Following the launch of SimCity Social we spoke to Jami Laes, Vice President of Global Studios for Playfish, to get the full low down on the latest to rival the all-conquering social networking game that is Farmville.

Q: Can multiple people “own” the same city? For example, can I choose to build a city with my friend on Facebook and then share mayoral and building duties with that person?

JL: No, each player is responsible for his or her city. But one of the cool features in our game is the ability to form friendly or rival relationships between you and your friends’ cities.

Q: How does the social voting work within Facebook? The press release says there’s player-driven choice as the city evolves but can you provide specific example scenarios?

JL: The player has a lot of choice in shaping their city. First, they have a choice between investing in businesses or factories. Both strategies are viable as we provide a means to convert between the game’s two primary currencies. Second, players can choose between building a suburban city with low level houses or a compact downtown with skyscrapers.

Finally, players have the choice to listen to their citizens’ demands and build police stations or hospitals, or ignore them and face the consequences. All of these choices will result in very different looking cities across our players.

Q: Can I interact across several cities at the same time? Can I for example own a city, but then vote on decisions in my friend’s city too?

JL: You cannot vote on decisions in a friend’s city, but as I mentioned above, you are able to build relationships with your friends’ cities and also unlock new surprises that you can send to your friends.

Q: You say that players can form ‘intense rivalries’ with other cities, how will that work? Is there the opportunity to directly affect rivals? What can I do in order to best an arch-rival?

JL: Performing negative actions in a friends’ city will slowly put you on the path of becoming arch-rivals. One of the immediate benefits will be exclusive collectibles that you will need to construct special good and evil buildings in your own city.

Q: Are there a finite amount of Sims in a given region for players to compete for or are they infinite in number?

JL: There is an unlimited number of Sims that can live in a city. Your cities are only constrained by the amount of land you have.

Q: Will natural (or not so natural) disasters occur? If so are they random, can they be voted in, and what shape do they take?

strong>JL: As your cities grow, you will be faced with issues like fire, crime, and health issues. There are also some iconic moments in the game. You’ll have to jump in the game to see what those moments are. One of our favourite moments is a UFO crash landing!

There are a lot of light simulations built into the game for our players to discover. For example, when a fire breaks out in your city and you don’t have a fire station built yet, your citizens will complain until you get your act together.

Second, our game allows players to build really dynamic cities. Houses build and upgrade automatically based on your actions and police cars and ambulances zip around your city responding to citizen needs.

Third are the truly social interactions that we mentioned above. Lastly, there are quite a few ‘wow moments’ in the game (and more that we will introduce over time) that we believe will really engage our players.

Q: Will there be any cross-over with SimCity on PC or are the two completely separate?

JL: We are currently working with Maxis closely on creating experiences that will tie the two games together.

Q: What’s the engine used to actual show the city building aspect of the game, is it a left-over from a previous SimCity title or something built brand new for this project?

JL: This is a brand new engine built by the Playfish China team based in Beijing.