Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seeing the trees through the forest

Tropico 3 offers a ton of information. You can click on every citizen of your city and see their thoughts. You can see who they're married to and if they have any children. There's information on what political party they belong to or even on how much money they make. A lot of the statistics are presented in fancy graphs. How did the average wages or age of your citizens change since you started? It's all available in a fancy graphs. And it's all useless information which is just there for their fun factor.

It's ironic that in so much information you can not find the information that you really need. I want to know if my citizens are being well fed and how many farms I should build. The only way you can see if you should build more farms or clinics is if you start seeing "3 people have starved/died of poor health care this year". I'd rather see the big starvation coming so I can save my people. There's also no way of knowing in which buildings your people live. How many are living in shacks? How many can afford better homes?

The developers could have done a much better job of providing information. Pie diagrams would be a great solution. Offer a pie diagram with the housing types your citizen live in and one with their education level. That way you can see in no time if you have a housing problem. The food problem could be solved even simpler. Just show "meals/medicines created this year" and "meals/medicines consumed this year" and you can quickly see if you need to build new farms or clinics.

It's fun to browse through your city and click on random people to see that they are happy because you gave them a pay raise. But it's a lot more important to be able to see that you have to create more farms to prevent a starvation! The developers forgot to set their priorities. First add the must have statistics and then think of adding the statistics which are there just for fun. There's little use in knowing that your citizen is happy visiting the church if you cannot see that he's dieing because he can not find food.

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