SimCity’s Sims Don’t Seem That Smart After All

By John Walker on March 13th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Alongside the peculiarities of the server matters with SimCity, many are reporting that the game itself doesn’t perform as had previously been claimed. This is especially the case when it comes to the AI and pathfinding.

Disappointingly, the Glassbox Engine doesn’t appear to offer quite the independent nature of individual Sims as many had believed, and it really seems to be struggling with seemingly simple pathfinding and congestion issues.

Edit: As six hundred and fifty-seven billion people have pointed out to me, it was previously known that Sims would lose their identity when they went into buildings. The nuance here, however, is that they go to the first empty building they encounter, in a way that leads to businesses arbitrary distances from housing suffering, simply because they’ll fill out whatever is nearer, no matter what it might be. Follow the link in the paragraph below for far more detail on this.

Original: These are reports, of course, and we’re not experts when it comes to AI. But what we’re seeing people say is rather than each Sim having a unique life, they’re instead operating on the same sort of systems that control the sewage and traffic. Which seems rude. It also explains why there appear to be lots of rather odd behaviours found in the game, with distribution of jobs, buses, and the like feeling a touch odd.

The claims go, rather than individual little Simmy lives, they instead operate as an homogeneous mass, distributing themselves like a collection of marbles rolling down a board covered in holes. As they reach a job, whichever job, ignoring their previous day’s job, they take it, until all the jobs are taken. It doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial or industrial job – they just roll until they fall into the next available slot. That sounds like a half-decent solution for a management game like SimCity, I suppose. But it’s not the one they boasted. But where it gets even weirder is when their work day is through. They don’t trundle off back to their well-loved home, as you might imagine a Sim would do. They, just as with work, move into the nearest available house. There’s no consistency to their lives, no permanence.

That’s certainly evident if you play the game. The names of residences has no bearing on the names of the Sims who’ll “live” there after work, and you absolutely cannot follow a Sim anywhere – once they’ve entered a building, whether residential, commercial or industrial, the game stops following them, and good luck finding them after.

It gets more peculiar. Because the game uses roads as the means of transport for everything, from cars to water to power to sewage, people are saying traffic jams on the road can actually block the passage of what comes from your Sims’ passages. And this whole filtration system seems to be affecting everything, from fire services to casinos. And import/export suffers from the same jams, with all having to pass through the main freeway entrance to your city. With the pathfinding issues many are saying spoils their game, this all becomes a bit of a mess.

There are some simple experiments you can do to test the pathfinding for yourself. Put a dead-end road with a single house nearer to the commercial districts than the rest of the residential, and you’ll see cars divert their way to go there for no reason – I had that working. It’s demonstrated in this video:

And here you can see the way traffic opts for poorer, smaller roads that are more direct, no matter the congestion, despite major large roads being immediately adjacent:

Maxis have acknowledged some of these issues, although oddly only focusing on streetcars, and are talking about making some changes to try to prevent all traffic from following identical pathways rather than using any real independent AI pathfinding. Eurogamer found a few YouTube videos where players have demonstrated just how poor the game’s pathfinding can be:

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296 Comments »

    • Squirm says:

      I’m just glad that i’ve finally learnt my lesson and have stopped buying games entirely.

      • PRSlmao says:

        all ea titles exclusive on piratebay!

        • Askeladd says:

          Not even worth my time or bandwidth, and I have a lot of time and bandwidth.

          • Yorobashi says:

            Lets just be blunt, it’s not just the DRM killing EA. It’s them publishing incomplete and buggy games that just continue to bite the hand that feeds.

    • Calculon says:

      Its such a GoTY that apparently you dont even NEED to make Commercial OR Industrial zones in a locked region with no other cities. Just make residential – throw down a couple of services and voila – insta 200k city. No jobs needed,no places to shop needed – nothing but homes, sewage, water, power and a clinic to treat your sick.

      Wow – such a freaking advanced simulator

      Proofs: http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/9362627.page
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACdu1ho2Ic4&feature=youtu.be

      Shadow/fake Population Proofs

      http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/9361396.page

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I’m glad that I’ve learned to avoid big hyped-up releases until a couple months after their release, in which time the dust will settle, a general consensus will be formed, inbalances will be patched and there will likely be a sale.

      • Malk_Content says:

        Being in a new and magical land probably helps too! Tis a good call though, everything I’ve seen since release has made me glad I waited. Should probably do that for Bioshock: Infinite as well, but damn we are all a sucker for some things.

        • The Random One says:

          Man, every game I was tempted to preorder or buy early of late turned out to be a dud, except for The Showdown Effect (which I haven’t played yet) but I’m still going to buy Infinite right after it’s out. I have earned the right to be an idiot!

      • Azdeus says:

        Wich will teach the developers that always online DRM is still okay.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Wait, why are you covering this? I thought the game was ‘inherently broken’ because of the online stuff anyway? Why would Maxis bother fixing this if the game is still going to be broken and hence still worthless afterwards?

      • mondomau says:

        Hijacking first comment with an totally unrelated reply? Bad form!

        And I guess because it underlines that the game was promoted and launched on lies, lies and invented statistics.

      • JohnnyMaverik says:

        It isn’t inherently broken, just not what people wanted in some cases and not what people can work with in others. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the DRM, I don’t like the “you can play SP but it won’t work as well as MP” design, I don’t like the limited city squares, just saying it isn’t broken for the majority, it’s just flaky as hell and creating quite a few disappointed faces with it’s design.

        • Wreckdum says:

          Maybe not broken but def false advertising. They did an entire commercial talking about each Sim has a life to live and carries out that life… That is completely false. They are expendable and just go to the first available task.

          Now we get to peak under the curtain at a basic building game with a shiny cover and expensive sales pitch.

          • dongsweep says:

            Is it legal for them to completely lie like that? I haven’t seen the packaging, but if it says every sim is simulated and does their job etc. and then it turns out that it is not the case, would their lies be considered illegal? Perhaps false advertisement?

          • Hahaha says:

            and fable was going to have tress that grew

          • RvLeshrac says:

            @Hahaha Molyneux wasn’t making an ad when he said that, he was discussing his vision for the game. There’s a massive difference between discussing the way you’d like for things to function, during the development cycle, and blatantly lying about how the released product works in an advertisement.

        • scatterlogical says:

          Looks broken to me. And not only that, it looks very much like EA & Maxis lied through their fucking teeth to cover it up. It’s pretty clear now the reason they had such ridiculously short ‘beta’ tests & controlled press previews was to cover up how this turkey was more busted-ass than a Ford Pinto assembled by migrant workers on backyard meth.

        • aepervius says:

          I am sorry but the behavior of the utility , power, water, garbage truck and of the sim, for the purpose of the simulation *is* inherentely broken. I can accept the bucket filling method of sims not going back to their home but to the first free. I cannot accept as per the first video, that ONCE the house is filled, the damn car still go to this specific destination rather the next free house.

          Not broken : first 5 car go to the first house until it is filled. Car already on the road continue but once they reach the filled house chose another destination. NEW car directely choose a new destination.

          Inherentely broken : all car, even those not yet on the road at the time the house is filled, go to the first damn house even after it was filled. This break the simulation.

          Asking that to not be called inherentely broken is a kind of double speak , war is peace, truth is lies, and game is not broken. Pah.

          • JohnnyMaverik says:

            That’s not broken, it’s just not very good.

          • Baines says:

            aepervius, you just described the behavior in the first video as “not broken.” That is what is happening in the video. All cars are spawned aiming for the first empty house. When the first house becomes full, all new car spawns head for the next block, while existing cars continue to the first house.

          • smb says:

            This is apparently intended behavior: https://twitter.com/vertexnormal/status/312307719782690817

            “Not sure what you’re asking. But sims taking the first open house/job was always the plan.”

            “If you make it too random, it’s hard to plan around. This is a design philosophy and not everyone agrees with it.”

            “Part of the skill comes from deciding where to zone and predicting the traffic outcomes.”

            I have to agree after watching these videos:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuSiYxfSI-U
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV6PrEjaH8Q

            Very interesting stuff regardless.

        • scritty says:

          Seems broken to me. Pathfinding, resource logic, inter “city” (sic) relationships, sim behaviour. Eventually one of these screws your game up. Simoleons lost, energy not transferring, fires left unchecked, sims stuck in loops, traffic jams with no reasons. NOt got to 6 hours with a city without something just screwing up. And don’t get me started on MP. That’s even worse. It just takes one cog in the wheel to decide to expand to quickly, too slowly – not log in , give up..whatever…and you either have to wait till someone takes over, give up or take over yourself. MP Simcity requires the sort of co-operation and foresight that turns it into a social experiment rather than a game, I can control fleets in EvE with some ease. 40+ players. Getting 5+ “cities” (sic) to co-operate properly in SimCity past the “mid game” stages without either a logical issue or design fault just ruining everything. I’ve not done it yet. The first 4 hours or so the game seems pretty darn good. 12 hours plus? I don’t know. Never had a city survive that long without something to do with the games logic screwing it up. To me – that is broken. In my mind the game is very broken, but if people enjoy it like it is. Good for them. For me I have SC4 just running again and loving it. Not having a go at DRM, forced multiplayer ..just the underlying game. To me – past midgame (12 hours with a city) with either one city or a zone – it’s properly and really broken.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Your enjoyment of the game shouldn’t be dictated by consensus or professional critique. I’m sure this game has problems, but you can see from a mile away that much of this blowback is for much more than just this game.

          People that hate the trends being pushed on them have been ignored, and it’s reached something of a threshold. Humans do this kind of thing all the time, unleashing with both barrels as soon as they have a target that seems deserving of their pent up ire.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Those videos are REALLY bad. Even if there were no other problems with SimCity, people would complaining about this really loudly. If anything, there’s less complaining about this because there’s so much else to complain about.

          • scritty says:

            While that may be the case with some or even many – I can assure you as someone who has pumped 70+ hours into this game already (lost cities to server, broken cities due to logic now account for 100% of my attempts in that time) I would LOVE this game to be good. I can see the “Maxis” through the “EA Hate”. But mid game onwards the game is broken. I don’t need a lecture in social dynamics to tell me I’m wrong in stating this. It just is.

            Here’s one guy playing offline for ages – the waffle under the vid has links to all sorts of people doing/reporting the same

            http://youtu.be/c9AdHMcH9Q4

            Now – to make it worse (for the devs) and proving them as liars. People are posting games running for 20 minutes, 40 minutes even close to an hour..with NO INTERNET CONNECTION (lead unplugged). Even journos from magazines are trying out this.
            20 minutes+ offline zoneing building, roads, transport, power, water, parks, fire and emergency department buildings. growth across all sectors. ALL OFFLINE isn’t “a bit of local caching” it’s the game running full bore ON A LOCAL PC. For me this proves the online requirement is a crock of $%^&, pure DRM, and the poorly realized multiplayer elements are a trojan horse for badly implemented DRM. One that has taken the community all of 8 days to see through.

            The TImes of London, Fox News, The BBC, The Telegraph, The New York Times, CNN, NBC…all talking about what a cluster%$^& the publishers attitude and support for this game is. From the heady days 8 days ago of “pro” reviewers averaging over 90% – it’s now just gone below 65% on metacritic. User reviews at 17% (1.7 out of 10) So now even the pro’s are seeing the crud through the hype.

        • malkav11 says:

          Always-online DRM makes a game inherently broken. It is a deliberate fault point in the game’s design which will cause it to entirely cease functioning the moment it loses access to the servers, whether that be because one’s internet connection is down or nonexistent, or the servers are stressed, down, or nonexistent.

      • transientmind says:

        ‘Cause sometimes when you have ta kill a thing, you can’t just walk away when you see it go down. You gotta put your boot on its throat and push. Push real hard.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Cause it’s funny!

      • Spliter says:

        They would bother fixing this because in a game this big normally you have several teams working on different points of the game. Chances are that the people that program the AI and the simulation aren’t the same ones that set up and mantain the servers.

      • Stromko says:

        It’s because a lot of people are playing this game, and it’s spoiling their experience. You simply can’t manage the traffic in this game, you just can’t. The more buses and mass transit options you throw at the problem, the worse it gets.

        I remember one of my cities: one morning all of my garbage trucks got in a convoy, drove through the entire city, out onto the highway, then looped back around and tried to get back into the city behind a massive line of commuter traffic.

        It is actually a really interesting game in a lot of ways, I enjoy it, but it could be so much better if they had gotten a core feature like pathfinding right.

      • cw8 says:

        Calling it “Simcity” while you can only build on a 2km X 2km plot is more than enough reason why it is broken, let alone all the other reasons put together. 2km x 2km plot should be called Simsmalltown, SimVillage or something like that.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      So… anyone knows a good mod-pack for SimCity 4?
      @RPS – It would be great if you could throw in some links to compilations of mods that will improve the gameplay in SimCity 4 (like CAM, or mods adding new types of farms, skyscrapers, etc).

      • Timothy says:

        So… anyone knows a good mod-pack for SimCity 4?
        I’ve been playing around with Oldshoes’ modpack and NAM v30. (A new version of NAM just came out, but when I tried it SimCity 4 started to crash a little too often.)

    • ww99w says:

      simcity’s sims does not simulate simulations well

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      EA – taking the “Sim” and “City” out of SimCity since 2013.

    • Joshua_Anderson says:

      my co-worker’s half-sister makes $66/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for ten months but last month her paycheck was $21104 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more… http://zapit.nu/312

      • daemonofdecay says:

        How did she get a laptop? I can’t even get my computer chip factories to operate properly due to poor path finding and illogical delivery routes.

      • Premium User Badge

        SpakAttack says:

        $66/hr on the laptop is frankly much more believable than EA’s bullshit.

      • squareking says:

        Did you guys just make a spambot relevant?

  1. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Didn’t one of the prerelease dev videos actually describe agents as working in that manner (i.e go to nearest empty job, then go to nearest empty house)?

    I remember thinking, “That sounds a bit ropey, but maybe it’ll work out all right.”

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      It actually did mention that. If a fitting job (wealth and education level) for the Sim agent is found, they will fill the job they encounter, but not stick to it.
      What I gathered from a few posts regarding this issue, and my own experiences, is that the probability of an error seems to rise with each street section (select with the road upgrade tool to see those) and each intersection that a Sim agent passes. So something’s off about crossing the streams there.

      My second issue in the biggest town currently is quite the opposite to what is described above when it comes to streets versus avenues. My Sims seems to just love the avenues, and ignore the smaller streets that branch off.
      Positive note: Since that town is built a bit like a tree, it at least looks like a nice midwinter decoration indeed!

      • Calculon says:

        Ya that’s great until you find out that your citizens dont even need jobs, or shops, or much of anything at all. In fact with no jobs or places to shop your traffic problems are all solved, and your income is quite good.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Pretty sure it must have been in the text (or perhaps comments) of one of the RPS articles too; I don’t generally watch game videos and I don’t generally read gaming news elsewhere these days either but I had the same recollection as you.

    • SirKicksalot says:

      Yes, this was revealed in April: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxTcm1YFKcU

      • datom says:

        The developer’s insights into the engine are honest, truthful and transparent, if one watches developer blogs.

        If one was to read their official press releases, however, one might be surprised to learn that:
        “Everything you see in the world we sim – Sims in each city will have jobs or can lose them, buy homes, be prosperous or be an economic drain on the city”.

        Fancy that!

        • smb says:

          Definitely guilty of marketing embellishment, but is any of it actually dishonest?

          • Premium User Badge

            Llewyn says:

            If nothing else, “buy homes” carries a pretty clear implication that the Sims will actually reside somewhere, rather than sleeping in whatever bed they can find like a horny first-year undergrad.

          • datom says:

            I don’t really know what ‘marketing embellishment’ is. If it misrepresents something, and implies it is made up of features that don’t exist, it’s definitely dishonest.

            Marketing embellishment : ‘Frosties taste great!!!”
            Marketing dishonest: ‘Frosties are made of frost!!!”

          • Berzee says:

            Gotta get me some frosties…

          • frosty2oo2 says:

            you rang ?

          • lijenstina says:

            Marketing honest – “Bill Hicks was right.”

        • JD Ogre says:

          Shush, now. You know you’re not supposed to refer to official marketing department statements, only to dev statements that most players will never actually see when doing casual research on a game. :)

    • Consumatopia says:

      I think, as far as approximations go, making all the citizens fungible is reasonable. It’s still more fine grained that previous simcities.

      But all the sims converging on the same house? That’s the part that’s loony, and I can’t even see how it’s computationally cheaper–why not, as soon as one sim picks it as a target, have the next sim target the next closest house? I guess there are potential deadlock issues–but, sorry, if the only alternative to fixing those issues is to have the game be as completely broken as this, you’re going to have to fix those deadlock issues.

      It’s also ridiculous that they can’t choose routes with lower traffic. I can at least understand why that’s computational cheaper, but they should at least have some weighted preference for major roads over back alleys.

      Also, am I correct in understanding that they’re using the same roads and traffic to distribute power, water, and sewage? Dammit, I thought the whole point of getting rid of power lines and water pipes was to simplify peripheral systems, but it seems like they’ve not only made them more complicated, they’ve broken them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        That’s the part that’s loony, and I can’t even see how it’s computationally cheaper–why not, as soon as one sim picks it as a target, have the next sim target the next closest house?

        Even Dwarf Fortress manages this & the pathfinding in Dwarf Fortress is fucking atrocious.

        It’s also ridiculous that they can’t choose routes with lower traffic. I can at least understand why that’s computational cheaper, but they should at least have some weighted preference for major roads over back alleys.

        You can do that manually in Dwarf Fortress but seeing as there’s literally no difference between a 3 space wide corridor or a 1 space wide corridor in Dwarf Fortress a manual method for weighting makes sense. This game from what I’ve seen has different types of roads available (and an exponential increase in the number of developers compared to Dwarf Fortress) so weighting should be much easier to implement automatically.

        • Koozer says:

          Hey! There is a difference! If two entities, ie. dwarves, move past each other in the same square, their speed is decreased, so a mere 1 tile wide main corridor into your fortress will significantly reduce traffic flow.

          • Premium User Badge

            Malibu Stacey says:

            I meant there’s no difference to the pathfinding algorithm.
            Any open square counts the same & it always picks the shortest path regardless of how busy it is.
            If Toady actually cared about pathfinding it wouldn’t be too difficult to implement a simple heat map to indicate traffic density & dynamically adjust the default weighting of any given open square.

          • severianvoid says:

            you are aware right that in dwarf fortress there are traffic designations? you can manually designate tiles to weight the path finding traffic on them. (d) designate (o) traffic designations. this sets the tiles movement units so for example a tile with a restricted designation operates as counting for 25 squares of movement. you can even set custom values for the designations.

          • daemonofdecay says:

            Dwarf Fortress: Manually adjusting the allowable density of foot-traffic in hallways is fun!

      • wikidd says:

        It’s also ridiculous that they can’t choose routes with lower traffic. I can at least understand why that’s computational cheaper, but they should at least have some weighted preference for major roads over back alleys.

        It’s actually not cheaper. Using A* pathfinding it’s just as quick to find the shortest route using weighted links (i.e. add a traffic penalty) as it is to find the absolute shortest route. That’s what’s so incredible about the pathfinding issues in SimCity.

        • tyren says:

          The really strange part is they don’t use A*, they use D* Lite, which (as I understand it, granted I’m not a programmer in any way) is capable of handling obstacles (like congestion) in ways that A* doesn’t. Either they deliberately didn’t take advantage of such handling, or they did but it’s horribly bugged so that it never actually happens that way.

          Actually I find that a lot of the problems with this game can be described that way. The first video, for example, demonstrates a problem with pathfinding that you also find in services – fire trucks will all rush for the same fire even if there’s two or three others that need to be responded to. Except, occasionally, they won’t, and will instead actually respond to two separate fires simultaneously. Is the former behavior deliberate, or is the latter behavior what’s actually intended and it just very frequently doesn’t happen because of some horrible bug?

          Either one is a pretty terrible state of affairs.

          • daemonofdecay says:

            Inconsistency is common in my cities. I’ve had cities where traffic operated just as I wished, due to avenues and mass transit. In other cities, it has been gridlocked hell. Police and firefighters have reacted organically some instances, going to multiple fires, and other times they go as one group like simple brain dead automatons all rushing to the same site.

            The game has the capability to fix most of the bugs, I am confident. I don’t think the engine or the mechanics are broken. It is buggy as hell but could be salvaged. But EA has already lost the battle in terms of bad press. I honestly believe that in a year or two that SimCity could be the best SimCity game yet. But as it stands right now? I won’t recommend it to anyone.

            I have glimpsed greatness, but it is mostly obscured behind a large mountain of discarded rubbish. Once that is cleared away, it might end up being a good game.

    • The Random One says:

      No. The devs said that each sim would look for a new job every day, and look for a new house after leaving their jobs. They didn’t say that the only thing that would factor in their choice would be the nearest available thing.

  2. Sardonic says:

    See guys? It is just like Simcity 4!

    I kid, but yeah I hope they work on this.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I’m really confused now. I thought the whole justification of the tiny size of the towns now is that it was the only way to reconcile the computational demands of simulating every sim in the Glassbox engine with the limits of low and mid range PCs. Now it turns out nothing of the sort is happening and its all smoke and mirrors. So Glassbox is no ultimately no closer to true simulation than SimCity 4′s engine, but using it requires a drastic decrease in city size.

      How is this not a complete fail?

      Or was the small city sizes never about computational demands, but actually about justifying the online component by making every ‘city’ too small to operate alone?

      • Chalky says:

        Here’s a video demonstrating how deep the flaws in this “simulation” go:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACdu1ho2Ic4

        100% residential. No jobs, just lots of parks and low taxes. The perfect metropolis.

      • tyren says:

        I’ve seen some people speculating that the simplistic AI for sims and other “agents” like power, water, and sewage is the real reason for the small city sizes. As bad as things get with traffic and utilities already (as your city grows, water and power have a much harder time finding their way down long side streets with few connections), these issues seem like they would be absolutely crippling in larger cities.

        • PedroBraz says:

          Probably why that one guy with the one road city could have 650K citizen

      • Mctittles says:

        I’ve always assumed the city size limitation was because they have to store all cities on their central server.

        I’m glad RPS is starting to see through the haze of marketing influence and the distraction of server wait times to see the game as it really is. I just wish this would have happened before everyone was hyped into buying this.

  3. Didden says:

    It is almost like they wanted to hype their product before launch so more people bought it. *Shocked face*

    I’m adding this to the list of other games with terrible AI. For me, AI is the biggest single glaring fact of the limits of modern computing. Its great to have very high quality graphics, but NPC’s and other AI are still useless. Don’t even get me started with the ‘Cheating AI’ mechanics… grrrr

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      The sad part is that this isn’t even a hard thing to do AI for. It makes sense that we don’t have, say, AI that can play a complex RTS at the same level as a human player. This, however, is a solved problem; navigating city streets like this is literally just a 2D graph problem, and if there’s one thing that current AI can deal with, it’s 2D graph problems.

      I can only assume that Maxis either didn’t put any thought into their AI, or that they did, found out that it was too hard on the ol’ CPU, and then limited it in a really stupid way. It’s, like, legitimately confusing how they could have done something like this.

      • pakoito says:

        >It makes sense that we don’t have, say, AI that can play a complex RTS at the same level as a human player.

        Have you tried Dota2 bots? They are relentless, even on mid levels.

        • Dr_Barnowl says:

          DOTA is a very simple problem. You have a constrained map, a simple mechanic (creeps, fixed defenses, heroes). It’s just a balancing problem you can minimax – kill the other team while not dying, buy good buffs, etc.

          A real RTS involving placing units, defences, building units, making strategy and tactics, is a vastly more complex problem. AI for these games usually consists of either the player having to break a fixed defensive line while the CPU hurls waves of units (creeps?) at you, or the CPU throwing a scripted set of summoned units at your defences. The smartest thing a lot of games do is working out how to make units move across the map without colliding with each other and hung up on terrain – and most of them don’t manage that too well.

          Playing against a real human on RTS games is a totally different experience. I don’t do it a lot, alas, because I don’t have the time to learn the resource micromanagement game that can dominate on many titles (“build orders” that optimize throughput, etc). What I really want for multiplayer RTS is for you to have an AI lieutenant that went to Computer War College and knows all the optimum build orders (or can be taught them by yourself) and can take the burden off your shoulders so you can focus on the strategy and not clicking like seagull in a behavioural experiment involving pro plus tablets.

          • Magnusm1 says:

            It’s really not that different, and an ARTS-game introduces new problems, like interaction between a total of 9 friends and foes, more complex and varying abilities, etc.
            Building placement and whatnot is an easy thing for an AI to understand.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Yes and no. DOTA (or more generically, MOBAs/DotAlikes/whatever we’re calling top-down RTS-like tower defense leveling games) is easier for AI to handle on some level because there’s a heavier focus on micro than RTSes, and bots typically are decent at micro (ie. they can have perfect reflexes for casting abilities, they can perfectly handle positioning, stuff like that). However, they still have a ton of decision making that’s a lot harder. I’m not too familiar with DOTA 2′s AI (more of a LoL guy myself), but I’m guessing that it’s good at micro but bad at macro.

            In other words, if it’s in the right place at the right time, it can kill by perfectly chaining abilities and attacks, but it’s bad at stuff like knowing when to fight and when to retreat, or how and when to move around the map, or what items to buy based on the current game state.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            The DOTA2 bots are not strategically creative, but they do coordinate movement well. In fact, they are often better at grouping up and pushing lanes or ganking as a team than human players.

            Of course, they are not smart at all when it comes to team picking, lane assignments, and building items to counter the opponent’s strategy. But overall they are much more competent at the strategic side of the game than I expected they would be.

        • Magnusm1 says:

          They are powerful and hard, but not very smart.

          • Nesetalis says:

            Exactly.
            They are well designed, do their job well.. but are predictable. They have no emergent thinking, they are not organic systems.
            I am hoping some day, a decent AI simulation method is developed that CAN produce emergent concepts. But until then, were stuck with well crafted but predictable AI.

      • The First Door says:

        To be fair, the problem with most AI isn’t getting them to solve a problem, it’s getting the AI to solve a problem sub-optimally. Yes, it’s easy to make all the cars take the best route, through something like A* path-finding, but it would also look very unrealistic as people themselves are pretty crap at that sort of problem!

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          That’s more of a problem for something like FPS, I think. People are actually fairly reasonable at pathfinding, and while they’re not gonna be finding a shortest path solution, they’re still going to exhibit some more intelligent behavior than these videos are showing. It’s really not that hard to make something that, say, avoids crowded roads.

          • The First Door says:

            True, but the problem is more you don’t want every agent following the shortest path as it leads to unrealistic looking processions.

            Obviously what they’ve picked here isn’t much better as it is less clever and still leads to processions, I’m just saying that it’s really not a trivial problem! Especially not in real time when you are needing to calculate routes at sub-second speeds.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            I don’t think you’d have to (or want to) recalculate pathfinding on so short a timeframe. This kind of problem is rather suited to a high level and low level planner, where the high-level planner handles route planning and the low level planing handles route execution/not crashing into other cars. The high level planner could be triggered periodically in addition to on events (like road creation/destruction) to get pseudo-realtime results without too much load.

            But yeah, anything to do with AI is never trivial, and it’s very possible that there’s some complicated behind-the-scenes thing that makes this much harder than it seems. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case, software always seems to cause that kind of issue.

          • The First Door says:

            It’s always a pay off, I suppose. The less often you calculate the less able it is to deal with real time events like traffic.

            But yes, after programmed some path finding myself I was instantly more sympathetic with sketchy path finding in games!

          • PedroBraz says:

            Your never listen to traffic radio when driving?

        • Mo6eB says:

          With GPS devices that have up-to-date road info, a lot of people already drive along routes calculated by a computer.

          • ItalianPodge says:

            I have 12 Recycling vans, they follow each other around all trying to get to the same collection of “cans” at the same time. That’s because that set of cans is the most desirable for the AI, based on distance and number of cans, (they start from the same place so… all of them make the same decision). All they need to do to fix it is put a flag against the most desirable one once one of my vans is moving on it and the others will go for the next most desirable set of cans.

          • Premium User Badge

            Malibu Stacey says:

            All they need to do to fix it is put a flag against the most desirable one once one of my vans is moving on it and the others will go for the next most desirable set of cans.

            As I said above that’s exactly what Dwarf Fortress does.
            If say 10 dwarves all decide they need a drink & head to the alcohol stockpile, they don’t all try to drink from the same barrel at the same time because that’s just beyond retarded. Even if you only had one type of alcohol available they’d still pick different barrels as long as you had more than one left containing something they can drink because as soon as one dwarf claims an item, no one else will until it has been freed.

          • Rapzid says:

            That would largely result in the trucks still going to the same area, most likely in a line. What they SHOULD do is break the garbage problem into zones and then calculate routes for the trucks to take in those zones, and maybe even let the player get involved… Kinda like in real life… Or kinda like a game… A SIMULATION game.. Ahhh, screw it, that wouldn’t be accessible!

      • aldo_14 says:

        It makes sense that we don’t have, say, AI that can play a complex RTS at the same level as a human player.

        I dunno, there’s been some significant advancements using agents to play Starcraft, for example. And some research work did find that agents, following the same set of standard operating procedures, provided a very similar behaviour to human generals during simulated wargames.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Given that a satnav app on the phone in my pocket can do this, on real-life roads systems that are orders of magnitude larger and more complex than anything in the game, I doubt it’d put any real strain on a PC CPU.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          To be fair, most of the actual calculation in that case is offloaded to servers with some fancy optimization to make the problem soluble in a reasonable amount of time. Definitely not something that SimCity could d… oh wait.

          (not to ruin the joke, but it that model breaks down because not everyone is in the same city and therefore the servers couldn’t do some of the stuff that’s dependent on the world not changing much. But I couldn’t help myself.)

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Fair enough for phones, but your average TomTom/Garmin/whatever doesn’t offload it. Obviously they’re fairly heavily optimised, but stil….

          • The First Door says:

            Yes, but they don’t do it in anywhere near real time either. Also they are calculating a single route, not routes for 100 agents at the same time!

      • LintMan says:

        “The sad part is that this isn’t even a hard thing to do AI for. It makes sense that we don’t have, say, AI that can play a complex RTS at the same level as a human player. This, however, is a solved problem; navigating city streets like this is literally just a 2D graph problem, and if there’s one thing that current AI can deal with, it’s 2D graph problems.”

        Computers can certainly “deal with” them, but finding an optimal route from place to place on a map (2D graph) is an NP-hard problem. That means that the worst case computation times rise exponentially with the number of potential routes. Then multiply that times the number of sims on the move. It can quickly become unmanageable in a lagre complex city, so they have to take shortcuts by using heuristics and simpler algorithms to hopefully find a workable answer much more quickly. The problem is, these algorithms and heuristics – even tried and true ones like A* – don’t always work well and in certain cases can come up with a very sub-optimal answer or even break down (such as in the pedestrians walking in circles video).

        Smarter heuristics might fail less often and less badly, but will generally be more expensive to run and to code up and debug, so there are trade-offs.

        Now, all that said, it does appear that whatever they are using now isn’t quite cutting it and needs some work, say like an algorithm that takes travel speed as well as travel distance into account.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          If you want to get technical, A*, being a complete solution to an NP problem, is worst time exponential. It uses heuristics to speed up the average time and can be polynomial with a good heuristic and a good problem, but still is an exponential-time algorithm. Not that that’s totally nitpicking or anything.

          (EDIT: Might be wrong on the above, at least with regards to NP. A* is worse case exponential, but saying that that’s a given because pathfinding is NP-hard is incorrect, I think. Never was very good with P/NP <_<)

          Anyway, when I said "solved" I more meant solved in a engineering sense than in a computer science sense, as in we can come up with a solution in a reasonable amount of time in a constrained problem space. GPS being the obvious example there, even if that has some advantages over an arbitrary graph in terms of finding an efficient solution.

          • Rapzid says:

            Doesn’t need to be calculated “real time” anyway. The best route from neighborhood A to B doesn’t change every frame. Large portions of routes could end up shared. Time for convergence is to be expected and is actually realistic. Etc, etc, etc.

          • LintMan says:

            I had thought that having worst-case exponential time for finding the optimal solution was pretty much at the heart of NP-hard problems. Or is that NP-complete? It’s been 20+ years snce I studied that stuff seriously.

            In any case, though,, my point was that finding the “best” solution might potentially be expensive, and simpler cheaper algortihms can sometimes give a poor result. As Rapzid mentions, though, it doesn’t need to be run every frame, just once for every trip and if the map changes.. But we don’t know what the CPU budget is for this calculation and how a better algorithm would impact performance of lower-end systems. I’m pretty down on SimCity for all the problems it’s having, but I’m still inclined to think the poor routing is more due to performance concerns than the dev’s inability to improve the pathfinding..

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            darkChozo says:

            Like I said, I’m not terribly good with P and NP and the variants. I think it might be a case of known efficient NP-hard/complete/whatever solutions generally being exponential, but not necessarily (they could be, say, factorial; or double exponential if that counts), so I don’t think it’s sufficient to say “this problem is NP-hard, therefore the most efficient known solution runs in exponential time”. But that’s fairly nitpick-y.

            I think the thing that makes it confusing is that they’re probably using some sort of graph-based pathfinding algorithm (someone mentioned D* Lite later in the thread, which is graph-based), so presumably improving the pathfinding performance in this case would be a matter of weighting graph edges with the current traffic density. They’re already calculating traffic density at some point (see the red/yellow highlighting on packed roads), so there’s no additional cost there, and assuming that information is accessible when the pathfinding algorithm is run, it should be a simple matter of multiplying/adding a couple of numbers, which would be a minuscule performance hit for a fairly large improvement in results.

            Of course, there’s a ton of assumptions there, among which is assuming that traffic density is accessible when you calculate pathfinding. But it just seems like some odd design choices from an outsider’s view.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      On the other hand, trying to lure the AI into a trap seems a nice meta-game providing more fun than, you know, the rest of SimCity.

    • trinka00 says:

      what are cheating AI mechanics?

      I’m not that familiar with game dev.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        Cheating AI is when the AI gains an advantage outside of the game’s rules in order to make them seem smarter/better. For example, a common form of cheating AI in RTSs is AI that gets resources faster than the player and can see everywhere on the map, despite fog of war or invisibility mechanics. Another example is rubberband AI in racing games that gets faster when it’s behind.

        • Brun says:

          This. The Civilization series AI does this by giving the AI advantages in resources, production, research, and gold, although they are quite honest about it (the difficulty descriptions explicitly state that the AI is given advantages).

        • trinka00 says:

          ohhkay, i see, i gotcha,
          my mind was going to things that i imagined were much more complicated, but
          that makes total sense now. yeah, i hate that too.
          when i know it’s going on i guess, haha.
          thanx for answering.

  4. caddyB says:

    Also good luck fitting that many people into a 2km x 2km box.

  5. mrd says:

    Didn’t think it was possible but again (for the second time in a few days) I find myself even MORE glad that I didn’t buy this turkey.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Morlock says:

    Sim Socialist Paradise

  7. Cryptoshrimp says:

    So, all those people who shouted “If you can do it better, do it yourself” in response to critique of this game might’ve been on to something, actually. We can do better than this, surely.

  8. Koozer says:

    Woo Glassbox bugs! I was looking forward to these. More detailed level of simulation = more bugs (and more CPU cycles needed), who’da thunk it? I like the idea of Glassbox and hope to try it out someday when it is a) working and b) cheap, but there’s a pretty good reason other city builders don’t model every single entity separately.

    • datom says:

      I think to fully understand the state that this game was mis-sold/mis-represented as, you need to understand that every enttity is not modelled.

      1) As cities grow, a large proportion of your citizens will be phantoms and not truly modelled

      2) Entities are modelled in the same way as entities were modelled in Lemmings on the Amiga 500. They all walk exorably in one direction until they meet an obstacle that changes that direction or they reach the destination.

      The thing with Lemmings is, that was part of the joke. SimCity is a kind of joke, but in a very different way.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Its not more detailed tho, its more lazy true but not more detailed. Since sims have no house/job and just fill up a number its less detailed, you could replace the sims with cars and turn it into transformers sim city and it would still work which means its less detailed imo.

      Each “agent” needs specializing a bit, you can’t have generic ones for everything.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Funny you’d say that, considering that Sim City 4 has more detailed simulation, with more agents, on bigger maps, and less horrible pathfinding bugs even in vanilla Sim City 4.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        There are certainly a lot of problems with this game, but none of what you said is true. I understand the anger people have, but the facts matter. Simcity 4′s pat-finding was borderline non-existent until a huge amount of modding was put in over several years.

  9. mrbish82 says:

    This article hasn’t even touched on the findings that the game generates hundreds and thousands of ‘phantom’ citizens. As the city expands the population begins to move wildly out of whack, some people are saying a pop of 200k only has around 10k actual people in, the rest don’t actually exist. Early dev gameplay videos demonstrate this phantom population thing hasn’t been turned on yet, lot’s of skyscrapers, only 1000 people in the city. I believe the tax rate only goes by the amount of ‘real’ sims, because the tax only generates as if you had 10k when you appear to have 200k, meaning the actual number of sims was just added at the last minute to try and make the game look less daft.

    This guy goes into depth explaining it:
    http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/9359265.page

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, when I first saw this article I assumed this was what it was about. Phantom citizens and just generally faking the population numbers is really dodgy. The whole thing seems designed to look really impressive on the surface but when you try to get down to the detail to actually manage your city you find that it’s all faked and none of it adds up.

      A pretty big problem in a game that’s all about managing your city!

      • Kamos says:

        While I understand your frustration that not every single person in the city is being simulated in the maximum level of detail, note that “faking things” is how you make something that is ridiculously complex work in real time.

        Using a “shadow population” is a valid way of providing different “levels of detail” in the AI simulation. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a simulation where each person represents, say, ten actual people, as long as the simulation itself works (which is not the case) and as long as you accept that it is an abstraction of the real thing. On the other hand, if each agent represents multiple people, any single error in the simulation gets magnified.

        I don’t know how previous SimCity games worked under the hood, but it is a safe bet that they used much more abstract models than trying to simulate any amount of individual people. And I think CitiesXL creates routes from each residence to one working place, which is another way of representing multiple people at the same time in a low level of detail.

        • Chalky says:

          I’m not talking about everyone being simulated in a high level of detail. I’m talking about the fact that you take a city, add a house with a maximum population of 6, watch 6 people move in and your city population increases by 22.

          It’s not about not being able to watch each of those 6 people go to work every day (even though it was implied that you could) – it’s that the numbers don’t make any sense to a point where you can’t even try to manage a small town.

          Got 60 jobs to fill? Try building 10 six person houses and watch your population inexplicably shoot up by 220 and enjoy managing your city.

          Not to mention that people dying makes the numerical fakery bug out.

          It’s smoke and mirrors being used to control fundamental aspects of a management simulation. It’s bonkers.

          • Kamos says:

            If 6 people move into a house and the population increases by 22, it means that each “person” in the simulation actually represents 3.6 people.

            Again, I’m not saying that their simulation is good. I’m just trying to point out that performance and fidelity are conflicting goals. If done correctly (and you’ve given examples that it was not in Sim City), it is a valid way to simplify a simulation model that might otherwise be impossible to simulate in real-time.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Yeah, it would be totally reasonable if it were something like Victoria 2′s POPs. That’s not what it looks like, though.

          • Groove says:

            Bloody hell am I glad I didn’t buy this.

            I was watching Day 9 playing the game this morning and I was wondering how the hell is this a city, since the town I live in is larger than this.. The phantom citizen issue must be so that you don’t end up with a maximum ‘city’ size of 20k.

            I also wondered how skyscrapers made sense, since you’re running sim village…Not that sim village would be terrible, but it’s hardly sim city if you can’t build one.

          • Chalky says:

            Again, I’m not saying that their simulation is good. I’m just trying to point out that performance and fidelity are conflicting goals. If done correctly (and you’ve given examples why they were not), it is a valid way to simplify a simulation model that might otherwise be impossible to simulate in real-time.

            I understand what you’re saying, but their game is a simulation and if it’s not a good simulation then it’s not good.

            The whole thing reeks of them discovering that it wasn’t practical to simulate everything in great detail and just fudging it so that on the surface everything seems OK but as soon as you try to actually play the game it all falls apart. That feels really wrong.

            I’m happy for them to sacrifice detail for size, or size for detail, but what they’ve done is painted a picture of a massive complex city but in reality it’s a tiny simple one and it’s STILL broken. It’s the worst of both worlds.

          • Kamos says:

            “I understand what you’re saying, but their game is a simulation and if it’s not a good simulation then it’s not good.”

            Absolutely, I agree. Simulations are cool when they actually make any sense.

          • Consumatopia says:

            @Groove, I would take it even further. If they had limited the number of sims to 10k, or even 1k, but simulated them properly and called the game “SimCity Online”, it would be a much better game.

            Or maybe not–I guess that would be weird feudal “city” that has no central government, but every block captain has absolute power. But that’s how the regions system already works.

            I think people complaining about DRM or flawed simulation are missing the point–the very core of this new SimCity game doesn’t actually make sense.

        • mrbish82 says:

          I’m not frustrated with every sim not being simulated, i think that’s a valid way to reprisent large numbers without actually having to generate each one, but that’s not what’s going on here. What’s going on is that at smaller levels, the population rate and amount of workers is sort of accurate, it’s when the city gets more busy, each house creates more “phantom” population than the last, people have noticed large houses creating 5000+ extra population when the city is bigger. The problem with this is not everything scales with it and it creates lots of horrible bugs, and makes balancing RCI impossible.

          If they couldn’t simulate every single sim (and no one really should expect that) then they should have been straight about it to start with and have 1 sim = 10 theoretical or something. But they didn’t, they went the “every sim is simulated” route, which appears so in the early stages of the game, then added an awful population padding algorithm to boost numbers later on in the game, which completely breaks a lot of things (but at first glance makes things look more impressive). Hopefully it’s something that can be fixed at a later point.

          • Kamos says:

            Indeed. If you increase the number of “shadow people” indiscriminately, the tendency is that any single agent’s error become a small catastrophe.

            For instance, if an agent representing 5 thousand people gets lost because the pathfinding algorith sucks, it means that 5 thousand people will be just wandering around aimlessly like bums. In the simulation, it would have the same effect as if a small disaster had happened to your city’s economy and forced those people to indeed be homeless and unemployed.

            That is actually why we learn in school to discard the “non-reliable” part of a number. If you multiply an error, the end result is a big error, possibly something that doesn’t even make sense.

          • Consumatopia says:

            “That is actually why we learn in school to discard the “non-reliable” part of a number. If you multiply an error, the end result is a big error, possibly something that doesn’t even make sense.”

            Wait, this is moving in kind of a profound direction. Does this new SimCity demonstrate a deeper problem with using microfoundations or agent models to simulate larger populations?

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            Any kind of simulation can be misused, obviously. If you’re using an agent-based model where one agent is really an aggregate, you want to be sure that the agent is truly representative of one related group (a company, an industry, a country…). If you can’t create those simple groups which act similarly, an agent-based model is probably not appropriate.

            SimCity’s problem seems to be that it does not degrade gracefully into lower levels of simulation detail, but rather arbitrarily decides that one agent stands for a larger number who are exactly the same. That’s a naive approach, but it can be fine for a game if it’s properly tuned and all the bugs are ironed out.

          • Kamos says:

            What TillEulenspiegel said (with much better english than me).

          • tyren says:

            @Kamos: I think the problem is actually the exact opposite if what you’re suggesting here – the “phantom population” doesn’t have any effect on the game whatsoever. If one non-phantom person goes to work, he fills one job, not three or five or whatever proportion of the population he represents according to the phantom statistics, but the numbers are balanced badly so it’s nearly impossible to have the right balance of actual non phantom residents to fill jobs and industry or stores with jobs to fill.

            I haven’t checked this in-game myself but I’ve heard this also affects purely “numerical” things like taxes – the game only regards the “non-phantom” sims as working, so as population density goes up, your taxes come from a steadily decreasing percentage of your population, and placing new residential zones doesn’t increase your income nearly as much as it “feels” like it should. This is another situation where I wouldn’t have a problem if the numbers were balanced properly but it doesn’t seem like they were.

    • Chalky says:

      For anyone interested, apparently they’ve actually extracted the UI code that handles the population display:

      https://gist.github.com/anonymous/5133829#file-simcityui-js-L8510

      Yeah, that’s right, they’ve actually got a function in there called “GetFudgedPopulation”

  10. ShockLobster says:

    EA/Maxis can’t code proper AI in ‘The Sims’ games; it being deficient and broken in any other game is a given. Big difference here is that SimCity won’t likely have nraas at the forefront making free mods that accomplish fixing the broken behaviors that EA/Maxis won’t ever… or at least until the next expansion they want you to purchase.

  11. JustAPigeon says:

    Thanks for posting this, the SimCity subreddit is exploding with examples of the idiotic AI. It’s actually gamebreaking. Eventually things will grind to a halt with traffic, while factories are ablaze on one side of the city all 17 of your fire trucks will be attempting to put out a kitchen fire in a low-density house. The best way to deal with traffic so far seems to be to create one long avenue that snakes across the map, with no intersections whatsoever. It works and looks incredibly stupid.

    The game also seems to fake population data, so that the engine does not process each sim individually, knocking work demand levels completely out of whack as your city progresses. Then all your industry start to complain that there aren’t enough workers in your city and factories close down.

    Shame, I’ve actually been enjoying playing the game, but knowing how little depth the simulation has has completely turned me off it. Would love to hear what Maxis have to say.

  12. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    HAWAY RPS, gan on son, stick the boot in and when their down KICK ‘EM HARD IN THE CORPORATES!!!

  13. SeanFoster says:

    I have been enjoying the game quite a bit but this bugs me more than anything else I’ve heard about the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Diziet Sma says:

      This exactly. I’ve been enjoying the game and haven’t been blighted by any online type issues (not that they don’t exist). What’s annoyed me the most is this, which I’ve noticed in my own cities, and similar problems. For example two sewage plants. All the sewage will flow to the over flowing one, with the 2nd plant doing sweet fa. Until it backs up, then it all flows to the 2nd plant until the 1st one starts accepting sewage again. Seconds later of course the 1st one is overflowing and so the cycle repeats. The second plant never being properly utilised. This is down the end of a long road to an industrial estate with the two sewage plants at opposite ends of the T junction formed and the end. E.g. both are equidistant in every fashion from the main body of the city.

  14. Premium User Badge

    oWn4g3 says:

    With all those complex AI simulations, I’m glad the servers you have to stay connected to are helping by computing other important things. Oh wait.

  15. Kinth says:

    While I haven’t had any of the major pathfinding problems prevalent here (mainly because my city is just a bunch of squares meaning there are multiple shortest routes of equal distance)

    I can vouch for the worker thing and rankly it’s terrible because unskilled workers will walk into skilled worker jobs which in the case of some jobs can have a pretty horrible effect on your city. Industrial buildings burning down due to lack of skilled workers and the same when your nuclear power plant leaks radiation. I have multiple schools and colleges and a University in my city so I have more than enough skilled workers to go around.

    I think the whole proclaiming it some sort of simulation masterpiece is really starting to bite them in the ass. Honestly I’m not sure a lot of this can be fixed.

  16. jjujubird says:

    EA using dishonest business practices to get people’s money?

    Say it ain’t so!

  17. caddyB says:

    You just had to remake SimCity4 with some of the best mods already added you dicks.

  18. Eich says:

    That the Sims are agents and “vanish” as soon as they enter a home or workstead was definitly known beforehand. I knew it. I’m sure someone explained that in the dozens or so YouTube videos I have seen over the months. Also, I don’t find this to be any kind of problem. Of course it’s unrealistic but you can only simulate so far.

    • aldo_14 says:

      The problem would be that it breaks the fundamental structure of building a cities economy and education; jobs are satisfied on the basis of distance, rather than the skill of workers etc. I don’t know how bad it is – not played the game, not intended to thanks to the problems – but I could see it severely screwing things up.

      It’s ironic, really, as this is seemingly a case where it’s better to abstract out the systems (i.e. fill jobs on a probability basis or something, based on the rough population) and create a reasonable feeling of verisimilitude, than take the approach of implementing (or trying to) a ostensibly realistic system whose cracks are more glaring.

      EDIT; I’m not entirely sure I’m replying to what I meant to reply to. Er. What I mean is, the concept of just taking the nearest available one is a big problem, even if it exists as a more computationally optimal solution.

      • Eich says:

        I surely don’t know how the simulation works but I think that the economy is based on demand and a highly educated population demands a hightech economy. Let’s say we have 50% idiots and 50% geniuses. The intelligent people will live in awesome buildings because they have money to afford it. So only people who leave high tech industries can live in the good parts of the city. People from the steel mill will only find a home in Crap-Street. This way it would make sense. The Problem (which I thought) Sim City had is this: only a small percentage of the population is truly simulated. The rest is upscaled to match the city size.

        So it seems that the real problem is that SimCity does not use massive amounts of server power to calculate your entire city. Instead it’s an offline singleplayer game which is strongly cut back to be able to run on slow machines.

        Edit:

        I understood what you wanted to say and think that it works otherwise. Not distance based, instead “earned money” (-> high education -> high wealth) based.

    • Premium User Badge

      Almond Milk says:

      This. I think I may have watched three or four videos of the game before it came out, and this is exactly how I expected it to work. I actually think it’s incredibly smart, I mean how else would you simulate hundreds of thousands of independent AI’s? How could people be so naive as to think they would all be as complex as, say, a character in The Sims? This happens with absurd regularity; people dream up some fantasy game and are then outraged when the game is what the developers said it would be, and not what their dreams told them it would be. Learn to take marketing with a grain of salt, the truth WILL be stretched to sell you something.

  19. db1331 says:

    Who are these people who are buying SP games with always on DRM? Why would you ever even consider doing that? There should be no outrage over this game, because no one should have bought it.

  20. karthink says:

    Dwarf Fortress struggles with simulating the lives of 200 dwarves with reasonable fidelity. (That, and hydro/magma dynamics.)

    So it sounded too good to be true when Maxis claimed SimCity simulated the lives of thousands of sims along with the half dozen other “flow networks”-power, sewage, etc.

    DF is single threaded and SimCity is probably not, but still. A stretch.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Dwarves have rather more varied needs than Sims, along with more varied means of satisfying those needs and more varied possessions and completely open, multi-level pathing. It didn’t seem too much of a stretch that a carefully optimised engine could model 100k simple agents as efficiently as an unoptimised engine could model 200 highly complex ones.

      Of course it was a stretch that EA would actually allow investment in that level of simulation.

      • Chalky says:

        It’s particularly likely that they can do this when the majority of the agents don’t require active simulation at the same time. When an agent enters a building or initiates any activity, all the system needs is a timer to represent when the activity is due to end and the ability to update whatever variables the activity affects.

        It should be trivial to store a persistent list of agents at any location to ensure people who go in also eventually come out again, as it is to record a place of work and a home location against an individual agent to allow them to act consistently.

        I mean hell, look at something like the original rollercoaster tycoon. That game had unique visitors who entered your park with certain attributes which remained consistent throughout their visit until they left. Not only that, but each individual agent was constantly simulated, even when on a ride – you could even follow them as they went round your rollercoasters. And this was when? 1998?

        These days it should easily be able to consistently simulate many more entities, and given that 90% of the time the entities in sim city are simply at a location and don’t require any calculations I’m certain this mess isn’t the best they could achieve.

        • smb says:

          Just remember that math and logic doesn’t evolve like graphical fidelity. It’s no secret that AI in strategy games from the 90′s often trump anything in today’s market.

          • MrUnimport says:

            Freaking Chessmaster 2000.

          • Brun says:

            Chess is a bit of a special case, as chessplaying AI has been the subject of a substantial amount of academic and industrial research.

          • solidsquid says:

            Not necessarily, a lot of old AIs were dependant on cheating at higher difficulty levels to get them competitive. Bonus income was a common one, the computer would gather resources at a faster rate than was possible for the player

    • caddyB says:

      The main problem with DF pathfinding is that it will calculate all of the possible routes to go from point A to point B every time something moves because most of the map is available for your dwarfs to walk on and a lot of stuff is going on all the time. You can even reduce this effect by blocking the unused mineshafts and they won’t be calculated.

      Since Simcity works only with roads, there really is no comparison. It is fairly easy to give values to each of the roads and recalculate when a new road is added.

      Besides, even if it was actually too hard for our machines to handle, didn’t they say their servers were there to help with the calculations of the simulation?

      Their GlassBox is crashing around their heads.

      • Eich says:

        Btw, you can also build “roads” in DF by defining traffic areas. I don’t quite know how this works yet but in theory it should make pathfinding easier.

        • caddyB says:

          It actually doesn’t help with the pathfinding fps loss.

          Well, it still does the calculations, but if you give an area “restricted traffic” it will add to the pathfinding value of the road and it’ll probably become high enough that your dwarfs will consider it too long to actually go through. So it actually makes the pathfinding to think that the distance is longer or shorter depending on what sort of traffic you assign to that area.

          • caddyB says:

            We’ve discovered this on the forums when our dwarfs would happily walk through a waterfall and fall down to their deaths because of the current even though the area was restricted.

            Turns out if there is now other way around or if the other way is too long the dwarfs will happily ignore orders, like usual.

    • PedroBraz says:

      Actually SimCity IS singlethreaded…and DX9. Childrens of the Nile, like Tropico also had actual independent agents.

  21. aldo_14 says:

    It’s almost trivial to take an A* algorithm, and change the scoring heuristic to account for road traffic/capacity/speed limit so you don’t always take the shorter route?

    Why the hell didn’t they do that?

    • JustAPigeon says:

      While I agree, as far as I know the reason that all the sims drive to that one house in the first video is that they all consider that house to be their home as soon as the simulation is unpaused. It’s not until the house becomes full that the sims then decide to find the next available house and all drive there, and so on.

      edit: sorry, this is explained in the video annotations.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I would’ve expected a sort of attempt to assign a house to a person as soon as that person registers it as the 1st empty house… rather than everyone racing to the house, and then assigning that house to the first person to arrive.

      • aldo_14 says:

        While I agree, as far as I know the reason that all the sims drive to that one house in the first video is that they all consider that house to be their home as soon as the simulation is unpaused. It’s not until the house becomes full that the sims then decide to find the next available house and all drive there, and so on.

        Well, I mean the pathfinding videos like the junction, specifically. Even just adding a bias factor based on road width / max speed would help, rather than scoring by distance. I find it doubly ironic as even I could do it, and I’m busy screwing up my PhD.

      • JustAPigeon says:

        Yeah, both of these problems seem like they should be easy to solve in terms of simulation. So who knows why they did it this way. Maybe it’s just cheap, or maybe they wanted the roads to look like they had traffic on them (compensating for the fact that population data is made up). I dunno, I’m just rambling now. I’m more angry about this shit than I was about the DRM/server problems.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Yeah, it’s odd, considering that they’re apparently already calculating traffic density in order to show the yellow/red highlights. It would be trivial to pipe that into their pathfinding algorithm, and they already appear to be updating their graphs in close to realtime (based on the traffic video), so it probably wouldn’t even be at much more computational cost. Weird.

  22. Shantara says:

    At least you can install Network Addon Mod to fix traffic calculations. Oh wait, you can’t anymore…

  23. Calculon says:

    Im still pretty p*ssed about it to be honest. I paid good coin for this game, and its a steaming pile of CR*P, and its unlikely its going to be fixed as it appears to go to the heart of the BrokenGlass Engine.

    This ended up all being Marketing Hype and pure garbage.

    • solidsquid says:

      Maybe they should start work on their PlexiGlass Engine so it isn’t as easy to break

  24. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    I personally think you are wrong.

    RPS keep this in the public domain, continue your stance on highlighting corporate failure. EA would love this to just be brushed under the carpet having pocketed their preorder cash and turn the servers off as soon as possible.

    Make them pay for their greed and taking a loyal following for granted!

    EDIT: This was in response to an EA appologist post that vanished, LOL

  25. Hoaxfish says:

    Hey, if you were working at EA this is probably what your actual life feels like… it’s no wonder they didn’t spot this as “abnormal”.

  26. leQuack says:

    o my god, so you’re telling me SimCity is still a game with all gamey and nonrealistic features?

    • Kamos says:

      It should be clear that Sim City is now a game with bad pathfinding algorithms and a simulation model that people find too simplistic, even though the agent-based system was intended to create greater depth.

  27. porps says:

    i was soo looking forward to this game… quite enjoyed that limited beta too, but now i read all this i’m so glad i didnt bother to buy it. Just another EA failiure.

    • Armitage says:

      These articles are the only thing preventing me from buying the game. When I don’t read this I assume, “its probably fixed by now”. That will probably never be true for this game, but I can’t help myself ! I want to play Simcity, not Tropico 4 or CitiesXL2 !

  28. Major Seventy Six says:

    What amazes me is to see the Fire Trucks stopping at each and every street signs on their way to a fire.

  29. Severian says:

    I’m disappointed that individual citizens are so abstractly represented. I understand that can be a design decision (and a problematic one, if they lied about it), but I’d much prefer a simulation where I can follow individuals and watch them exist in my creation. It really immerses me in the world, and gives me something relaxing to do when I want to take a break from building. Tropico was doing this over a decade ago, and while I get that it’s an unfair comparison because of relative city-size (the Tropico’s are only dealing with 100′s of citizens), you’d think they’d have found a way. And they certainly implied they did.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      They had no time for anything that resembles AI as they were too busy smuggling graphics out from Crytech’s pixel store rooms, schmoosing with reviewers and games review sites account executives about the next quarters advertising budget and of course processing the pre-orders.

  30. Brosepholis says:

    The simulation is what it is. Obviously they can’t simulate everyone in a city of a hundred thousand people, do you have any idea how expensive pathfinding algorithms are? Even with their braindead greedy algorithm they have to scale the percentage of sims that are simulated as your city grows or performance will fall off a cliff.

    I understand some proportion of the anger over this game; they certainly should commit to an offline mode now launch week is over. However, to get worked up about the way the simulation was coded just looks like throwing the toys out of the pram at this point. The stochastic models used in previous SC games had bad edge cases and exploits, as does this one. The difference is, the inner workings of this model are exposed for you to watch as you play. The challenge is to work with the simulation model to create a thriving city, not to go looking for arrangements that break the game.

    Honestly, some of the gleeful frenzy over the last few days’ events in the articles and comments section here is starting to sound a bit cultish. Feels like I’m on Reddit.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      The cult of the deceived consumer, who’d have thunk it! Have I not heard people complain about the downsizing of cities from previous releases. You must be right though, as PC CPU/ memory tech has moved on apace it can’t handle simplified AI in a smaller overall model as it has to make pretty pictures now as GPU tech has improved drastically too, OH WAIT!!

      • MrUnimport says:

        Hold up, now, you’re telling me simulating little people on the ground is simpler and smaller a model than just abstracting them away?

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Moore’s law (for the little people!)

          • Brun says:

            What does a “law” regarding computer hardware power have to do with simulation software? The simulation doesn’t get any simpler because the hardware gets more powerful. More powerful hardware just means you can run more complicated simulations.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Obviously the people have been shrinking by half every 18 months or so. Why, I remember back in the day when everyone was a hundred feet tall, those were the days!

    • Armitage says:

      That phrase has actual meaning you know:

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=It+is+what+it+Is

      Also, you sound like you have anger issues.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Living in the corporate world, I can say definitively that these descriptions are wrong.

        People use it to mean whatever they want. Sometimes they mean nothing at all. Sometimes they mean “you should accept it.” Sometimes they mean “yes it’s bad, but I don’t know how to fix it.” Sometimes they mean “we didn’t think of that.”

        It’s just lazy speech, talking in circles, hoping that the other party will give up their valid point, most of the time. I encounter these situations — talking to someone with a valid point about a problem that should probably be addressed, that I don’t know how to address. There’s always a more useful option, like: “I agree” or “Yes, but I don’t know how to fix that.” or “I don’t think this is likely to be fixed, and the importance is not high enough to fight about it.”

        • Brosepholis says:

          I’ll clarify what I meant. Since they clearly made the decision to go with a fully agent-based simulation model early in development, it’s not feasible to change that decision now. Every aspect of the game’s design has been informed by that decision.They had to make the agents pretty dumb, and maybe as a result this game forms an argument against the idea of bottom-up simulation (for instance, you could rip out Havok and just make everything in your physics game out of atoms, but it wouldn’t be a good idea or get you anywhere interesting). However, the nature of the simulation is not going to change.

        • MrUnimport says:

          May I suggest “It can’t be helped”?

        • Consumatopia says:

          I think arguments throughout the thread and in the links in the OP demonstrate that this is screwed up even worse than required by the agent model. At times, it’s hard to figure out whether the strange behavior is actually intended or if its some kind of bug that will be fixed in a later update. The weird quirks are sometimes unpredictable, so they may not even be fun to find work arounds for.

          But even assuming that were the agent model alone were to blame, it’s still a worthy topic of conversation to understand why particular games fail. Not only because someone might try to make more city simulation games in the future (in particular, EA was talking about Glassbox as though they had some future plans for it), but because it’s an inherently interesting thing for fans to talk about, in the same way people would discuss a particularly interesting play in a sports match. (And the discussion will be opinionated and biased and maybe kind of loud in exactly the same way).

          The new SimCity game is a very interesting failure, and people will talk about it for a long time. I’m talking years or decades here–SimCity is an important franchise to the history of gaming, and this release will be an important part of that franchise’s story.

    • Armitage says:

      The RPS and /r/Gaming crowd probably overlap quite a bit.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      The issue, I think, is that a lot of the simulation issues negatively affect gameplay in a rather significant way. Bad pathfinding is absolutely terrible if you’re trying to simulate traffic management; while it’s reasonable for traffic to be “dumb” to some degree, this appears to be more “broken” than “dumb” to the point where you may have to game the system in order to get reasonable results.

      People are also talking about a disconnect between the frontend and backend simulation with regards to population (ie. one “person” on the screen kinda sorta is actually 10 people in the backend), which might be fine except that it’s not particularly consistent and isn’t really conveyed to the player. That makes planning harder (someone in the comments uses the example of a 6 person house creating far more people and screwing up employment), which is pretty bad in a game that is literally about planning.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Is anyone expecting hundreds of thousands of individuals all displayed on screen? I don’t really think so.

      At scales that are meaningfully viewable, on a map that’s a relatively limited number of fixed segments, I don’t see why pathfinding should be so hard. Unless you want to model individual blockages with arbitrary movement (units sidestepping each other, etc), which the rail + roads systems don’t seem to do, then you can bear a large portion of the costs in aggregate, computing weights on a periodic basis and already knowing the set of routes from node to node, which would allow you to avoid having to do A* per simulated item, except perhaps for the “last half block” if you even need that.

      I really don’t think pathfinding, even at large scales, is a meaningful restriction on modern computers, unless you wilfully make it as hard as possible (eg your game design requires it). This game design has no need for simulating eg pedestrians that block each other so they can’t pass, so it’s not that hard to optimize.

      Yes, A* was hard on pentiums running at 90Mhz.

      Now?

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Thank you.

      I’m sure the game has issues (many of which can be fixed), but the armchair programmers have come out of the woodworks and think they can do everything better than Maxis. Simulation is hard and people who just hide things under the rug as “trivial” are so clueless it’s not even funny.

      Saying “just use A* and assign each sim a different home” is easy. Calculating A* with inter-agent collision detection and dynamic routes (traffic lights, possibly the mayor adding/destroying stuff) and then adding inter-agent communication for thousands of agents running simultaneously while affecting dozens of variables (traffic rating, pollution, etc.), all while having to run on the minimum spec of a Core 2 Duo E4400, isn’t.

    • Twirrim says:

      Actually, pathfinding algorithms are not that expensive. They underly so many aspects of industry and computing that they’ve been heavily optimised.

      When we’re only talking about something on the scale of SimCity sized cities and traffic levels, it’s even more ridiculous that they’ve settled on the Shortest Path First algorithm. With a simple Distance Vector algorithm (which would take into account the speed ‘cost’ of a road) and such a comparitively small number of intersections to deal with a routing table would take an small amount of memory to make and very little CPU power to process (bear in mind that decisions only need to be made when a vehicle reaches an intersection)

    • Arkh says:

      Hear Hear people, SimCity simulation is not broken, you just don’t know how to play it!

  31. nimzy says:

    All you need to see is a picture of the biggest city you can create in SimCity 4 next to the one you can build in this one. How the mighty have fallen.

    Anyone gotten Wright’s reaction to the spectacular mismanagement of a game he helped to create?

    • pilouuuu says:

      Will Wright is probably to busy feeling regret about all the mistakes he made with Spore. EA knows how to break games like no other company!

  32. SurprisedMan says:

    Waaaay back in the mists of time I remember there was a lot of chatter about how it would really be cool if as well as zooming out and seeing your city, you could zoom in and see the citizens living their lives. It was just a dream though, just a childish ‘one day games will do ANYTHING’ fantasy.

    The reality should have been much better. We got our ultra micro-management of individual people view in The Sims, but then somewhere along the line Sim City became more and more zoomed in. I’m not sure who still wanted it, and I definitely think that it hasn’t been worth all the compromises. One of the cool things about Sim City at least up to 3000 was that I could build BIG cities, starting from very humble beginnings. It was a thrill to be paying attention to one corner of my city and then zoom out to see the whole thing, a thrill I can’t get tot he same extent if it’s all carved up into small chunks.

    And now, to add insult to injury, the close-up simulation doesn’t even work. Even if I could find something to enjoy in the zoomed-in world of this new release, it fails to do its job. What a waste of everyone’s time.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      People should turn up at EA’s head office untill it’s full then after a day of mismanagement return to the CEO’s (and other board members) house(s).

      That is how it works………….

  33. Brun says:

    Well, yeah. You really thought they’d be doing pure, unaltered, detailed agency modeling for every person in your 100k+ city? That’s really not technically feasible – there’s a reason your Dwarf Fortress game gets 2 FPS when you have 200 Dwarves running about. Of course there had to be some level of abstraction.

    EDIT: Doh, someone already beat me to the Dwarf Fortress argument.

  34. Lagwolf says:

    The game should be called SimSingapore because the map is so damn small. (http://blogcritics.org/gaming/article/pc-game-review-simcity/)

  35. Reefpirate says:

    All this talk about Sim City lately got me inspired to go out and buy Tropico 4. I don’t know if it’s a matter of scale (although my largest Tropican city so far was about 1200 citizens), but all of the Tropican citizens seem more intelligent than I thought. At the very least they have dedicated residences that they go home to at the end of each work day.

    There are traffic issues where you try to get them to use alternate roads when they’re jammed up, and sometimes some of the traffic will take the new route, but overall it seems that Tropico 4 might be a better city sim than SimCity?

    • iucounu says:

      They have residences and jobs and skills and opinions. On the other hand, there are very few of them – Tropico cities are orders of magnitude less populated than SimCities.

      You probably have to abstract some stuff to simulate cities on this scale. It’s just how you choose to do that; that’s where the problems start.

      • Reefpirate says:

        Indeed… Since making my comment I’ve realized SimCity has ~100k citizens… That’s quite the challenge to simulate indeed.

      • tyren says:

        Edit: Ignore, misread numbers.

  36. Jertornas says:

    This game has provided me with hours of entertainment and I don’t even own it.

    • pistolhamster says:

      You just won the Day’s Best Sardonic Thread Comment Award :)

    • pupsikaso says:

      Despite you being technically a “filthy thief”, I do wonder if the cracked pirated versions of the game have to suffer the same as the retail ones?

  37. TreuloseTomate says:

    SimCity 100% Residential 200k City – Time Lapse
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACdu1ho2Ic4

    No Industry or Commercial zones.

    • timethor says:

      You would think not having a job or a place to buy/steal food would put a damper on a sim’s happiness… let alone pay the rent…

      I hope these things can be fixed relatively easy. :/

      • tyren says:

        The issue here seems to be that happiness is generated by “shopping.” Parks increase happiness by being a place where sims can go to “shop” without spending money, so this works because under the hood there’s no distinction being made between “shopping happiness” and “visiting a park happiness.”

  38. naufrago says:

    “They, just as with work, move into the nearest available house.”
    What I’m confused about is why you or anyone else is surprised by this. Just read the second paragraph of this article posted on RPS- http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/28/first-look-simcity/ . It clearly states that this is exactly how it was intended to work, posted almost exactly a year ago.

    “But it’s not the one they boasted.”
    Nothing they mentioned in regards to the simulation is inconsistent with the article you linked.

    Don’t get me wrong, the folks involved in making SimCity deserve a verbal lashing for many things, but you shouldn’t berate them due to a misconception on your part. Just berate them for how the simulation breaks in easily reproduced situations, and, ya know, all the other shit.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      The missing part of this description is “and they will all pick the same house”.

    • norfolk says:

      At some point – and I don’t have reference material here, but it was widely covered – either EA or journalists covering the new game bragged about individual agency, ie the idea that the game simulated Sims on an individual basis. So… a Sim would have a consistent house, job, and commute pattern, like in real life. That was exciting because it meant cars and Sims weren’t just representations of a global algorithm (as in earlier versions of the game), but instead actual individual units with uniquely generated behavior.

  39. GreatGreyBeast says:

    You know what this reminds me of? Civilization V. Both put more emphasis on low-level activity, at the expense of balance at larger scales – scales which are really more important to the core gameplay than the realism of small details. Both have severe pathfinding issues, which I can only assume the developers didn’t detect because they didn’t do enough testing outside of basic, optimal scenarios. And both attempt more complex, “realistic” simulations that result in far worse impressions of realism than abstract probability tables have done in the past (In CiV’s case I’m talking about the diplomacy AI, of course).

    And if I may say so, both reek of self-indulgence. They are both willing to compromise core gameplay to protect their (admittedly cool in theory) newfangled ideas. I hope now that they’ve gotten this out of their respective systems, future games in each series can go about fixing or corralling this stuff into the service of the core gameplay we players actually showed up for.

  40. lightfoot256 says:

    I recently started working on a traffic simulation game (no relation to city simulation :P) and briefly explored what appears to the be same issues presented here before moving onto a different model — interesting that a large organisation and such a big title just stuck with it for the release; I felt it was such a poor system I wasn’t even going to attempt to continue it any further — let alone release it! Shame on you maxis devs :P

  41. iucounu says:

    I totally acknowledge that you probably couldn’t sim hundreds of thousands of individual sims. What you can do in Tropico 4 over hundreds of people would be crippling if you scaled it up; I’m sure there has to be some level of abstraction involved.

    What the problem is, though, is not the mechanics of simulation but the results. If your abstraction is – as John puts it – like marbles rolling down a board with holes in, then it certainly seems like the simulation fails to approximate real life. It sounds and looks extremely crude. In a game like Sim City you want to be able to carry over your common-sense city planning ideas about the real world to help you play the game, not to have to work out ways to force the simulation maths to produce things that are workable.

    The sims pouring down the congested B-road leaving the bypass clear – that’s the kind of basic problem that completely compromises the rest of the simulation, isn’t it? What kind of city designs are possible when the whole thing is predicated on simulations of people who don’t behave remotely like people? Surely there were ways to handle the abstraction without ballsing it up this much.

  42. Corporate Dog says:

    Everyone here who’s saying, “It’s a game; you’re not going to be able to model EVERY possible scenario for EVERY possible entity in the game in a way that reflects real life.” are missing the point.

    NOBODY is expecting a high-fidelity simulation that’s indistinguishible from the way that “real life” works.

    What they’re expecting is a realistic-ENOUGH simulation, which would allow them to put the impetus of their gameplay on city planning (as it’s supposed to be) rather than “If I dig a moat around my nuclear plant, will it keep the AI from sending unskilled laborers to work there?”

    To put it another way: how the ‘people’ in the game function doesn’t have to be 100% authentic, but it has to be authentic enough not to get in the way of the game. And right now, that’s not the case.

  43. Fox89 says:

    So… Rollercoaster Tycoon had better AI for its Sim equivalents? I was playing RCT2 a couple of days ago, and I followed a single guy around for about half an hour to keep an eye on where my park was being inefficient. He also had slightly better pathfinding as he would prioritise his destinations based on his needs, the closest thing that fulfilled his needs, and his efficiency in getting there would depend on if he had bought a park map.

    Also he made a bee-line for my main roller coaster as he had a voucher for it thanks to an ad campaign I was running.

    Why, in 2013, can we not match that?

    • Premium User Badge

      ts061282 says:

      DRM server engineering requires mucho dev resources. Can’t have it all….

  44. lightfoot256 says:

    Just to note; the path finding in SC4 dexlue also seems to be plagued with the same “shortest distance” problem; noticed this playing the other day that sims would rather crowd on a street than use the nearby avenue to leave the city; while building the layout I totally didn’t expect this to happen. Surely you’d weight the cells appropriately so the bigger roads were preferable especially if you then weight then further with estimated traffic load;

    I guess _some_ real folks would rather go the shortest route but once theres a jam everybody else would naturally pick the longer but less time consuming route; In SC4 I think its kinda acceptable because the path finding is done once for morning and evening routes and is just executed on again and again until you change something.

    Anyway; more than anything its comforting to me as a developer that even the “AAA” titles don’t do things properly and its all about the overall experience and “fun” of the game; Leaves the indie guys to push that extra mile and prove how much more engaging games are when you don’t concentrate as much just sales :S

    • molten_tofu says:

      Human beings pile up over and over again all the time, but it shouldn’t be hard to unsticky this behavior after an “acceptable” length time for irrational behavior – shouldn’t be too expensive to occasionally re-compute in the background.

    • Tridus says:

      Yeah Simcity 4 had this probem a decade ago, with a tiny fraction of the computing resources available to it.

      With quad core machines and 2GB of RAM available, they managed to recreate the exact same problem? That’s just pathetic.

  45. TechnicalBen says:

    So, basically it’s “SimCity 4 Rush Hour”. I got the exact same play in that, but not in 3d. :P
    I don’t mind these little bugs, its’ the DRM I can’t use. :/

  46. kevmscotland says:

    Been quite a year thus far for gaming controversy.
    WarZ, Colonial Marines and now Simcity
    Wonder if this year might finally be the year where publishers/developers push the paying public too far and a massive backlash ensues.

  47. Strangerator says:

    Intersection trap reminded me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prjhQcqiGQc

    Maybe it is some kind of Orwellian social commentary?

  48. andk7 says:

    Most routers have rooting algorithms that are far superior to this game’s pathfinding. Funny.

    • wu wei says:

      I dunno, the SimCity algorithms seem to be rooting things up pretty effectively, IMO :)

  49. shutter says:

    “That sounds like a half-decent solution for a management game like SimCity, I suppose. But it’s not the one they boasted.”

    Huh? There’s nothing in the linked article saying anything that contradicts what’s going on in game. And one of their youtube preview videos specifically described that Sims found new jobs and new houses every day.

    This really isn’t news.