Play the Long-Lost 'SimRefinery' Game Maxis Made for Chevron

For two years in the mid 1990s, SimCity developer Maxis had a side-hustle making simulations for corporations. The first was SimRefinery, a simulation of running an oil refinery commissioned by Chevron. What one was lost has now been found. After reporting from Phil Salvador at The Obscuritory—a website that catalogs and discusses obscure and unknown video games—uncovered the existence of the games, someone with a copy of SimRefinery uploaded it to the Internet Archive. Now anyone can play one of the strangest Sim games Maxis ever made.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

The hacker news post for this has some interesting discussions.

I thought this in particular was interesting

A company I used to work for built a large sim for an Australian mining company, using a commercial game engine and a large ‘igloo’ type structure as the interaction environment. This was chosen over VR because it was believed to be easier to have groups of trainees in the same environment. The trainees were equipped with physical ‘torches’ that were geometrically paired with the virtual environment so you could actually shine a pointer on objects.

The main training tasks were spatial orientation in the large 3D maze that was the mine, as well as hazard recognition and safety /;emergency training. E.g. knowing which way to go if an explosion occurred and how to avoid being crushed by the large vehicles that moved through the mine.

The main unexpected development cost turned out to be the high degree of customisation required of the virtual assets, in particular the signage. Every tunnel and shaft had individual location and safety info on signs, and these had to be correct or the training value was lost.

Other sims brought up:

Oakflat Nuclear Power Plant simulator for MS-DOS, apparently the company is still around and makes similar products still

Ports of Call, a shipping sim

AirWay sim, a business sim about running an airline

Apparently MIT just makes a lot of different business sims


As a chemical engineer myself, this is such a cool find. I have worked with process simulation software extensively throughout my career, and I am super curious how Maxis interprets the principles of process design here. I wonder if you could size out a distillation columns or a stirred-tank reactor with it, and how well it stacks up to the likes of a modern day ChemCAD or Aspen.