The year is 1994. You play sim city 2000 and you think, man, wouldn’t it be great if I could somehow get into the game and walk these streets.
The year is 1997. You play SimCopter, which says on the box that you can explore the streets of the city you created, but it’s worthless and looks like shit. You keep dreaming of a seemingly unattainable future.
The year is 2022 and, And last but not least, you can do it. You can the sim city 2000 besides lugging it for almost 30 years, turn it into a modern video game and walk the streets as if you were born there and on your way to work. The only catches are that it is very hard to do it. And that you are actually playing Minecraftnot SimCity.
Jernej Gosar, a software developer from Slovenia, is the man to thank for this mod, which reads a sim city 2000 save the file and recreate it as best you can Minecraft. “The main reason I decided to do this project was I thought it would be really cool,” he tells me. “sim city 2000 has been one of my favorite games since i was a kid and one day i thought it would be really cool to get out on the streets and explore them.
In 2014, after gaining enough experience in coding through his education and various IT jobs, he set to work to make this childhood dream come true. Got into it too Minecrafthe saw a few mods where people had come up with ways to import sim city 2000 terrain maps Minecraftbut not the buildings and the city itself.
“So then I decided to make it myself,” he says. “If I remember correctly, the core idea was implemented in a few weeks. I was really lucky with that someone has written a detailed specification of the SimCity 2000 file formatotherwise this project could not even start.”
“The biggest challenge was probably digging through the bytes of both file formats and finally creating something that could actually be opened in Minecraft,” he says. The next big obstacle was simply the amount of time it took make the buildings, as even the simplest can take hours, but with the added bonus that because this was a first-person adventure, Gosar’s job was to generate an interior (and sometimes even basic furniture) to match the exterior of the building.
“I still haven’t finished all the buildings, and it would be a huge effort to do the most complicated ones (like the Arcologies),” he says. “In general, the smallest buildings only take a few hours to complete, including some interior furnishings appropriate to the building type. And the biggest ones can take a few days. The most complex building I’ve made to date was the large corporate tower, which was quite an effort.
While the actual workings of the mod are incredibly complex – Gosar says “right now it’s not useful at all to people who aren’t software developers” – when you break it down, what it does is actually pretty simple in principle. It essentially takes one sim city 2000 map and match each pixel with one Minecraft block. That helps the mod communicate between both games and also helps keep everything in scale.
That is not to say that the conversion process is always smooth. In addition to the above complexity issues, Gosar says, “In some cases I’ve come across 2D building structures that actually couldn’t be replicated in 3D,” with the example that some buildings actually drawn as Penrose stairs rather than functional 3D spaces.
“That is another problem Minecraft is limited to 256 blocks high, so if there are many hills in the city, the highest parts can be cut off,” he adds. “Otherwise the accuracy should be close to 100%, and the display of the Minecraft world with a tool that generates an isometric view of it should show something very close to the original sim city 2000.”
Here’s an example. Pictured below is one sim city 2000 metropolis built by Gosar:
And here is that same city, translated into Minecraft and fully walkable. Note how it even manages to grab the small individual trees and shrubs off the front of some buildings:
While this video highlights some of the basic interiors the mod generates for some of the game’s buildings:
Going forward, Gosar says he wants to “make the project more usable,” lowering the bar for people to use and understand it, ideally in the form of an online tool that would allow users to sim city 2000 save and he gave one Minecraft world back.
For now though, as he has a hectic day job, “he doesn’t have the time to work on it much, but I think the recent attention the project has received is good motivation to move it forward”. If you’re brave and want to try it yourself, you can find the project here.