Hi Mayors, Game Designer Brian Bartram here, and I’m back for another blog post. This time I’d like to give you a tour of some of the parts of the game that you might have missed at first glance. I wanted to do a blog that would benefit both the players who are just getting acquainted with SimCity and those who are experienced veterans. Hopefully, you’ll find a few tips here that you might want to keep in mind the next time you’re playing.

Help when you’re having trouble

The “Blue I’s” Help System

See the blue circle with the “i” in it below most advisors? If you put your mouse over it, some helpful information will pop up. These are some of the most important “facts” to know about the system that they refer to. You’ll find these in each of the different system panels in the City View, City Specializations, and in Region View. You’ll also find a blue “i” in the Mayor Rating panel.

Mayor Rating for Finding the Top Issues

Speaking of the Mayor Rating panel, it can be really useful if you’re asking yourself the question, “What problem should I address to improve my city the most?” Start by clicking the face next to your bank balance.

The panel that opens up will show you the happiness of your Residential, Commercial, and Industrial buildings. Click any of these three bars to expand that group then put your mouse over any of the bars you see there, and you’ll get a list of the top positive and negative things affecting this segment of your population:

You can see from the screenshot above that my Low Wealth Commercial buildings have problems with crime and health and they aren’t getting enough shoppers. You can quickly go to a Data Layer to see the problem in question if you click on the arrow to the right of the issue you’re concerned with.

“Zoom to Event” buttons

If there’s a critical problem with one of your city’s systems, you’ll receive a yellow or red alert on the button for that system.

Open that panel and the Advisor will give you a notification about what the problem is.

Once this notification goes away you’ll see a red triangle near the advisor. If you put your mouse over this red triangle, it will expand and will show you icons. These icons are buttons that you can click to zoom the camera to the location of the issue.

One place this is particularly helpful is in the Bulldoze panel. You can click on these buttons to zoom to the rubble and abandoned buildings in your city to quickly demolish them. Keep clicking the same button to cycle through all the issues of that type.

Having a Bit of Fun

Every once in a while you should take a break from city building and smell the roses. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening when you get down close to street level. When you’re ready to look at all the wonderful things you’ve created, be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Thought Bubbles

Thought Bubbles appear over buildings and give you an idea of what the Sims inside are thinking. You can see this by putting your mouse over them.

You’ve probably seen them before. Something to keep in mind is that, when your camera is fully zoomed out, we only show you the thought bubbles about critical issues. If you want to see more of the positive thoughts and “slice of life” thoughts, you’ll get more of them when you’re zoomed in closer. This is to prevent thought bubbles from getting in the way when you’re at full zoom and doing your city planning.


Filters are fun; they can really change the look of your city. You might have seen some of Ocean Quigley’s beautiful screenshots using filters. For those of you who haven’t tried them yet, you can find them by going to the options menu using the “…” in the upper right of the screen.

Next, click the “Settings” button which opens to the Graphics tab by default. At the bottom of this list is the “Filter” category, which starts out turned off. Click the word “Off” and you’ll see a list of all the filters available in the game. You’ll find twenty filters in all, including three that are designed to help our color blind players by making the colors of R, C, and I zoning more distinct.

So that concludes this blog post. I hope you’ve found at least one tip that you’re looking forward to trying out the next time you play. If you have any feedback on how we can make the game better, as always we’d love to hear from you. Post your suggestions in the comments, on the forums, or in Answer HQ. We read them all and will do our best to address them.


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