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The SimCity Thread of Offline Play

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So it kinda seems like the game is a glitchterpiece even without the server errors?

Eesh, how did it go so wrong.. within a month of Aliens too.

Hey, if anyone should be happy with the SimCity debacle, it's Gearbox. It made people stop talking about their shitty game.

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I think the more absurd thing about this news is less that the servers were unnecessary and more that EA somehow made the game a laggy, unplayable mess in spite of that.

What I think is going on is that communications between cities is dependent upon the servers, seems like it would be a lot easier to just have the server act as a cloud save and have the region hosted on the end user machine when it's in use, but I digress.  

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*Cue Benny Hill Theme*

 

Theme gets me every time.

 

Also, lol at underwater housing. Considering terraforming wasn't implemented, I imagine Maxis never realized such a thing was possible.

 

My main disappointment is they haven't granted my wish of varying climates. Where's the tundra, jungles, deserts? I want an Arabic oil exporting society, a Russian mineral harvesting one, etc....

 

So I don't own SimCity, and it's been years since I played SimCity 4 (mind you oddly, I want to play it again).

 

Understandable. Fun game overall where you can set your own victory condition. No connection necessary either, and an extensive, active modding community to this day. Won't be surprised if EA tries to shut them down to try and stimulate SC5 sales.

 

I've heard that the city sizes are smaller... but I never expected it to be on the scale as this...

 

To be fair the cities are more realistic this way, in that it's a bunch of smaller towns coming together to form one big metropolis. Or at least, that's what I heard. That they trade and do all that jazz automatically with eachother, it just is more focused on districts of a city rather than one massive city.

 

Though it sounds that even in regional perspective it's shrunken. Sad. Nothing like a region of a few hundred million to make you smile.

 

Right before you blow them all up with a meteor storm.

 

Incidentally. This is also how most Sonic Adventure 3 topics go.

 

...yes. You sir, have just earned a Like for making me laugh myself silly in real life.

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Ladies and Gentlemen... It's happened...

 

Jennifer-Lawrence.gif

Play SimCity Offline indefinately!

 

Modders have broken the game so you can now play it offline for as long as you like. However... there are two big catches. 

 

1: You MUST connect to the EA servers in order to save your game.

 

2: you cannot use the region features.

 

However, in further developments, it might be possible to make giant cities again thanks to the ability to edit the highways being found.

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So basically:

"We offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud," Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw explained to Polygon. "It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."

 

...was bullshit.

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Ladies and Gentlemen... It's happened...

 

Jennifer-Lawrence.gif

Play SimCity Offline indefinately!

 

Modders have broken the game so you can now play it offline for as long as you like. However... there are two big catches. 

 

1: You MUST connect to the EA servers in order to save your game.

 

2: you cannot use the region features.

 

However, in further developments, it might be possible to make giant cities again thanks to the ability to edit the highways being found.

 

With such a bullcrap mechanic to begin with, is anyone surprised that it only took this long to break it?

 

Goes to show EA's been lying their faces off. They just made it sound like it was super complex to deter people. Mere weeks after release it's broken.

 

I think we can safely add straightout lying to consumers to EA's list of sins if that hasn't been done already.

 

I might actually consider getting the game now that I don't have to worry about my internet screwing me over.

 

I'm just interested to see how EA will inevitably step up its war against this.

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Hold off. Knowing EA, they'll snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again and patch the game to make it harder to play it offline instead of cutting their losses and let their customers have the game they wanted when they paid for it.

 

In all likelihood. Sad really... they keep stubbornly sticking to their policies rather than adapting to fit the market. :rolleyes:

 

EA really should make use of addiction logic. Release something small and appealing, and then when people want more of it, you make your profit there. Demos are a staple of video games and this is no different.

 

People do not want this required connection bullcrap. This is clear. All they're doing is basically just challenging some other company to make a better city sim that blows them out of the water. If you urinate all of your consumer base, eventually they will take their business elsewhere when someone else spots the profit opportunity to steal market share from you.

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Oh boy... SimCity “not an offline experience, in may ways an MMO,” says Maxis

 

I hate to disturb you when you’re playing SimCity, but I’d like to offer some straight answers on the topic: Always-Connected and why SimCity is not an offline experience.

Always-Connected is a big change from SimCities of the past. It didn’t come down as an order from corporate and it isn’t a clandestine strategy to control players. It’s fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity. From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind – using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world.

We put a ton of effort into making our simulation and graphics engines more detailed than ever and to give players lively and responsive cities. We also made innovative use of servers to move aspects of the simulation into the cloud to support region play and social features. Here’s just a few:

  • We keep the simulation state of the region up to date for all players. Even when playing solo, this keeps the interactions between cities up to date in a shared view of the world.
  • Players who want to reach the peak of each specialization can count on surrounding cities to provide services or resources, even workers. As other players build, your city can draw on their resources.
  • Our Great Works rely on contributions from multiple cities in a region. Connected services keep each player’s contributions updated and the progression on Great Works moving ahead.
  • All of our social world features - world challenges, world events, world leaderboards and world achievements - use our servers to update the status of all cities.
    Our servers handle gifts between players.
  • We’ve created a dynamic supply and demand model for trading by keeping a Global Market updated with changing demands on key resources.
  • We update each city’s visual representation as well. If you visit another player’s city, you’ll see the most up to date visual status.
  • We even check to make sure that all the cities saved are legit, so that the region play, leaderboards, challenges and achievements rewards and status have integrity.
Cloud-based saves and easy access from any computer are another advantage of our connected features. You can pop from work to home, play the game and have your cities available to you anywhere.

Almost all of our players play with connected cities. But some chose to play alone – running the cities themselves. But whether they play solo or multiplayer, they are drawn to the connected city experience. And Always-Connected provides a platform for future social features that will play out over regions and servers.

The game we launched is only the beginning for us – it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO.

So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the “single city in isolation” that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.

So I’ll finish with another HUGE thanks to everyone who stuck with us through this launch. Hundreds of thousands are building and sharing cities online now. And what you’re creating just blows us away. SimCity is a special game, with a very special community of players, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

http://www.ea.com/news/simcity-update-straight-answers-from-lucy

SimCity has always been a singleplayer series. Always. The least they could have done, and it wouldn't have killed them to do so, would be to have given the game an offline mode, for those times when the internet just won't gosh darn work right. And if they're going to treat this game as an MMO, I suppose we should expect annual or bi-annual expansion packs, much like The Sims 1, 2 and 3 have gotten, hopefully without the default customer service response when patching or other things fail, "Reinstall ALL the games!"

It would've been nice to hear word on some kind of patch to fix the game's chronic problems, like traffic congestion, Sims being pretty much the same as sewage and whatnot, but I guess they're not about to admit to shoddy workmanship there now are they?

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Is there an autosave feature? The threat of a disconnect would be so much more negligible with one, since otherwise you face the risk of a ton of work going down the toilet due to the internet malfunctioning for just a few seconds.

 

Though an offline mode overall would have been better as an option. If online play is so immersive, surely people who tried it would get hooked and not play offline again? It happens all the times - there are some mods for Civilization, for example, that create such a better experience you never feel like playing the base game again. This is no different.

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Didn't they say the exact same thing last time and I don't know if they know yet but there is a mod that can be played offline making their statement rather redundant? huh.png

 

EA seems to be heading in this MMO direction especially with PC Games. So not only are they treating the new Command & Conquer as an MMO it seems SimCity is now getting the same treatment. If this is anything to go by I am not looking forward to the next C&C then.sleep.png

Edited by BW199148

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They fail basic sociology. People sometimes just want some time to themselves... whether it's building sprawling metropolises of slaughtering enemy armies by the millions, people don't want to have to play online or co-op every darn corner they turn. I can appreciate trying to make our ever reclusive society full of more social butterflies and all, but this is just ridiculous. At the very least wait until internet access is guaranteed to every home before you force everyone to use it to play games at all.

 

I'm just glad this required online play thing hasn't caught on with most games. It would be disastrous.

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Okay, so apparently they're working on a patch to fix up the traffic congestion stuff, but the Sims being treated like sewage and other resources (rather than acting as more realistic A.I. agents outside the resource sphere) was probably a conscious design choice. In the year-old video in the spoiler box below, the Maxis man talks about how workers will go to the first available job using the "Virtual Distance Field". He doesn't actually say that Sims will change jobs and houses every time they move out, but it does support the theory that this whole thing was probably a design choice, rather than a bug or mistake.

 

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That video's actually pretty cool, showing off all those invisible agents going between areas... such a powerful effect but nothing that would distract you.

 

More onto the original point: yes it does look like this was a design choice. Possibly an unintended consequence of the way the mechanics are set up (as a veteran GM I can vouch for this happening a lot), but since they surely had an extensive team of beta testers I find it odd it wasn't alleviated earlier.

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Moved my last post's edit to this page as a separate post, so more folks will see it:

RPS is so great. Games journalists in 'doing actual journalism' shocker!

 

SimCity Boss’s “Straight Answers” Seem Pretty Wiggly

By John Walker on March 16th, 2013 at 12:32 am

What Maxis are doing is frankly peculiar. Earlier this week we posted a story revealing that claims that SimCity required online servers to run non-regional computations were not the case. That night we were promised a statement from the studio, but heard nothing. Repeated emails to EA have resulted in no response since, and the whole situation has become more muddy with each day. It’s since been revealed that population numbers are nonsense, even down to leaked Javascript code featuring “simcity.GetFudgedPopulation” as a function. We’ve learned that city size limits are arbitrary, pathfinding is rudimentary at best, and Eurogamer’s absolutely superb review lists many more bugs, broken features, disappearing pretend-money and never-arriving resources.

 

So it’s all the more odd to see Maxis head Lucy Bradshaw acting as if none of this is happening, and instead just carefully rewording her mantra of how SimCity is only supposed to be played online, but this time leaving out the bit about server-side computations for local play.

 

This week’s fuss all began after Bradshaw’s repeated statement that SimCity needed to be online simply to function. A claim we learned was not the case.

On the SimCity blog on 20th December 2012 Bradshaw wrote,

“GlassBox is the engine that drives the entire game — the buildings, the economics, trading, and also the overall simulation that can track data for up to 100,000 individual Sims inside each city. There is a massive amount of computing that goes into all of this, and GlassBox works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers (the cloud) and some on the player’s local computer.”

 

Speaking to Polygon on the 9th March she again said,

“With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud. It wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team.”

And talking to Kotaku in the same week, Bradshaw yet again stated,

“Online connectivity as a creative game design decision was infused into the game’s DNA since its inception and so we’re fully committed to delivering against that experience first. A significant portion of the GlassBox Engine’s calculations are performed on our servers and off of the player’s PCs. It would take a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game so that all of those functions are calculated locally without a significant performance hit to the player.”

In today’s posting the studio boss writes,

“From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind – using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world… We also made innovative use of servers to move aspects of the simulation into the cloud to support region play and social features.”

Spot the difference.

RPS knows that the “simulation” being run on the EA servers is about 1% of the simulation being run on your own PC, so even this rebranded version of the claim still rings a little oddly. It’s not clear what exactly is so innovative about having interactions between different players be handled by online servers – that’s kind of how multiplayer works. But yes, it’s absolutely undeniable that the multiplayer aspects of the game require connection to the, er, multiplayer servers. No one was disputing this, because to dispute that would be frog-hatted mad. The reason there was any fuss in the first place were the claims that the servers were involved in much more, aspects that were they really calculating would indeed deny the simple possibility of a single-player, non-regional version of the game.

 

And let’s stress again here: If Maxis wanted to make an online-only, multiplayer-only version of SimCity, then that’s their call. No one has a God-given right to a single-player version, and while deliberately shooting themselves in the foot with a cannon by refusing to offer one seems a little odd, it’s Maxis’s call. The issue that RPS has only ever wanted to tackle was getting to the truth about why not. And as many have since demonstrated with offline play hacks (there’s a new one here), we didn’t have it. We could indeed write a very decent, very sensible editorial on why not offering single-player for a SimCity game is hard-boiled lunacy, but that was never the point.

 

Bradshaw’s post, which appears to be some sort of attempt at damage limitation – without actually ever addressing the issues raised – re-emphasises the point that they wanted it to be always online because of how they designed the game. She then lists the functions those server sums supply. And they’re what we already knew – they let the social game be social. This list that is basically just “the game has co-operative multiplayer” eight times seems to be an attempt to reveal just how grand this aspect is, how intrinsic it is to… something. It doesn’t manage this. What we’re learning from the many players posting videos, and the reviewers who actually played the game properly before smothering it with rosettes, is that those regional functions don’t work very well either.

 

Things then take a turn for the darned strange when Bradshaw adds,

“The game we launched is only the beginning for us – it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO.”

In almost no ways have they built an MMO. The first M rather puts pay to that suggestion, with minimal numbers of players interacting, and even then interacting through relatively remote systems. Let alone that it’s a management game that previously functioned perfectly well without the addition of social aspects – which is what makes it so mystifying that apparently adding something has caused so much more to be taken away. But the association with an “MMO” is an essential part of the vocabulary Maxis and EA want us to use, to reinforce the notion that this hasn’t been about piracy, preventing solo-play cheating, and controlling players’ experiences. “Oh, MMOs,” we’re supposed to say. “Yeah, good point, because you couldn’t play World Of Warcraft offline, could you? So this must be the same.” We’re asked to ignore that SimCity looks, feels and plays like a single-player game with some multiplayer functionality, and instead conflate it with an entirely different type of game. It’s a blatantly fallacious stance, but one that’s unfortunately perpetuating. (Check out many other sites’ coverage of Bradshaw’s statements this evening.) Bradshaw then says,

“So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision.”

 

And this is something else we’ve been meaning to mention. This notion that SimCity was born in Maxis’s womb as a permanently online, perpetually social game, is somewhat at odds with, well, Maxis’s own words from just a year ago. Back then they made it clear to the press that the internet would only be needed to boot the game, and then it could run offline after that. These straight answers seem as wobbly as the new SimCity’s roads. A game that was always intended to be so intrinsically online that no offline mode was even conceivable, except for last March, a year before the end of development, when it was.

 

Obviously we would still desperately love to hear from Maxis to explain the discrepancies we’ve discussed. To ask why it was repeatedly claimed that the servers were so integral for running the core game, when all people needed to do to prove otherwise was pull the ethernet cable out the back of their machine. We want to know how a game that a year ago only needed the internet to launch, is now a game that was originally conceived to be permanently online. If this is a confusion, then please do clear it up for us.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/16/simcity-bosss-straight-answers-seem-pretty-wiggly

icDAk.gif

Why won't Maxis or EA be candid and honest with us? Everyone would feel much better about them and this game if they held their hands up, admitted that they mislead us, acknowledged the game's problems and made some kind of binding pledge to patch them all away gradually over the spring, summer and autumn (along with creating an offline mode). As it is now, they're screwing with a very popular game series for the sake of forced social aspects nobody asked for, ignoring the people calling them out, while evading addressing any of the game's problems when they try to limit the PR damage they're bringing on themselves. It's making them look really bad, and I bet they'll learn nothing from this whole fiasco, so they can fuck The Sims' fans over in a year or two.

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What is the average corporation but a privately held, profit-driven government? This is no different than a scandal; they realise they've screwed up really, really bad, and are dodging questions, covering it up or making excuses wherever they can.

I am reading through the post and simply cannot fathom the levels of blatant lies and spindoctoring that have been made. Saying it's comparable to a MMO to try and save their own butts... bullcrap. Just utter bullcrap.

The idea of player cities interacting through internet connections is very cool. But the level of lies that have been spread over this game has pretty much torn any merit the idea had to shreds. Saying that the game's really dependent on the internet, saying that it would take a huge effort to make it playable offline... good God, EA. Just say you're with those some businessmen who want to end the sale of used games to fatten your profits even further and be done with it.

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If corporations are just privately owned, profit-driven governments, then surely they can see that it's in their best interest not lose the trust of 'the people' (the consumer) by evading the big issues, while spinning lies and half truths together? Good god, you'd think they'd have learned something from the world of politics, but oh, they haven't. I can see EA/Maxis heads rolling soon, a symbolic scapegoating gesture to placate the masses, while continuing to avoid addressing the game's problems and the cloud of bullshit that has formed around them.

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