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City Simulations...

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I've found myself with a month of almost solid time to spare (No life... ;-)) and have decided to put together a sim city style game, or at least kick start an implimentation:-) My question is, how would you simulate a city? Sim City itself seems to do two things (Correct me if I'm way out) - it simulates business as a bunch of statistics and it simulates people by calculating there daily lives for a subset of them. I have a preference for discrete models, i.e. I prefer a game such as 'Battle Isle 4: Incubation' to 'Master Of Orion 3'. Sim City uses a highly statistical model, which I neither like nor particularly want to impliment. (If only because it would require knoledge of things like economics to get right, and I really don't want to go there.) I also want a data driven approach, so I write more a simulation framework then tweak variables, or better discrete behaviours, to balance the simulation itself. The obvious approach, simulate every person and business in the city, is not feasable if the days are to pass every second, or at least not easy. Even if you only simulate once a week or once a month per person etc the data consumed would become an issue. Working with familly units seems like it might be a good idea, but I havn't explored that yet, I'm just wondering what ideas you lot might have? Anything, however wacky, concidered. Also, I might not do humans, makes drawing the graphics easier if there aliens (No familiarity, so it can't be wrong.) and I'm a progrsmmer, not an artist:-)

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