Initial Impressions: SimCity

By Adam Smith on March 8th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

I hadn’t played SimCity until the UK version unlocked at midnight and I’ve barely slept since then. Intravenous coffee, fresh from the bean, and a sumo wrestler’s weight of dry roasted peanuts have seen me through the night and now I shall convert the experiences of the last twelve hours into words. This is not ‘Wot I Think’, it’s just a step toward a closer study of the slickness of the systems as well as their shortcomings, and it’s also a minor chronicle of the European launch.

A quick side-note: the most expensive, lavish launch party in the world wouldn’t receive as much attention as the disastrous US release of SimCity. Parties are for the people with an invite but the game is for everyone. It’s the kind of publicity that nobody wants to buy and so much of it could have been avoided. Perhaps the next couple of days will bombard me with tasks and disasters that require me to interact with everybody else trying to play, but so far I’ve encountered absolutely nothing in the game that justifies the online requirement.

Edit: Since around two o’clock, when I finished the bulk of this feature, I’ve been unable to access the server that is storing my cities, even though it’s listed as ‘available’. The other European servers are ‘busy’, which means queuing to play. I can access one American server at the moment, which would involve starting from scratch and then either continuing with that or abandoning it at a later date and returning to my original developments. I remember keeping Amiga save games on floppy disks, all neatly labelled and stored within reach. This is like the time the dog ate the disks, except EA will probably regurgitate something in a few hours.

Judging by the pre-release trype, I expected to be shackled to four cretinous neighbours who would pump sewage into my most stately residential districts and steal all of my power to light up their crime-coddling casinos. My main import would be thieves and scoundrels.

But what’s this? Create a new game and there’s an option to set the region to private, invite-only, meaning you can leave the entry-ways closed and be the mayor of every plot in the area. All of the trading, sharing and sabotage is under your control, with no interference and a great deal more freedom. My first town – and they’re not cities, but more on that in a moment – has a coal-burning power plant but my greedy urchins quickly burned every natural resource they could find and the lights flickered. We were heading for a new dark age.

There were two large deposits of coal on the map but one was next to a thriving and high income residential district and the other was next to it. That wouldn’t do a great deal for house prices or my popularity rating, so I sought an alternative source. Heading to the region map, I discovered an area abundant in the black stuff nearby, so I zoomed in and set to work.

Coketown is the sort of industrial hellhole that would have provided a mighty line of business for William Blake, Amateur Engraver and Poet of the End Times. Look at it, he would have said, what a stinking pile of bobbins. I cannot argue. It’s bloody horrible there. It’s a productive pile of bobbins though. Trailer parks surround belching great factories and every day the mines claim another life. Occasionally an ambulance will pop over from Horaceburgh to pick a broken wretch up from the street, but they have no clinic to call their own. Eventually the whole place will probably burn down but, for now, it serves its purpose.

That’s the social element sorted then. I’m socialising with myself, which is great because I know how to satisfy my own needs. There’s a Woody Allen quote that’s relevant to my experience of SimCity ‘multiplayer’. I did plan to play with friends and we’d agreed on a server but they are in USA USA USA and by the time I was allowed to join them, I wasn’t allowed to join them. The server that their towns are on is full and the enforced social element has prevented me from playing with people I know. Blake would probably have written something dour about that as well.

The servers didn’t want me to play at all for about twenty minutes but by half past midnight, I was plopping down zones (that’s the game’s term, ‘plopping’) and saving up my Simoleans so that I could hire the beginnings of a police force. Since then, I’ve been able to access my regions at will, which isn’t something to celebrate, it’s something that I shouldn’t even have to mention at all. I do find that when I alt-tab out of the game, it’s often kicked me back to the menu when I return and I have to quit and restart to access my games. Perhaps it detects a slight ripple in the forces of Internet, one so minute that the rest of my computer fails to notice? I’ve never lost progress but it’s irritating and every single time I expect Horaceburgh to have upped sticks and vanished into the Cloud.

That would be distressing but it wouldn’t take long to rebuild. Each plot of land is quite small, something like a Sims 3 neighbourhood but with a little bit more leg-room. An entire region will eventually resemble a city but the individual sections, which are connected by magical highways that transport every essential urban ingredient, are boroughs at best.

The magic of roads is at the heart of the game. In their various densities, they fulfill every necessary function, from moving workers around the place to funnelling poo into landfills. They are the town’s pipes and powerlines. This can make SimCity seem like the Duplo to Sim City 4’s Meccano. Draw up the outline of a city, using roads and zones, and buildings will swiftly appear. The game begins with a tutorial but it’s a waste of time because each new beginning is a guided experience anyway. While you’re choosing the layout, the services and higher functions are unlocked over time, which makes for a lot of dead air. This isn’t helped by the (temporary?) removal of the speediest setting, another wound inflicted by the always-online requirement. Too many cities running at high speed would apparently cause the servers to burn up faster than a cramped, rubbish-strewn shanty town.

When fires did begin to break out in Horaceburgh I had to wait until I had enough cash to build a fire station, so expansion was on hold for a while as the money trickled in. Then the criminal element appeared and, conveniently, approval for a police station came through. I waited for my coffers to fill again and then built the police station. In the early stages, that’s how the game flows.

I’m taking considerable pleasure in watching my neighbourhoods evolve, planting parks and amenities to boost land value and upgrading roads to allow for higher density traffic, which leads to apartment buildings and larger department stores. Before I’d had a chance to play, I was excited by the idea of a simulated world, with all of the systems having an effect on one another. As towns grow denser, which is the alternative to an actual increase in scale, SimCity does become a more intriguing toy. Traffic jams can prevent fire engines and police cars from fulfilling their function, and bottlenecks often require extensive re-zoning and redevelopment, but those multi-functional magical roads make for a rather simple model.

More thoughts on the late-game details, global trading, resource management and any hidden complexities in the systems will follow. Even though the European launch has been stable in comparison to the troubles earlier this week, I’m yet to find one user-friendly reason for the online anchor and as I tab back into the game now, I see that I’ve been ejected once again. Spotify hasn’t stopped playing and my ghostly online presence in the RPS offices hasn’t been interrupted, but SimCity has decided that the tether between us is too flimsy.

Reloading has brought me back to my citizens and Horaceburgh still stands, but every reminder that my these constructions exist elsewhere only serves to make them seem flimsy and disposable. It’s lovely to see a world grow and to nudge it in a new direction occasionally, but I haven’t formed a bond with SimCity yet, and I’m not yet convinced that there’s enough complexity or variety to make the attachment worth nurturing.

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163 Comments »

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  1. TechnicalBen says:

    What is there to stop me buying Cities XL right this moment? Is it any good? I always thought it was just the toy town, but does it have gameplay too?

    The graphics are not as high tech or cute as Simcity, but for £20 and a working game, I can live with a slightly older and photorealism engine. :)

    • casshern09 says:

      What is there to stop you? You mean apart from the game being technically broken?
      They have never fixed the huge problems with Cities XL from day one, it has a huge memory leak and only supports one CPU.
      Once your city reaches a certain size, the game becomes unplayable.
      if you’re ok with that then go ahead.

      I tried it using an
      intel i7 3770K 4.6ghz
      16GB DDR 3 2600mhz
      2 x GTX 680 SLI

      Even with that it still becomes unplayable. The game is broken and buggy as hell. You have been warned. Don’t believe me? Check the Steam forums.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Ok, thanks. That’s what I needed to know. I’ve never seen a demo for it, and never seen anyone playing (apart for a couple of mins on youtube).

        If it’s that bad, I’ll skip it. I have played a demo or two on Steam that I might like to get the full game to. Endless Space might be something to while away some time until a decent (or fixed) city game jumps up.

        • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

          If you want some city management you can look into Anno 2070. Endless Space is a lot of fun too.

          • alexisbernal says:

            I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,..Amazingjob12.Buzz70.com

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          Continuity says:

          SimCity 4 is probably still the best.

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        frymaster says:

        to be fair, how many multi-CPU systems exist in the consumer space?

        I wish my _server_ was multi CPU

        • Dark Nexus says:

          While casshern09 said CPU, the problem is the game only supports one core.

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            drewww says:

            (and essentially every modern CPU in the last few years has multiple cores, so single-core support practically makes the game slower on modern hardware than it might be in the old single-core monolithic days. really egregious.)

        • SuicideKing says:

          I’ll echo drewww on this. I’m not sure any modern desktop CPU (since the Core 2 days) is single-core any more.

          Unless you meant two CPUs, in which case i’d just say that the person you replied to probably meant cores and not entire CPUs…

        • crinkles esq. says:

          The Intel Xeon series supports multiple CPUs — my Mac is a dual-processor system, four cores on each. But the cores are generally the more important part these days.

        • Panda Powered says:

          Is it really that wrong to use the term “CPU” for individual cores? Windows use the term CPU for every core; CPU0, CPU1, CPU2, CPU3.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            Depends on the frame of reference. Most people refer to a “CPU” as a physical object, the bit that drops into a socket on your motherboard and then gets covered by thermal paste and a heatsink. With the introduction of multiple on-die cores, each physical chip can now host multiple Central Processing Units, which breaks the 1:1 physical-to-logical ratio and can lead to confusion.

            In this case, the comment that the game runs on “only one CPU” should have been read as the number of CPU cores, not the number of physical CPUs. CitiesXL is single-threaded, and has never been recoded or optimized to take full advantage of modern multi-core PCs.

          • Rapzid says:

            You’re pretty much correct. At the systems level these days CPU refers to just that, a processing unit capable of being programmed and executing that program. Hyper-threading on Intel processors essentially expose two CPU’s to the system for every 1 “physical” core. And that sentence also gives you the term for the single socket-able item, a “processor”.

          • protospork says:

            That sort of notation is often used to mean “CPU item #”, and the items in a CPU’s case are cores. You’ll see the same sort of thing with, for instance, Linux’s disk partitioning. The physical disks will exist as sda, sdb, …, and the partitions of a disc will be shown as sda0, sda1, and so on.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            To confuse the issue further, I believe Windows lists two CPUs for each core if you have hyperthreading.

      • thegooseking says:

        The memory leak issue, while a bit of a hassle, isn’t that bad. You don’t even need to quit the game to work around it; just every so often save your city, drop to the main menu, then load your city again.

        Of course, that’s no excuse for never having fixed it.

        • JaminBob says:

          I agree. Reloads overcome the memory leak a little. Its a good game and worth the less than £10 you can by the CD version of Cities XL 2012 for. It’s good fun.

          Its not as good as SC4 though.

          Perhaps this opens the way for a Paradox city builder, along the lines of Cities in Motion.

      • cipher88101 says:

        wth we’re not interested in your spam

      • MacTheGeek says:

        Hey spambot, why weren’t you programmed to come up with fanciful numbers that have at least the tiniest bit of coherence? If your mom is making $88 per hour on her private sex cam or whatever, and she brought home $18304 in a month, then she worked a hell of a lot more than “a few hours”. If she isn’t paying a penny in taxes, then she’s working 208 hours a month. (She’s also working herself into a hefty tax bill, but that’s beside the point.) Anyone who works 208 hours in a month is not “out of work”, nor are they working “just a few hours”.

        Dumbass.

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          Thermal Ions says:

          Coherent numbers are only needed though if your target audience can do maths, hence why they don’t bother.

        • battles_atlas says:

          You knowingly replied to a spambot and you’re calling it dumbass?

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          Hypocee says:

          Although it’s not possible to say that spam stupidity is deliberate, there’s a good paper showing that it would make sense for it to be deliberate: http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2012/06/20/nigerian_spam_email_why_spam_email_is_so_obvious_.html . The actual work comes after someone clicks through – talking the target into giving you all their moneys. Anyone with two neurons to rub together is going to balk at some point; they represent more work for the same potential gain. Under this model, for optimal returns you want only the reeeeally stupid to click through.

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      RedViv says:

      The game is horribly broken, game systems are partially buggy, and it becomes irrevocably unplayable after a few hours in a city. Nothing has ever been really fixed.

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      distantlurker says:

      2011 was the last one I played, basically a carbon copy of Sim City 2000, with all the good stuff therein (and many of the niggles read: dodgy road connections that took a degree in town planning to figure out), but notorious memory wise (or is it a cores issue? I forget). A day of play would bring a 16GB, i7 & Crossfire rig to it’s knees.

      From what I gather, after half a decade of further development/iterations; this issue remains.

      :shrug:

      • Joshua Northey says:

        It is not at all “basically a carbon copy of Simcity 2000″. It has a lot of problems and is broken and has never been fixed, but in many ways it is a lot more advanced than both simcity 4 and simcity 5. So I am not sure why you would compare it to 2000.

        It is frustrating because there is a great game there if some responsible company had bought it after the developer folded, but instead it was just some stupid french company churning out “patches” as 2011, 2012 and so on. A huge waste of potential.

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      Spend 5 minutes here before dropping cash on CitiesXL: http://steamcommunity.com/app/58510/discussions/

      http://steamcommunity.com/app/231140/discussions/

    • TC-27 says:

      Im running Cities XL Platinum on a I5 Sandybridge and now have a pretty epic sized city which runs smooth. It also runs from rural famland into suburbs and an epic coastal city with skyscappers and docks (not to mention a ski resort in the mountains) and is frankly graphically stunning.

      Check out some really inspiring cities here:
      http://xlnation.net/city-journals

      Leaving aside the absurd DRM and reliability issues of Simcity the tiny plot sizes mean any epic cities are out of the question – I realise you can build over the entire region but you get wierd looking undeveloped areas between your various plots.

      • Zeewolf says:

        I also had a pretty good time with Cities XL and didn’t experience any major problems with it. Though to be fair, it is a bit simple. It isn’t a real simulator, in that things aren’t really simulated but there’s a whole bunch of rules that’s governing everything instead. OTOH, at least it lets you build actual cities, not just small hamlets.

        • The Random One says:

          Same here. Cities is ultra bugged, and you would do well to wait for a 75% off Steam sale or something, but when it works (and it does often enough) it’s very pleasurable.

          It also has a buttload of mods, including one that adds a lot more transport options (including ATV trekking routes), one that lets you build closer to freeways, and one that lets the leisure buildings actually fucking work.

    • Lemming says:

      The biggest reason I can think of that might be stopping you, is that Simcity 4 is available on Steam instead.

      • battles_atlas says:

        After reading the horror stories about this game, seeing the pathetic map sizes, and the price tag, I went on Steam about bought Simcity 4 Deluxe for a tenner. Its still the absolute joy it always was. Recommend anyone else looking at Simcity does the same.

        Should point out Simcity 4 is rather buggy on Windows 7 however. Lots of crash reports. Mine crashes about once an hour, but I just make sure I save regularly. Its worth the annoyance.

    • HyenaGrin says:

      Though it sounds like you aren’t going to be getting it for technical reasons, it is also worth noting that Cities XL is more of a ‘model city builder’ than a city management game. You place exactly the wealth and density of the buildings you want where you want them. The game entirely consists of satisfying the needs of your citizens using industry and business which involves satisfying their employment needs with civilians.

      It results in a never-ending cycle with basically no sense of reward. At least in Sim City you can watch a neighborhood grow from a trailer park to a thriving downtown center with skyscrapers. Y’know, organically. In XL if you want a skyscraper you can turn off build restrictions right there in the UI and place one. Right next to your trailer park and hotdog stand.

      This obviously doesn’t bother everyone (because it is a pretty game and does make satisfyingly attractive models) but as a game it lacks… game.

    • hbarsquared says:

      It’s not an exact analog (or analogue, for the Imperials), but Tropico 4 is conveniently on a Steam sale for 75% off. Coincidence?

    • Todd_Bailey says:

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    • innociv says:

      Cities XL is a more a city painter than a city builder/manager game.

      Wasn’t fun for me.

      I like the infrastructure, managing traffic, land value, economy, so on.

      Cities in Motion was a lot better for me, but not Sim City 4 good. (It’s just transportation)

  2. webwielder says:

    The funny thing is there was a game called SimTown with small areas, simplified management, and you could zoom in to see Sims with names and jobs walking around (they didn’t call them Sims back then, mind). http://youtu.be/px94CYDzfDo

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      RedViv says:

      SimCity Socities was the inofficial sequel to that game. I’ll stick to that.
      This is, in terms of depth, or rather broadness of the sim, somewhere along the lines of 2000, which is perfectly fine, though bigger cities would be neat to look at. System-wise it’s a bit of a different beast. Tropico would probably be a better comparison, agent system and all, though the new SC goes way further than that series.

      (Here I go again. Broken record.)

      Something new though, which seems to become increasingly apparent with the actual game out and people commenting on their experience: Far beyond what was possible to reach in demo-really-not-beta, when your city goes into the ten-thousands of inhabitants, the game becomes a very different beast. Very much looking forward to a full WIT.

      • Kestilla says:

        People complain about the lack of water and power lines in SimCity, but Simcity 4 propagated power through streets and adjacent structures, too. If there was too much of a gap, you would need power lines, but there was no purpose to them, they were busy work. The same thing went for water pipes, where you would tediously make sure the pipes made all the building foundations turn blue.

        Simcity 3000 and 2000 had water pipes already built into the basements of buildings, all you did was connect them to a water source. The point of this, other than its simple state of being, I don’t know.

        SimCity simulates an awful lot more. The traffic is much more detailed and is made up of actual individuals now, traffic jams affect specific people who may consider leaving your city if enough factors combine to personally offend them, sewage and garbage are actually picked up rather than being a mere statistic that appears all over the streets near trash-generating structures. Cars you see parked in front of businesses are an actual indicator of how much business a place is getting and how much disposable income your citizens have.

        I’m not going to cry over lack of terraforming and crap like that simply because that wasn’t the highlight of the old Simcity’s landscape – the wholesale crafting of new region maps through the use of mod tools was. That’s missing from this game, thus far. So are other things, but it’s too early to tell if they will be added in or not.

        • Brun says:

          The lack of terraforming compounds the small city size though, which is why most people complain. Having any kind of hills or water takes an already small plot and makes it even smaller, because you can’t terraform them out of existence.

          • Kestilla says:

            This is true. Obviously they thought the game should be more about making the most of what you’re given, like a real city might with hard borders against their neighboring cities. If that were really the case though, I would have expected the neighboring cities to be right next to each other Simcity 4 style, not across the bay or way down the road like they are now.

            They should add land purchasing to the game. Make a big region map and select areas you want to buy for a price. In the original Simcity 2000 Network Edition, players would buy their own land and once the borders of their cities met, fight over the rights to adjacent tiles. Maybe it shouldn’t be that extreme, but I think the city size is problematic because the player has no role in deciding how big the city should be, and interaction with fellow cities is kept to a minimum due to the huge amount of space between them.

            It’s important they add freeform maps where players can build the roads between cities, which would make for an element of strategic importance. Put buttons on the borders of your cities to expand them for a price. Up to a point? Maybe. I don’t want to troubleshoot the system, I just want something better than this.

            I also think multiple players should be able to run a single city Anno style, taking the place of council members in the town hall.

          • Paul.Power says:

            On that note, why are all the plots square? Surely they should be plotted out to allow the player the maximum amount of flat land to work with, rather than arbitrarily deciding that your city borders must contain Mountain A but not Perfectly Useable Piece of Flat Land B.

    • Lemming says:

      Heh, I remember that game. You could piss about with people’s pets and favourite food and stuff, if I recall.

      • Kestilla says:

        And you could click on secret hotspots on every building for comedic effect. Click on the clown’s nose on the funhouse and it would poke inward with a honk. Click on the trashcan in front of the burger joint and a cartoon tongue would unroll onto the pavement to the sound of “blllleeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhh!”

        Click the window on the pool hall and a pool ball would crash through the window. :) Great stuff.

    • katinkabot says:

      Ah! I loved that game when I was little!! That was something billed for little kids, I remember. Even so, I thought it was pretty boring after a while and would just go back to SimCity2000 and make my giant city and then merge it over to SimCopter. This new game just breaks my heart.

    • zbmott says:

      SimTown was the greatest! So many wacky buildings!

  3. Spoon Of Doom says:

    “[…] the enforced social element has prevented me from playing with people I know.”

    This tells you everything about how seriously EA take the oh so great social elements of the game and how this always-on thing really enriches your gameplay and is totally not a crippling, useless, badly implemented feature shoehorned into the game.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Doh! Don’t feed the beast with ideas!

      You want to play with friends thinks EA, how can we monetise this basic concept for an online game?

  4. Brun says:

    Yeah…Dwarf Fortress does a fine job of scratching all the city-management itches I have.

    • Kestilla says:

      It’s often a bit fiddly for me. The interface is always what eventually kills my enthusiasm, the lack of an ability to reach through the screen and accomplish exactly what you intended rather than clumsily directing commands and memorizing hotkeys.

      I have memorized the hotkeys, but it’s still frustrating there is no official mouse support yet for a game that so yearns for a point and click component.

      • Brun says:

        It’s like the Matrix. After a while you don’t even see the ASCII. Just dwarves.

        • Hahaha says:

          Lazy newb pack (for easy of use)
          Phoebus tileset
          Dwarf therapist
          Wiki

          • Brun says:

            Yep. Also, soundsense (sound engine) and stonesense (isometric visualizer). The audio cues provided by the sound engine actually make a huge difference.

          • Hahaha says:

            indeed

        • Kestilla says:

          I don’t see the ASCII, I do see the dwarves.

          But the lack of a decent user interface is the greatest obstacle to the game seeing wider audiences. Even as a DF veteran the interface is a constant bother.

          • pistolhamster says:

            Has DF been updated for ever? I stopped reading Tarn Adams ramblings about world gen features he has obsessed over for more than a year.

  5. Jabberslops says:

    I think everyone has missed the whole point of the current EA SimCity situation. The game-play is “great” and all (despite missing a lot of features that made the series great). That is not the problem.

    The reason only some people can connect to the servers and play, is because EA is judging everything everyone is making and deciding who is worthy to continue playing this non-reboot reboot of Simcity. If you are waiting in queue and never connect, that is the reason why.

    There is no conspiracy, EA just deems you to be less than trash and excrement.

    • Kestilla says:

      Aside from the awful online service, there’s no reason to suspect Maxis wouldn’t have released new DLC and otherwise patch in new features and functionality.

      Rush Hour for SimCity? It could be pretty amazing. This entire debacle makes the point moot, I think.

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    Nathan says:

    I’ve been enjoying so far, there’s a satisfaction in the interlocking mechanics, and the flexibility afforded by having a small city in a larger region is quite liberating; there’s a lot less pressure for one city to be a jack-of-all-trades.

    • Bhazor says:

      AKA
      Why bother balancing?

      Need power? Open a new plot next door and build a dozen power plants. Sewer problem? Dump it next door. Who cares if these plots have rampant crime and no schools. They’re just batteries to power your real town.

      Its the exact same thing that ruined Simcity 4 for me. Neighbour deals that end up breaking the game. At least in Simcity 4 they were optional. You could still make a self sufficient city. But here everything is so small you’re forced to start new plots.

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        FriendlyFire says:

        Except neighboring cities share crime, pollution, workers, sewage, all that stuff.

      • Kestilla says:

        I was going to suggest you hadn’t played Simcity 4, but then you mentioned you had. So now I suggest you simply didn’t get why it was fun. I further suggest you haven’t played SimCity nearly enough to see how this method of playing can brutally backfire on you due to regional issues and problems growing out of control, including resource shortages and the crappifying of the whole region with horrible air pollution.

        But it’s okay because we’re all stuck unable to play the game! Hooray! If it ever works as intended, I hope you see how this game differs from the previous iterations. I sure want to play… But… You know.

        • smb says:

          Yeah, my first attempt at exploiting regions was a mess. You can’t just zone all your residential in one plot, with dirty industry/utils in another like you could in SimCity 4. I tried to do that by constantly swapping between them to keep up with demand (I love how smooth it is; fuck SC4’s load-times man), but ran into problems. Turns out that demand is split between local and regional. I guess not everyone wants to hop on the highway in order to earn a living, and not every factory wants to outsource their workforce. Who’d have thought? Especially when you need that new coal mine operational ASAP to pay back those damn bonds before you go bankrupt again.

          Also had trouble buying enough water to satisfy my ore mine, even though the other city had more than enough to accommodate. I think some buildings require such a great amount of resources that you must provide it locally.

          So while you can specialize, you still need to be a bit rounded in your planning. Which makes sense. For every industrial playground IRL, there is a nearby residential community that helps maintain it. Plot size itself doesn’t bother me much because there are so many ways to build UP and progress your city that did not exist previously. I don’t personally consider miles of suburban spawl as a “city” anyways (and deny the notion as anything but lazy planning) but to each their own.

  7. Seiniyta says:

    I think once the reviewer will hit around 50k/100k population he’ll notice this game can be quite hard and complex. Not as complex as SimCity 4 deluxe right now, but with expansion and stuff I see it improving. I’m personally having a lot of fun with the game.. well when I can play….

    • Adam Smith says:

      Yeah, I’ve just passed 50k in my first area, although I’ve been hopping between different developments quite a bit as well. Definitely becomes more interesting. Full WIT will cover much more.

    • yogibbear says:

      I’ve gotten 5 cities past 130k pop and 1 past 200k. Gets really really tough to increase the population limit (so far haven’t been able to claim a 2nd region in any of these as they’re all on different servers… due to server issues….). Just starting my second town in the region with the 200k town. Hoping that alleviates my ridiculous requests for more of everything!!!! (Plus the 2nd town doesn’t have to build anything to get the tech & support stuff and can just mass spam houses and industry etc.). My streetcar system in one town has 40k passengers a day :)

      • Kestilla says:

        Damn, that’s huge. I haven’t gotten that far along yet. Looking forward to making some skyscrapers!

        Have you used up all available square footage in your city yet?

    • Stromko says:

      It wouldn’t be as complex and difficult if the traffic agent AI wasn’t so random. You can have 50% more garbage trucks then you need, and your city goes to heck due to trash piling up anyway– why? Because the garbage trucks are all milling about the same small stretch of the city in a giant convoy, creating their own traffic jam.

      I just got done quitting the game in disgust when I saw my formerly humming city was about to begin a downward slide. Why? Because that morning, every garbage truck in the city decided to go all the way across town, leave the city, then turn around at the first highway intersection and try to come right back. Now, they’re adding to a massive traffic jam that’s preventing my commuting workers from getting to their jobs, and disease is spreading from all the trash they aren’t picking up.

      Most of the service vehicles in the game do the same sort of nonsense, including buses and street cars. So you get a 30 buses to help with congestion, sprinkle bus stops and park’n’rides liberally throughout the city, and 29 out of 30 of the buses are just circling around the same block all day– if that. Sometimes they all just zip back and forth between two stops. All they need to do is spread out and cover as much ground as possible, but instead they deliberately cluster and play ‘follow the leader’.

      I suspect most of the extreme congestion that large cities have to cope with (and why I have to use nothing but high-density parkways to get anywhere) is because the AI doesn’t know how to get anywhere. All they have to worry about is roads, I know pathfinding is supposed to be one of the most difficult things for AI processing but the fact they have roads, bus stops, etc to guide them should make it entirely possible.

      • syndicatedragon says:

        This is why simulation of individual cars and people is not a good idea for a game. IRL people and cars (despite all outward appearances) are not mindless automatons that blindly follow the shortest path to identical goals.

        • Philden says:

          Well, I think in many cases they are, hence the reason we have traffic problems in the first place. In any event, I found this something that encouraged me to learn and design my cities better, as if you funnel all traffic (residential/industrial, tourist, and commercial) down a single main pipe, not even a fully upgraded avenue with all the mass transit in the world will be able to cope with it. I found I had to make major alterations as my city grew, better segmenting the different districts of my city so that people weren’t using the same roads to commute as my vital businesses needed to function. Installing avenues for main arteries took up more space, so I had to balance between that, and space for other things I wanted, forcing tough strategic decisions.

          It’s not a perfect simulation by any means, but I do find it provides more opportunity for analyzing behavior than in some other similar games.

      • aepervius says:

        Pathfinding is difficult when you have a 3D environment. But in a network with set route ? Use A* with the traffic on each road as density to search for the low density route and you should get something relatively easy, I have got a few of those with more “points” and path than simicity has got, and I rarely get the same problem as simcity has (tough to be honest it happens often enough). I am not sure the problem is the path finding, I get the sinking feeling that the simulation when the number of “stops” rise too much that it somehow forget the initial stops was done and do it again, or that it ignores the density issues always trying to go for the same route, then reupdate the route for the first, but the algorithm find the same route for the second in the convoy etc…. Which leads to giant convoy of everything. That is actually the danger of simulating everything as a single entity rather than have laws about density : you can enter in meta stable situation which make no sense and the simulation cannot get out.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          It doesn’t sound like this is a pathfinding issue, per se. Well, the traffic jam issue may be (A* using a heuristic that doesn’t take into account traffic would do it), the fact that vehicles are all taking the same route seems to be a more general planning issue regarding the destination of each vehicle, probably that each entity doesn’t take into account what other entities are doing (reasonable for general traffic, not reasonable for something systematic like a transit system or emergency service).

          It seems like they should have a central controller for those purposes, which wouldn’t be that hard to do. Bus routes could be preassigned based on TSP for some number of stops (either randomly assigned or, say, assigned on a loose line through the city). Patrolling emergency services could do the same, just for random nodes on the street map. Reactive emergency services could send one or two vehicles to an event and then escalate based on time.

          • Rapzid says:

            Ah, a programmer? It sounds like this may definitely be the case(no group AI for the garbage and other services). Could be an opportunity for them to add more depth though by planning your traffic,bus, and subway routes :)

    • Philden says:

      I agree. I found that the management portion of the game doesn’t really come alive until you near the 100k population mark. Then all the residential buildings you’ve been building up with impunity reveal themselves as engines of disease and pollution on the pollination data map overlay, you’ll start to have real power and water problems if you’re not using a pollution heavy power supply, your citizens start dropping like flies and moving out, you can’t fill your jobs, traffic cripples your city even with public transportation, and you can no longer tax your way to a budget surplus without driving out citizens and businesses.

      And occasionally, a giant lizard may take a stroll through all your vital civil service buildings.

      It’s here where the smaller city size actually works to the game’s strategic benefit by enforcing tougher decision making. Since no city can be all things, you have to make tough decisions about what goes and what stays. Eliminate pop, you have budget problems and can no longer support your infrastructure, tech your way out your problems, and budget likewise balloons. Everything you choose to do, takes something else away, so you cant simply just throw more buildings at a specific problem like I could in earlier SC games on large maps.

      After the gentle learning curve, there was quite a bit to keep me occupied in a single large population city with advanced needs, not even factoring in the meta game of developing multiple specialized cities for supply chains. I found myself having to perform major surgery on my cities as they reached the upper end, to rework roads and infrastructure to keep my city from tearing itself apart.

  8. sharkh20 says:

    Just you wait until your city gets a bit bigger and the whole simulation goes to shit. That part is wonderful.

    • Beernut says:

      Nah, no problem. Just load an old save and try another strate… oh…wait.

      • Kestilla says:

        It’s the FUUUUTUUUUURE! It’s an evolution of human consciousness. Soon we, too, will be computers and our memories will be files on a hard drive someplace faaaaar away.

        Does no one in a position of power watch the movies which explicitly tell us why these are bad moves? It’s like the Kindle and other digital book distributors trying to remove a consumer’s right to own a book. There are rights attached! Sign on the dotted line. Your book is stored digitally and there is no expectation upon the release of the next product in the Kindle line you will retain ownership of said book.

        And now it happens with savegames. What the hell is going on here? Tech support is bad enough. Now when we have a computer problem we could normally solve simply by restoring backups, we have to worry about someone somewhere else with their hands on our data, for no reason other than it gives them more control. Distant save files means no cheating, you understand. And no modding, and no imagination, and no freedom. It’s all going down the tubes.

    • Fiatil says:

      The only example of that is the extreme example of the dude who cheated his way up to 650K+ in his city and used the single road setup. Unless you’re gaming the system really really hard you’re not going to get past 250k, and the simulation is fine at that point. It actually tells you that Maxis wasn’t lying, the game really is in no shape to have bigger size plots right now regardless of how powerful your system is. Glassbox needs more time and optimization before it can handle that many agents at once.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        NO, IMHO, it just needs someone to realize agents for people, transport and goods is a great idea. Agents for power, water and sewage (with perhaps the exception of individual turds) is pointless. It would not be much of a help to the engine, but it would be a start.

        As they added power and water to an agent system, it shows that from the start they were looking to use a hammer on everything, instead of a tool for each job. That does not bode well.

        • Fiatil says:

          I can definitely agree using the agent system for water and power is sort of odd. It’s a really neat effect seeing your power grid spread the first time, but not worth any long term stress it’s putting on the system. Sewage I can see because the pumps can get “backed up” and you can have excess capacity while still needing extra time to drain all of the backed up sewage, but the first two could certainly go if it would make larger city sizes easier.

  9. Premium User Badge

    maninahat says:

    Ergh, I’d stick to the older Sim Cities, but I find that my towns end up looking all alike, and there is very little charm or personality to them to distinguish them. Are there any city management games that provide more visual variety? Is there a game where you can build one town like a typical American suburbia, and another were you can have a red brick, Yorkshire post-industrial? So far, Tropico 4 seems to be the only one I can find which provides that degree of control.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      SimCity Societies does that, if you don’t mind a rather low difficulty. The towns can branch out into several kinds of the titular societies, so for a “spiritual” town you could have an Old West farm town, or an Asian temple town, where a town of knowledge could go the route of hypertechnological steel and glass, or just directly into dark cyberpunk.

      Interesting ideas in there, sadly stuck in an only very slightly interesting game.

    • yogibbear says:

      But you can have an Oil/Coal town. A casino town. A tourism town. A microprocessor/tech town. A university town etc. they all look rather different… Just your first town has to pick say 3 of these and do all 3 just OK, then your second town can do 1 thing very very well.

  10. gritz says:

    Bravo for coining the term “trype”. It’s perfect.

  11. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Great games have staying power because of the community behind it. The community embraces the game and through MOD’s improve on the initial offering.

    Few tears will be lost when the off switch for the servers gets flicked in a couple of years time.

    Actually ignore the last sentence, you will be sold MOD’s for a while so make that three years before your time and cities (and financial outlay) is lost forever(unless you buy the new ‘edition’ where you can transfer your city).

    Actually ignore the last sentence, I see a yearly cycle of ‘new release’ if enough people are duped!

    • Strangerator says:

      Don’t forget, purchasable DLC that change the game to be closer to what it should have been in the first place.

      EA – Dumb games for stupid people.

      • Brun says:

        Don’t forget, purchasable DLC that change the game to be closer to what it should have been in the first place.

        I dislike having to play devil’s advocate here, but I really, really hate this particular anti-DLC argument with a fiery passion. Who the hell are YOU to say how a game should or should not be? If you think you can do so much better, go make your own city management game – put up or shut up.

        If you don’t like what they’ve done with the game you have no obligation to buy it. But unless your name is in the credits it’s not YOUR game, and to imply that the game has been “chopped up for DLC” just because it’s not exactly to YOUR liking makes you seem just a little entitled.

        • Hahaha says:

          ” If you think you can do so much better, go make your own city management game – put up or shut up.”

          AMEN

          Imagine if the amount of time people on here spend bitching and moaning about the state of gaming was instead spent on educating themselves and making games.

          • solidsquid says:

            Look, I know you don’t think that skyscrapers should have their foundations made of plywood, but if you think you can do any better I’d like to see it.

            Seriously, while I understand the sentiment and don’t really disagree in this case, the whole “put up or shut up” thing is just dumb. Sometimes you *can* tell when there’s something wrong even if your’e not an expert

          • Hahaha says:

            True, but these guys (not RPS staff) have been bitching for years now with no attempt (that they have shown) to show they can do better.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Maybe they are busy being Doctors or Teachers or……..

            Just because someone has chosen a career path that isn’t games development doesn’t mean they should have to suffer poor games because they haven’t got the time or skills to do better.

            Bizarre argument IMO

          • Rapzid says:

            Does anyone know what the renewable are like in SimCity? Can you build up a regional powergrid and store energy when your producing a surplus?

          • Hahaha says:

            “Just because someone has chosen a career path that isn’t games development doesn’t mean they should have to suffer poor games because they haven’t got the time or skills to do better.”

            The joy of game developing you can do it in your spare time, in the time they have been bitching they could of banded together and made a good prototype by now but they will never as it would be put in to the public domain and would get shredded.

            It gets to a point where just sitting around bitching is just sad and some form of action needs to be taken that isn’t circle jerking online.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Yeah, OK, <shakes head>* some people have lives away from the keyboard*</shakes head>

            You know they have social skills developed through interacting with people in the real world. They find this socialising fun and treat computer games as a hobby.

            It's an alien concept to some it seems!

          • Lanfranc says:

            ” If you think you can do so much better, go make your own city management game – put up or shut up.”

            Fallacy: Appeal to accomplishment. 15 demerit points.

          • Hahaha says:

            That view you and many people have is the problem.

            “if I moan enough someone else will do it for me”

            If your time frame is a week then fair enough but the time frame is YEARS plenty of time to have a social life while also making a game they deem suitable.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            So by your logic, I guess next time you have an ailment, you go study medicine. Respect!

            The only problem you will encounter is that having discovered the pharmaceutical needed to alleviate the aforementioned ailment you can’t write a prescription as you’re not deemed ‘qualified’. This is why people have different spheres of knowledge and areas of ‘qualified’ expertise!

          • Hahaha says:

            “So by your logic, I guess next time you have an ailment, you go study medicine. Respect!”

            By my logic if you had spent years moaning about the state of health care and telling the health care professionals how to do what they do then yes maybe you should do something seeing as you “know” so much.

            My logic is not as you say if you need something do it yourself

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Last time I looked plenty of high budget titles enable the exact thing you are on about. Free upgrades provided by community developers.

          You actually condone developers providing sub-par products so they can charge top dollar to enhance the experience? WOW!, if I understand you correctly!!

          • Brun says:

            You actually condone developers providing sub-par products so they can charge top dollar to enhance the experience?

            I condone developers making games however they damn well please, just as I condone customers *not buying* any game they find unpalatable.

            He clearly implied that the game *should* be different. My point was that he is confusing “should be” with “I want it to be”. The game “should be” whatever the game developer decides.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            So does this ‘condoning’ include misleading the consumer with paid for reviews? It’s a good way to enhance a product that is lacking by removing objectivity from mainstream critiques.

            Is any commercial underhand tactic OK as we don’t HAVE to buy the product?

          • Brun says:

            I wouldn’t call DLC (in general) an underhanded business tactic. Specific DLC can be bad, or poor value for money. I know some of the more militantly old-school RPSers will disagree, but to me it’s no different than selling expansion packs in smaller chunks.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Hi Brun. I think I am probably one of the old school types. My feeling about DLC is that I remember I used to buy a game, and I had the whole game. It cost me about £20-£30 and I had the whole thing right there. The first expansion packs I had for PC were the Half Life ones, and they were cheaper than the base game yet had loads of content. In half-life, I had a complete experience, with nothing missing. Opposing Force and Blue Shift were just ‘more’.

            Modern DLC feels like paying more for the same amount of ‘stuff’. They remove parts of the game and sell it to you later, making a £30 experience become a £50 one. Admittedly day one DLC is worse with this, because it is content that could have made the publication date, but still. It feels like I am being charged more for something that used to cost less. The only DLC I own came with GOTY versions, bought in steam sales. So for me its a ‘money down’ issue. To me it feels like being taken advantage of, in much the same way as if a £2.50 bus journey suddenly became £4.50 the very next week and made me change buses rather than being direct. The deal has got worse, and so I just don;t buy it.

            Yes its true that everyone has a choice, but the problem is that it is starting to become standard. Choice is the thing thats disappearing.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Keep that rationale away from the DLC apologists SuperNashwanPower, they won’t like it.

            Maybe when you HAVE to buy the DVD Case ‘with AAA artwork’ as the first step to actually getting the DVD with the game on they might up and listen to people’s concerns. (Don’t worry you will be able to pay and download the artwork FIRST for digital copies, I’m sure)

            In short, fair point well made SuperNashwanPower Sir!!

          • Brun says:

            You’re throwing all DLC under the same bus though, when it’s clearly not all like that. What about Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC – was that mercilessly cut from the original, despite being released over a year later? Was it not enough content to justify the $20 price tag? No, the original Skyrim was a complete game. Dragonborn is just more. So is Dawnguard, even though it’s pretty weak.

            Bad DLC can (and does!) exist. Good DLC can also exist.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            You are confusing DLC with DLC, that’s your problem there.

            Before you get obtuse YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!

            Edit; ironic wink ;-)

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            I think it is very much an emotional issue. Taking your Skyrim example, that is a game that for me was a 300 hour experience, which cost £30. You may argue this is not logical, but emotionally speaking anything I buy for Skyrim as DLC that costs £15 should give me at least 150 possible hours. Dragonborn and Dawnguard do not provide this, and so again its something I did not want to buy. My purchase decisions are emotional ones, and if I feel like a mug paying my money, it puts me off paying, given that gaming is a hobby that I do for fun.

            There have definitely been good DLC’s, you are totally right. But again it comes down to the contrast effect – I grew up with expansion packs being almost as big as the original game, yet costing less, and now DLC tends to be a fraction of the base game for quite a bit more than that fraction, to me, seems to merit (The “Back in MAH Day” principle :) ). You are of course right that buying a crummy gun pack or skin pack is not comparable to whole extra content, so I take your point there. I just really don’t like what DLC represents and choose not to spend my money on it. I think I am just repeating myself now, so I will stop typing :)

          • Brun says:

            Regarding expansion packs – you’re correct that most were big and cost less than the original game, but they usually cost more than what DLCs cost today. Most expansions cost $30 or $40, most DLC costs $10 or $20. DLCs are smaller, but they do, in general, cost less than the expansion packs of old.

            As for the Skyrim DLC needing to be 150 hours of content – yeah, not following that at all. Tribunal and Bloodmoon didn’t add 150 hours to Morrowind.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            As I said, very much an emotional choice. I don’t buy DLC, and yes I am left with the sense of “what did I miss?”, but equally the bitter taste of paying out more tends to cancel that out.

            I can’t comment on Morrowind etc as I did not play them, you may well be right. I think it would be better overall if this stuff was “nice to have” optional extras, rather than DLC becoming the standard route. That or much cheaper. Do you think that DLC is fairly priced? I would be surprised to hear that you think it is, but then I don’t know your disposable income / passion for gaming. For the record, I think that £5 is my sweet spot for whether I would buy or not. I would have possibly bought Dragonborn for a fiver, but £15 is just too much (not sure about the dollar conversion).

            Anyways cheers for the Friday evening discussion :) Its a crappy wet evening here in Aberdeen, Scotland and I’ve run out of biscuits :(

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Wouldn’t be necessary if people would just buy games at the $100 or $200 price points they should be at in reality. But people are stupid and will consume more if you break it into chunks. Not to mention most teenagers and college students don’t have enough self-control to save up that much money.

        A game like this is really expensive and they have to recoup their costs somehow. If you want something with a lower price point getting something that is cheap to make that has really broad appeal…like say Farmville or Solitaire.

        • Brun says:

          The industry needs to be taking a long, hard look at the entire process of developing a game through the lens of reducing the cost without compromising quality. I know that’s the kind of thing big companies are loath to do. They hate changing the way they do things. But to keep making games like they did in 2000 is inviting disaster. Consumer expectations are only going to get higher, and without some means of delivering without unacceptable price point increases the big studios will be in a real bind.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            That’s the most reasonable thing you’ve said in this thread so far.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Maybe the marketing budget would be a good place to start. A good product sells regardless.

            However it seems that it’s easier to create a not so good product and spend millions advertising it(and using the advertising budget as a carrot and stick for *business’* who review games.)

            I for one would much prefer marketing money was spent on development as you can’t play an advert!

          • Brun says:

            Been saying it for years now. They can either rise to meet those increasing customer demands, or they can complain about how hard it is for poor little old them to deal with these outrageous expectations. One makes them money, the other makes them look like a bunch of lazy dullards. The choice should be obvious.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Not from a business perspective. The game may bomb and those development costs go in the loss column.

            Far better to make a low quality product, bribe reviewers and ram it down gamers throats.

            Guess I’m an ‘old schooler’ who will voice my concerns about AAA developer’s practices. Opposed to people who give them cart blanche to do as they will.

            The old adage of ‘shit happened to someone and I did nothing, more shit happened to quite a few people and I did nothing saying it was OK because it didn’t affect me, by the time shit happened to me there was no one left to help me with my shit’

          • Brun says:

            It’s not about developing one game, and worrying about it bombing. It’s about developing new ways to make the same games (which you already know won’t bomb), but cheaper. A hypothetical example: Activision develops Call of Duty MW4. It’s very much the same as its predecessors, except that it was developed with a novel process that meant it cost 50% less to produce. They could then take this novel process and apply it to all of their games. The cost reductions would be enough to offset the increase in customer expectations.

      • Kestilla says:

        People look through their rose-tinted glasses at Simcity 4 and it’s Rush Hour expansion, and think it was always that way.

        And forget about the Sims series’ huge cascade of expansion packs / DLC. I don’t know about you but I still enjoy good old classic Sims 1, I never bought an expansion for Sims 2, and I think you really can’t get any better than the core Sims 3 product. Everything I ever wanted was in each of those, no embellishment needed.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          I can’t agree with your assessment of the Sims series. With the exception of the orignal, those games have a real issue with the vanilla content being so mediocre that adding additional material (mods, xpacs) is the only way to make the experience anything but a grind-fest.

          Maxis/EA intentionally dumb down the base Sims games in order to sell more DLC, and they do it with plenty of forethought — why else would we be seeing similar paid content releases for both Sims 2 and Sims 3?

    • Lemming says:

      What the hell does ‘MOD’s’ stand for? Or do you mean mods?

      • jalf says:

        Mighty Octopus Disasters?

      • Kestilla says:

        He was a recurring character from the original Star Trek. He appeared prominently in the episode MOD’s Women.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        ‘What the hell does ‘MOD’s’ stand for? Or do you mean mods?’ Five star pedantry there, glad you actually knew what I meant and took the time out of your obviously busy OCD schedule to correct.

        Doffs the cap(don’t worry yourself it went back on straight, no jaunty angle to trouble you deeply!)

        • Lemming says:

          It was actually a genuine question, and a good job I asked too. It’s confusing if you make things look like an acronym, of which there are many in gaming circles. No need to get snippy. You made a mistake, sack up, learn from it and move on.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          I said ‘and through MOD’s improve on the initial offering’

          If that is not fairly self explanatory I don’t know what is.

          Fuckin MOD’s or mods, you stick to your nit picking fella, I guess someone has to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ in life, I guess to give it a sense of purpose, respect!!

          Mind I’m a sad fuck for biting…………….

          • Lemming says:

            so you see my problem. You not only made up an acronym where there wasn’t one, but used a possessive as well. The whole sentence didn’t make sense and I wanted to be sure what you were saying.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Yes, I see your problem, it’s glaringly obvious! (though I suspect this sentence will be a WHOOSH! and before you start, No!, WHOOSH is not an acronym.)

  12. DonJefe says:

    Dear EA, press “edit server park” and “plop” down new servers. Problem fixed. It’s that easy in your own game, so why can’t you figure it out?

  13. Zeewolf says:

    Thanks for this article, it’s nice with something to read while waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting to be able to play.

    • Zeewolf says:

      AAAARGH, just got bumped out of the queue due to a “network error”. Another 19 minutes.

      • Zeewolf says:

        And just in case anyone cares (no, I know, but still): I did get online. I played for a couple of hours, had some fun, and then found out that the game never saved my city. Now it’s in apparently limbo, and the location is unclaimable. Woho.

      • Uthred says:

        Just to note that 19 minute countdown isnt a queue its how long the game client waits before trying to reconnect. Its faster to just shut down and relaunch the game a few times to see if you can get in because waiting 19 minutes if functionally identical to a restart

  14. Hahaha says:

    What was the real reason amazon stopped selling the digital version of the game?

    reposted from other comment system
    “so from 9pm to 1am (around 4 hours) they decide to stop selling the game and then decided to sell it again?”

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Probably a phone call from EA’s retail relations department.

  15. Silva Shadow says:

    Do they remove posts on rps for mentioning alternatives to this game?

    • Hahaha says:

      Civitas (spelling is most likely 100% wrong) marketing TEAM GO

    • Joshua Northey says:

      If they come across as spam they sometimes do. This isn’t a place to advertise.

    • Kestilla says:

      Alternatives like Simcity 4 and CitiesXL are one thing but constantly advertising KickStarter pages for unfinished projects is exactly that: advertising.

  16. Joshua Northey says:

    From solely a game perspective I give it say a 7/10. I enjoy the genre and the glassbox engine is great and everything works really well. The presentation is kind of mediocre.

    Unfortunately, with the size of the cities you can use, the densities are WAY WAY WAY too high. At the very least the area around your city (the wilderness) should fill up with lower density suburbs. It is extremely uncommon for skyscrapers to be springing up with nothing around them (unless you are in Dubai), but it happens all the time here. Similarly because of the small scale many transportation mechanics just aren’t realistic, people won’t walk more than a few hundred feet. People will get on mass transit to go to something that is just down the block. the cramped quarters also prevent a lot of the more interesting planning and zoning concerns/scenarios from even being possible. My wife and I would have been fine with SimTown and would have enjoyed it, so why not make that if you are going to stick with this scale instead of shoehorning in skyscrapers and mass transit where they make little sense?

    As far as a product, so far 0/10. The “online features” add extremely little to the game, and the server login process both involves way too many menus and clicks, and seems to break at different points throughout frequently. My wife bought it and tried to play it on the 6th, after 2 hours of trying to help her with it I gave up, on the 7th it mostly worked off and on, but she easily spent 2 hours fiddling with it and 3 or 4 hours playing. And now today it is not working at all again.

    I am sure as the masses move on to something else in a week or two the server issues will sort themselves out, but if you want to make us use a worthless onerous online component you should at least make sure it actually works. The industry is only going to get so many shots at this new model before it becomes as hated as some of those SecureDVD programs and becomes impossible so they have to do a better job.

    • Brun says:

      I would rather them just continue to screw the pooch until these server requirements become taboo, forcing them to try a different approach. The world’s internet infrastructure is not ready for this sort of thing.

  17. Lagwolf says:

    To some up simcity in one word it is: server busy.

    Oh yes & I have found some game-breaking bugs too which is nice.

    I got up @ bloody 6am to make sure I could get on to review it too.

    I just love the count-down queue to join a server that restarts after it gets to zero.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Dimonte says:

    I would like to add my couple of cents to this pre-WIT.

    Handling of rough terrain is even more broken in this game than it was in SC4. It really is that horrible. I couldn’t use about half of seemingly accessible space on a moderately hilly map. There is no terraforming apart from that the game makes automatically when you lay down roads and place buildings. Sometimes it prevents you from joining roads, sometimes it prevents you from plopping building add-on. It looks horrible all the time, and when zoomed out, terrain gets simplified and covers your roads and parts of buildings, there are no LOD settings in the game. All in all, hilly maps are out unless you want to do a really small and ugly town.

    Economy is broken if you push it a bit. I started a game on an oil-rich map, disregarded pretty much everything, built oil wells, accumulated a bit of a crude oil reserve on my trading stations, sold it all in one day to get refinery, build one, accumulated a bit of fuel, sold it all in one day to get trading port, then played for about four hours with balance about 10 000 in the red every hour and money still accumulating from trading. Mind you, it wasn’t “multiplayer” trading, just plain old “sell to abstract global market” trading.

    And, finally, size of the cities. It’s so tiny, you can’t really do anything interesting unless you are prepared to abandon your city couple of hours later. You can’t use pretty curvy roads – you’ll waste space. You can’t plop down non-space efficient building. You can’t do anything aesthetically pleasing at all. This is the greatest disappointment for me.

    So, I’ll probably be going back to SC4 for my city-building needs. I’ll miss some stuff, this rebooted version has some awesome things going for it, most of it shown in previews and praised in reviews, but as a whole game, right now, it’s just not there.

    • Fiatil says:

      I don’t see how that makes the economy broken at all? You’re in the red because the higher level services cost tons of money, but you’re making money in lump sums from your resource sales to compensate for that. If you were a casino city it would balance on your hourly net income, but you’re selling commodities in lump sums so you make all of your profit on the monthly income statement.

      The game presents itself with an option to strip mine/drill for resources and have that be a viable path to make money. Your entire city is built around extracting resources, if you couldn’t make money off of that there really wouldn’t be a point in the specialization at all. Being able to afford a refinery and all of that fairly fast isn’t broken; those are early to mid game steps you need to be able to unlock your buildings…

      • Premium User Badge

        Dimonte says:

        I consider it broken because it’s about 10 buildings (if you count cheap trade depots), and you’re rich. I could’ve done a great works site all by myself if I could be bothered.

        EDIT:
        Oh, and I should’ve clarified. My balance was 10k in the red each in-game hour. That’s about 10 or so seconds in real time.

        Another EDIT:
        I see now that I worded my point about finances poorly. My expenses had almost nothing to do with oil business. Oil extraction and refining cost me about 2k per in-game hour while bringing in about 20k.

        • Fiatil says:

          Right, I understand what you’re saying. I have an ore town right now with -20k in overall, and I’m making huge economic profits by turning everything into alloys and shipping it off. An oil town like that will absolutely make massive short term profits, but at the expense of long term success if you don’t do a really good job of planning for the future. Oil reserves don’t last terribly long, and oh my god do they pollute. Your citizens are going to be extra germy and your water table is essentially black sludge after awhile. I’ve had several friends in my region brag about all of their early game profits only to watch it all slowly slip away as their oil wells stop producing as much or as their poorly planned traffic network creates huge bottlenecks in their supply chain.

          If you just plop down those buildings and don’t really care about the effects on your populace, yeah, you’re going to make tons of money until your supplies run out. As Ocean Quigley said on his twitter before launch, something I was skeptical of but happy to be proven wrong, the game gets much harder as your city grows in size and tech level/services. I had a slum running a nice 12k an hour profit that I could have kept going for a long time and been quite rich, but as soon as I started adding in the advanced hospitals, police stations, and oh god education, that margin narrows immensely as your city looks much nicer and becomes a utopia.

  19. solymer89 says:

    That clip from the (US) Office of Michael upon seeing the return of Toby….

    NOOOOOOO GOD! NO GOD PLEASE NO!! NO! NO!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  20. wodin says:

    I wouldn’t care if this article praised it to high heaven..always on for what is a single player game is a no buy from me.

  21. LionsPhil says:

    Playing SimCity 2000 in DOSBox instead.

    Hasn’t lost server connection once.

  22. vexis58 says:

    Did you actually manage to build a coal mine in your second city? I played during the beta and couldn’t figure out how to do it at all. Started up a second town just like you did, and the description of the city was talking a lot about coal, so I figured “sure, I’ll make a coal-mining town over here!” A popup told me I could build a coal mine, I got a quest to build a coal mine and found the coal-rich area on the map, but when I found the part of the menu with the mines in it, it was crossed out with no explanation and I couldn’t click on it to build one.

    Not like I’m actually planning to play it now that it’s released. I’m not a fan of paying $60 for a game that has a chance to delete my save data every time my connection has a hiccup. I’m just curious what magic word I was supposed to say to get the coal mines to work.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Like most things, coal mines have some sort of requirement to unlock no doubt. By the time I had the money and desire to build it, it had already been approved so I can’t rightly remember what I had to do.

      I’d check right now but haven’t been able to get back in the game since yesterday.

      • Cerzi says:

        Most things actually only need your town hall to be built. It’s rather confusingly laid out but each tab of the “city specialization” menu has at least 1-2 buildings that can be built without any requirement. In fact, a single city can build all of these, and indeed “specialize” in every single branch simultaneously, in theory.

        There are no choices that permanently rule out other options – the nearest thing is only being allowed to choose a single extension per upgrade (city hall, HQs, university, etc) – but with enough upgrades you can build all the extensions, too.

        So, it’s actually really easy to kick-start a city with all the fundamental buildings you need by taking out bonds: in the early game you can take out 3x25k bonds, not long into things you can take out 3x50k – all with very generous interest rates.

  23. SkittleDiddler says:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2013/03/08/the-simcity-effect-we-need-an-industry-wide-return-policy-for-defective-and-unplayable-games/

    If you’re in the US, and you’re looking at this right now, go sign this guy’s petition. We can at least try to stop companies like EA from constantly screwing us over.

  24. Lagwolf says:

    This is a bandwidth hog over time. I am on a fat pipe and signed onto a East Coast US server (I am on the East Coast of the US). By the end my wife & mother were grousing because no one else could do anything online. The net-code on this pig of a game is rubbish.

  25. Siamese Almeida says:

    I don’t know if anyone said it before, but it needs to be said.

    This game looks really fucking ugly.

    The faceless toddler-ready Simsesque art style, bland color palette, lack of detail. One of the major appeals of Simcity 4 was how beautiful your city could be. Especially when the mods started rolling in. This is just plain generic. Plastic. It’s so generic I can’t even think of a proper way to deride it.

    I take no particular pleasure in creating ugly cities. If I just want gameplay for gameplay’s sake, there’s always Dwarf Fortress.

  26. brotherthree says:

    Adam reviewing an online multiplayer game and not bitching and moaning incessantly?

    ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz