EA has confirmed that Maxis is making a new SimCity game for PC, which will be released in 2013. A Mac version was not yet confirmed.
At an event at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw explained the vision for the game and introduced a new trailer.
The major features are fully 3D graphics, a much deeper simulation engine - and, in a sop to fans's most-requested feature, Bradshaw said that "we are adding curvy roads".
The trailer showed a slightly exaggerated, colourful and unmistakably SimCity look to the game rendered in detailed 3D. Bradshaw said that Maxis was "taking you from something that was painterly to something that's tactile and physical". Buildings will smack down and raise clouds of dust when you place them.
But "the buck stops at simulation", Bradshaw said. "At Maxis we consider this one of our superpowers." The focus is on an engine that captures "the way we live in the world today". Resources will be finite and as you plan your city, you'll be struggling with decisions that have "a global impact", reflecting an environmental theme to the game. (It was endorsed on-stage by Davis Guggenheim, director of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.)
On the granular level, you'll be able to affect individual sims and cars in the world and "the people that play it with you". There will be social and multiplayer features. "You'll sit side by side with players in your region," Bradshaw said, and be able to measure your city against a wide range of global standards: fittest, greenest, most depressed or slothful.
Bradshaw was keen to suggest that cities would have a good deal of character and "it is a game - you never know when a giant lizard might knock some buildings down". And it would be not be a complex game but simple, the most "playful and responsive" game in the series. "You should be able to read your city like tea leaves," she said.
The trailer showed a mild fantastical edge to the game - monsters fighting in an auditorium, giant steampunk-styled industrial engines - as well as social and environmental aspects. Rival demonstrators clashed on a suspension bridge; a high-tech plant exploded and knocked out the electricity grid.
The game will simply be called SimCity, rather than SimCity 5 or SimCity 2013. "We got kind of bored of sticking numbers on the end," said Bradshaw.