At an event alongside GDC, Lucy Bradshaw, senior VP of Maxis took to the stage to unveil the new SimCity title, due for the PC in 2013, promising profound change for the series.
"It's been about 10 years since we shipped the last true Maxis SimCity," said Bradshaw. The game is being developed at the same Emeryville, California studio that developed Spore.
The game, which is simply titled "SimCity", will be the first 3D installment of the series, Bradshaw revealed. She hinted at smartphone connectivity without confirming it, too, by alluding to her teenage daughters and their preference for continuous connectivity.
Bradshaw began her presentation by discussing the inspirational power of the series.
"It exposes you to this idea of cause and effect, and that the choices that you make have repercussions," says Bradshaw. "This whole idea of a living system that got deconstructed and got put back together in a way that I got to play with it" is what attracted her to working with the series.
The goal, now, is to "introduce it to a new generation of gamers."
"We have so much to take advantage of in terms of how PCs have advanced," she said. "Little phones that have the technology of the computers we shipped SimCity 4 on."
She specifically alluded to increases in CPU power, video playback abilities, and persistent internet connections as elements that are relevant to the new game.
The new 3D graphics will allow the studio to create a new type of game, she said, changing SimCity from "something that was very painterly in the past to something that is tactile and physical."
Maxis hopes it will be a game where "something comes to life underneath your fingertips and seems believable, seems real," she said.
However, said Bradshaw, "we're not trying to make the most complex" game in the series yet released. She hopes that it will be "the most playful and responsive SimCity" yet developed.
"What you see is what we sim" is the new mantra for the game, and that means that Maxis will be "tying everything that we're running in the simulation to the visuals," Bradshaw said.
The visuals, by the way, were represented by an impressive teaser trailer that were suggestive of actual game graphics -- though the small print on screen "images not representative of actual gameplay."
The goal, she said, is to create a game that shows how their decisions could affect the entire world -- with finite global resources and decisions affecting the world rippling outward.
"All of this in the Maxis tradition of a play-with-life kind of sandbox," said Bradshaw.
Tomorrow at GDC, there will be a session called "Inside the GlassBox" in which Maxis developers discuss the creation of the new SimCity engine.