Postmortem: The Mayor and the Machine

As a kid, I used to play SimCity. I forget which version, but we had a PC running Windows 95 and it came with a few games, including SimCity and an Alpha Centauri demo.  I’d build up a city, then trigger a disaster and wreck the place when I got bored. So that’s where the main mechanic of The Mayor and the Machine came from, me being a terrible kid. More immediately, the setting was inspired by Cities: Skylines, a game that leaves out disasters and the weather, but has this twitter knockoff that can get kind of annoying.

As the Mayor, you have to balance between annoying the Authority (the in-game player; I called them that in my notes to differentiate them from the people in the real world that would play the game) by notifying them of things that need to be done by pushing the corresponding button on the machine, and boring them through not using the machine. If the Authority gets too bored or too annoyed, they’ll cause a disaster. In the beginning, I was also going to track the city’s treasury and have the Mayor thrown out of office if the city went bankrupt, but I dropped that in favor of having the game done on time.

The song I used, Skunk Anansie’s “This Is Not A Game,” is most relevant to the ending where the Mayor makes a deal with the Authority, who turns on a bunch of cheat codes. Turns out the Authority doesn’t really know what they’re doing! They are also probably 10 years old; the silly place names were there to hint that something was off in a generally juvenile way, and I tried not to go overboard with them. None of them are gendered, and I made sure to put the city’s name, Buttsville, on the very first screen so maybe people knew what they were getting into?

Also: I used six of the pseudonyms I was given as the names of characters in the game. The way I set up the game made it really easy to have a one-off character show up at City Hall with a problem for the Mayor to solve. The names I used were: Erotic Cheese Foundation, Linley Clusterhouse, Sid C. Tow, Adam Eve, Alice Crawl, and Geralda Hofner. I left out Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo because that was very obviously a real person and I didn’t feel comfortable putting a real person’s name in my silly game about a place called Buttsville. I also got Crazy Diamond, but forgot to put it in.

I don’t usually go back to projects after the competition’s done (Breakfast with Agatha still has a bug in it I should probably fix) but if I do go back to this one, I’d mess around with the treasury thing I mentioned earlier; if I do that right it could be pretty interesting, I think.

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