Maxis Insider Tells RPS: SimCity Servers Not Necessary

By John Walker on March 12th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

In all the fuss and mess of the disastrous SimCity launch, one refrain has been repeated again and again. While legions may be begging for an offline mode, EA representatives have been abundantly clear that this simply isn’t possible. Maxis’ studio head, Lucy Bradshaw, has told both Polygon and Kotaku that they “offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers”, and that it would take “a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game” for single player.

A SimCity developer has got in touch with RPS to tell us that at least the first of these statements is not true. He claimed that the server is not handling calculations for non-social aspects of running the game, and that engineering a single-player mode would require minimal effort.

Our source, who we have verified worked directly on the project but obviously wishes to remain anonymous, has first-hand knowledge of how the game works. He has made it absolutely clear to us that this repeated claim of server-side calculations is at odds with the reality of the project he worked on. Our source explains:

“The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless.”

People were already perplexed by EA’s explanation of the impossibility of offline play. Kotaku ran a series of tests today, seeing how the game could run without an internet connection, finding it was happy for around 20 minutes before it realised it wasn’t syncing to the servers. Something which would surely be impossible were the servers co-running the game itself. Markus “Notch” Persson just tweeted to his million followers that he managed to play offline too, despite EA’s claims. And now with the information from our source, it would seem the claims just don’t hold water.

So what are the servers doing? Well, alongside the obvious, of being involved in allowing players to share the same maps for their cities, and processing imports and exports between them, they’re really there to check that players aren’t cheating or hacking. However, these checks aren’t in real-time – in fact, they might take a few minutes, so couldn’t be directly involved in your game.

“Because of the way Glassbox was designed, simulation data had to go through a different pathway. The game would regularly pass updates to the server, and then the server would stick those messages in a huge queue along with the messages from everyone else playing. The server pulls messages off the queue, farms them out to other servers to be processed and then those servers send you a package of updates back. The amount of time it could take for you to get a server update responding to something you’ve just done in the game could be as long as a few minutes. This is why they disabled Cheetah mode, by the way, to reduce by half the number of updates coming into the queue.”

Clearly an offline game that included a single-player simulation of the region system derived from multiplayer would be more challenging to develop, but our source assured us that it was far from impossible.

So how difficult would it be for EA to create a single-player game that simply did away with the multiplayer-derived aspects and just let us build? It seems that lies somewhere between “easy peasy” and Bradshaw’s claims of “significant engineering”. According to our source:

“It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff.”

EA’s claims about the necessity of online play – claims that more people are seeing for themselves not to be true, just by running the game with the internet cable yanked out – seem inexplicable.

We’d obviously be very interested to hear a proper explanation.

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321 Comments »

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  1. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    +5, Mr. Walker (and the Maxis insider). Give ‘em hell and don’t let this go.

    • Diggidy says:

      Damn straight. They apologized for fucking their own customers over, and now RPS has evidence that they are straight up lying to us. This is a PR nightmare they have brought upon themselves – unreasonably demanding that their customers always be online and then not having the common decency to return the favor. Assholes.

      • konrad_ha says:

        I’m so glad I didn’t buy the new Sim City, I feel like a champ. Seeing all this I predict it won’t be long before someone takes to Kickstarter to create the City Building Simulation that fans want and deserve. There clearly is a massive demand for it.

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            Llewyn says:

            I think he means someone credible. Civitas might not be an intentional scam but it certainly looks like a fantasy project. Sadly.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Developers who won’t even tell you who they are, designing a complex city simulation with decent graphics for only $250,000. That couldn’t possibly be a scam, could it?

          • Giuseppe says:

            I have no idea if it’s a scam or not, but the kind of “decent graphics”, as you’ve called them, that I’ve seen on their page is reasonably straightforward and easy to do these days.

          • Shuck says:

            Clearly there’s demand for a game like this, given how much money has been given already to a project that is nothing but red flags. (It’s pretty clear at this point that they do not have the team they claim, and the people actually on the team have little to no industry experience.) If it isn’t a scam, it’s a very dishonestly presented fantasy project. Which I guess also makes it a scam.

          • konrad_ha says:

            Civitas looks like a scam from miles away and yet managed to raise 80k already. Just imagine what a credible team and project could do.

          • Suits says:

            Ends on April 1st, the joke being that you threw your money at a scam

          • Strazz says:

            I was hopeful the first time I saw that Kickstarter, but then a lot of the inconsistencies coming from Brandon Smith (guy behind Civitas) have raised a few red flags. On the “Meet the team” thread, he says he’s worried about losing his job at Greylan Studios if word about the Kickstarter spreads… a WHOIS and the App Store listings seem to indicate Brandon Smith = Greylan Studios plus, when you back the project, the e-mail from Amazon says you have authorized a payment to Greylan Studios.

          • Lemming says:

            Apologies if this is the only time, you norfolk, have posted this but please do fuck off with the Civitas spamming in SC threads.

            ALTERNATIVE GAMES ALREADY EXIST.

          • norfolk says:

            Haha, wow, was unaware of the vitriol surrounding Civitas. Definitely is my first time posting about it, and it was in response to someone who suggested there needs to be a kickstarter for a city simulation game… seemed like an obvious and helpful response. Sheesh.

            Though, with regards to the project specifically, there are definite question marks.

          • Hahaha says:

            Because the link for it is spammed all over the place is fucking annoying.

            In relation to the article about time seeing how easy this is to test #

            same GPU just swap out to a low end CPU and see how the simulation does or doesn’t slow to a crawl.

            also
            “It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff.”

            So making one of the things people are pissed about the main thing people are pissed about (tiny citys/no way to multi task one city effectively)?

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          MeatMan says:

          It’s already happened. Google “Civitas kickstarter”.

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            Cinek says:

            DON’T. It smells like a totally unrealistic scam from a mile.

          • Shuck says:

            I find it pretty depressing that a project that looks so much like a scam and has nothing to show (nor does it have a team that could fulfill the vision) is getting so much attention (and money) simply due to the fact that EA screwed up Sim City’s launch.

          • konrad_ha says:

            The timing and overall presentation of Civitas make it abundantly clear that the initiator counted heavily on EA screwing up. There’s almost a joke in here with a scammer using EA’s business practices to make some quick cash.

          • Apocalypse says:

            “We have worked on several recent AAA titles such as Mortal Kombat, Darksiders 2, Borderlands 2, Quake 4, Section 8, F.E.A.R., and multiple IOS and mobile titles.”

            Honestly, I would be pissed if people keep telling everywhere that it is a scam, just because my little indie studio is lacking high-profile developers.
            But I guess, similar stuff was said about Notch when he started with Minecraft ;-)

            Will Civitas reference of genre? Probably not at release, but those developers can put a lot of efford into the game for even just 250.000$ and expand on the game in further releases. That is the whole idea behind kickstarter or used to be, some people seem to think Kickstarter is just another way to pre-order some new games from big studios which want to play some power games with their publishers.

          • Deadly Sinner says:

            Funny how they don’t name those people who supposedly worked on those AAA game. They could be testers for all we know.

            Also, Notch didn’t ask for a quarter million dollars and he had reasonable goals.

          • abandonhope says:

            I’m not at all convinced it’s a scam, but the language for the rewards (you get the “first release version”) suggests that there might be post-release versions that are not included. That would certainly be odd, but the ambiguity is enough to sap what little interest I had (there’s just not enough to go by).

          • solidsquid says:

            It’s possible they’re not native speakers and meant you would get the game ahead of the official release, or maybe get a copy when it goes into alpha/beta. Not being native english might also explain the low costs, some countries have significantly lower living costs/average income than the UK and could do this on a lower budget without any real negative consequences.

            Or it could be a scam, since this is just conjecture and doesn’t actually have anything backing it up. It is possible though

        • nimbulan says:

          Barring the Kickstarter project that everyone’s talking about, I’m actually looking forward to Clockwork Empires for my city building needs. The game is aiming to be more of an accessible Dwarf Fortress than a Sim City so it may not have quite the same customer base in mind, but Gaslamp’s humor should make it quite an experience. Knowing them it will be quite cheap as well.

        • AaronLee says:

          I’m tempted to prototype one after this :/

      • sjebran3 says:

        Brooklyn. true that Amy`s article is unimaginable, I just bought a new Jaguar E-type after having made $4718 this last 4 weeks and-also, 10k last munth. it’s definitly the coolest job I’ve ever done. I began this five months/ago and almost immediately started to bring in minimum $79, p/h. I use this web-site, http://www.Fly38.COm/

    • Calculon says:

      Sorry – dont usually “reply” at the top to have the post seen, but in this case it is rather important.

      The On-Line only issue is actually only the tip of the ice-berg – at least to me. It has been discovered by some of the players and posted in EA’s forum – that in fact the “GlassBox” engine is in fact BROKEN.

      Apparently SimCity actually only simulats a very small % of the population, and the rest is relatively fake numbers called a “Shadow population”. Its absolutely game breaking around the 100k population mark as just about everything starts to fall apart.

      It’s so bad that its been discovered you could NEVER make a single industrial zone, and have a happy healthy, and better functioning society. I could type a heck of a lot more about what else is broken, but it would take too long and there are far better posts in the EA SimCity Forum.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Quite. Intrusive DRM would be bad enough on its own, but when the actual game itself is knobbled to fit with the agenda (here, or with D3 where the characters are basically just manikins for your purchased items, for example) that’s the point at which the pub/dev combo has, collectively, completely forgotten what they’re supposed to be doing – i.e., making games.

        The limitations with the Glassbox engine (traffic AI and so on) might not be specifically linked to the DRM, but both it and the DRM share a common ancestor of a company that’s conceiving of its customers as idiots, dupes or assholes.

        • pagla says:

          interesting post(original one). I believe they are using statistical modelling to calculate data, the same one that is used to calculate exit polls. Now this modelling is pretty accurate given that u have a correct representative random sample, however in experiments the random samples they have contructed may not hold further the reason why its only occuring at higher pop is that for exit poll moddelling or any as a matter of fact u require a min num of population. This number is fixed and not dependent on the total that is regardless of the total pop a number of say 500 will give the same accurate data, as for a lower pop

          • dgz says:

            I am honest enough to acknowledge that I couldn’t possibly understand the actual math behind this – or any other, for that matter – method for generating data. Maybe this is why I don’t truest anyone claiming to represent actualities with made up data. Extrapolation is sinister.

        • Hahaha says:

          Maxis or EA and if EA then your saying EA told maxis to make glassbox?

      • warsarge says:

        Calculon – what’s your source on this. I’d love to look this up.

        • Mozzarella Cat says:

          Here’s the thread. The poster, mono_NAJAS, actually refers to it as a “phantom population”. The gist of it is that after surpassing the 500 population mark, the game starts adding “fake” sims to pump population numbers. They got to the point where a 6-sim house actually added 22 sims to the population.

          The poster also spotted a few other bugs too, like workers being killed if you demolish a building while they’re inside of it but not being reflected in the population count, and deaths not changing the number of sims in a house–so if that household moves out, your population loses more than the living sims.

          Here it is on Reddit: http://redd.it/1a6oeo

          Keep in mind the game expects you to fill jobs with those phantom sims.

          • Utsunomiya says:

            It just hit me.
            This game must be based on Gogol’s novel! It’s a work of art, you fools!
            I’m still giggling at the irony.

      • Lagwolf says:

        One of the things that people don’t mention is what a bandwidth hog the game is. If you play it long enough it will take all your bandwidth and throttle your internet connection (for anyone else) even with a more than adequate connection. Here is my review of the game. http://blogcritics.org/gaming/article/pc-game-review-simcity/

      • zbeeblebrox says:

        It’s even worse than that. On reddit, someone did a test of the road logic trying to figure out why traffic jams happen even when alternative routes are built. What they found was that traffic was using a super basic out-of-the-box D* algorithm to control pathfinding. Like, entry level AI programming stuff, but worse because there’s NO WEIGHTING – a calculation that costs almost nothing. So what this means is that if you have two roads leading to a destination, one is low capacity but straight and the other is high capacity but even just a single increment longer, ALL cars will ALWAYS take the shorter path and your high capacity road will remain unused regardless off how bad traffic gets.

        All they would’ve needed to do was assign lower capacity roads higher weight values (which would get folded into the distance calculation, effectively making crappy roads look longer to the AI) so that the sim doesn’t break down at the simplest level of scrutiny (and hardly give you anything truly robust) and they didn’t even do THAT.

        Or rather, they never got the chance to. This game should have remained in development for at least 3-6 more months. Even though these sorts of simulation issues are totally on Maxis, I can’t help but lay all the blame on EA. This whole fiasco is textbook publisher mismanagement.

      • trinka00 says:

        just couldn’t wait could u?

        noooo, not you……
        just had to post at the top this time, right where…Every Body Could See…,,,,,,,

        Well if you’re ever find yourself here again,
        you know, being an intelligent person and full of consideration….
        just remember this day, and the mercy that shone down from this, what is usually the Seat of Wrath and Assumed Motivationz…. mark the boundaries of that mercy, good poster,
        lest you forget what ground be solid beneath you.

    • Giuseppe says:

      What I truly find amazing is that it seems EA obviously didn’t expect anyone (at least not anyone significant) to call them out on their bullshit. I mean, you wouldn’t pull this sort of dumb-ass move if you expect to get caught. So how idiotic can EA be? This discovery, which truly isn’t much of a discovery, as it is something pretty obvious, will mean a PR nightmare for EA. I suspect it also means in a few weeks there might be some sort of working pirated version of SimCity, minus “all the nifty region stuff.”

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        Cinek says:

        “So how idiotic can EA be?” – there are no boundaries.
        No boundaries for that!

        Whole this garbage about that game is just hard to listen.
        Oh, and to add more into an insult: It seems like the game is completely unplayable in a middle and late stage of city development. The game engine cannot handle the complex simulation at all, and city turns into total chaos – eg. only a small fraction of population actually goes to work, everyone else remain endlessly unemployed.

        Sorry, but this game is one, gigantic failure.

        Which as a great shame, cause I really love this series!

      • RvLeshrac says:

        EA made lots of money from people stupid enough to buy the game. They achieved their goal, I don’t know why people are saying this is a “disaster” for EA.

        • Blackseraph says:

          Well this is a PR disaster, companies actually do care about how much their customers like/hate them.

          If they are hated it will cost them in the long run usually.

          • Apocalypse says:

            You live freely if you haven’t a reputation to lose.
            And EA has no reputiation to lose anymore, worst company of america 2012. And they are going to defend their title in 2013.

          • Banana_Republic says:

            That’s what should happen. With EA though, the masses just keep coming back for more. I don’t think that most of their customers ever realize they are getting screwed. EA must be slipping ‘em some serious rufies.

        • Giuseppe says:

          While I obviously have no idea if EA will lose money on this or if it will be a financial success, it is already becoming evident that from a PR perspective the situation is quickly turning very, very sour.

        • Berious says:

          Well if they had focused on “fun” first rather than “how do we justify always-on” and made decent game that was well received they would have made even more money as people like me would’ve rushed out and bought a copy too rather than just rubbernecking the PR train wreck.

        • Turkey says:

          Their other goal was to have a 4 year platform for DLC and microtransactions, though. I don’t see how that’s going to work out now.

          • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

            That’s worth underlining. Several times, in red pen.

      • AlienMind says:

        EA has done the economically correct thing. The money is already in their pocket. Their target audience has ADD attention spans. They WILL buy the next bullshit they churn out like the good lemmings they are. This issue they resolve with “silence is golden” like they did the last 99999 issues.

        • ThePresent says:

          As an adult with ADD, I would like to inform you that I am not in fact stupid or suffering from memory loss. This “attention span” you use to call people stupid by comparing them to me is not working how you think it is. The attention span is the time I can focus on things I want to do. It does not mean I suddenly do something else or forget what has happened. It means that continuing to do what you want to do is PAINFULLY hard after this point. Like reading a book about advanced math at a full train station with massive ambient noise while someone is yelling gibberish in your ear and someone else is tucking on your clothes. I still continue what I am doing but it is a massive pain in the ass. I’d really love it when people would stop using “ADD” to call people stupid or sheepish. I don’t suddenly move on to the next game and then buy the new game of the company who just treated me like dirt. I have simply massive trouble doing what I love to do for an extended amount of time, but I do it anyway.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Nice one ThePresent, you caught AlienMind square in the nuts there, missing his brain by mm’s!!

          • Incredibly_Shallow says:

            Well said. Its far quicker from a cognitive stance for people to lump people who are different from them into easily dismissed groups than to consider their actual viewpoint. I’d bet there was no malice intended, but that’s the point, in lumping together people with attention disorders with the whole of the capricious gaming market, the poster just failed to consider or comprehend the viewpoint of people who actually have attention disorders. Not a cardinal sin, but clearly offensive to someone who struggles with the issue.

      • Magraal says:

        Am I the only one who sees the obvious connection to Spore here? Spore had a set of ‘online’ features whereby it would pull data from other players’ games and then use them in yours. How is this different from Sim City? Spore had a working offline mode if you bought it (albeit under draconian DRM) and obviously if you didn’t too…..

        • Yglorba says:

          The other difference was that social aspects were a lot more core to Spore’s basic concept (despite being, strictly speaking, optional.) Sure, you could play the game singleplayer, but all the artistic design involved in the later parts would be fairly wasted if you’re not showing your creations to anyone, and the galaxy would be a lot less interesting to explore if it wasn’t populated with anyone else’s creations.

          (Granted that, like a lot of social stuff, it ended up being far more limited than the game’s initial description had implied — but Spore failed at a lot of its promises.)

    • Deano2099 says:

      If making it work offline is really that easy then the pirates will have it done in a month and we can all stop worrying about it.

  2. WoundedBum says:

    I don’t know too much about the game, but Kotaku disconnected from the net and it ran for quite a while after which seems to support what this guy says.

    • Poklamez says:

      @Xocrates: I think that is to be expected at any launch of any game. It will boost the sales of other products with that brand. I would be shocked if they didn’t start to sell more of their old games, especially with all the attention the new SimCity has gotten.

  3. caustic says:

    why are people so concerned with this game?

    • DickSocrates says:

      Why are you not concerned? That’s the more perplexing question. It’s almost like you have no idea what’s going on or what anything means.

    • Chris D says:

      SimCity is a series that many people have very fond memories of. But beyond that it’s a test case to see whether publishers can get away with pulling this crap or not. It’s not just about this game it’s about the future of DRM.

      • Jimbo says:

        Success will stick, failure won’t. Failure would (probably correctly) be blamed on how broken this system is specifically, not on always-on DRM in principle.

        • AngoraFish says:

          “We gave people a complex city simulation with AAA graphics and all the bells and whistles and they didn’t like it, I guess there’s simply no demand for a product like this. Best we just get back to designing linear shooters, which we know people will like.”

          • TCM says:

            Whether or not ‘people’ like it isn’t the problem — If Critics like it, and it sold enough to make a profit, the entire thing is justified as a corporate venture.

          • Xocrates says:

            Simcity 4 has bumped to steam’s top 20 best sellers since the new one came out, and 2000 is currently 4th on GoG. I wonder if anyone at EA will notice that.

          • Jimbo says:

            The guy in the Trivial Amounts of Money Department might notice it.

          • Xocrates says:

            @Jimbo: SC4 is currently outselling COD:BLOPS 2 and its recently released DLC. Even considering COD is mostly a console shooter, the fact that 10 year old SC4 is competing and winning the latest COD is noteworthy.

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            Saul says:

            @TCM And the critics did like the game – at first. But the later reviews have been less kind. The Metacritic rating dropped 11 points in the week or so after release. Polygon even went so far as to revise their review score – from 9.5 to 8 and then to 4. That’s not a good look in anyone’s language.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Saul, the major reviewers looked at EA’s advertising budget and as ever gave favourable reviews. They then saw their readership up in arms and thought we actually need people to read our reviews to get advertising sales.

            The scales tipped in favour of giving an honest appraisal, purely for financial reasons!

    • konrad_ha says:

      Because EA turned one of the most beloved franchises of PC-gaming history into a giant turd of DRM shenanigans.

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      darkChozo says:

      Beyond SimCity being a rather well-liked series, this is also a major publisher implementing draconian DRM on a AAA title under what were apparently false pretenses. Even if you don’t care about the DRM debate, the fact that they both intentionally crippled (re: launch issues, no offline play whatsoever, game dies if the Internet goes out) the game and lied about why should be troubling.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      SimCity is a classic series. That would be like asking why people care about the Civilization games.

    • RetrogradeRenegade says:

      Because apathy is death.

    • frightlever says:

      Is Sim City a “game”?

    • Dinger says:

      Excellent question. Sure, you might have just been trolling, but it is important to ask, “why are people so concerned about this game?”

      Pull up the chair, and let ol’ Granpa tell you a story. When I was a but a child, I went to a Community College and had a job. My job was playing computer games in a small office, back when “software testing” was something you not only could do while going to Community College, you could get paid for. We were an independent contracting house. Most of the games were the shovelware crap of the day — I have my share of war stories.

      One day, we were asked to do final external testing on this Mac game from some small company out in Orinda. Yes, it was SimCity, and yes, it was an amazing game.

      But it was more than an amazing game, it was amazing code. I remember we only encountered one showstopper bug. You could move around the city, but the city itself was frozen in time.

      On the phone to Maxis, the reply (probably from Jeff Braun) was straightforward, “Yeah, that just means the simulation crashed; the interface will keep running.”

      I know this sounds like basic game coding 101, but between the games I worked on and the ones we had in office for “research”, I was seeing between a half-dozen and a dozen games a week, on all platforms, and I’d never seen a game that was so well behaved as to have the simulation hang without bringing down the whole thing. And the stability was right up there with the titles from the PCEngine that we were certifying for the US market: frankly, there weren’t very many bugs, and those that we found were so minor as to be inconsequential. This was clean code.

      The original was a rare thing: one of the few perfect games. Flawless code, easily readable, immediately accessible, SimCity gave birth to a genre while it marked a fond spot in the memories of a generation.

      So it hurts to see it become the predictable result of groupthink mediocrity, a vision darkened by the urge to monetize and blinded by the buzzword-laden venom spat out by suit-wearing asps whose MBAs give them the right to override common sense and computer science.

      For those managers who think the blasphemy of SimCity can all be attributed to teething problems, let me state clearly in your terms the problem: As long as you treat games as having a retail channel, you will be following a marketing model that flogs week 1 sales. DRM necessarily affects the core functionality of a game and necessarily changes continuously (out-of-date DRM might as well not be used). If you attach DRM to such a game, you will then increase significantly the chances that a significant percentage of your customers will not be able to play the game; that is, you will increase the number of dud products you sell. If you require internet-connected DRM, then you increase those odds by several orders of magnitude.
      Always-on, Server-client games require a “Games as Service” business model. That business model is simply incompatible with a Week-1 spike in sales. A blockbuster movie has people waiting in line to see it. A video game with a long queue only generates hostility.

      Your job is only safe until someone comes up with a metric to show how many millions you’ve wasted. Until then, enjoy laying off the people who actually contributed positively to the project.

      So in short, what was a revolutionary title built on solid code, is now a “me-too” adaptation to the Social Network of 2008 with code that evokes comparisons to WWIIOL at launch.

      • level12boss says:

        You, sir, exemplify the reason I still bother to login to the intarwebs. Amazing story, well told.

        You’ll likely be amused with my story of Mac version of SimCity 2000. Digging deep within the resource fork of the application files (as young lads then did), I discovered a “message in a bottle” surreptitiously placed by the guy who did the Mac port, with his email address. I contacted him to say hi, and he told me I had a world first. *fistpump*

        Even the sourcecode is fun. Or used to be.

      • sockdemon says:

        That’s so beautiful and sad I think I’m crying now…..

        The ultra cynic in me thinks that this isn’t about DRM at all. Simply a way to lock up the content and release tons of DLC. Modders almost managed to perfect SC4 and possibly could make…. er…… something out of this. Watching the crazy cult like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTJQTc-TqpU makes me all the more confused and sad…How could anyone misunderstand their audience so much! Simcity fans wanted (if anything) more complexity! Not something that has eerie echos of a facebook game. I think everyone’s angry for the (presumed) contempt EA has for it’s own consumers.

      • The Random One says:

        “Your job is only safe until someone comes up with a metric to show how many millions you’ve wasted.”

        Your entire post is great, but this is especially truthful.

      • cronach says:

        Beautiful.

        You should seriously repost this to Reddit…that kinda comment would give you Gold, easily.

        • Phantoon says:

          What’s the point, unless it literally gives gold bullion?

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        Martel says:

        Man, your post really made my day. Bravo sir

      • Nesetalis says:

        I have similar feelings towards the simcity series.. I enjoyed the first… and LOVED simcity 2000. I played the shit out of it.. the code was well written, the game was beautiful in its own way… and it was accessible. Every other version since has disapointed me, becoming more and more broken. I never even bothered with simcity 4, though it seems I missed out some.
        Then the spinoffs… ugh.. though there are a few older ones I liked, sim farm, sim earth, sim ant… amusing little games. (were they actually all maxis? Don’t remember off the top of my head)
        Now its a soulless corporation pumping out dreg. The code is so broken, there are so many lies to customers… its disgusting.

      • scatterlogical says:

        Very nice post. As an aspiring indie developer myself, I love hearing about the good ol’ days of game development. Unfortunately this really does exemplify how much the current business models for selling games have gone to absolute shit and are dragging the development process down with it.

        I have long had a major issue with the concept of suits meddling in creative processes, clueless business monkeys trying to squeeze every last buck out of a fertile opportunity – and nowhere is it more prevalent than in the games industry.

        It is a tragedy that Maxis (whom by your account were an amazing developer in their heyday) have been dragged down to the level of EA (Exploitative Assholes).

      • sophof says:

        I’ll join the crowd and say ‘congrats’ for this post :) The sad thing is, as long as the company isn’t completely run into the ground by a failure, no one will ever come up with those statistics showing who made the actual error.

      • pandiculator says:

        Wonderfully put. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out. I want to take your idea – that it hurts to see something so beloved fall so far – and maybe expand on it a bit.

        We’ve seen now a trend in gaming that indie developers are growing from small groups cobbling code together to a legitimate (if still small) share of PC gaming. We are seeing, on the other hand, this sense of creative recycling from the AAA studios whereby older gaming ideas and names are being reworked, recycled, and reused. And, as far as I know, in each instance the game is, at best, a disappointment. At worst, it looks something like this. In no case of which I am aware has PC gaming been made better by these returns to the olden, golden gems of PC yore. Which leads us to an interesting place, our own version of sequel-fever and me-too-ism, in the mainstream gaming publishing realm. Cash in on the old name, give people none of what they want, etc etc.

        On the other side of the table, indie developers have taken more of an interest at doing the sorts of things that made games like SimCity great. They are looking at the boundaries of gaming and trying to push, seeing what will bend and what will not. I’ll be the first to admit that these attempts are often crude and clumsy, and their mistakes and failures are much, much more damning than their mainstream counterparts. Yet, these developers struggle to achieve anything resembling the same order of magnitude that mainstream developers have. It puts PC gaming at a very interesting place. The names we know and love are not reliable, but unreliable (in terms of support/coding or even Kickstarter-scams) people are making the things we want to play.

        Which, I suppose, leads me to my point. We all are here because we have had those experiences like the one you described. Somehow, a game reached us. Perfect code. Perfect story. Perfect gameplay. Something about a game (or a special few) reached us in some way, and seeing the name of a game that reached us dragged through the mud in what is, basically, a mindless pursuit of monies hurts. But, I think the original question still stands. Why are people so concerned with this game? We, of all people, should not be. We should not give EA or whomever the ability to tarnish the memories we once had. Let them trash the name SimCity – it does nothing to the joy once derived from its ancestor. If this is how mainstream publishing is going to go, we ought to be very selective about what products we purchase from them. Not to attempt to vote with our wallets, but to treat them as we would a new, indie, developer. Mentally remove any goodwill from any particular company at treat each game as its own, separate, entity. As the developer attempting to prove themselves to us.

        • dongsweep says:

          Well, the SimCity marketing prior to launch was incredibly good. I really wanted to buy it regardless of my feelings toward DRM and wanting to ‘vote with my wallet’ but luckily Arma 3 came out when SC came out, otherwise I probably would have cracked and bought it. Luckily, since I waited out of pure chance that something I was more interested in released at the same time, I get to sit on the sidelines and watch this trainwreck. I feel bad for the people who bought the turd and are now regretting it, I would be there with you had luck not stopped me.

          If they ever fix it up to everyone’s standards, unbroken glassbox (as they promised in the marketing, sims doing their simstuff), larger plots, offline mode, then I will happily buy it. Until then, I will need a lot more of their million-dollar marketing techniques to convince me to pay money for this abomination.

      • Arithon says:

        This is why so many Kickstarters are popping up of old games, where the original developers have taken back their IP’s and are rebooting the titles as they were meant to be, and not how the likes of EA and Activision would vomit them out now.
        Carmageddon
        Elite
        Populous (Godus)

        Because if EA were to do these games now, they’d spent the NASA budget producing a crippled Facebook game that peddled DLC and lacked all the elements that made the original games playable.

        Why do people care? Because these companies have swallowed the IP’s of games like Sim CIty so, not only have they screwed this one, but will ensure nobody ever makes a good one again and would sue anyone who tried to make something similar.

        Imagine if a foreign interest bought Ellis Island and removed Lady Liberty (or whatever treasured landmark you have) and put up a 300ft neon sign that said “America is fat and dumb”. That’s how people feel about what EA have done to the Sim CIty franchise. Pretty incensed.

      • Banana_Republic says:

        Someone give this man a cookie. F*** it — give him the whole cookie jar.

    • Berious says:

      The SimCity series is one of the all time classics, like XCOM or Ultima. I still play SimCity 4 and desperately wanted SimCity to be good. That’s why people care.

  4. TCM says:

    I really do hope this falls on EA’s head so hard, in terms of consumer backlash, that they’ll turn their back on always online for years to come.

    I have no delusion they’ll give up on it entirely, but forcing them to step back across the line for now, like Ubisoft did, would be a victory in and of itself.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      They will just do a Facebook and run entirely off gullible stock market traders and customers, sadly. Every new post on the story, even if bad, must jump their share price. Why? Because it creates conversation about their business. More people hear about them, more people invest in them and buy their products.

      In EA’s view, this must be “great success”. :(

      • TCM says:

        All news is good news is a fallacy perpetrated by people who don’t know a whole lot about business, PR, and marketing.

        EA know quite a lot about business, PR, and marketing, or they would not be at the top of the market.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          I would guess that is true until large sums of money get involved. While it does not make them a monopoly, it may mean the run head strong into the ground thinking “we are too big to fail”. See the banks as an example. They were too big to tell the truth and sold illegitimate products. When the customers found out, the market crashed. Same seems to be happening here, despite the “wisdom” EA should have gained by now.

    • Arona Daal says:

      One of the Reasons Ea is so beloved by all,is that they are freethinking Pioneers,always trying to break new Ground .

      Didnt they try to implent Data Mining and Ingame-advertising in Battlefield 2142 some Years ago?
      AFAIK on that Occasion they decided not to CHALLENGE EVERYTHING,and rowed back.

      True Progress was lost back then,and will be lost again,if these Hostilities do not cease.

      We all should stop our horribly entitled Attitude and accept that true (Game) Fun can only be achieved through (DRM) Pain.

      Nothing can be done.

      Surrender.

      (Was this Irony,Sarcasm, or Satire?)

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      But they’ve probably made a boat load of money, so what will it matter if a few people bitch and moan about it.

      As I said on an earlier thread, EA just released a free-to-play mobile game aimed at the “hardcore” gaming crowd, wherein you must buy microtransactions to spend on skipping delays (and making the game incredibly tedious in the process). Sure, people bitched and moaned. Even more people handed EA their money though, and it’s currently one of the “highest grossing” games on iOS.

      So the real issue isn’t about some people complaining about their rights or how terrible the situation. It is EA making a lot of money off of people who simply don’t care.

  5. SighmanSays says:

    Well, there goes their only real excuse for justifying the online requirement. Behold as cracks begin flooding all the bays, if they aren’t already.

    Also, wasn’t myopic money-grubbing like this one of the primary causes of the VG crash of the mid-80s?

    • Brun says:

      It was a different kind of money grubbing back then – it mainly hinged on cash-ins, i.e. making a video game out of anything and everything with no regard to quality, etc.

      • TCM says:

        We do still see that, but not on the same scale — the problem is a different sort of shortsighted thinking, towards preventing a hypothetical ‘lost’ sale, while at the same time believing that consumers who purchase your product will be happy with it regardless of any restrictions you place upon it.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          Seriously, unless you’re fond of exaggeration, we’re in no where near the same state. The crash was largely caused by a glut of games that were legitimately broken paired with a oversaturation of the console market. SimCity is still a functional game, albeit one that’s artifical limited in a way that’s well-worth the criticism. Even dreck like 007: Legends and MoH: Warfighter are functional, just not good.

          • SighmanSays says:

            But, at least from where I’m standing, the industry does appear to be trending towards that critical point though. The market -is- over-saturated (with knockoffs of knockoffs), the games -are- being sold broken (insert DRM-backfire story of your choice here), and business practices -are- becoming more predatory (pre-order incentives, microtransactions, limitations on resale, etc.)

            We’re not at the point -yet- but my question was more along the lines of ‘are things heading back down that road’?

          • TCM says:

            Even if things ARE heading in that direction on the upper end publisher side — which, mind you, would cripple mainstream gaming for years to come — Indie gaming is as strong as it’s ever been, and even Mobile gaming is putting out good stuff once in a while.

            I doubt a scenario like the Crash of 83 could actually happen in modern gaming, outside of the highest echelons — there is a ton of variety to be found in niches, both on PC and consoles. The market is over saturated in places, but even the most saturation happy companies (See: Activision) know when the money’s gone (See: Activision putting a halt on Guitar Hero).

          • povu says:

            They’re triple A ‘knockoff’ games that are actually playable and make money though, and unless we’re talking Zynga and Facebook games they’re far from blatant copies. You barely see those anymore. You can’t compare Medal of Honor as a COD clone to the crappy broken pacman clones of the 80’s.

          • Paul.Power says:

            Functional. Yes…

        • SighmanSays says:

          True enough, except for one detail. Using the terms ‘purchase’ and ‘product’ are inaccurate when it’s actually renting a license. At least, that’s what they’re trying to turn it into.

          • Arkh says:

            Yep, they are not making this a thing, it already is. Steam is an “endless” rental of a game.

          • Giuseppe says:

            “Endless” until something happens and Steam is no more. Not likely to happen, at least not any time soon, but not impossible either.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        Look exactly the same to me. Only now we have nostalgia to exploit, instead of plastic toys.

    • D3xter says:

      Someone posted this video a few days ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZxXEidtxHk

      Even though he makes more than a few glaringly obvious mistakes in analysis, causation and argumentation I have really been hoping for this to happen too. Increasingly so as time goes by and publishers increase their scummy business practices to include even worse DRM and more DLC-shenanigans, Pre-Order bait&switches and Microtransactions, all the while shortening the development cycles for their games, often to have a yearly release of certain franchises.

      Maybe the next generation of consoles and the required costs might become a catalyst for that and the “gaming industry” could rebuild from the scorched earth left behind by bankrupt publishers.

  6. konrad_ha says:

    Insatiable greed – there’s your explanation.

  7. Greggh says:

    RPS – we now have sources :D

    GIVE ‘EM HELL FELLOWS! Let’s make another Ubisoft out of EA!

    good games and good times for everyone! wooooo!!!

    • akstro says:

      My reaction was “Sources? Daaangg, this site is big now!”

      • Giuseppe says:

        To be honest, considering how evident it already was that the simulation part of the game is not done server-side, if I had a gaming website I could make up a “source” and claim this while being 100% sure that what I’m claiming is true. Of course, I’m not saying that RPS did this, far from it. I’m just saying that EA’s sham is so obvious, that you could safely make up a source without even flinching.

        • Vorphalack says:

          Risky to pull a stunt like that though. EA are the type who would quite happily throw a box full of lawyers at you if you made something like this up.

        • Greggh says:

          Not to be disrespectful to your opionion or anything… but if you really don’t mean that RPS has made up this source of theirs, then you should have made that clear in the first paragraph of your comment.

          Not doing so creates a sense of fallacy in your speech – i.e. you attack someone, but afterwards say it wasn’t an attack, it was a purely hipotetical conjecture; unfortunately the harm is done nonetheless…

          • Giuseppe says:

            I didn’t attack anyone, and you’re free to take my comment any way you like.

        • John Walker says:

          I can assure you he’s not made up.

          • The Colonel says:

            HE, eh? Ah ha!

          • Squirly says:

            That already narrows it down to 50% of the whole worlds population!

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            RPS has been twice used by the BBC as the exclusive source for industry comment with relation to this episode of corporate fuckwhittery.

            I started reading RPS as an escape route from advertising revenue driven games reporting.

            Now keep up the good work and don’t let the success lead you down the same path as other publications!!

          • Giuseppe says:

            I didn’t say he was.

  8. Premium User Badge

    darkChozo says:

    Normally I’d be skeptical of insider sources, but the fact that people can play the game without internet is pretty damning. At least Diab1o 3 actually did do AI and such on the servers, but this is barely better than keeping people from playing a game because Achievements are down. As if this wasn’t already a PR disaster for EA…

    Well, at least that probably means that it’s crackable.

  9. OnyxRaven says:

    Sunday night the server my private region was on was down for a while, and I happily played along – even switching between cities in the same region (also owned by me). That all seemed to work fine, though I think I did notice delays in trades/etc between cities.

  10. Premium User Badge

    bglamb says:

    My understanding is that the financial difference to EA between a day-1 crack and a day 2 crack is large. The fact that this has gone a week (and counting) without being pirated seems to indicate that EA have made some large, if largely unknowable, amount of money. The money involved here is likely to be suitably massive though.

    Sure it sucks for real customers. It sucks when the self-checkout keeps telling me to “place the item in the bagging area” over and over as its anti-theft systems mess up, but it’s probably necessary and at least this one works.

    Look at it work! The game’s not been pirated. That’s probably made them hundreds of thousands of dollars!

    • TCM says:

      In the short term, yes.

      In the long term, this damages consumer confidence, not only in EA, but in the games industry as a whole.

      • Shuck says:

        Unless other publishers do it too, in which case it’s just standard practices that players have to put up with to play games. And if they can make up some reason why it’s “necessary” to run the game online, people will be even more willing to put up with it.

        • TCM says:

          There is an element of brinksmanship to it, though — at some point, and this should be clearly understood, ‘standard practices’ to play games will become too much for a segment of the market, who will then stop purchasing games.

          Right now, that market segment is comparatively small — always online DRM expands it considerably, and whatever new, more pervasive DRM schemes publishers have cooked up for the future will expand it more.

          • Premium User Badge

            bglamb says:

            People say the same about EULAs that tell you you don’t own your games, but for all the mouth I hear on the internet, I don’t know anyone that’s given up computer games.

            These things frustrate me too, but when the shiny new game comes out and the only way I get to play it is to part with my 50 squid, then there’s a good chance that that’s what I’m doing.

          • TCM says:

            Hence, brinksmanship.

            Right now, you are willing to put up with a certain level of inconvenience to play your games. If it rises beyond a certain point (To pick something absurd: You have to provide a retinal scan every 30 minutes to play the game), you will be unwilling to purchase it. The publishers want to push that level to the highest level possible, to keep out pirates from their sandbox as long as they can, while distancing as little of the market as possible.

          • Premium User Badge

            bglamb says:

            Yeah, I reckon they’ve got a long way to go yet!

          • Shuck says:

            I feel like they’ve hit bottom in many ways. Online DRM, if you move gameplay onto servers thus making it impossible to crack, gives publishers all the control they could ever want. (The game copy is tied to an individual account, so no used game sales. They want to get you to buy the sequel? Turn off the servers for the previous game. Etc.) They also already have RMT in retail games to provide a constant revenue stream. Since social/phone games have gotten people pretty used to these elements, it’s just a matter of publishers like EA & Activision making players more comfortable with those elements in their games now that they’ve started using them. What else could they do that would actually gain them any advantage?

    • TreuloseTomate says:

      That’s assuming that everybody who intended to pirate the game actually bought it already.

      • Optimoos says:

        I do wonder what number of people will grab a cracked version of the game when it releases strictly because they refuse to support EA through this mess.

        I played the original SimCity on both PC and Mac, and have played most of the Sim games from Maxis over the years. However, in this case I refuse to support these practices and there are other games I can play, so while I feel a little left out, I’m standing my ground. Should a cracked version appear, I don’t know if I’ll refrain from taking a peek. Conversely, if EA decides to backpedal on their story and decides to invest in an official offline mode, I’ll gladly support the game at that time, hopefully sending the message that the reason I hadn’t bought it already was their shoddy gameplay veil over the always-on drm requirement.

        • Premium User Badge

          bglamb says:

          From what shakey research has been done, my understanding is that the people that will pirate it in a month (if a crack ever appears) are the ones who wouldn’t have bought it anyway. The “lost sales” will have already been almost entirely prevented by this point, as most of those who would buy if pirating wasn’t an option have been forced into buying it.

          The question is if the sales gained by no-piracy are greater in number than those lost to annoying-DRM.

          EA obviously put their money on the former, and I reckon (though I could be wrong) they are quite correct.

          • Premium User Badge

            Cinek says:

            From what shakey research has been done, my understanding is that the people that will pirate it in a month (if a crack ever appears) are the ones who wouldn’t have bought it anyway.” – that’s a VERY shaky research. I personally know at least few people who intentionally pirate games which have diabolic DRMs – just to support crackers (through seeding) and show corporations where’s their place. While they have no problems with buying games on GOG and alike.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Completely anecdotal, but I’m a person that usually doesn’t care too much about DRM, nor do I care enough about EA to avoid buying their games (in fact, got DS3 a couple of weeks ago to play with a coop buddy). SimCity’s always-online requirement was legitimately enough to keep me from buying the game despite being interested in it and having the money. Not for ideological reasons, but because I knew it would be broken as all fuck for at least a week or two, and didn’t care enough to deal with that.

          • The Random One says:

            I remember reading news that when Witcher 2 came out DRM-free on GoG, a pirated version appeared within the day on The Pirate Bay… and it was a cracked version of the Steam files. Two weeks later the DRM-free version from GoG (which could be shared just by torrenting the .exe) still wasn’t to be found.

        • smiggs says:

          I don’t call myself a Sim City fan and I’m not a pirate but I’m actually interested to see how well this game can be reverse engineered by crackers, normally I’d have probably waited for a price drop or sale to buy but if I do follow through on my interest on the cracked version, why would I then buy it? I’m definately not buying it while the online DRM is in place if only because in 5 years time we’ll be on Sim City 7 and there’s no gurantee these the Sim City 5 servers will be even running.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Yeah, hundreds of thousands of dollars that were offset by refunds, additional server costs and bad word of mouth that keeps accumulating as the years go by. There’s a good financial reason why Ubi removed their DRM – it ain’t worth it in the long run.

  11. Brun says:

    It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff.

    Not playing devil’s advocate here, but that’s kind of important. Sure you could play it offline, but it would be gutted, and people would hate it anyway because it would still be a shadow of SimCity 4. As I understand it the region functionality is pretty important once your population goes up…

    • TechnicalBen says:

      That’s like saying “Solitaire online social would be gutted”. No, it would be NORMAL solitaire. That’s what some people like. There is nothing wrong with having both in existence. You loose some social aspects, but nothing else (everything is points driven, just add a multiplier!).

      • Brun says:

        My point was that playing with a single city already is gutted, even online, because of the small geographical area. Adding regions is intended to alleviate that as your region becomes your “meta-city” of sorts. Lose the regions and you’re left with…

        • Chris D says:

          But the regions don’t actually run in real time anyway, they couldn’t or they wouldn’t work while other players were offline, so there’s no reason why this functionality couldn’t be made to work on one PC.

          That said, there’s some debate as to whether the region functionality works at all:

          http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2013/03/05/why-this-is-not-a-one-star-review-of-simcity/
          (Tom later went on to post that one star review)

          • Brun says:

            Obviously an offline game would be a Private Region – one in which the player control all the cities therein. That’s what everyone wants right? Well, the closet we could get from SimCity as is. Anyway, we have no evidence as to whether Private Region calculations are done on EA’s servers. It’s a possibility worth considering – as they were expecting the game to be online-only, there was no reason for them not to do Private Region calculations server-side. Based on what the “source” said, moving those region calculations is non-trivial, which begs the question I posted above.

          • Chris D says:

            But the entire point of this article is that they don’t actually do any of those calculations server side and it would be very easy to make it work offline.

            Edit: Ok having re-read it, that’s not quite true, but EA have still lost all credibility when it comes to saying it’s really hard.

          • Brun says:

            Did you read what I said? The “source” himself noted that the “region stuff” is done on the servers, and that playing offline would mean playing without region functionality.

          • MaXimillion says:

            Actually, he said that it would be very easy to change the game so that you could play offline if you didn’t include the region stuff. It’s quite likely that running the region simulation on a gaming PC would work just fine as well, but the changes to the game code required for that would take a bit longer to do.

          • Chris D says:

            I read what you said but didn’t read the original article carefully enough it would seem. I’ll concede the point.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            I would assume the region stuff is (we’ve seen the game, it’s not “magic”) “is there a university in region, if yes send $$$”. That is not some impossible hurdle, or task, to program in to SP. Even if there is a trickle of workers “number of workers in region, add to players city at 8AM” etc. It’s not a “calculation”, it’s just a variable check.

          • LintMan says:

            @Brun,

            The Maxis guy said it would be trivial to make it offline without the region stuff, but in the article above, RPS also writes:

            “Clearly an offline game that included a single-player simulation of the region system derived from multiplayer would be more challenging to develop, but our source assured us that it was far from impossible.”

            So in other words, it would be more work to make that part offline, but certainly not undoable. And from my own experience as a software developer, I’d bet it wouldn’t be all that hard to do. As it is, the game runs for 20 minutes without a connecton – there can’t be all that much critical region information being passed around. (Also factor in that the region stuff is already borked (see the Tom Chick review linked above), so taking regions offline might actually make them WORK BETTER.)

            So, no, there aren’t any real technical hurdles to taking SimCity fully offline. The only hurdle (more like a brick wall) is EA itself and its dream of a DRM-laden, microtransaction-loaded future. EA would let SimCity die and blame it on low market demand, piracy, and sunspots, before it actually admits its “direction of the future” is a mistake.

    • The First Door says:

      That’s what I was thinking when I read this. From what I’ve seen it was always the region stuff that was mentioned as being passed through the servers, sending the high level ‘this city is causing pollution’ sort of details to the other cities in the region.

      There is a bigger argument that you could do all that for a single player game on your machine with minimal overhead, however, as I suspect the messages being passed aren’t that complex.

  12. SF Legend says:

    Did he also give you an inside tip that the next pope was going to be catholic?

    • Chris D says:

      We knew that they could have built this game without needing any online connection. What we didn’t know is that they have actually built this game so it doesn’t require an online connection, at least apart from what is being arbitrarily imposed upon it.

      That means all the “Oops but nothing we can do now!” excuses won’t wash.

      • Jimbo says:

        Does it make any difference whether they wash or not really? What’s it going to change? They always spin this. Nobody in PR ever comes out and says “The always-on DRM is there so you fuckers don’t steal it”, but that’s how we all hear it anyway.

        What’s the story? A PR person lied? *gasp* They still aren’t going to patch out the DRM if they believe doing so will end up losing them money.

        • Chris D says:

          But they will if it’s obvious that it’s going to lose them money because no one will buy the game because of the DRM. That’s the point.

          • Jimbo says:

            And that’s not going to become ‘obvious’, because it probably isn’t the case.

            I don’t think the servers being ‘exposed’ as unnecessary [for the game to work] makes a lot of difference in any case, because I don’t think anybody ever believed that was their primary purpose. They know they’re really there as DRM and we knew that too.

            They *could* remove the DRM, but I still think it’s incredibly unlikely that they will choose to do so now. If they think the DRM loses them money then it wouldn’t be on there in the first place. If they think the DRM effectively breaking the game is losing them money then they’ll fix it. You’d think that’d actually be easier for them to achieve if their servers aren’t really doing a whole lot.

          • Chris D says:

            Seriously, what’s with the Grima Wormtongue tribute act? Why are you so defeatist about this? Ubisoft already backed down on their always online DRM. It’s far from inevitable that the big companies win. Yes EA probably thought the DRM would make them money this time. The question is whether they’ll still think that next time around. This time they’ve largely had whatever success they have throught ignorance. Consumers have either generally not been aware of it’s existence or haven’t realised the effect it would have. Next time they won’t be burned so easily.

            The only way EA get away with this is if we let them.

        • LintMan says:

          I think that calling them on their bullshit where it liesis a worthy undertaking regardless of whether it will change EA’s mind. There are plenty of people out there without the technical expertise to detect the BS, who will parrot EA’s lies to defend EA. Knowledge deflates some of that.

    • Shooop says:

      You don’t get why this matters.

      This matters because an insider has stepped forward and confirmed what we already knew – it’s all about DRM, instead of parroting the company line that it’s all about improving the player’s experience.

      The source is why this matters.

  13. Inconceivable says:

    Also, apparently the Glassbox engine is all smoke and mirrors as there is no “AI”, and nothing is being simulated. Like, at all. I greatly appreciate Mr. Walker’s hard work exposing the ridiculousness of it all, and here’s hoping for a bit more skepticism for titles from EA in the future.

    Edited because I’m dumb.

      • Inconceivable says:

        I should have made myself more clear – I feel that YOU, RPS, and by extension, us, your readers, were deceived early and often by both Maxis and EA, both with regard to the online requirements of the game, as well as the capabilities of the engine running the “simulation”. You have gone above and beyond any other game journalism outlet to cover the online requirements, and I hope you will soon turn to the utterly dishonest shell of a simulation that is the game itself.

        I didn’t mean to imply that you could have or should have known better beforehand, only that in the future, I’m hoping that you (and all other outlets) will be much more skeptical of this publisher and any claims they make regarding their titles.

        EDIT: Looking back at previous articles, you DID elaborate on the nature of the engine not really simulating anything, but I guess I just felt that this should have been a bigger issue in hindsight, as it has crippled, if not outright broken the game.

        • John Walker says:

          I think we’d prefer to remain cautiously optimistic, and oft disappointed, than cynical and potentially unfair. Where there are serious concerns, we’ll always raise them, but cautious optimism is our preferred position.

          • TCM says:

            It’s also the only healthy position to take on games, I think.

            If you are going to be cynical, bitter, and down about every new release that gets announced…why talk about games at all? Heck, why play games at all?

          • Inconceivable says:

            Then I respect your position. Thanks for not calling me out harder for my initial inaccurate statement(s).

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            @TCM

            So we can complain about them on the internet, of course.

          • TCM says:

            @darkChozo

            Sadly, a lot of comment threads and forums nowadays seem to be taking that as their guiding principle.

            It’s gotten to the point where I am considering detoxing from gaming communities as a whole, and just reading articles for the news, without even looking at the comments.

          • Shooop says:

            Sadly Mr. Walker, there is less and less reason to keep such a cheery outlook these days. Stories like this are becoming the norm.

          • Kamos says:

            I can be cheery about games being released by decent people that respect me as a costumer and, at the same time, be cynical toward mega-corporations that insult my intelligence and count on my complete disinformation to sell me a full-priced piece of crippleware.

      • MentatYP says:

        John,

        I apologize and take back my comment from your article yesterday on the brokenness of SimCity when I said that RPS should have said something sooner. I missed this article of yours from the early days of the SimCity hype machine. My fault, and thanks so much for saying what a lot of us want to say but don’t have the platform on which to say it.

    • Premium User Badge

      lasikbear says:

      Edit: nevermind, the link you posted says more or less the same thing, answering more of my questions

      I think it was PCGamer who mentioned making a city with only one long winding road, and it turned out that basically everything just want serially. So firetrucks would drive straight to the first fire, and then the next one, and people working in a factory would just go to the first open one until it filled up.

      Actually this stuff has made me want to buy the game more than anything else, just to experiment to see how things actually work and were the holes are.

      • timethor says:

        The promo videos from way back explaining the agent system gave me that impression. At the time I thought “eh… they probably meant to say that people still have a fixed house/workplace”, but apparently my initial impression was correct. So in that sense, they’re not really being deceptive. The simulation just works in an unexpected manner.

        • Noc says:

          Yeah. I haven’t actually played around with the game yet, but what’s described doesn’t read to me as “the AI is broken!” or “THERE IS NO AI,” so much as “the AI operates by a specific set of rules that aren’t being properly accounted for.”

          Like, if adding additional garbage trucks/school busses/etc results in them inefficiently forming up in a line and still only visiting the closest houses first…then that means the solution isn’t “Add more vehicles!” — it means you need another school/garbage dump on the other side of town, with a smaller number of vehicles assigned to each. If commuters leaving work head directly to the nearest houses and queue up to create congestion, then you need to design your roads and zoning to deal with that behavior.

          This is how a management game works. You’re given systems and tools, and your job is to figure out how the systems work and use the tools to manage them. “The Agent AI’s behavior is counter-intuitive and poorly explained,” is definitely a valid complaint, but “The Agent AI’s behavior doesn’t automatically manage itself optimally, therefore its broken!” seems like its missing the point a bit.

          • Jimbo says:

            The Sim AI (in this case, based on how they were talking about it) should still be capable of choosing the best available option most of the time. Your role should be about making sure that good / better options are available to them. You shouldn’t have to ‘game’ them into being able to get to work without driving around in a circle indefinitely, like they all used to work as cleaners in Theme Park.

            I agree that kind of system can form part of the gameplay in its own right (like in Caesar 3 / Zeus, etc.) but it doesn’t sound like what they were going for here.

          • Inconceivable says:

            I take your point, but the game bills itself as a city simulation, with a pedigree of previous entries in the franchise that strove to a model the way a city actually works, to greater or lesser degrees.

            If they wanted to model random, unintelligent agents that in no way account for the many things city inhabitants do daily, they should have just made a new SimAnt.

            The system may be predictable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t broken. As it stands, their model is too far detached from the way the real thing works.

          • Ich Will says:

            Not to nitpick, but ants are fucking awesome and the level of intelligence the hive shows is nothing short of spectacular, even if it seems individuals are mindless, pretty much everything they do is for a good reason.

            Am I correct in thinking that ants and bees and related animals are not thought of biologically as lots of animals, each hive is one organism which just so happens to not necessarily be joined together into one sack of skin?

            And what’s the deal with those butterflies where the caterpillar survives?

            Off to http://www.askabiologist.org.uk/ with me then :)

          • 2helix4u says:

            The ants are still organisms. The hive is what is called a super-organism, that is an organism arising from organisms the same way complex life arises from individual cells. Human society could be considered a super-organism and this is also where the Gaia hyphothesis for a living earth comes from. Since systems arising out of biological rules also obey biological rules themselves they act alive in the same way that you and I act alive despite being an aggregate of different living components.

            This is also where you get into memetics, evolving concepts that function as genetics for our super organism. You could probably make the case that memetics affects ant hives too via changing pheremones rather than language but I’m not convinced its the same.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Swarm theory is a fairly relevant subject for this. Swarm robotics is too, and is cool to boot.

            Also Wikipedia mentions Mass Effect under the “In Popular Culture” section of its article on swarm theory for some probably-very-intelligent reason. So there’s that.

    • Shuck says:

      That actually makes me think that the server is supposed to be doing simulations for the game, but currently isn’t. That’s basic functionality (that’s been previously demonstrated) that they’re claiming doesn’t exist. That sounds like a bug, not a (designed) lack of functionality.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        Not necessarily. The behaviour described in that thread is remarkably similiar to older city-building games (stuff like Pharoah and Zeus come to mind, but there’s others). Only thing is those games didn’t attempt to disguise the mechanics with the illusion of AI. Learning how to trick the cities’ inhabitants into actually doing something sensible was part of the gameplay.

        It sounds like in trying to simulate individuals and focus on smaller more detailed cities, Maxis have accidentally changed genres and are now making some rookie mistakes. This is all speculation though, I’m staying away from this simcity until I can get it working offline.

        Edit:Welp, NOC said it better right above.

  14. SominiTheCommenter says:

    Jeez, this surely makes several higher ups at EA look really bad.
    Crack incoming in 10..
    EDIT: Oh, there is a crack already. That was quick.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Actually there is no crack yet :(
      There are some fakes going around, though.

      • RakeShark says:

        Yeah, I’d say lay off the crack searching for a week. News of this is gonna coddle the cockles of devious torrenters spreading malware and viruses.

        • Premium User Badge

          AlwaysRight says:

          I’d like to see photographs of what those deviant virus spreaders look like.
          Then I can compare how they actually look to how I imagined they look.

          • Ich Will says:

            I’d love to tell you that they are fatter than you thought and their mums basement is more of a shithole than you thought but the reality is that their sports car is more expensive than you thought and their golf club is more exclusive than you thought.

  15. x1501 says:

    In other news, an ursine insider just told CNN that bears, in fact, do tend to occasionally defecate in their forest and woodland habitats. More on the story as it develops.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      Hopefully we can get confirmation from inside the Vatican that the Pope has indeed been known to wear humorous chapeaux.

  16. rustybroomhandle says:

    Too lazy to comment I will instead leave this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rffS9lqjAIY

  17. intutama says:

    This game is about as deep as a $2 android game, this is basically a con. The mechanics probably took 2 weeks to design & program, the rest of development time must have gone into marketing & anti piracy measures.

    We’ve been ripped off.

    Also pretty disappointed that RPS is still focusing on the internet thing while the issue is THIS IS AN INTERACTIVE SCREENSAVER. FOR 60 BUCKS.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I had a feeling this would turn out to be “SimCity Social 3D”. I hoped it would only be SimsCity (see what I did there ;) ). But it’s worse than even SimCity social, as at least that game is up front with it’s Facebook nature.

      Should have released EA and all the games they published died the day they released C&C Social and SimCity Social. :( (If not at Sims 3 and C&C 4).

  18. Night Moves says:

    I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise

    • Joshua Northey says:

      No kidding. There were people buying that story? it was an anti-piracy method plain and simple. Dressed up as a need after the fact.

      Personally I see nothing wrong with that. But I am in the minority here.

  19. Tei says:

    What if is true in a crazy way? what if the simulation has a “deeper” level, but that level is optional, is server handed, and can be throdled by the server to be as fast or slow as needed based on server saturation.
    You will never know!.

  20. Bhazor says:

    The real question is

    Will this shitstorm blow over before the inevitable Simcity DLC shitstorm starts?

  21. MaxMcG says:

    Promise me you will keep kicking them once they are down. This needs to never happen again.

    Also, any chance if you could get your source to confirm that there are no technical reasons the city size couldn’t be increased?

    • RakeShark says:

      There might be a legitimate reason the city size can’t be increased, the game wasn’t made to handle that much. Kinda like how if you gibbed too many baddies in quake, the sprites and effects, as well as some models would disappear and your console would spam “PACKET LOSS” for a few dozen lines.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I’d put money on The City size is only limited to prevent server lag due to used bandwidth and NOT due to CPU limits on the users PC.

        • RakeShark says:

          I’m not putting the limits on either of what you said, I’m saying the Glassbox engine probably can’t handle it. No matter how good your rig might be, the engine can only render so much before it sizzles and busts down. As in the example, Quake 1’s engine can only handle so many particles and objects before it starts throwing out errors and possibly crashing, even if you run it with a high end rig of today.

      • dftaylor says:

        It’s really strange that EA appears to have deliberately hobbled SimCity to the point where key components of the game, things that customers identify with the series, have gone. It’s some seriously anti-customer behaviour!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      It may be difficult. Dwarf Fortress uses real agent models (and better path finding, each Dwarf has a room PLUS hundreds of owned items each). The size of the level really extends the time the PC has to search the space of travel. I think it grows exponentially too (width times height). However, SimCity only paths on the roads, Dwarf Fortress paths ever open square space.

      It could be extended, what hit would the game speed take? Who knows. I would expect someone to hack it in to try though. My money is on the size being purely fictional to drive the “social” aspect, as you cannot build it all yourself. Why? Because I trust EA to lie more than I do for their engineers/programmers to tell the truth.

      • Brun says:

        Dwarf Fortress performance is affected both by population (number of Dwarves) and by your terrain/water/magma simulation. Having lots of flowing water will kill your performance – as will having lots of dwarves. I’ve never read a Let’s Play that had more than 200 dwarves at once, that appears to be the upper limit for a lot of people, though that may be a result of it being just plain difficult to keep 200 dwarves alive in DF!

      • karthink says:

        Dwarf Fortress has severe performance issues if your population goes beyond about 200 dwarves. However, the process is single threaded, and Toady isn’t interested in getting it to use more cores, so that’s something.

        • Kamos says:

          It seems like it should be trivial to make each pathfinding task run in a different thread.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            If the pathfinding behavior has to interact, it might be a bit of work.

            But if the author is steadfast against multithreading, then its likely that theres a lot of thread-unsafe objects.

          • kyrieee says:

            Mutithreading and trivial don’t belong together

          • Kamos says:

            Parallelization isn’t complicated as long as you’re thinking of things as paralel. Perhaps I think it is trivial because I started coding hardware before I ever coded software? :P

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            Parallel programming is trivial as long as all the different tasks are truly independent.

            As soon as you need to share some memory, things become distinctly non-trivial. Dwarf Fortress’s massively complex and ever-changing world makes this difficult, though certainly not impossible.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      It’s entirely possible that it was a legitimate game design decision. While I haven’t played the game, limiting the player space to build would be a logical way to emphasize the idea of optimization of limited resources, and the region system makes sense if you want to encourage specialization of individual cities (kinda along the lines of how you’d tend to specialize cities in a Civ-like game).

      That’s just hypothetical, BTW. Like I said, haven’t played the game, don’t know if it works out that way or not.

  22. Runs With Foxes says:

    It must be cheap running servers nowadays, for this to be worth whatever gains they make from inconveniencing pirates.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Keirley says:

    Maybe I’m dense and so am missing something. The insider says “It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff.”, but I’m a little confused as to why the region stuff couldn’t be included in a single-player version of the game. If the calculations aren’t being done on the servers wouldn’t it be possible to take advantage of all the region stuff while offline, just without the ability to share regions with other players?

    • subedii says:

      It would be possible.

      The problem is that the game was specifically worked to not do that, so that it would require an always-on connection.

    • colw00t says:

      Presumably the game is coded at a pretty basic level to pass the region-level stuff back to a server, so you’d have to either go back and change all of that code, or write a local imitation server separately. Not unworkable, but it’s probably moderately intensive.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Hooking those paths to an imitation server *should* be pretty easy. Not a guarantee, but nothing springs to mind as getting in the way.

        Implementing an imitation server without any of the other people providing the backing data / etc of such a server should be a larger chunk of work.

    • John Walker says:

      From what we understand, it’s definitely possible, but would require a larger amount of new development.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      //#define SERVER_ADDRESS ea.com/simcityserver
      #define SERVER_ADDRESS localhost

      EA have permission to use my code to fix their broken game

      • GameCat says:

        I love you.

      • Kamos says:

        Not only have you fixed the problem, you have increased the game’s value by giving users the option to create private servers.

        Odds of happening? Unfortunately, pretty low.

        • Premium User Badge

          Malibu Stacey says:

          Indeed, a simple #define gives the users the ability to create private servers. No need for the entire rest of the codebase.

          Sigh.

          • Kamos says:

            Here, let me spell it out for you. The implication of changing a line telling you where the server is from somewhere in the internet to your localhost is that the game now expects to find the server locally. So the obvious part of the joke is that EA would provide the server to be ran locally. I’m sorry, I didn’t think I’d need to explain that when I made the joke.

  24. mrmalodor says:

    And so the lie that everyone with a brain already knew is a lie becomes exposed.

  25. Tuor says:

    ‘EA’s claims about the necessity of online play – claims that more people are seeing for themselves not to be true, just by running the game with the internet cable yanked out – seem inexplicable.’

    I always thought “inexplicable” meant that there was no way to explain it. But there is a way. A very simple way: EA is lying its ass off to us.

    Of course, I don’t expect any better from EA. Kinda sad, but true, unlike what EA just told us.

  26. TV-PressPass says:

    The last EA game I bought was . . . Crysis 1? Mass Effect 2? Which ever of those is more recent.

    This is why.

    *resumes calculating windage for his sniper rifle in the Arma3 Alpha*

    • Premium User Badge

      slerbal says:

      Snap – I’m exactly the same as you – I think it was ME2 :)

      /me continues assaulting Camp Rogain

      • Mephz says:

        now I’m sad I bought swtor, otherwise I could say that the last EA title I bought was Future cop L.A.P.D. back in 1998. I thought that was a good game back then though.

        • Vorphalack says:

          SWtOR -.- Mine would have been ME2 as well if it wasn’t for that pile of crap. I think SWtOR is the only game since Braveheart back in the 90s that I genuinely regret buying. I still haven’t forgiven Keiron for that review…..

        • Shooop says:

          Even right now on YouTube, that does look like a good game.

    • D3xter says:

      Battlefield 3 (I REALLY had to get this one out of my system) and SW:TOR.
      I was planning to buy some of their recent games like Mass Effect 3 (since I got the first two and liked them) or Dead Space 3 (ditto), but different circumstances like Day-1 DLC and Microtransactions have stopped me from doing so. Can’t say I regret it.

      At this point though, until EA changes something drastically about their business practices I wouldn’t give them money for the sake of not wanting to give them money.
      They’ve already announced that every game going forth will have “Online capabilities” and likely Microtransactions and be Origin-dependent or have even worse DRM. So I’m pretty much stuck hoping they go up in flames, since I don’t see them changing that (and I see it getting even worse).

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I’m at Dragon Age: Origins, though i bought it sorta recently, like 12 months ago.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Clavus says:

    It’s true that it isn’t simple online DRM, an extra layer of artificial protection like the Ubi DRM was. They did engineer the game around the online requirement. However, it wasn’t necessary. These issues could’ve been foreseen. Singleplayer could’ve easily co-existed next to the current game if they had chosen to do so.

  28. Batolemaeus says:

    And even if the server side was inseparable..the same was true for NWN2. A single player game just connected to the local host. There’s no reason SC5 couldn’t do the same.

  29. Phobon says:

    Why does EA spend all these resources and risk the (predictable) launch troubles to basically only prevent people from cheating and hacking (even in a purely SP environment)? I have not played a Sim game for quite some time but back when I used to, I always had lots more fun with unlimited money etc…

    Even if their main goal is to prevent pirating, they wouldn’ t have needed to validate all the simulation data, would they? Less server load would probably have improved the situation at launch quite a bit, I suppose…

    • Maniac says:

      But there *isnt* much data being run and / or verified – Its just that the game is set to shut down whenever theres not an internet connection, the only thing being run on the servers is the region-thing and global market thing, which arent even hard to simulate on your own PC. But ofcourse, the engine utilised is utter shit, and the game is simplified to hell and back regarding AI (hint: there isnt really much of any ‘intelligence’ in said AI. Like, at all.)
      The launch-problems were probably them utilising next to no servers for it, compared to what the obvious demands would be. Again, this is hinted by the fact that they cut off games’ servers fairly quickly after launch. They seem to hate running servers that they themself force upon the rest of us to use.

  30. Beernut says:

    Frankly, we didn’t need an insider to tell us the obvious, there are several reddit-threads which deconstruct the whole “EA-explanation” by demonstrating that the actual amount of data transferred during gameplay is much to small than could be expected with massive server-side calculations. Plus: The intra-city-game-simulation runs perfectly fine (for several minutes, until the game force-quits) even after a severed connection, proving further that only the region-wide calculations (which are fairly trivial) and the global-market-updates necessitate a connection to the server.

    This lie of the “crucial calculations by the server” was refuted by “outsiders” during the first days without the need for insights into the inner workings of the systems, just by observations/tests and a little analysis of network traffic. So while it’s certainly neat to have some kind of “official” confirmation that it’s essentially a scam engineered to force their god-awful drm down people’s throats, it was hardly required any more.

    • RakeShark says:

      It’s nice to have confirmation from the source. It tends to separate journalism from rumor mongering.

  31. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    At least break your game properly EA ffs. not really keen on the anonymous source tbh, but understand why ofc.

  32. Maniac says:

    This just in: Ubisoft are DRM-saints, EA should die in a fire. More news at five.

    In all seriousness, I kinda saw it coming. EA have been all about untruthful-PR & marketing / basic games which are shoddy and dull (as of late, anyway). They’ve pretty much ruined every franchise they’ve gotten their hands on, which is really sad seeing how they have some of the best IPs out there.
    I just really want to slap them. I’m just glad I didnt buy this. My internet is semi-shoddy and tends to cut off, and I utterly despise Origin, thus I didnt buy it.
    And boy am I glad I didnt. Keep hittin’ them hard though, guys! They really do need to stop it with the cockery, debauchery and douchebaggery. I’ve just about had it with their franchise-pillaging, micro-transactioning game-killing scheming bullshit. And now they’ve even gone with some shoddy DRM for a broken, shoddy and sadly quite bad game. (Atleast compared to what we could’ve had :[ )

  33. iucounu says:

    You know what’s suddenly loads more fun than it was a few weeks ago? Tropico 4.

  34. Theodoric says:

    Well, that changes a lot. Hmpf. Folks on the internet love using the word ‘lie’ when it’s just miscommunication (Hanlon’s Razor), but for once it’s accurate here.

    Mind you, I do still like the social aspects of the game. If they manage to make supra- and interurban play work properly it could be a lot of fun. Of course, that should never come at the expense of the core gameplay.

  35. PopeRatzo says:

    Will this be another one of those games that the crackers will have to make playable?

  36. gritz says:

    At this point even if they patch in a serverless single player mode, I can’t imagine paying anything but bargain bin prices for this game.

  37. phelix says:

    Surprise, surprise!

  38. Premium User Badge

    Almond Milk says:

    I don’t get it…I don’t think this is the rage-bait it’s being made out to be. I’m sure Maxis has mentioned before that it was the regional simulation being done on the servers and not the city simulation. That part was always being done on your PC. And so insider guy here is saying that while they could fairly easily implement an offline mode for isolated cities, the regional simulation would be left out. Uh, the region play is kind of important, and I absolutely wouldn’t want to see it go. They could certainly abstract it, e.g., have sims drive off to non-existent jobs outside the city, etc., but then they’d effectively have two games on their hand: the offline with an easily understandable abstraction, and the online, where building a region with your friends is balanced in an entirely different way by the simulation. Wouldn’t that be difficult to update after the game goes live? They would essentially have two versions of their game to debug.

    I’m not saying it wouldn’t be wonderful to have an offline mode, and I would love to hear reasoning from the development team on whether it would truly be possible to run an entire region on your own computer.

    • Vorphalack says:

      The source seemed to imply that off-lining one city would be easy, off-lining a region would take more work. He didn’t imply it was impossible due to PC hardware limitations, in fact all the evidence gathered surrounding the data flow to the servers suggests that they aren’t doing anywhere near as much work as EA have claimed.

      • Brun says:

        He’s saying that removing the regions – and even substituting them with an abstracted version – would not be a technical hurdle, but perhaps a game design/balance hurdle? That’s something that can take a considerable amount of effort to iron out – plus you’d have to maintain the online version at the same time.

        • Premium User Badge

          Almond Milk says:

          Exactly. Clearly a decision was made at the design level to have things the way they are, and the technical solution probably followed after that. Whether that design choice was correct is your own personal opinion, and probably not liable to change, so in the developers mind they need to solve this in a way that preserves their original vision.

          • Kamos says:

            Their original vision of anti-features that make what is advertised as “also a single player game” require to be online.

    • MentatYP says:

      Read Maxis’s comments in this article and tell me if you still think they’re referring to regional calculations only, or if they’re (like we’re saying here) trying to mislead us if not outright lie to us about how necessary the always-online functionality is:

      My SimCity City Thrived Offline For 19 Minutes

      • Premium User Badge

        Almond Milk says:

        True, it will continue to work, but in my experience the region stuff becomes really wonky during the time you’re offline. Anecdotal, but until a dev gives the last word that’s all we have to go on unfortunately.

        • MentatYP says:

          Nobody is saying the regional stuff would continue working. Obviously anything multiplayer related that requires a connection to the server would go wonky when not connected. What people are so upset about is that Maxis tried to sell the always-online aspect by saying, “Oh man, Glassbox is so complex that we had to offload calculations to the server to make it work.” That’s been proven conclusively to be utter BS. This confirmation from a Maxis employee only serves to add a final stamp of legitimacy to what has already been discovered by people who have been able to play for hours without being connected, i.e. no heavy lifting for calculations is being done by the servers on an intra-city scale. Rather servers are only doing inter-city/regional calculations, directly contradicting what they have claimed.

          And actually a dev has given the final word. That’s what this RPS article is about.

  39. jay35 says:

    They deserve everything negative that comes to them for this. They ruined an historic IP with this nosense out of selfishness. Pure and simple greed.

  40. mraston says:

    Thank you RPS for the first bit of actual video game journalism I have read in a very long time.

  41. Narzhul says:

    That a maxis dev actually approached the media to clarify EA’s bullshit, I’m guessing the person thought EA’s always-online decision was a terrible idea? Secretly hoping they’d get to work on an offline mode perhaps?

  42. Liudeius says:

    Sim City: A game with such terribly done DRM that developers are openly admitting to cracking it.

  43. Major Seventy Six says:

    I believe that if the game can communicate with Oceania 3, Eurasia 6 or Eastasia 2 it might just as well be able to communicate with 127.0.0.1 if 127.0.0.1 runs a dedicated server software coded for a single private region.

  44. King in Winter says:

    At certain point in time, I had seriously considered bequeathing EA’s title of Evil Empire to Ubisoft.

    But hark! EA has struck back, and what a strike it has been indeed! Shock and awe! Lies, newspeak and cloud computing! Contempt, greed and nonsensical claims! The veterans have once again shown that THEY are the ones truly deserving the title, not some evil-lites, not some wet-behind-the-ears would-be villains, or anyone else.

    People, the Evil Empire is back. In fact, they never left us.

    • Archipelagos says:

      Seriously. For a time I thought that Gearbox was going to be the crummiest developer this year (the A:CM debacle was horrendous) but nope, EA still got it locked down.

  45. Fyce says:

    I really don’t get why people want to play this game solo.
    It would be bad. Having to build yourself three or four cities in order to simulate a good trading economy between your towns, cooperate with yourself to get a great building in your region… it’s like masturbating while pretending to be with someone else.

    As for myself, I have Internet, I play at home, I can’t optimize my cities without real neighbors, I don’t mind of few “servers down” days (which are almost completly solved at this point).

    Considering this and the fact that a lot of people are just like me, aka “the perfect customer target for this product”, I really don’t get why there is all of this outcry.

    Hell, even “Day one DLCs on disk” don’t get that much rage.

    • Kamos says:

      You really don’t get why there is an outcry if a corporation like EA creates a single-player game that requires to be always online and then lies about the reason why it needs to be always online? Seriously?

    • ulix says:

      “it’s like masturbating while pretending to be with someone else.”

      That’s how masturbating works.

    • Don Reba says:

      I really don’t get why people want to play this game solo.
      It would be bad. Having to build yourself three or four cities in order to simulate a good trading economy between your towns, cooperate with yourself to get a great building in your region… it’s like masturbating while pretending to be with someone else.

      So, what you are saying is that playing this game solo should be as popular as masturbation. I think you answered your own question.

      • abandonhope says:

        For every day that goes by that I do not buy SimCity, I will masturbate once.

    • mrmalodor says:

      “I really don’t get why people want to play this game solo.
      It would be bad. Having to build yourself three or four cities in order to simulate a good trading economy between your towns, cooperate with yourself to get a great building in your region”

      Remember Sim City 4? Hello!!!!

      Idiot.

  46. Kamos says:

    Any of this sounds familiar to any of you?

    “In economics, a damaged good (sometimes termed “crippleware” or “feature limited” or product with “anti-features”) is a good that has been deliberately limited in performance, quality or utility, typically for marketing reasons as part of a strategy of product differentiation.

    The term “crippleware” is sometimes used to describe software products whose functions have been limited (or “crippled”) with the sole purpose of encouraging or requiring the user to pay for those functions (either by paying a one-time fee or an on-going subscription fee).

    Anti-features are design features deliberately added to a design to reduce the functionality of a hardware or software system. Examples include the production of “cut-down” versions of software or hardware that is built from the same basic hardware design or code-base as the full product, except for design elements added with the sole function of removing or restricting functionality.”

    That sounds a bit like “Sim City” to me.

    To be honest, it is not so much the fact that they’re crippling their products that bothers me. What bothers me is the disinformation campaign that intends to convince naive consumers that what they are buying is not crippled.

    Only yesterday there were people in the comments here saying that the thought that EA could intentionally cripple their own product was absurd.

  47. Phantoon says:

    I’m not impressed. THIS is the game people get up in arms about? Why was anyone giving EA money up to this point? Just like every other bit of sensational news, such as Bioware making up its own trolls for SWTOR, it will be quickly forgotten, and people will continue to give EA money.

    That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy is fired very quickly. I seriously doubt EA would just let this go without running an internal investigation to find the last honest man they have hired.

    • ulix says:

      As far as I understood he workED on the game and for Maxis, but doesn’t anymore. He still wants to stay anonymous, because otherwise he’d have a really tough time finding employment in the future.

  48. Diving Duck says:

    I think this is the first time I have ever seen an RPS story feature on main stream New Zealand news!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/games/8420022/Offline-SimCity-easy-says-developer

  49. Uthred says:

    its going to take a bit more than allowing the game to be played offline, the way the games set up you more or less need regional play. Even playing in single player the smaller city size means you end up creating more cities in the region because you cant be self sufficient with one. If they remove the always online requirement without removing that then all you end with is a game you COULD playe offline but will NEED to play online

  50. xtom says:

    What’s almost worse than the online-only requirement is the BS excuses they expect us to believe. I mean how many players does one server handle simultaneously, probably thousands and thousands. Now divide that servers specs over that amount of players. The computing power just wouldn’t compare with the same users using their own dedicated computer, nowhere near it and it would be all real-time calculations. If they had an offline option at launch they could have halved server traffic and avoided this mess.