City Sandbox classic mode allows players to build and run a city with the challenge of resource requirements, population mood, and a start-up budget. If a player fails to build a profitable city with a peace level above -15%, they will ultimately lose. Strategic tips were posted on the developer's blog to help players develop a working approach, which encouraged players focus on placing residential buildings, and combat peace trouble by placing a slum structure to boost the population and "water down" civil disruption.
City Sandbox sandbox mode allows players to build and run a city with unlimited resources, money, and a neutral population. The technology level is also maxed out, unlocking all available buildings. It is not possible to lose the game. A city made in sandbox mode can not be loaded into classic mode.
Resources and Population Influences
Cities made in the game rely on several core elements to survive when played in classic mode. These are:
- Power (NW) -- the amount of power available, minus the current usage, generated by government buildings that output power
- Water (NL) -- the amount of water available, minus the current usage, generated by government buildings that output water
- Population (pop) -- the current population of the city, increased by residential buildings
- Peace (PE) -- the level of civil unrest, negated by depressing structures, and improved by desirable structures (and also influenced by some government buildings)
- Mood (MO) -- the mood of the population, influenced by some buildings and certain game features (such as the curfew option in the civil defense menu) which mainly affects the peace level
- Technology (TE / tech) -- the level of technology in a city, allowing for the unlocking of new buildings, which can be increased randomly per month (and influenced by industrial buildings)
- Jobs -- jobs are increased by placement of commercial buildings. They are no listed on the interface as a statistic, but can be viewed when the user opens up the city information (by clicking on the box in the top right). Jobs affect peace and mood levels.
- Money -- the funds available to use to buy new buildings
Disasters & Civil Defense
When a disaster strikes, if a large number of the population is displaced or severe damage is incurred, a civil defense button will appear that allows the player to view city damage, enforce a curfew to limit peace rating collapse, and to appeal for donations to help recovery.
In disasters, a building can be damaged (and repaired for half of its build cost with the demolition tool) or it can collapse (and require total demolition). It is unwise to repair a structure until the disaster is over.
City Sandbox has three disasters:
- Earthquake -- causes any number of buildings to suffer damage or collapse. After the initial earthquake, any number of smaller aftershocks can occur causing more damage. Cheaper buildings are more prone to damage. Once the alarms stop sounding in the game, the earthquake disaster is over and repair can begin. This is the most destructive disaster and it can occur randomly in classic mode, or it can be induced in the novelty tool menu (the dice button).
- Asteroid -- An asteroid-turned-meteorite causes a rock to fall from the sky, sometimes large (causing widespread destruction from shock wave) or small (causing direct destruction on what it lands on). The meteorite can damage buildings if it touches them even before it has landed. The place in which it lands is random. An asteroid can occur randomly in classic mode, or it can be induced in the novelty tool menu (the dice button).
- Riot -- a riot can occur only in classic mode, when the peace level falls below -15% or when power and water resources are strangled. A crowd of people will begin walking through the city at any random point with picket signs, randomly leaving a trail of rubbish that will further negate the peace level. The rubbish must be cleared using the demolition tool. A riot can occur each month, and can end up a costly expense if improperly handled, which can be a key factor in losing classic mode.
- Cart derailment -- introduced in version 1.2.0, it is possible for carts (small gondola style vehicles) to derail from track. This happens when a player does not link two stations together (and instead creates a track to nowhere) or if the track gets damaged in another disaster.
City Sandbox buildings are split into five categories ; residential, commercial, industrial, government, and decoration.
Residential buildings namely increase population and tax.
Commercial buildings increase tax and jobs.
Industrial buildings often have little tax increase, but they heighten the likelihood of the city increasing its tech level per month. Industrial buildings placed in bulk work effectively to promote tech levels.
Government buildings have a variety of structures that typically improve or negate peace, tax, and resources.
The decoration category contains flower beds, statues, fountains, and bigger decorations such as a Ferris wheel.
The novelty tool menu (shown as a dice) contains playful tools that allow interaction with a city. The original version of City Sandbox included tools to induce disasters, as well as the following:
- Melon Spawner -- allows the player to drop watermelons from the sky which can damage buildings. A cracked watermelon is also left behind, which can remain as a structure or be removed with the demolition tool.
- Flying Bathtub -- the only controllable vehicle in the game, which allows the player to fly around the city skyline. If the player hits the ground, the vehicle explodes leaving behind "UFO wreckage" which can remain as a structure or be removed with the demolition tool.
- NPC Inflator -- allows the player to tap on characters walking on the street to briefly cause them to float into the sky while screaming. The tool can also be used on rioting NPCs.
- Divine Mission -- introduced in version 1.2.0, this tool lets you summon a holy figure that is reminiscent of Jesus. The character clears the streets of melons, crashed bath tubs, riot rubble, and derailed carts. The NPC can also turn water towers and pumps into giant wine glasses, which mimic the water output of the cheapest water tower building (a potentially negative effect if you have expensive water buildings).