You know, some think video games are a glimpse into the future of 3D product design and engineering. Just keep that in mind as you see what YouTube user Gilbert Roy Alva uses Cities: Skylines, a 3D city building sim game, to recreate some of Southeast Asia’s most well-known cities.

With Minecraft being used to create castles in the sky and computer kits for kids, it’s also interesting to think how future designers and engineers will think about the digital creation of everyday things. In another example, Cities: Skylines, allows you to make your own living, breathing city – complete with roads and buildings which citizens interact with as they go about their daily lives and you build.

The tools in the game are pretty robust – allowing to you push and pull bodies of water to meet your omnipotent needs. While most players would take this as an opportunity to push the limits of urban society, Gilbert had other plans – building San Pablo.

YouTube video

Just look at how he recreates the city meter-by-meter. Using cringe-worthy pixelated images from Google Maps to plot the city’s layout, Alva painstakingly traces not just the main roads, but each little side street and corner where a crime has most likely been committed.

Once the streets are set in, he begins to add other details likes lakes, trees, and different terrain to give the digital city a lived-in feel.

But what really sets this build apart from the rest is his attention to detail on the different buildings in the area. Houses, malls, even the churches have a distinct Filipino vibe to them (the ads on the SM mall are a very nice touch). It doesn’t replicate the amount of traffic you experience in the real San Pablo city, but maybe it’s for the best.

YouTube video

Gilbert Roy Alva doesn’t just limit himself to cities in the Philippines. After expanding his channel to cover ASEAN cities, Gilbert has also made builds of Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei and Putrajaya in Malaysia.Each city usually has a design video where he makes the build, followed by a video which showcases the finished product.

Now, the detail work he puts into these isn’t too far off from today’s method of sketching and modeling, tweaking and updating, setting up configurations, building assemblies. Think if you could build houses, cars, bridges, automation systems using a system like Cities. Yeah? Pulling from a pre-configured database of parts/assemblies with enough smarts to adaptively update as you laid out each component? Interesting to think about.

You can find more of the build videos over on his YouTube channel Gilbert Plays.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.