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A 1980s drama inserts a suave British spy into the means streets of Gotham. 

The Equalizer, which ran on CBS from 1985 to 1989, is a show that could probably only exist in the context of the widespread popular fear of street crime in the 1980s. Set and almost entirely filmed in New York City, the program follows the exploits of Robert McCall, excellently played by British actor Edward Woodward. Disillusioned by the world of espionage, McCall quits the organization (never named but likely patterned off the CIA) and becomes a “trouble-shooter,” of sorts, offering his services as a protector of the powerless through a classified newspaper ad.

What can’t be stressed enough when evaluating this show is that McCall is explicitly a vigilante, practicing most of his heroism outside the bounds of the law. While he maintains a prickly-at-best relationship with an NYPD Lieutenant—one which seems to extend from the Equalizer’s spying days—law enforcement in the show is often shown to be ineffectual and overly bureaucratic. For example, in the first episode, the police decline to provide help to a woman who is being stalked, claiming that their hands are essentially tied until he actually commits violence against her. The Equalizer, operating under a far less rigid administrative structure, deals with the situation more effectively. In an episode centered on a girl kidnapped into a prostitution ring, the police refuse to file a missing persons report, and assure the parents—tourists from the Midwest—that she probably was a runaway, entranced by the lights of the big city.

In the context of the 80s, such a portrayal of law enforcement would resonate with most of the viewing public. The show derives much of its believability from New York’s national reputation at the time as a particularly unsafe city, a den of iniquity where danger stalks the law-abiding citizen on a regular basis. The year before the premiere of the show, Bernie Goetz infamously shot four teenagers on a New York subway car, claiming he felt threatened by the youths. The man was hailed as a folk hero by the public and in some of the press, a sharp contrast to the more polarized reaction to George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense in the Trayvon Martin case.[1]

That messy context aside, The Equalizer does accomplish the misdirection of making the viewer forget, or at least background, the protagonist’s vigilantism. Perhaps this is because McCall has all the markers of a “classy” person:  a nice Jaguar, a seemingly oft-played grand piano in his apartment, and of course, has a British accent, a typical means of telegraphing a character’s worldliness, at least in American television.  Judging from press accounts the writers seemed to be at least somewhat aware of the social implications of the program, and adjusted the character and storylines accordingly.

Another feature that makes The Equalizer fun to watch is simply the variety of cases he takes on, from the stalked woman to a kidnapped child, and even a bullied school kid. That last case (the B storyline to an episode primarily focused around a Soviet embassy double agent) was a nice touch as made the show more believable, showing how the protagonist would handle the kind of problem an average person would call in with. The program does show a bit of a penchant for “women-in-peril” stories, a tendency that can even be noticed in the show’s intro sequence (see above, and example in below clip).

What The Equalizer does manage to accomplish is to take a concept that could have been cartoonish or cheesy—a trench-coated avenger, seeking justice for the common man—and make it intelligent. The characters are well written, and while the show has a clear sense of right and wrong (something that has gone out of fashion in “good” TV today) the villains are not caricatures.

My Take: 3.5 out of 5 stars; sharp writing, nicely paced exposition and action, and relatively non-formulaic plot. Come for the window into the 1980s, stay for the story.

Some final notes on the show: I came across this program through a reference in The Wolf of Wall Street –one of the characters in the film is shown watching the program. A remake of the series into a feature film is planned for later this year, which makes one wonder if the extended reference was an intentional product placement to pique interest in the remake. One of The Equalizer’s executive producers, Joel Surnow, would later go on to co-create 24.

[1] While there are some notable differences between the two incidents—one of the kids Goetz shot later admitted that they were going to rob the man, while Martin was unarmed and simply walking in the neighborhood—the differing reaction is at least in part a function of today’s lower rates of street crime. As with Zimmerman, Goetz was acquitted of the most serious charges stemming from the incident, only going to jail on charges related to possession of the firearm used.

American coverage of the Lebanese Civil War was muted for much of its duration, owing to the low US military involvement. (lifted from the “collectivehistory” tumblr page)

War, Death, and indifference.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

Who cares? That tree fell in an African forest, not an American one.

This past Wednesday, I covered for the Columbia Journalism Review a talk about war photojournalism at the Brooklyn Brewery. If you haven’t already, read the piece I wrote up on the event (don’t worry, I’ll wait).

One of the most interesting tidbits from the conversation between Steve Hindy and photojournalist Michael Kamber that I ended up leaving out of the piece–because it was a bit tangential to the main idea–came close to the end of the event. The answer was in response to a slightly lighthearted question asked of Steve–himself a former war correspondent–about whether reporters once had a bar to go at the end of the day and discuss the day’s events. (the question was asked by a reporter who had covered Iraq for the Times) Steve responded that the real difference between Iraq and the conflicts he had covered was the presence of Americans on the ground. The conflicts he had covered in the Middle East during the 70s and 80s ranked comparatively low on the American news agenda. As he put it, “who cares if the PLO and the Phalange get into a horrible battle in Beirut and 40 people die? There was no American there except us…in a way I was envious of the wars you guys covered because at least for a time, Americans were watching.”

This idea, that people only really care about wars when their own countrymen [and women] are fighting in them itself isn’t too surprising, and I’m not going to act like one of those slightly annoying types (see twitter) who feign outrage whenever this type of thing happens. If we take a more recent example, some pointed out after the Boston bombings that while only 3 people died in the attack that day, far more people died that day in Syria and other conflict zones around the world. As these critics pointed out, those other people died on the wrong day in terms of getting the world, and certainly the American media, to care about their deaths–the “hierarchy of death,” as a columnist for the Guardian put it.

If we look at the coverage of the recent Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco, we’re seeing the same thing. Despite knowing the identities of two of the three deaths (a third death was announced earlier Friday evening, as of this writing), the media generally limited their coverage of the two who died, simply saying that they were both Chinese students who were coming to the US on vacation. Humanizing enough, but nothing like some of the heartfelt, textured portraits of the victims from the Boston bombings.

I mentioned earlier that I’m not necessarily outraged by this cold reality. Why? Simple. The media, with some exceptions, is a reasonably clear reflection of the audience they serve. People, for better or for worse, cope with the sheer amount of “bad things” in the world by limiting their reaction to those events to those they feel some sort of connection with, be it being from similar circumstances, places, or, in this case, nationality. It’s why, when a ship somewhere crashes, NPR talks about the Americans on the ship, and CBC talks about the Canadians on the ship. These outlets are reflecting the fact that their audience cares about those they feel the closest connection to.

Accidents like the Costa Concordia are excellent demonstrations of how international media first look to cover the fates of occupants from the outlet’s nation.

Now what can be said for this? In the abstract, it’s certainly fair to talk about the arbitrariness of national borders, the accident of birth, all that stuff. In an ideal world, people would care about the deaths (and lives) of people equally, regardless of nationality, socioeconomic status, or profession. But they don’t, and probably never will. (David Wong over at Cracked gives even more analysis on this idea of rationed empathy in his “Monkeysphere” piece) To the extent that people are hard-wired to think this way, and also to the extent that it is physically impossible to give the same prominence to every news story, it’s logical that the news media–even public, not-for-profit outlets–would reflect their audience’s interests. The unavoidable problem, in the end, is that worthy stories–like that battle in Beriut some thirty years ago–often get shunted to the inside pages because of this instinct.

Some of the cast from The Onion’s new television effort, “Onion News Empire”

The satirical news outfit makes another foray into television programming.

The Onion, the satirical newspaper and website, has not had much success in translating its brand of humor to the small screen. Their first two attempts at television, the SportsCenter parody Onion Sportsdome , and the Onion News Network, a spruced up version of satirical cable news segments previously produced in podcast form, both lasted for less than a year. Since then, The Onion seems to have switched to a web-based production model, which has resulted in a number of comedic successes, from the reality TV satire Sex House to the public access homage Lake Dredge Appraisal. The sitcom Onion News Empire is another attempt at scripted comedy, this time produced by the online retailer Amazon.

Onion News Empire, unlike the two previous full-length series, takes a meta approach; instead of applying the satire to imagined cable news or sports stories, the show is set behind the scenes of the ONN newsroom, in a not-so-subtle takeoff of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Having seen (and liked) The Newsroom, a parody of that show does have some promise. As critics uniformly pointed out, the Sorkin program had a distinct sense of self-importance, with at-times preachy dialogue, an annoying love subplot, and occasionally contrived situations.

The problem with News Empire, however, is that it takes such a promising premise and squanders it with writing that makes pre-teen sitcoms look subtle by comparison. The ONN network is portrayed with generous amounts of hyperbole; instead of just producing cheap, tabloidish reporting on various stories, the staff is shown as not being above completely staging stories for ratings. In one case, they kidnap a girl and then run days of coverage wildly speculating about the motives of the kidnappers. On paper such a hyperbolic portrayal might make sense, but in reality it leads to a glib, predictable brand of humor. Another scene where the head of the network complains to the news director about sagging ratings in a set of absurdly specific demographics (“Half black-half Asian dentists,” etc.) reflects a similar glibness.

The most irritating aspect of the pilot, however, was the main storyline; the rookie reporter fresh from the Midwest affiliate, trying to make a name for himself on the big stage. The naiveté of the character was—as per the satirical conceit—dialed up so much as to make his presence on screen unbearable. Overall, the funniest portions of the episode are the short clips of ONN news programs we see from the control room or TVs in the background. The show’s downfall is that the satire is too obvious, and none of the characters are written deeply enough for me to actually care what happens to them. Even in the context of a satirical program, once it moves out of the realm of pure news parody into semi-dramatic meta news parody, the characters matter.

Onion News Empire, as of this writing, is simply a pilot; it is one of 14 Amazon-commissioned pilots (6 children’s programs and 8 adult comedies) competing for pickup as a full series. The series that will get picked up, sometime later this year, will be chosen based on audience reviews.  Some of the other Amazon pilots look promising, and I might review some of the others later this month.

My take: 2.5 out of 5 objects; not actively bad, but an opportunity squandered by over-the-top writing and predictable plot. Some bright moments. General cynicism abundant. 

The cover of the DVD release of the 10 episode "Popetown" series.

The cover of the DVD release of the 10 episode “Popetown” series.

A look at the internationally controversial program you probably have never heard of.

If there is anything the religious right might have a point about, it is that organized religion, here meaning various forms of Christianity, has become one of a select few “acceptable targets” of cultural mockery. I personally have no problem with this phenomenon, but many others would strongly disagree. Enter the aborted British series Popetown. Commissioned in 2002 by BBC Three, the edgier, youth oriented offering of the sprawling British public broadcaster, the show, an animated mockery of the Catholic Church, incited condemnations from church officials—and rank and file Catholics—months before it was even planned to air. In late 2004, the channel decided that the 10 episodes were not worth the trouble and cancelled the program before it even aired. The show did air in other countries to similar controversy—two years later, MTV in Germany (the birthplace of the current pope) aired the full run after a 1 episode trial,  and an airing in Lithuania prompted a fine from the television regulator. Even the conservative Parents Television Council in the United States caught wind of the controversy and issued a predictable condemnation.

But was the show any good? I decided to watch the first three episodes to see for myself. The answer, in short, is “so-so”. Unnoticed in the controversy was that the satirical Vatican City—“Popetown”—was fictional even within the show’s universe; the city and the characters that inhabit it are shown at the start and end of each episode to simply be doodlings in the notebook of a bored Catholic school student. To me this seems like a bit of a cop-out on the part of the writers, an attempt to further disclaim to viewers that the program shouldn’t be taken seriously.

The program centers around Father Nicholas, a levelheaded, generally well-intentioned church official tasked with handling the pope, portrayed as an impish man-child with the intelligence and maturity of a particularly unintelligent and immature toddler. Other characters include Father Nicolas’s assistant/co-worker, Sister Marie, a similarly kindhearted but dimwitted nun, and a trio of cardinals who spend their spare time lounging in a luxuriously appointed pool hidden behind their offices, where they plot various schemes to get to first place on a list of the world’s wealthiest people. A ghoulish-looking priest with a penchant for “exotic animals” rounds out the cast.

The plotlines are just as irreverent as the premise and characters, but they are not truly…imaginative. Despite their relatively small amount of screen time, the conniving cardinals actually drive the plots of all three of the episodes I viewed, from exploiting a papal mass with disabled orphans for merchandise sales, to signing a church business deal with the dictator of a just-established republic.

The lack of imagination evident in the show’s writing brings to mind a major requirement for provocative humor, whether it is the ethnic joke, or in this case, the irreverent TV show; it has to have some sort of point. Offensiveness for its own sake can only take a creative effort so far before it overstays its welcome. The problem with Popetown is that it wastes its premise. While it avoids extreme predictability (there are, mercifully, almost no references to pedophile priests, for example), that still leaves a program with moderately clever but not particularly outstanding humor or commentary. The program as it is would have worked better had it traded in the papal satire for a royal one; of course it would have gotten less attention as making fun of the British royals is far less controversial, but it also would have been a better show. As it is, Popetown takes a provocative premise and produces a pedestrian program. Competent, but not much more.

Popetown: 2.75 out of 5 stars. Watch for the controversy, and that’s close to the end of it. At best (here meaning you don’t find the setup personally and irrevocably offensive) the show provides a an episode and a half’s worth of fresh comedy. Incidentally, the program also overuses some mediocre 3D graphical sequences for their scene transitions. The entire series is available on YouTube in multiple parts

A VHS copy of “Stations of The Elevated”

The urban landscape, through the lens of an obscure independent film.   Manfred Kirchheimer’s Stations of the Elevated is, on its face, not a particularly remarkable film. In terms of subject matter, it’s a cousin to the far more prominent 1983 PBS documentary Style Wars. Both explore the graffiti epidemic, or artistic phenomenon (depending on who you ask) that became a symbol of the New York City Subway in the system’s darkest span of the 70s and early 80s.

A straphanger stares out of a train window in “Stations”

Where Stations of the Elevated differs is in its minimalism. While Style Wars follows some of the graffiti artists, as well as the officials who tried to stop them, Stations has no narrator, and no particularly coherent voices. It is instead a swirl of  “tagged” train cars, rolling across the urban landscape to the jazz of Charles Mingus. The film is astonishingly obscure; a 2005 New York Times trend piece exploring graffiti documentaries mentions Style Wars  rather prominently, while completely overlooking Kirchheimer’s documentary—an omission that prompted the obligatory letter to the editor from the filmmaker. While listings note the runtime as 45 minutes, the more easily available versions (e.g. what you would find if you searched the title on YouTube) were clumsily edited down to 26 minutes. This review, however, is based off the full version (which is available in 5 parts here  Update 05/15: That link no longer works, but a full cut seems to now be on YouTube). The film starts with a wide shot of trains sitting at a rail yard. (Sidenote: the yard seems to be Concourse Yard, which is very close to where I went to high school)  We then hear one of the trains, roused from rest by a motorman, begin to slide out of its siding. With this, begins a montage that is captivating and haunting at the same time.

The subway and the statue

What makes the film a higher level of art than simply a collection of archive footage is its use of contrast, recurring imagery, and sound. Offices on 6th avenue and the Statue of Liberty are some early shots, but the main points of contrast are that of the graffiti with various advertisements. The sounds of the trains, sirens, Mingus’ jazz, teenagers on a subway platform, and disjointed recordings from the radio system used by train operators, nicely complement the images. These images of the urban landscape make the film a substantially more immersive experience than Style Wars. The variety of recurring shots, from an unnamed slum in the South Bronx, to a sprawling upstate institution that is slowly revealed to be a prison, truly place one in the time.

This man is one of many advertisements we see the graffiti contrasted with in the film.

All of that said, it’s hard to discern what the film means, or if it has any “message” at all. As the credits make clear, the director had the cooperation of several prominent graffiti artists, but the cinematography does not necessarily “glorify” the graffiti. On the other hand, as has been suggested by some, the recurring comparison of the graffiti with various billboards could be seen as a commentary on the contrasting values society places on art and public expression; sanctioning commercialized messages in some spaces and criminalizing them in other spaces.

A trackworker stands aside for a passing train.

Indeed, on some level, the very premise of this film is sympathetic to the idea of graffiti as art; no one makes 45 minute  documentaries about, say, broken park fences. Still, there are many messages one could take from the film, and credit should be given to the director for not hitting the viewer over the head with any particular social commentary, other than the rather obvious observation that the inner city (primarily the Bronx and upper Manhattan) of late 70s/early 80s New York was not the nicest place. As a film, Stations would not work in the Bronx of today, partly because the subway is long past its graffiti phase, but also because even the borough’s worst areas are no longer evocative of post apocalyptic imagery. Kirchheimer’s film  should be seen a product of the bleak place and time sharply and bitterly captured by Grandmaster Flash in one of the very first pieces of modern hip hop, “The Message” (see below). Questions of social commentary aside, should you see Stations of The Elevated? If you have just under an hour to kill it certainly is worth a view. The immersive use of the clips, recurring images, and sound make this less a documentary and more a semi-guided walking tour of the American inner city at the depths of its mid century decline.

The main screen of “Democracy 2”, showing the different policy areas and the demographic polling in the center.

Two games present differing visions.

As I have alluded to in an earlier piece, politics is not exactly the most popular subject for videogames, even in genres that would lend themselves to realistic portrayals of the political process. However, in this time of political conventions I thought it would be worth the time to look at the contrasting visions presented by two games, Democracy 2 and President Forever 2008. Their differing visions in part are a function of the different focuses of the games; Democracy 2 is about the business of governance, while President Forever is about the unholy art of attaining political office, in this case the presidency of the US.

Democracy 2 is politics as the civics textbook would tell it. The game puts the player in the position of leader in one of several fictional (though clearly based upon real-world) nations. After setting the rules of the game, such as deciding the proportions of some political demographics (socialists, environmentalists, etc.), the player is thrust into leadership.

There are seven policy areas under the player’s purview, ranging from transport to welfare and tax. These seven areas slice up the main screen, with the middle filled with a box showing approval ratings from all 20 demographics of the electorate, plus two ratings that represent approval from the populace as a whole. Inside of these 7 slices, there are three types of clickable icons, as shown in the above picture; statistics icons (crime rate, GDP, unemployment), policy icons (tax rate, military funding) and arguably the most important set of icons, the flaming-red icons that denote pressing problems, like crime waves or hospital bed shortages.

A look at what’s making the “Patriot” demographic in “Democracy 2” tick.

The game under default settings is quite realistic in its depiction of politics, in the sense that it models “political capital,” or the amount of “control” over the government needed to adjust policies. Adjusting funding levels upward, downward, or eliminating programs altogether require differing levels of this ‘capital’, which is represented as a literal number. While this is a valiant effort to simulate the real-world difficulty of changing longstanding policy, I find that it is still too easy to tweak major policies, but this could be a side effect of continued exposure to American politics.

However, the biggest divergence from realism in Democracy 2 is arguably an inevitable consequence of its design; the lack of unpredictability. Policy pages are accompanied by green and red bars showing effect on both demographic opinions and various statistics. While there are random one-off events that are semi-influenced by policies, the whole concept of The Law of Unintended Consequences seems to be absent from the modeling of policy effects. What you see is essentially what you get, which makes the game predictable after a certain length of time playing it.

The main map view of President Forever. Notice the daily activity selection screen to the right.

Closer to the other side of the idealism to cynicism scale is the electoral simulation President Forever 2008. The developer, 270Soft, has settled very snugly into this niche; other titles focus on Canadian, British, and German elections. The goal of President Forever is very simple; to triumph in the electoral college at the end of a campaign.

The simulation is clever in that it rewards indulgence in the morally ambiguous games of electoral politics, but only to a certain point. Running relentlessly negative ads is nice, until one of them “backfires.” Shifting positions to please differing electorates and regions is good, until it prompts a “flip flopper” headline, and so on.

The game also manages to nicely capture the tendencies of the campaign media. Of the several activities the candidate can perform on any given day, the most essential tool is the barnstorm, which describes your basic “roll into town and shake hands” event. Oftentimes this generates headlines from the in-game newspaper about where the candidate went, which feed the news cycle. A candidate looking tired on the trail generates an even bigger headline.

An accidental commentary on the repetitive nature of a horserace-focused media. Screenshot taken from a user-generated scenario simulating the 2009 New York mayoral race.

In fact, because of the limitations of the computer simulation and a likely desire to sidestep the possibility of political controversy, the in-game media perfectly simulates the preference of the real media to magnify gaffes and focus on campaign set-pieces instead of policy. The overlap between  the headlines generated by the in-game newspaper and the types of useless political pieces highlighted by a recent piece on the comedy website Cracked is almost exact.

So which vision of politics is closer to reality? Both games are true to their respective portions of the political process;  governing is no picnic, but Democracy 2 is a bit too predictable in the policymaking department, and a bit too easy in the problem-solving department. Running for political office, on the other hand, is an exhausting exercise in crunching data, tailoring pitches, and manipulating the media, a task that President Forever manages to capture well enough. Either game makes for an entertaining diversion.

Box art for “Cities in Motion”

Is this game of transit management worth the fare?

The list of things that have been turned into video games is pretty long. Amusement park management was pretty early on this list, followed by general business simulation and its associated trillions of sub-niches, from airport management to oil company management and even running a zoo. However, one of the main streams of this “business simulation” genre has been the transportation management simulator.

One of the latest entries in this genre has been the Paradox Interactive game Cities in Motion. The game, which is just over a year old, pulls the player down from the country or region-scale focus of previous entrants and has the player managing a city-scale transit system. Unlike other games of this sort, in Cities in Motion there isn’t actually any AI company to compete with. Even though you run the system as a fully private enterprise (with very occasional and small subsides from the city), for all intents and purposes you are in charge of a private-sector monopoly, with the only competing transit options being walking and private driving.

An example of a ground-level subway station in-game.

You are given 5 modes of transport to work with. Three of these: busses, streetcars, and heavy rail (subway) will be the bread and butter of most systems, while the latter two, water taxis and helicopters, are expensive and useful in very limited situations. Travelling these vehicles are seven different social groups: several classes of workers, plus students, pensioners, tourists and “drifters.” While the game makes much of these distinctions, and on the individual level these groups do differ in travel patterns, on the aggregate, any system that serves the major areas of the city covers all 5 groups.

This actually alludes to one of the bigger problems with the game; too many aspects of the game mechanics that are supposed to realistically constrain the player  can be ignored with little consequence. Take the economic simulation. While there are real fluctuations in interest rates that affect vehicle cost and bank interest rates, larger changes in the economy are also supposed to affect the tolerance of citizens for fare hikes, with bad economic times leading to lower fare tolerances. In reality, any sufficiently reliable system can charge punishing fares (this writer remembers getting away with charging $16 for a subway fare) and still draw citizens. There are other game mechanics like vehicle attractiveness that are similarly underutilized.

The other problem with this game is that it is not dynamic enough to stay exciting after developing a basic network. While real cities are supposed to expand or contract as time goes by, especially in response to transit connections, Cities in Motion cities expand at predictable intervals in the same places, as scripted by the map. The commuting cycle of the game is also abstracted for simulation reasons; there is no day/night cycle (maps are either permanently day or night), and individual journeys take months, meaning that there is no distinction between, say rush hour and off peak or weekends.

Because of how the time simulation in the game is set up, some of these virtual passengers might have literally been waiting for days.

The transit options I mentioned earlier are generally well done but could use some extra flexibility. Streetcars/light rail can only be built on ground level, as opposed to underground or aboveground, both of which are common in the real world. Similarly, one can’t designate bus lanes on roads on roads. Recurring prompts from citizen groups to create a route between certain points on a map don’t allow for transfers, incentivizing long, otherwise impractical routes. The game simultaneously gives the player too much and too little data—it is impossible to know how profitable an entire line actually is, though player modifications have generally rectified this problem. Similarly, while there is a map that displays where various social groups work and live, there is no clear way of observing traffic flows from one or area building to another. Individually observing specific citizens will have to do in most cases.  These are not insurmountable frustrations, but frustrating they can be.

Final Focus

Graphics: 6.5/10- Graphics are competent, and very good at higher levels, but game gets a lower rating because graphics are rather taxing on the computer system. Various player mods that allow tinkering with camera angles also reveals some flaws not apparent in the regular view.

Gameplay:7/10- The task of the game is pretty simple and well laid out. Watching a transit network work is entertaining, if you’re into that sort of thing. Play is somewhere on the middle of the realism to simplification scale, though some transit experts have pointed out holes in the simulation.

Replay Value:4/10- This is the real Achilles heel of the game. No dynamic city simulation, predictable growth, and a lack of any competing private transport services mean that this game can be dry after that initial burst of construction.

Overall:6/10- I recommend this game if and this is a big if, hence the reverse italic, you already appreciate city simulation games and particularly concentrate on the transit planning aspect of those games, as this writer did. Even those who are familiar with the open source projects in the transit simulation genre, Simutrans and Open TTD, may not appreciate this as much considering the lack of competitive AI. 

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