river and run them into town with pipes and wires, I felt like everything in Skinny City should be inside Skinny City, or at least smooshed up alongside it, so I used the terrain tool to dig a massive trench from the river right up to the city’s edge and crammed all my utilities into it. 

This immediately made everybody in Skinny City violently ill because I was pumping wastewater right back into people’s homes. Whoops!

Line City in Cities: Skylines”

I had to dig another huge ugly trench from the riverbed to my city and put the water pumps there, and everyone started feeling better except all the people who died. (Line City doesn’t say what it’ll do with its dead: presumably pull them out of their housing units with drones and stack them up in a glorious shining cemetery skyscraper that’s only a five-minute walk away.)

If I’m unhappy with one thing about Skinny City, it’s efficiency. Having my stupid city just be one big line meant having to place far more service buildings, like cop shops and schools, because those operate on a radius of influence and in Skinny City you can’t build things around things, you can only build things next to things. That means while my city’s universities can accommodate 18,000 students, I only have about 250 enrolled right now. My crime rate is an extremely low 3%, but I must have tons of completely bored policemen due to having so many stations in the city.

Line City in Cities: Skylines”

There’s also not a great place to put buildings that generate pollution, like garbage dumps or crematoriums or any industrial buildings whatsoever. I don’t know where these things will go in Line City, either. Will there be garbage skyscrapers? Farming towers? The video, suspiciously, doesn’t mention how Line City will manufacture anything. Skinny City certainly doesn’t. City expenses are currently $64,018, with total income sitting at a cool $12 from public transportation fees. Seems feasible.

Plus, I can’t imagine living in the city and trying to give people directions to my home: “So just turn left and go straight for exactly 21.36km. I live at 464798590372 Skinny Road. You can’t miss it.”

And finally, I clicked on one of the monorails as it was zipping from one end of the city to the other, and it said there was only a single person on board, who I can only assume was an extremely lonely driver. I guess my citizens just don’t have a reason to travel from one end of the city to the other, unless I happen to build something useful there. Like maybe a road to a city that isn’t quite so stupidly skinny.

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