Thursday, August 11, 2016

Games For Change - Nove Alea

A new city simulation game is out on the web, and completely free to play. Nova Alea is hoping to get people to think differently about building simulators by changing the scope of your goals as the gamer. Because of this, it's being called the anti-SimCity.

With SimCity, the growth of your town equals success. You don't face the consequences of greed or land grabs. The challenges are keeping your city running efficiently with enough police, fire, and medical services, while maintaining electrical and water lines.

Nova Alea is focusing on creating a new dynamic for city simulations by making it more in-tune with the real world. Game designer Paolo Pedercini created this abstract game to factor in class and racial conflicts. It becomes an all-too real sim about gentrification, a current trend in urban neighborhoods, where property values are increased causing the displacement of lower-income families and small businesses. The area becomes "modernized" by the upper elite for premium prices. A number of cities lose out on the value of their citizens by pushing them out of their homes so that they, and the wealthy few, can make more money.

The end-game goal of Nova Alea is to make money. You have to buy and sell properties in a metropolis to build a profit. There are market forces that you have to keep in mind that can throw a wrench in your city-dominating plans. As rents rise, and skyscrapers are built, the game dynamics will change, and so will your cash flow. If you don't watch the market carefully, all of your work can blow up in your face as the housing bubble bursts. There are even grass roots campaigns that will appear to push back against your property buy-outs. Barriers will appear that weren't there before, and it can be mindbogglingly frustrating to continue on when you have so much resistance fighting against you. At the same time, this is what thousands of cities are dealing with every day. They try to resist the change of big businesses buying out their homes and small stores.

Nova Alea is all too real in it's simplistic, block design. The design may look bare-bones, but the coding behind the game is incredibly complex. The gameplay is intuitive. Easy to pick up and play for even the most casual of gamers. But if you suck at managing things or playing simulators past 5 minutes, you are probably going to be turned off by this product. For everyone else, this is a must play game.

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