City-Building VPA 1: Seeding the City

Land. Land and opportunity. These have long been the cornerstones of the American Dream. But, what is land when not all have access to it? What is opportunity when it is just out of reach?

— From the journal of Charles Rosencrantz, 2022.


I can’t say why this land hasn’t been developed. A coastal plain with a river running through it. Majestic mountains in the distance. Fertile soil and plenty of resources. There’s even highways and rail lines, both simply passing through the idyllic countryside. Somebody should have scooped this land up and exploited it hundreds of years ago. But here it lies, nigh untouched, just waiting for man to leave his mark. Or perhaps dreading it?

Regardless, here we are. A fresh start. And perhaps, an opportunity to find a better way? Not only a better way to design a city, but a better way of life for her residents? There’s a lot of differing theories on urban planning out there. But, there’s a new wave of thought, and this might be the chance to put that to the test. The resurgence of the “garden city”, the ideals of the “walkable city”, and a strong push towards a more egalitarian society. Many of these ideas were popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, just when urbanization was really steaming ahead (pun intended). But, practicality often led to compromise, and compromise often led to a bastardization of the ideals of a social utopia. Even, dare I say, a socialist utopia.

But, perhaps now is the time to explore these ideas again and try to do better than our forebears. Can a socialist utopia be built within a capitalist society? Can a truly walkable city be designed in a land dominated by the automobile? And can a thriving industrial power coexist alongside the preservation of nature? These questions all carry unique challenges, but the answer to each might just lie at a conflux of ideology and design. And thus was born the dream of Village Park Estates.

That name, lacking anything insofar as historical significance and brimming with all the panache of a second-year marketing student, infuriates me.
— Charles Rosencrantz, from an interview with the Village Tribune, 2025

But before we could even begin to answer any of these questions, we had to take this empty land and turn it into a city—even if a small one at first. We had to seed the land with people to begin our new society before we could harvest any worth from it.

Nature first, then, since that’s what we already had before us. We’d selected a small bit of land cozied up against the river and near the highway; a not-too-inventive decision driven by a pre-existing conflux of desirability and convenience. As my associates began drawing out plans for the city streets, neighborhoods, and building projects, I marked off three areas to be reserved for parkland. One, along the river where one of my less-inventive partners was planning high-rise apartment towers, would be a long, narrow strip of green space fronted by low apartments and rows of townhomes. Another, in the center of the area of development, would provide a garden-like setting amid the inevitable swaths of concrete, steel, and brick. The final one, acting as a buffer between the neighborhood and the highway, would be a nature reserve complete with camping areas.

Even before ground was broken, conceptual art flew across the internet from the maketing firm we contracted. Demand to move into the as-of-yet unbuilt development was incredible. So, we laid out a plan for more townhomes, as many as possible with views of the river. With the land terraced to accommodate this, the riverfront became its own miniature neighborhood. Above this, the center was dominated by two mid-rise apartment buildings, ensuring equitable access to plentiful housing for our new residents.

And in the center of it all, mixed-use development provided convenient access to shopping for pedestrians while the apartment spaces above met the demand for more living space. Still, we were careful not to overdevelop the land. Between all this, we left space for pedestrian paths and ample natural space.

And while it went against every tenant of my vision for a compact community free of domination by the automobile, both the marketing and real-estate professionals advising me pushed for the zoning of several single-family-lot neighborhoods. I resisted the suburban sprawl, but only inasmuch as I restricted its size to a fraction of what they desired to plan for.

And with the suburban neighborhoods came more cars, and with them the inevitable parking lots. We contracted a firm to develop on the promise of a modern “lifestyle center” of innovative commercial designs fit for a twenty-first century city. What we got, instead, was simply another ubiquitous strip mall. And while my vision was quickly coming to life with pedestrians filling the sidewalks of our River Glen neighborhood, compromise was seeping into the city like it always does. But, would this be the last compromise, or the beginning of a series of hammer blows that would chip away at my dream for a new utopia?


Find out in the next chapter, when we establish a center of agriculture, a small industrial area, lay the first public transit lines, and develop a new neighborhood inspired by Soviet-era microdistricts: Arbor Square.

Click here to return to the index for City-Building: Village Park Estates

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the content. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog, or shout at me on Twitter @B_K_Bass.

City-Building VPE: Technical Information

DLCs, mods, assets, and credit where credit is due. While not a complete list, I hope to share the key elements that are helping to make Village Park Estates come to life.

DLCs Installed

After Dark, Mass Transit, Snowfall, Parklife, Industries, University City Content Creator Pack, Match Day, Pearls from the East (probably won’t use unless I make a “Chinatown” district, but it’s installed so it’s on the list).

The Map

Map: Steeltown – Vanilla Map by MrMiyagi
Theme: Realistic V1.5.5 Temperate by Captain Soap
LUT: Realistic LUT V1.2 by Captain Soap

Modlist

I’ll be listing out a few of the essentials that I feel are game-changing cornerstones of expanding the game, but with fifty-three mods installed, I could write a whole series of articles just describing them all. For a full list, check out the collection link at the bottom of this section.

Expanding the Options

All Spaces Unlockable by Klyte45; All Tile Start from johnrom; Building Themes by boformer; Find It! 2 and Fine Road Anarchy 2.0.2 by sway; Move It by Quboid; Network Extensions 2 by sniggledigit; Ploppable RICO Revisited 2.3.4 by algernon,; Prop & Tree Anarchy, Quay Anarchy, and Prop Snapping by BloodyPenguin; Prop Line Tool [PLT] (vAlpha) by Alterran; and Procedural Objects by Simon Ryr.

Making it Pretty

Daylight Classic by BloodyPenguin, First Person Camera: Updated by tony56a (Without this, none of my screenshots would be possible. Thank you!), Hide It! by Keallu, Unlock LandScaping by pcfantasy.

Running the Simulation

Advanced Vehicle Options (Sunset Harbor) by Tim, Improved Public Transport 2 by BloodyPenguin, Real Time by dymanoid, andTM:PE V11 STABLE (Traffic Manager: President Edition) by Krzychu1245.

A little cheaty? GrantMeMoney by the weatherman is on my modlist. I try to use this very sparingly, as I want to run a realistic simulation with a balanced budget. Still, we’re going to need some state/federal grants and corporate investors to get things off the ground!

For the full list, find my Core Mods collection on the Steam Workshop.


Assets

Again, I’m not going to list every asset I’m using. As of my last load, there were a little over five-hundred of them! A lot are dependencies for major assets like buildings, and a lot are general go-to items for enhancing options. Here’s a highlight of what I feel are the keystones to making Village Park Estates what it is. At the end of this section is a link to my asset collection specific to Village Park Estates on the Steam Workshop.

Architecture: Fulfilling the Vision

Residential/Commercial: Modular commercial, mixed-use, modular apartments, condos, townhouses, and rowhouses by Smilies; Ocean City Apartments, Highrise, & Commons by KingLeno; Soviet panel blocks by PALiX; Soviet residential by ///Eurasia_HHHR///; The Horizon Residences by MeteorDaddy, various H Residential buildings by Lokon, and HDB residential buildings by Ali Cafe hao YEAH!.

Services/Offices: Doctor’s Office, Fire Station, Police Station, Fire Department, Police Headquarters, University Hospital, University of Science and Technology, Public Library, and offices by Senfkorn.

Education/Industrial: Elementary and high schools by JSF-1; BTB Community College by BachToBaroque, Rocky Vista City College by Badi_Dea; and Modular Prewar Warehouse Pack by donoteat.

Decorations

Various Soviet wall mosaics and posters by IsDanBall. A bunch of various statues, fountains, etc, thanks to dabaofu, Gèze, Kliekie, Mthrax, PeterBar, Don B, UK122, Ahmad Walker, REVO, spinoza73, AmiPolizeiFunk, and Lost Gecko. Quays from Avanya. Leafy Tree Set and Regular Bushes by pdelmo. They are everywhere. I can’t stress how much some great looking trees and bushes just make the city come alive!

Transit & Parking

Polygon’s Train Stations and Central Tram Station by Polygon; CimTaxi Depot, CimTaxi Prop Pack 1, and 2011 Town Car Taxi by ninjanoobslayer; NTE – Falcon Bus Station by spinoza73; N-Link Citadis Tram by Strictoaster; and Alstom Citadis 302 & 402 by LordGruny. Modern Parking Garage and Modern Parking Garage (8-Story) by KingLeno. Parking Lots of various sizes by Crazyglueit.


Most of the primary assets for the project are in my Post-Modern Modernism collection.


Click here to view the first entry in the city-building journal:
City-Building VPA 1: Seeding the City

or

Click here to return to the index for City-Building: Village Park Estates


AS ALWAYS, I’D LOVE TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK OF THE CONTENT. FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE BLOG, OR SHOUT AT ME ON TWITTER @B_K_BASS.

City-Building VPE: Introduction

Welcome to Village Park Estates, a city-building project combining the urban planning of garden cities and modernist communal living with modernist, modern, and postmodern aesthetics.

What is This?

This blog series is a worldbuilding and city-building project within the city-building game Cities Skylines, developed by Colossal Order Games and published by Paradox interactive. As a huge fan of the game, I’ve spent nearly three hundred hours building cities on the PC and uncounted hours on the Xbox One port by Tantalus Games.

The main body of this blog will be an in-world/in-character journal of the city’s founder, Charles Rosencrantz, and his descendants. My goal is to not only share my city design, but also tell a story with it.

What is Cities Skylines?

In short, Cities Skylines is a city-building simulation that adopts the legacy of the Sim City series from Maxis Games and propels it into the modern era of gaming. To say CS is a SC clone would be an injustice though. The developers have taken what the predecessor did well and has made it better, and taken what it did poorly and fixed that. It is constantly evolving through new official content, even five years after release. Most importantly, I think, is that the community—with an arguably unprecedented level of support from the developer and publisher—has gone on to expand the game even further by creating tens of thousands of assets and hundreds of mods ranging from adding custom trees to completely overhauling the traffic and population simulations.

The Inspiration

I’ve found myself spending hours watching YouTube videos from other city-builders like Sam Bur, Biffa, BonBonB, City Planner Plays City Builders, and more. Over time, inspired by many of these great creators, I’ve progressed from playing the game to designing cities, going as far as to studying real-life urban planning philosophies, mass transit systems, and architecture. I’d say I’m far from an expert in any of these fields, but feel I know a bit more now than the average cim walking down the street.

For the uninitiated: “Cim” is the community term used for the citizens in the game. As far as I can tell, this is both a nod to Colossal Order’s prior outing, Cities in Motion, and a bit of legacy from calling the people in Sim City “sims”.

So, as I found myself spending hours planting bushes and tweaking pedestrian paths that nobody will ever see, I thought I should make this more worthwhile by sharing my creation. But, making videos isn’t really my thing—I have neither the skills nor hardware to produce quality content in that arena. But, I realized there was one strength I could call on…

A Conflux of Sorts

As an author, it stands to reason the best way for me to share my city-building creation is to write something. I’m also an avid worldbuilder, and while many might think that starts with fantasy worlds and ends in the void with sci-fi, there’s plenty of middle-ground to create interesting contemporary settings.

So, as mentioned above, this blog will be written in the style of journal entries from the fictional founder of the city—and as time goes along, his descendants. While there may be a few out-of-character asides, clearly indicated as such, I plan to endeavor to keep the majority of the content to an in-world perspective. My hopes is that as the city grows, readers will not only get to enjoy the eye-candy of screenshots, but also be transported into a city come to life through the accompanying fiction.

Welcome to Village Park Estates

With all that out of the way, it’s time to dive in! If you’re a Cities Skylines player and want to find out about my modlist and what assets I’m using for the city, or if you’re not a player and just curious, more on this can be found in City-Building VPA: Technical Information.

Otherwise, if you’re ready to see what Charles has to say about founding a city, his journal begins in City-Building VPA 1: Seeding the City.


Click here to return to the index for City-Building: Village Park Estates

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the content. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog, or shout at me on Twitter @B_K_Bass.