A SimRefinery Prototype Has Finally Been Found

Published: June 5, 2020 3:28 PM /


SimRefinery cover

A couple of weeks ago, I covered an in-depth report by The Obscuritory which talked about the strange SimCity business games that Maxis and other companies made in the 90s. Now, one of the most notable titles has finally been found: someone has dug up a copy of SimRefinery, and you can play it right now!

Here's the short of it: way back in the day, SimCity developer Maxis was fending off calls from companies who had seen the city-building game and wanted them to make simulators for various businesses. Throwing caution to the wind, they decided to give it a go, but the venture ultimately closed down after two years and was spun off into its own company.

As the original report from The Obscuritory notes, at least a dozen of these games were made, many of which saw real-world use in the commercial sector. One of the less crazy creations was SimRefinery, a game that's all about training people how to use an oil refinery. (Proper training in such facilities is kind of important, especially considering that these facilities have massive tanks filled with highly flammable and/or explosives materials.)

It's been nearly 30 years since SimRefinery was first cooked up, and now The Obscuritory happily reports that someone has finally recovered a copy of the game. What's more, you're able to play it right now — although you might not want to.

SimRefinery gameplay
I pressed the "Future" button and it took me to the Factorio website.

How Do I Play SimRefinery?

Getting your hands on SimRefinery is easy enough — you can grab a copy of the game over at the Internet Archive. From there, you can press the floppy disc button to load it into DOSBox on your browser. After it boots up, just need to type SIMREF.EXE and it will get right into the game.

If you'd prefer to download it instead, you should know that this game is very old and you're probably not going to be able to run it out of the box on a modern system. You'll need to grab DOSBox to be able to run it, and then you'll have to figure out how to actually use it; I found this tutorial helpful.

However you get this game running, it's still going to be tough going to actually figure out how to use it. I took a look at it and it seems like a complicated mess that probably doesn't make much sense outside of context. I imagine that someone who's better versed on the topic will surely explore it in more detail in the future, but you're more than welcome to give it a go yourself.

What do you think of SimRefinery finally being discovered after almost 30 years? Do you think training games can still be useful today? Let us know in the comments below!

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at tips@techraptor.net

A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
| Senior Writer

One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N