Rise of In­dus­try

Sup­ply and de­mand in this strate­gic ty­coon sim


Suc­cess is about fig­ur­ing out what other peo­ple want, not what you want

Rise of In­dus­try re­minds me why I’m not an en­tre­pre­neur. Sec­onds af­ter learn­ing I could open both winer­ies and dis­til­leries, I de­vised a ‘per­fect’ plan to de­vote two dif­fer­ent towns on one map to wine and whiskey pro­duc­tion re­spec­tively. ‘The Bat­tle of the Booze’, I called it. No one on the map ac­tu­ally seemed in­ter­ested in spir­its based on the tooltips scat­tered across the map, but I shrugged it off. If I just built it, I fig­ured, they would come. I blame it on grow­ing up in the ’90s. Take a mo­ment to mar­vel at my well-in­ten­tioned hubris. Rise­ofIn­dus­try is an at­trac­tive sim that cov­ers both lo­gis­tics and pro­duc­tion, so I went all out. I built my dis­tillery, of course, and I also built farms and wa­ter siphons. I even built glass­works to make the bot­tles and sand pits to make the glass it­self. I was pump­ing in money by the mil­lions, con­vinced that the ap­peal of my prod­uct would be enough for the AI to open some shops to meet the de­mand.

And for what? The town I’d cho­sen for my ex­per­i­ment might as well have been a con­vent. No stores wanted my ex­quis­ite spir­its. The Bat­tle of the Booze was a bust. Don’t fol­low your dreams, kids.

Suc­cess, Rise­ofIn­dus­try tells us, is all about fig­ur­ing out what other peo­ple want, not what you want. It makes this clear from the mo­ment you gen­er­ate a new lo­ca­tion with Quick Start or whip up a cus­tom one, un­veil­ing a ham­let-dot­ted prairie ripe for early 20th century cap­i­tal­ist ex­ploita­tion. It’s about study­ing the tooltips for the ran­domly gen­er­ated scat­tered build­ings and dis­cov­er­ing your neigh­bors have the hots for orange juice and orange soda rather than exquisitely pack­aged 90-proof rye. Prof­its and smarter de­ci­sions fol­lowed al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter I plopped down an orange or­chard along the street. The mod­estly smart AI fol­lowed suit, open­ing a pa­per mill spe­cial­iz­ing in car­tons nearby.

Map­ping it out

Rise­ofIn­dus­try is a fairly deep pro­duc­tion sim, of­fer­ing con­trol of the en­tire pro­duc­tion line from raw re­sources (sand) to com­po­nents (glass) and fi­nally to prod­ucts (bot­tles) and fin­ished goods (bot­tled whiskey). You’ll want to lay your roads and rail­roads for op­ti­mal routes across a sprawl­ing map, set up har­vesters, build ware­houses to han­dle the sur­plus, and mi­cro­man­age the three des­ti­na­tions trucks are al­lowed to de­liver goods to. Some­times com­mu­ni­ties will tire of some prod­uct and pre­fer an­other, forc­ing you to adapt to their needs.

And, mirac­u­lously, this never got out of hand. The menus are in­for­ma­tive and el­e­gant, and the cur­rently dry text-based tu­to­rial barely feels needed. City plan­ners in the real world could ben­e­fit from study­ing such el­e­gant sim­plic­ity. That el­e­gance ex­tends to the scenery. Rise­ofIn­dus­try fea­tures just enough re­al­is­tic de­tail to make zoom­ing in on my lit­tle whiskey­pho­bic towns a joy, and just enough ab­strac­tion that I never lost sight of how all my trade routes and op­er­a­tions fit to­gether. It’s beau­ti­ful. At least in car­to­graphic con­cep­tion.

The sparse land­scapes of Riseof In­dus­try’s huge maps left me all too aware how quickly I was turn­ing the Shire I’d started with into a Mor­dorscape of torn earth and rusted steel. I grew sad and rich in equal mea­sure. The sight made me look for­ward to fu­ture up­dates, which will bring fea­tures like land­scap­ing, ter­raform­ing, and pollution man­age­ment.

All of which re­minds me: As the green van­ished un­der asphalt, as the roar of trucks in­creased, as the smoke thick­ened, I looked around and saw that shops want­ing whiskey had fi­nally started to pop up. Sign of the times, in­nit?

Rise­ofIn­dus­try is usu­ally fo­cused on the ‘big pic­ture’, but it’s got charm close up as well.

Pay at­ten­tion to what peo­ple want. Folks here like orange soda.

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