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What does a former Port Authority building in NYC, dark fiber, gigabit-speed Internet, and Kansas City have in common? Google. In early 2005, the Internet search giant began aquiring high-speed fiber optic lines all over the world. The company also moved into a building atop “a major physical network node that allows tech and telecom firms to share space in proximity to improve network service and speed,” according to Time Business. At the time, there was a great deal of speculation that Google might be building it’s own private Internet.
In his 2005 article for Search Engine Journal titled “Google Building Alternative Internet,” Jim Hedger hinted at the reality to come:
With the announcement that Google would begin construction on the first gigabit-speed fiberhood this October, it seems that the search engine giant is indeed offering the “coolest thing on the bock.”
So what exactly is Google doing in Kansas City?
Here, it is right from the Google Fiber Blog:
Our goal is to build products that will help improve our users’ lives. And when it comes to Internet access, it’s clear what provides a better user experience:
Fast is better than slow. On the Web, nobody wants to wait for a video to buffer or a website to load.
Abundance is better than scarcity. There’s a plethora of rich content available online—and it’s increasingly only available to people who have the speeds and means to access it.
Choice is better than no choice. Competition and choice help make products better for users.
With that in mind, we embarked on a journey to bring ultra-high speeds to Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the Web. Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.
The first phase of this project is residential. Only after the fiberhood construction will Google start talking to businesses about making the ultra high-speed connections available to them.
So, what does being the first American city to be wired for fiber mean to the residents of Kansas City?
The first person I posed this question to was Mike Brown of The Brainzooming Group. Mike got involved in the project when city officials approached the Social Media Club of Kansas City to help identify ways Google Fiber could be used in Kansas City.
Within 45 seconds, I’d tweeted Joe Cox, the SMCKC president at the time, to say that The Brainzooming Group would donate its innovation expertise pro bono to design and facilitate a large scale brainstorming session on Google Fiber.
Aaron Deacon of Curiolab and President of the Social Media Club of Kansas City was also involved in the brainstorming event that resulted in the “Building the Gigabit City” report. He says the potential of ultra high-speed Internet was the impetus for his involvement.
The selection of Kansas City as the location of the Google Fiber experiment presented an enormous opportunity for the region. There was an enormous capital investment being made by a private company, and the fact that it was a highly visible tech giant meant the national and global spotlight would naturally shine here. Apart from being aware of the opportunity, it was also pretty clear early on that there was no road map for how to proceed. Google wasn’t going to drive initiatives beyond the narrow focus of their fiber-to-the-home project.
The Building the Gigabit City event was the first step that I was involved in. Once we had that report, we wanted to start building an understanding at a consumer level of what this opportunity meant for Kansas City.
The biggest near-term impact may not even be technological, but political. The divide between Kansas and Missouri goes beyond geography, to a true rivalry and even an antagonism that extends back beyond the start of the Civil War. The fact that Google Fiber has been a forum to bring the mayors of the two Kansas Cities together for a common cause not only speaks to the foresight of the mayors (Sly James in KCMO and Joe Reardon in KCK) but to the attractiveness and economic and social impact Google Fiber can make happend in the area.
Incrdibly fast Internet is great, but being able to turn back the clock and erase harmful and long-standing geographic and political divisions are something I didn’t think I’d ever see happen.
Alex Greenwood is a Kansas City resident of a fiberhood slated for construction sometime next spring. He is also the owner of AlexanderG Public Relations and Caroline Street Press.
What do you see as the greatest potential impact of becoming a Gigabit City?
If Kansas City can take this opportunity—this massive technological head start over the rest of the nation—and channel it into the right things, it will mean significant employment and quality of life changes. There are several “ifs” in that statement, but I think KC has the brainpower and creativity to make it happen.
What about the impact this could have on the daily life of residents in a fiberhood?
Google Fiber has refocused Kansas City on the value of the Internet. The registration process for fiberhoods shone light on pockets of the city that don’t have access to the Internet; thus those people don’t have access to the potential for financial, personal, and community growth it represents.
For example, the majority of my firm’s clientele can be directly or indirectly attributed to my Internet presence. When I think about starting my business in 2010, I sincerely doubt I would have made it without Internet access. The Internet opened me up to a world of prospective customers. I suspect Google Fiber will inspire many other Kansas City entrepreneurs and small business people to start their own businesses.
Mike Brown echoed Greenwood’s thoughts and said:
Entrepreneurs and financial people should be taking a look at Kansas City, if they aren’t already. With the Google Fiber roll-out, this area is primed to go through a development, expansion, and growth push that is unique within the United States, and perhaps globally.
The Google Fiber Project has already benefited Kansas City. It has put a spotlight on the need to close the technological gap in poor neighborhoods. It is also opening up new opportunities in education and medicine. Do you think that this experiment in Kansas City will prompt other service providers to take the next technological step? Don’t you wish you lived in Kansas City, now?
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Google Fiber broadband service in Kansas City will cost US$70 per month for 1Gbps Internet access and $120 per month for that service plus TV, the company said.
Even residents who don’t want to pay for the fast service will benefit from the project: For a one-time $300 construction fee, which can be paid in installments, they will be able to get free broadband at speeds comparable to DSL (digital subscriber line) service — 5Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream. But neighborhoods where not enough residents pre-register for Google Fiber won’t get it.
Google disclosed the details of Google Fiber on Thursday on its blog and on an information page about the project. The rollout will cover qualifying areas of Kansas City, Missouri, and neighboring Kansas City, Kansas, which won out over more than 1000 cities that applied for the service in 2010.Testing Fiber Networks
Google announced in February 2010 that it planned to build fiber networks in “a small number of trial locations” in the U.S., in which it would offer service at competitive prices to between 50,000 and 500,000 people. The company described its project as a test bed to explore new applications, fiber deployment techniques and operation of a network that’s open to other service providers. Google hasn’t named other fiber cities yet but operates one network in a small community near Stanford University.
The company has divided the cities into “fiberhoods” and asked residents to pre-register for service and tell their neighbors to join them. Each “fiberhood” will have a goal of pre-registrations to meet by September 9, based on the population density of the area. The fiberhoods that get the most pre-registrations will get service first, and should see it soon after the registration period. Google said. Areas where not enough residents pre-register won’t qualify for the rollout.
Registration requires giving basic information such as name and address and paying a $10 deposit. The $300 construction fee for equipping a home for service will be waived for those who sign up for the paid services.
Additional perks for those who get TV service will be a free “Storage Box” with 2T bytes of storage for recorded shows, and a free Nexus 7 tablet to use as a remote.
The addition of TV in Kansas City makes Google Fiber more comparable to the services being offered by cable operators and carriers, though at higher speeds and with some Google twists. By way of comparison, Verizon Communications offers 300Mbps downstream on the fastest tier of its FiOS fiber-to-the-home service, and Comcast offers up to 105Mbps. TV is available in addition to each of those plans.
Google’s fiber-based Internet service can run at 1Gbps both upstream and downstream and has no data caps. Customers have to sign up for a one-year contract for Internet alone and a two-year contract for Internet plus TV. The 5Mbps service also has no caps, and users can pay $25 per month for 12 months to cover the cost of construction. That service is guaranteed free for at least seven years.
Google’s HD-equipped set-top box, which it calls the TV Box, provides access to TV, on-demand video and Internet content. It also includes a Wi-Fi access point. Its Network Box also has Wi-Fi, plus four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a built-in firewall. The Storage Box can be used for personal multimedia content as well as recorded shows.Working out the Service
But despite the eye-popping speed and added features, Google Fiber isn’t perfect, said Mike Jude, an analyst at Stratecast, a division of Frost & Sullivan. Many consumers want mobile service and landline voice bundled with broadband and TV, he said.
“It can’t be just as simple as data access and subscription TV,” Jude said. Unless Google can somehow build those pieces through Android and VoIP, they may face competitive pressure.
Kansas City, Missouri, has a population of about 460,000, while its twin city across the border is home to about 145,000 people. By asking neighborhoods to “rally” for fiber access, Google is continuing its practice of having communities qualify for fiber service. On its information site, the company tells residents that winning fiber service for their neighborhood includes making free gigabit-speed service available to public buildings such as schools, libraries and hospitals.
Asking for pre-registrations is a smart strategy that reduces Google’s risk, and one that regulated service providers probably couldn’t use, Jude said.
Though much has changed since Google’s 2010 announcement, including its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a maker of both mobile devices and set-top boxes, analysts believe the company’s vision remains the same. Google still doesn’t want to compete against carriers and cable operators, said analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates.
“I think this is really more about building a reasonable-size sandbox that people can play in,” he said. That play could include Google trying out new devices and services over its own network and watching the consumer response and network impact. “This is really kind of a marketer’s and engineer’s dream,” Gold said. If service providers see what can be done on a fast network, they may build their own, giving Google a better foundation for its over-the-top services, he said.
Jude thinks Google wants to demonstrate to regulators that a gigabit-speed fiber network is feasible. If they see Google build one at a reasonable price, they may call on the established players to do the same, he said.
Technology can make your life easier, expand your social horizons, help your business thrive and make commerce more efficient and secure. Increasingly, urban planners also are coming to view technology as the key to making cities smarter.
One way in which technology improves lives on a wide scale is through the “smart city.” By rethinking the purpose of public services and how they function, urban planners are bringing outdated services into the 21st century. These initiatives work in many ways, including providing all citizens with broadband Internet, utilizing energy resources wisely, optimizing traffic flow, revitalizing neighborhoods, streamlining waste removal and even organizing parking spaces in busy areas.
These ideas are spreading rapidly, as more cities and towns feel compelled to improve their infrastructure. According to a 2014 report from IHS, there will be at least 88 smart cities across the globe by 2025, a sharp spike from just 21 in 2013. Investment in smart civic projects, which reached just over $1 billion in 2013, will soar past $12 billion through 2025.
Smart cities that are already taking shape provide good examples of what may be coming to many areas across the globe.
Even as Las Vegas emerges from a long recession and new developments begin to emerge, city planners are looking ahead for opportunities to improve the texture of city life through the judicious use of smart city technology.
Take, for instance, the City Connector initiative. Parking spots can be hard to find in Las Vegas, and the plan is to make things a little less painful through the use of intelligently enabled parking meters. To encourage drivers to make the effort to park in town, the smart meters offer coupons for food and beverage discounts, as well as for use in the local retail sector.
In the economic development arena, meanwhile, city planners have reorganized the way developers access public works, making it easier to access public services. Smart cities don’t just embrace technology, they streamline the existing organizational structure in order to make processes more efficient. By combining multiple departments related to development, the city has created a one-stop shop to help in permitting and other aspects of civic engagement.
New York City
In its effort to become a smart city, the Big Apple has made broadband connectivity a top priority, with a long-range plan to make high-speed home Internet affordable or free to everyone by 2025. Approximately 22 percent of New York City households don’t have broadband Internet at home, according to a report from the City of New York. Without broadband, people lack many of the tools the Internet provides, including easy access to city services.
Internet initiatives are only the tip of the iceberg in a smart city vision that sweeps across all sectors of government. The city’s plan describes the subway as “near or at full capacity.” Citizens spend far too much time commuting, and bridges are old and in need of repair. In keeping with the smart ethos, the city pledged to fix these problems, while at the same time treading gently on the Earth. It also promised to cut greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050 and to achieve zero waste to landfills by 2030.
Driving Toronto’s smart city solution is the revitalization of Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project. The effort will reinvigorate 800 hectares of brownfield shoreline with the development of 40,000 residential units, parks and 1 million square meters of commercial space. The project will offer 1 Gbps fiber-optic broadband, offered at no cost to residents in the 10 percent of housing set aside for low-income families.
More than just another urban revitalization scheme, Waterfront Toronto is re-envisioning what it means to bring defunct space back into the urban fabric. As a public-private collaboration, with public green spaces, digital availability and the promise of economic development (the project is expected to generate some 40,000 new jobs), Waterfront Toronto pulls together many of the hallmarks of an emerging smart city.
These initiatives can change the way cities and their residents operate, whether it is something as simple as checking an email on their smartphone, or as significant as recycling everything a city uses so that nothing is ever wasted.
As a gay Asian American and an environmentalist, Tyler Sit (COM’11) started a Minneapolis church, ministering to a young and diverse congregation. Photo by rau+barber
They are determined to use their experience, influence, and positions to help make their business, organization, and world a more inclusive place. They are breaking barriers—and then reaching back to help those behind them overcome the same hurdles. They are mentoring students or younger colleagues, hiring diverse candidates, offering opportunities, and ensuring that employees succeed and are promoted so that their workplace and their communities reflect the richness and talents of the country’s increasingly diverse population. They are Boston University alumni, faculty, and staff—of every race, ethnicity, age, and gender—and they are “Opening Doors” for the next generation.
It may sound odd, but biography and biodiversity inform Tyler Sit’s spirituality. “As a queer person of color who is living on this planet,” says Sit (COM’11), “when I wake up, I don’t get to choose if I’m Asian today, or whether I’m gay, or whether I breathe air. I am all of those things, all of the time, and I strive for justice in all of those areas because my survival depends on it.”
Biodiversity entered into it during his BU Study Abroad, as he relates in his upcoming book, tentatively titled Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers, when he walked in the Amazon rain forest: “Monkeys swinging overhead, big footprints of giant anteaters, neon-rainbow lizards—that kind of thing. I had a spiritual experience in that rain forest, because I realized that living among difference is part of what it meant to be alive.”
He combines these commitments as founding pastor of Minneapolis’ New City Church, a United Methodist parish stressing social and environmental justice. Its weekly service, begun in 2023, draws almost 130 people. Its part-time staff of seven serves an overwhelmingly millennial and Gen Z congregation, Sit says, who mirror the racial demographics of the surrounding city. “On any given Sunday, about half of the people are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and about 40 percent of our community does not actively identify as Christian,” he says.
Bostonia talked to Sit about church planting to promote harmony among people, and between people and planet.
A With Tyler Sit
Bostonia: How did you get started in environmentalism and racial–LGBTQ+ justice? How hard was it for you to get your foot in the door?
Who opened doors for you?
When I was ordained, I made a list of mentors/teachers/best friends to thank for their support of me in my work. The list had over 100 names. The leaders of Marsh Chapel were some of those people, for sure, and the wonderful people at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground—two of the most underrated places at BU, in my opinion.
What are the more subtle forms of intolerance you’ve faced?
What can people do in their own workplaces to make them more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming?
Can you talk about the current political climate for diversity?
What policies did you set to keep the church diverse, inclusive, and welcoming?
We can’t “think” our way out of racism. No amount of articles or trendy words will stop racism. Racism lives in the body as well as the mind, and in addition to reading articles we need to heal our bodies. An example is when a white member of our community is lovingly confronted for something they said or did that was racist, and they experience a full-body shutdown. Instead of staying engaged, they fall into a shame spiral, which takes them out of relationship. A lot of the antiracism training that we do at New City addresses this by training the body (and not just our minds) to stay engaged in relationship even when we are having big reactions.
Have you encountered any kind of resistance?
With all the concrete taking up real estate in America’s cities, it’s hard to believe there could be wildlife in Minneapolis or Atlanta, let alone Los Angeles or New York. (Well, outside of the Rainforest Cafe, anyway.) But urban environments are positively brimming with animals of all shapes and stripes. Some are like their rural cousins and some have been changed by city living, but all are bouncing around, just waiting to be noticed by a science-minded citizen like you.
Ever night in Austin, Texas crowds gather at this bat-covered bridge to watch the creatures take their nightly flight. Wikimedia CommonsBring on the bats
Bats have very few house rules. They need a place that’s relatively protected from predators, close to food, and with easy access to water. Oh, and wherever they live, it’s got to allow them to hang upside down to roost. Obviously. But other than that, these winged creatures are highly adaptable. They will settle everywhere from a dark, spooky cave to a nook or cranny under your own roof.
For a long time, people assumed bats preferred to live in more rural settings, like the open fields of Transylvania. But recent research has revealed that bats actually love cities. In fact, the flying mammals may be healthier if they live in urban environments.
In the last decade, six million bats have died in the United States and Canada from a fungal infection called white-nose syndrome. But it appears most of those bats died in less populated places. In the city, bat populations have also declined, but not as sharply. And good thing, too, as bats keep insects in check and even pollinate plants.
Pigeons aren’t afraid of heights. Here, a pair roosts on the Empire State Building, just a few blocks from Popular Science’s New York City offices. Wikimedia CommonsPlentiful pigeons
Pigeons are often criticized for their pest-like appearance. They move in big crowds, eat whatever scraps they can find, and poop everywhere. But these birds are actually the most creative city dwellers around.
Originally, there were no city pigeons at all. Instead, there were farm pigeons and domesticated carrier pigeons. Carrier pigeons, which lived in special coops, were trained to send messages from rooftop to rooftop, or city to city. Some of these birds got loose, however, and their feral descendants are the pigeons we know—and tolerate—today.
While it’s easy to criticize the little birds, we should at least be grateful for their garbage collection services. When an urbanite drops their ice cream cone or discards pizza crust on the street, it’s usually a pigeon that swoops in to clean up.
Of course, there are even wilder birds in American cities. Peregrine falcons have been spotted everywhere except Antarctica. Hawks, owls, and raptors could be nearby, too. You’ve just got to look up!
Bees have been dying in large numbers lately. But urban beehives like these can help. Wikimedia CommonsCurious insects
Cockroaches, like pigeons, are generally detested—and for good reason. The antigens on their bodies can cause problems for asthma sufferers, and they can carry germs and other disease. But the importance of urban insects can’t be understated. At the same time there are pests like cockroaches and bedbugs roaming the city, there are beautiful bugs stopping by, too. Butterflies often ride the breeze through neighborhood parks, as do moths, ladybugs, and all manner of stunning—and stinging—bees and wasps.
In recent years, urban farmers have also begun to cultivate their own bee populations. While city apiaries (that’s what a collection of beehives is called) aren’t legal everywhere, where they are, bee colonies have been cropping up in backyard and rooftops. This small-scale agriculture is not only scientifically interesting, it’s got a tasty result: Honey.Mice and voles and rats, oh my!
Rodents are another hallmark of city wildlife. They are often best observed from a distance, because rodents can carry diseases that people can catch. But a scurrying mice, vole, or rat can still be an exciting sight on an otherwise dreary day.
While we consider them a nuisance, many rodent species seem to be thriving in the city. A 2013 research study showed that some animal brains, including those of the white-footed mice and meadow voles, have increased in size in response to their busy urban environment. The same urban evolution has been seen in other species, too. Blackbirds in cities have been described as “bolder” than their rural cousins. And sparrows and salamanders are actually less aggressive in big towns than small ones.
Squirrels, it seems, are as comfortable on the side of a tree as the side of the fence. Wikimedia CommonsSquirreling around
Sometimes, it seems there are as many squirrels in New York City as people. But 200 years ago, there were none at all. The animals arrived only when park planners and city designers intentionally introduced them to our public spaces—literally just because they looked cute.
These days, they continue to entertain the masses with their shifty ways. But they also serve their environment: A squirrel’s diet mostly consists of nuts and seeds, which they bury and, sometimes, forget. From these forgotten seeds grow new plants and even mighty oak trees.Crawling with coyotes
Climate change and human development mean many animals’ natural habitats are disappearing. At the same time, humans have been working to make their cities greener for their own enjoyment. These and other factors have driven wild creatures like wolves and coyotes into cities. These fearsome animals are not to be played with, but they’re a good reminder that our urban environment is, at the end of the day, an environment like any other.
You’re the leader, and you make all of the choices. Management, simulation, and planning are part of the best city-building games for PS4 and PS5.
We’ve covered you if you want to develop and manage a city, down to your citizen’s salaries. Of course, we’re looking for titles available for PlayStation consoles, as the genre doesn’t often exist outside of PC.Selecting the Best City Building Games on PS4 and PS5
City-building games are part of the simulation genre. You act s the planner and leader of a town, city, or empire. You play with an overhead view and manage many aspects of the location.
For example, you choose building placement, building evolution, research, taxes, trading, land plots, pipelines, education, pollution, security, weather, etc.
Strategy video games incorporate elements of city building and management. However, compared to strategy, the goal of city-building games is simply an ongoing process. You don’t have to defeat anyone.
Either way, we’re picking the best games in the genre. Choices correlate to both fan appreciation and critic’s appreciation. The best titles balance economic, planning, and challenged-based goals for the best experiences. They also tend to add elements from other simulators, like politics or government.
City-building games generally go in one of these two ways. They are either a free-form sandbox, so you can develop as you’d wish. Or they feature a campaign with objectives, challenges, and lore to explain your tasks. We’ll include both types, as preference is personal.
Moreover, the city-building category has various nearby genres. Those are parks, factories, businesses, governments, life, sports, and colony simulation. We’re taking into consideration colony management games as well, as long as they feel similar.Best City Building Games on PS4 PS5 RimWorld
Developer: Ludeon Studios
Publisher: Ludeon Studios
Release Date: October 2023
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux – Xbox, PS5 (Pre-order)
RimWorld is a top-down construction and management simulator with an impressive AI storyteller. The setting is a distant future where humans live in space colonies. These colonies are isolated, full of bandits and hazardous environments, though.
You start with a randomized set of colonists and build your location from scratch. Each settler has a set of stats that determine what they can or can’t do. You play with an aerial view and tell your settlers what to build, where to go, or work.
Then, the AI system takes into consideration hundreds of variables. That goes from the weather to your resources to the mood of your settlers. According to your state, it delivers stories, events, and results. There’re various AI storytellers to choose from, though, and they vary in difficulty.
Lastly, the game features a narrative, deep lore, and procedurally generated worlds. Even so, there’s a victory condition: you must construct or repair a spaceship and travel back to space.Frostpunk: Console Edition
Developer: 11-bit studios
Publisher: 11-bit studios
Release Date: April 2023
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, macOS, iOS, Android
Frostpunk has risen in popularity since its debut and stands as one of the best city-building games. The genre is not quite popular currently, so we don’t get to see many entries fill its gaps lately.
The title mixes survival elements. You’re the leader of the 19th settlement in an alternate timeline. Your goal is to maintain and develop the city throughout a volcanic winter.
So, you manage resources, structures, and voters. The story happens across several episodes, each one presenting new challenges. In general, it’s about exploring the area for survivors and resources; you need coal to make steam and keep the town warm.
Other elements include politics, weather conditions, and politics. For the latter, your citizens may increase or decrease their efficiency according to your rule. And you may rule with an iron fist or as a true democrat.Cities: Skylines
Developer: Colossal Order
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: March 2023
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, macOS, Linux, Google Stadia
Cities: Skylines is a straightforward city-building game. It features a free-form simulation featuring yourself as the mayor of a developing town. It has various layers of strategy and complexity, but it’s also easy to pick up and play.
The city boasts an AI system that handles its citizens. Particularly, you’d see it in the traffic, and the more traffic, the less happy citizens you get. Planning the city is one of the most important factors of your gameplay.Tropico 6
Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release Date: March 2023
Platform: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Windows, macOS, Linux
Tropico 6 is a management, construction, and political simulator. It’s similar to previous games in the series. Hence, you play as “El Presidente,” the leader of a fictional Caribbean island country.
As El Presidente, you manage the archipelago with an overhead view. Then, you lead the country across four eras (Colonial, World Wars, Cold War, and Modern). Your job is to develop the area and make your nation a world power.
The title includes simulated citizens. Your leadership affects their productivity: they could be loyal and productive or revolt. Similar to Frostpunk, you can become a dictator or a rightful ruler.Aven Colony
Developer: Mothership Entertainment
Release Date: July 2023
Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Aven Colony is a strategy and city-building game. It features an objective-based single-player campaign. The experience concerns colonizing an alien planet, so it’s a sci-fi colony planner.
You take care of building a human city on Aven Prime, planet light-years away from our home planet. You oversee resources, construction, and settlers.
Then, you build the place from scratch, and new colonists will move in as it evolves. There’re many things you can build as the game features technological tiers. You start from small tends until rising towards massive skyscrapers and space elevators.
Lastly, buildings serve different purposes within your colony, and you must fill in various services. These include oxygen, food, living quarters, mining, exploration, defense, and expansion. Additional tools like hover cars and flying drones help you with these tasks.Surviving Mars
Developer: Haemimont Games, Abstraction Games
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: March 2023
Platform: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Surviving Mars is a city building and simulation with a sci-fi setting. It’s about building a colony and ensuring it survives on Mars. That said, it follows an objective-based campaign.
The simulation uses real Martian data to deliver a “realistic” Martian experience. Then, you choose a sponsoring nation, each one offering different benefits and tech tries, to land on Mars.
Also, you research technologies to build machine parts, concrete, food, electronics, and buildings. There’re five fields of research, and you can unlock technologies that can lead you to various victory conditions.Planetbase
Developer: Madruga Works
Publisher: Madruga Works
Release Date: October 2023
Platform: Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One
Planetbase is a strategy sci-fi simulation and colony building/simulation game. The setting is a distant planet, and your mission is to build an outpost where colonists can survive.
You lead a group of settlers constructing a base on a secluded planet. You’re the architect and the manager. It’s up to you to guide the colonists in creating a self-sufficient location. However, environmental and space hazards (like meteors) will challenge you across the 10 milestones to complete.
So, you need to secure water, food, living quarters, and oxygen. There’re various structures to build, each providing one of these services. Moreover, settlers can mine different metals, which you can use to create robots.
Lastly, you can colonize four planets, each featuring different conditions and difficulties. These are Storm, Barren, Frozen, and Desert planets. You’ll get workers, engineers, or guard settlers for the job. Then, robots will take care of monotonous tasks.Kingdom Two Crowns
Developer: Noio, Licorice
Publisher: Raw Fury
Release Date: October 2023
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Kingdom Two Crowns is a 2D strategy and city-building game. It’s easier than most games in the genre, as its approach is simpler and less punishing. Also, it features pixelated graphics and a gorgeous soundtrack.
The gameplay has two broad segments. During the day, you roam the land as the king, searching for people and resources. Your job is to find loyal followers to help you build and protect your realm.
At night, evil creatures and soldiers will attack your settlement. So, you must spend your day building your defense and developing your town. For example, you can place towers and walls and archers behind walls.
Also, you can play the game in co-op on the PlayStation 4. A second user can join locally or another player online via the PS Plus subscription. If you join the game as a team, both share the crown, roles, and features.Regions of Ruin
Developer: VOX Games
Publisher: Gameclaw Studios
Release Date: October 2023
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, Linux
Regions of Ruin is a 2D RPG that revolves around building cities and fortresses. It’s also an open-world sandbox, although the game presents increasingly difficult challenges.
The lore follows a dwarven realm in decadence. Under your command, different tribes are rallying together to rebuild their power. You do it across a hand-drawn environment full of details and stories.
So, you’ll explore the world in 2D to find your kin and get quests, followers, and information. Your character can fight, level up, and develop skills in various skill trees. He can also loot gear from fallen enemies and forge his own gear with the resources you find.
You construct, expand, and manage a city in the town. There’re various systems to handle, but, in essence, you need to keep your kin happy and make a city sturdy enough to survive enemy attacks.Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault
Release Date: July 2023
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One
Aegis of Earth: Protonovous Assault is a real-time tower defender within a fantasy world. The story happens 50 years after the “Silent Apocalypse,” a catastrophic event that brought demonic creatures to Earth.
Alongside the creatures, a new element found a home on the planet, “altenite.” It stands as your best resource and hope for survival. But as you gather and expand across the world, monster stacks will attack you.
The gameplay happens on various interfaces. There’s a world map where you see the place of your different settlements. Then, there’re the settlements, circular towns you must develop. You place shields on the outer rim, power generators, defensive structures, and resource-gathering structures.
Lastly, you must take care of the happiness of your citizens and other elements. For example, you collect taxes, allocate resources, buy equipment, set up artillery and soldiers on the battlefield, and more. And when battles begin, you use the weapons you have placed until you defeat the wave.
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