Modder Runs SimCity Offline, Maxis Remains Silent

By John Walker on March 14th, 2013 at 9:37 am.

Two days ago, RPS published an article in which a Maxis insider revealed to us that SimCity does not, in fact, require the servers to run its non-regional game. Maxis reps had repeatedly insisted to the press that the game had to be online as it ran local computations on their own servers – a feature our source told us doesn’t exist at all. Extraordinarily, we’ve still yet to receive a statement from Maxis on the matter. Nor indeed have any of the rest of the games media who contacted EA for comments at the time of our story.

And now, if any further proof were needed, a modder has hacked the game to run entirely offline, and even play outside of the game’s ridiculously small borders.

Here it is:

Obviously this hack doesn’t allow saving, loading or regional features when playing offline, but he has found a way to have unlimited offline play. However, when connected to the servers, it still remembers the road placement outside of the boundaries. This all amply demonstrates that the game can very easily be modded to run offline, rather than the “significant amount of engineering” Maxis repeatedly claimed. A local save is now all that’s required.

This whole affair feels like a clumsily written morality tale, where someone’s unrealistic hubris gets them into trouble. “Sure, like anyone would be that brazen!” you’d say as you watched. We are still waiting for a response from EA/Maxis, to our queries as to why they were claiming the game was dependent on the servers to run.

Cheers, Reddit.

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278 Comments »

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      Unbelievable. Hope EA sort this out. It’s bad for games and its bad for their bottom line in the long run. Good on RPS for this coverage.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        We built this City… Ba-badum-dum.
        We built this City on Lies and halftruths…

        • Llewyn says:

          Given your username, I’ll offer this instead:

          They’re peddlers and they’re meddlers
          They buy and they sell
          They destroyed your SimCity
          They’ll destroy you as well

          • Mrs Columbo says:

            We have a winner!

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            *claps*

          • Banana_Republic says:

            Bravo!

          • theleif says:

            Let me ask you one question
            Is your money that good
            Will it buy you forgiveness
            Do you think that it could
            I think you will find
            When DRM takes its toll
            All the money you made
            Will never buy back your soul.

            …too much?

          • BobbyDylan says:

            Can there ever be too much?

          • Cam says:

            There must be some kind of way out of here,
            said EA’s PR crew though their teeth.
            There’s too much restriction-
            gamers can’t get no relief.

          • PsychoWedge says:

            I’ve seen the arrow on the door post
            Saying, “My hobby is condemned
            All the way from New EA to old Ubisoft”
            I watched it through the decades, seen many freedoms fell
            I know no one can mourn the games
            Like blinded Gamers in hell

      • albert2006xp says:

        why don’t people just drop this already, yes you can probably run one city offline but I’m telling you from playing, one city isn’t enough. you NEED the region. i love the small size and how it makes you have to specialize each city and i love being able to do it online.

        • Corb says:

          Because not everyone wants to do that. Surprise! Human beings have strong opinions and they are different! Most people just want the option to have an on off switch for one reason or another. Also everything you mentioned can be fixed/upgraded by mods easy. For instance, you could increase city size or give the player control over multiple cities. Man…mods and modders are pretty awesome aren’t they?

          • albert2006xp says:

            I dont think any PC can run more than 3-4 of those cities at a time.

            If you don’t like the game don’t buy it, they said this is the way they want it to be played (with region system) and you should accept that. Dont try to make them change the game, just don’t buy it if you don’t like it. I have a lot of things I would change in Call of Duty, but you don’t see me buy it then complain about stuff.

          • Ich Will says:

            I bet you would be complaining if you had bought cod and couldn’t play it for days, when you could play it it tended to forget hours of your progress and that “3D engine” the publicity was going on about – no real z axis. Oh an the cod devs told you that they couldn’t fix something, turns out to be quite easy to fix.

          • spleendamage says:

            Hey Albert,
            You don’t get it. Look in the mirror. If you don’t like what is being posted don’t read it. Definitely don’t respond and if you do respond you should be agreeing with the posted material, not complaining about it’s nature.

            Vote with your non-words. If no one responds to this drivel, well they’ll eventually post what you want, right?

          • Jeeva says:

            “one city isn’t enough. you NEED the region” – Used to be that you could do it All, in but a single city. In addition, with the hilarious behavior of everything (pathfinding et al), that in fact a lot more could be run on just about any home PC?

            I realize they wanted to increase their market by being able to run it on anything above a phone, but…

        • iucounu says:

          But is that actually a good direction to take SimCity?

          I was thinking about this the other day. I’ve been playing a lot of Tropico 4 as the whole brouhaha, imbroglio, fracas, foofaraw, has reminded me how much I like city builders. In Tropico 4 I would quite like the ability to trade with other islands that I’ve made. I’d like to send cheap stuff from my mining-focused island to my agricultural island, and vice versa. A little extra economic complexity would be a cool feature in a game about building little cities on little islands. Hey, I wouldn’t mind trading stuff with other players. A sort of stock market based on what resources are in short or long supply in real-time might be really cool.

          But SimCity isn’t Tropico. The fun of SimCity, surely, is in making massive self-sufficient metropolises with millions of people across huge sprawling areas. It’s a city planning simulation, not a kind of weird upscaled CityVille in which a network of tiny square towns do annoying deals with each other because the game has artificially screwed every single one of them in a slightly different way.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Yeah, the core problem with SimCity is that it doesn’t simulate cities. It’s a bizarre science fiction game in which a city is divided into specialized boroughs, each governed by an all-powerful leader with no central government above them. These leaders can even control the flow of time itself–time can pass at a different rate in two different boroughs.

            I’m a bit skeptical of inter-simulation trading and effects whenever the two simulations don’t have synchronized time.

            But, you know, a game that was cross between Tropico and the Sims would be awesome. EA Maxis should make that. Then they should make a real SimCity game.

          • nyarlathotep says:

            Consumatopia’s description of the game is pretty frickin’ awesome.

          • scatterlogical says:

            A game that is a cross between The Sims and Tropico WOULD be awesome.
            But EA and Maxis should NOT make it – they’ve clearly demonstrated their complete lack of ability to produce a product that meets fan’s expectations, even with a well established formula. Imagine how badly they’d fuck up an awesome idea like this one.

        • Giuseppe says:

          I didn’t think you were paid (like someone suggested) to write the sort of arguments you’ve been writing, but you seem so persistent in downplaying this game’s faults and making a fuss about how great it is to play an essentially single player game with an always online connection… I’m starting to think someone really sent you up here to preach the good word of EA.

        • cw8 says:

          Simcity 4 had heck bigger city sizes than this and you had a huge region all to yourself and everything was played offline.

    • Jackie-Rojas says:

      just as Carlos explained I’m amazed that someone can get paid $5487 in four weeks on the internet. did you see this site… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diP-o_JxysA

        • mouton says:

          I didn’t know EA was based in Wuhan.

          • daemonofdecay says:

            Could explain a lot… Such as why a game based around city planning in a non-specific American setting has many citizens who are too lazy to work, too stupid to respond to changing traffic conditions, and who don’t own but simply collapse into the first house they can find for a nights rest.

          • roryok says:

            Not sure if responding to the wrong comment, or incredibly racist…

          • Ich Will says:

            Wow! I realise you are probably making a joke, but that’s pretty ignorant. I’ve lived in Wuhan and trust me, they work a lot harder than your average working brit or american, their roads work like poetry and they are incredibly house-proud. Based on my limited experience, I will bow to your superior knowledge if you lived there for longer than the 2 years I did though!

          • protospork says:

            (Those are Chinese stereotypes of Americans, not western stereotypes of the Chinese.)

    • Hahaha says:

      And the wheels finally start turning, does this mean we might finally get some CPU/GPU and game testing done? instead of rah drm rah the game sucks drm rahhh

      I like the subtle change from EA to maxis as well over the last couple of days GOOD WORK lol

      Also congratulations on the community you have made

      “It does when you’ve staked your reputation on being an apologist. ”

      stuff like that is taking over, why are you breeding another 4chan/reddit?

      Also from your forums

      “Honestly, I am starting to get really sick and fucking tired of this trash. It has been going on for a while, but it seems to be in high gear now. I enjoy the discussion with the people who actually are interested in talking about things, but the constant abuse and harrassment (now basically in every thread where I poke out my head) and absolutely no punishment to the people who do nothing BUT harrass people is really trying my patience. ”

      Might want to talk to your mods

    • R00l says:

      Website is turning into Rock, Paper, SimCity.

  1. Meat Circus says:

    If that’s true, it’s quite an extraordinary level of technical ineptitude from Maxis/EA.

    I’m struggling to think of why anyone would write code with that level of concentrated stupid.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Hubris?

      • Chris D says:

        Yeah, you don’t achieve that level of stupidity by accident. You have to be actively trying.

        • Apocalypse says:

          Well, we know that at last someone of the developers was pissed at EA. Else there would be no leak.
          It is safe to assume that he/she was not the only one that shared this attitude. So why hide anything in the code?

          • Corb says:

            It isn’t that they hid anything in the code, it’s that they out right lied about the code because they didn’t think any of their consumers would be intelligent enough to be able to go into, read, and change their code to call their bluff.

          • Baines says:

            Some people questioned the simulation code when Maxis first started giving details. And yet Maxis went ahead with it.

            Considering Maxis seemed oblivious to some fairly basic flaws in their simulations, I don’t know if I’d be surprised about any code-related news to come out.

    • Kapouille says:

      No no, you’re not looking at it from the right angle. There is absolutely no doubt EA’s technical staff (ie. programmers) knows precisely how to make the game run completely offline. In fact, it’s very likely they have used an offline mode throughout the development to make things easier for them (not having to depend on external infrastructure being developed at the same time).

      The fact is, from a business point of view, it makes complete sense for EA to tie all players to an online service (to stop piracy). Whoever will be in charge of EA’s communication may not have any technical background (or would not care about it).

      Also, bear in mind that as soon as cities get shared through a service, is becomes important to make sure no cheating is happening, as it would imbalance the global “ecosystem”.

      So, in short, in the interest of the game, you should have 2 modes:
      – offline, putting no artificial restriction on the game.
      – online, with always-on cheat prevention and region synchronisation.

      In the business interest of EA, aka. $$$, the offline mode should not exist as it would open an avenue for piracy.

      • jonbro says:

        If I was dev’ing it, I would probably just have an server runtime that could run on your local box, and at least stub in for the server functions. It is starting to sound less and less like there is much traffic getting dumped over that pipe, so I am expecting that to get figured out soon.

        • Corb says:

          Yeah, at this point it looks like it’s just communication with origin and your saves being sent back to the server. So much for “Server calculations”. Good job EA/Maxis…I give this a DERP!

      • ChromeBallz says:

        Actually, it’s never been proven that piracy actually hurts sales.

        Super intrusive DRM hurts your sales more than not – It turns customers away, as evidenced by the current situation (as well as previous ones, Ubisoft didn’t reverse their always online policy out of the kindness of their hearts, they realized that their sales were REALLY hurting).

        Being able to download/pirate also gives you another asset in marketing that people seem to have forgotten: Word of mouth. It’s by far the most efficient advertising you can have. Always online DRM however will greatly limit this type of marketing, for obvious reasons and less obvious ones.

        The real reason publishers try to enforce these schemes is simple: They want to make as much money as possible while spending as little as possible. This means that they’re not willing to properly manage and budget “AAA” games, preferring to overpromise, overhype and market the shit out of it to get day 1 sales and recover their investment. After that, they simply don’t care about the game anymore (seriously, after a game recovers its investment, publishers just ignore it other than having to maintain some semblence of customer service to not lose TOO much face).

        Management in the gaming industry is like management everywhere else – Lots of people who have no clue about the industry they’re working in trying to tell the people who DO have a clue what to do.

        • Kapouille says:

          You may say that, but what’s otherwise been “proven” is that games that are bound to a service, (MMOs for instance, minecraft, we could even Zinga’s abominations as well) sell in massive numbers in comparison to “offline” games. The scope of sales is measured in millions, whereas a successful AAA PC game is hundreds of thousands.

          Indeed, there’s no proof that fairies don’t exist, but there’s a strong suspicion that they don’t.

          … My point being, it isn’t hard to see why publishers want to tie their games to accounts. In Simcity’s case, it certainly looks after-the-fact and clumsy, and does cripple the gameplay badly (when it works…)

          • Surlywombat says:

            …whereas a successful AAA PC game is hundreds of thousands.

            That is simple not true. Even a cursory glance at the available numbers shows that top selling PC games sell millions.

          • Grey Poupon says:

            Actually Minecraft’s always been really easy to pirate. Even their “anti-piracy” on the servers is optional. So if anything, Minecraft’s a good example of a game where piracy helps sales due to word-of-mouth.

          • Apocalypse says:

            “whereas a successful AAA PC game is hundreds of thousands.”

            If it does sell less than a million it is simply not successful as AAA Game. AAA Titles cost a small fortune, and the times when they could just sell a few hundred thousands are a thing of the past.

            Indie Titles and other smaller games, stuff like Hard Reset are already profitable with that amount of sales.

          • Kapouille says:

            @surlywombat: I’m genuinely curious : which AAA game has recently (say, in the last 2 years) sold more than a 1M exclusively on PC?

          • Machinations says:

            Skyrim had sold 2 million copies on PC alone by January of 2012.

          • darkChozo says:

            Outside of specific numbers, just because games with a heavy online presence sell well doesn’t mean they sold well because of DRM. Hell, MMOs arguably have the opposite problem, in that they tend to die off if their name isn’t World of Warcraft or EVE Online. Minecraft, if anything, is fairly easy to aquire illegitimately despite being “tied to a service”, and is still doing well.

            That’s not saying that I don’t think piracy is a problem, it’s just that that’s not a good way of proving it. Honestly, I don’t see how you can point at things like Minecraft and WoW and come to any conclusion besides “things that get really popular sell lots of copies” (and maybe “it’s really hard to clone Minecraft and WoW and still get popular”).

          • Kapouille says:

            @Machinations: That’s great. I don’t think EA has had similar luck though with games like Battlefield 3 (supposedly PC-led, sold 500K on PC while total sales were 5M, these are the last precise figures I got for it from November 2011, in the meantime it seems to have sold 8M total, don’t think the trend has been reverted) and Mass Effect 3.

            I guess their only conclusion is that they needed more DRM and a service model…

            Just to be clear, I’m not thinking their decision is the right one, I’m merely trying to understand their perspective. I’d for one love them to remove Origin dependencies in their games so that I could play them :) (And this ridiculous always-on online mode in Simcity…)

          • Kapouille says:

            @darkChozo I hear you. It was just a counterpoint I was making to “you’ll sell more because piracy is good for your PR”. There isn’t any proof of that, just extrapolations.

            Edit: Realised my earlier post wasn’t making sure I was being sarcastic, edited proven to “proven”

          • Aldehyde says:

            @Kapouille: From what I can find on Battlefield 3 sales numbers the 500k you were speaking of were just from retailers, they didn’t even count the sales from Origin.
            VGChartz tell me that BF3 sold 2.3 million copies for the PC. That’s more than a million.

            http://www.vgchartz.com/game/35315/battlefield-3/
            http://www.fudzilla.com/games/item/24662-bf3-sells-5-million-globally
            http://bf3blog.com/2011/11/battlefield-3-xbox-360-sales-top-playstation-3-and-pc-combined/

          • Machinations says:

            Thats not the logic they are using for this.

            Battlefield 3, as of March 2nd, 2013, has sold 2.34 million copies on PC alone.
            Source: http://www.vgchartz.com/game/35315/battlefield-3/

            Also, note, BF3 is a system hog and they released it for Origin-only. God knows how many people boycotted it just for that. I had to upgrade my system, personally, and then bought it, being such a manshooter fanboy. BF2 sold 2 million copies over it’s ENTIRE lifetime.

            The reasoning for always online is only partially piracy; they dont want mods competing with paid DLC, and always-online means a captive audience for marketing microtransactions as well. This was all about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

          • MacTheGeek says:

            With EA, you always have to suspect a third reason for desiring always-online play: forced obsolescence. They’ve shown repeatedly with other titles that they want “consumers” buying new versions of games, not sticking with the old.

        • werix says:

          Basically this. I’ll start off by saying I’m one of the handful of PC gamers who doesn’t pirate anything. I’ve always been against it from an artist’s rights POV (though IP in law school did open my eyes) plus having to deal with peer blockers and disc images and stuff always seemed like a pain. As such, any game I have I purchased.

          DRM hurts sales. Do I have games that uses UBI’s stupid DRM? Yeah. But with the exception of Far Cry 3, all the other games, (two assassin creed games, splinter cell: conviction) I didn’t buy until they were in the $5 range on steam or gamersgate. You think they want me paying $5 for their game? No, but I wasn’t going to pay more with that DRM.

          Same thing here. Sim City with all this crap, its in the $5 bin. Once devs figure this out, they’ll make more money, simple as that.

          • MrLebanon says:

            Xcom and Civ are by firaxis, not maxis

            maxis only makes the Sims and simcity

        • roryok says:

          I think I’m going to write a browser plugin that automatically hides RPS comments containing the words piracy or DRM. Anyone fancy that?

      • Fanbuoy says:

        Regarding piracy, I just had a quick look over at Pirate Bay (it’s okay to mention them, right?) and they had several sources for the game. Sure, that probably excludes the whole MP part, but who cares?

        • cliffski says:

          presumably you cant save or load either…which for a game like sim city is vital.

          • S Jay says:

            Just wait a bit longer. Crackers probably go out of their way to prove EA/Maxis wrong.

        • elderman says:

          Not trying to spread FUD, but I have a genuine question based on my own fear, uncertainty, and doubt. How on earth can you trust an executable you get from TPB? You know the software’s already been cracked, then it’s distributed anonymously. What’s to stop a blackhat from inserting malicious code?

          • Bhazor says:

            /implying EA aren’t blackhats

          • P.Funk says:

            Because of the power of the social network silly!

            Torrents are seeded by groups of people. The moment anyone realizes it has a virus or something bad in it they’ll stop seeding, probably post a comment on the torrent, and either he’ll be proven wrong by someone who knows that Norton tells you ever cracked .exe is a virus or everyone will just stop seeding, ergo there will be no torrent. I assume some moderator will remove the torrent too if its obviously got a virus.

            People make torrenting seem way more dangerous than it really is. The inherent nature of torrenting has built in safe guards. You’re actually way more likely to get a virus from a single uploader source than from a well seeded torrent.

            I can pretty much guarantee you if you see a torrent with more than a dozen seeds thats been up for more than a day that its almost 100% certain its safe.

          • ankh says:

            There are releases from “trusted” groups/uploaders. If there is a little green skull next to the uploaders name it probably means it’s safe. Also getting a virus/whatever is not the end of the world that your mom would have you believe :P

          • darkChozo says:

            Just to note, people are only likely to notice obvious viruses, ie. those that either brick your computer or spam you with popups and such. If it’s something subtler, say a keylogger or a logic bomb or something like that, it’s probably going to slip under the radar of anyone who’s not supervigilent for such things. Torrents are generally safe-ish, particularly those from the big groups, but depending on your peers to police your torrents is only moderately helpful.

          • Shelley says:

            To be quite honest I think that cracking groups would have to work real hard to put more malware to SimCity than EA has already did.

          • scatterlogical says:

            I trust an executable from TPB more than I do an executive from EA.

            *BOOM BOOM TISH*

            thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be here all night.

      • Caiman says:

        What astounds me is that people haven’t found this blindingly obvious for months, ever since Maxis changed their stance to always online from their original approach (see last RPS story on this). That ws so blatantly an anti-piracy measure that I’m surprised anyone fell for it.

        The bottom line here is that EA has misled its consumers about SimCity for months, both in terms of the mechanics of how certain aspects of the game plays, and the need for always online and small city blocks. Anyone who continues to trust this company with future releases really is throwing good money after bad. If EA think they have saved some sales due to piracy, they’ve lost a lot more in evaporated goodwill. Yet another example where a bit of lateral thinking and some understanding of how people think is completely absent in this company.

        Now can we stop giving these guys unwarranted attention, ignore them as they deserve to be ignored, and move on to better things?

      • Banana_Republic says:

        I notice that consumer satisfaction doesn’t play any role in your calculations. That was EA’s mistake too. Now they have some of the most epic blowback the industry has ever seen, to contend with. It’s so bad that they’ve all crawled under a rock to hide from the scrutiny.

        • Baines says:

          But in a few months, it won’t matter.

          War Z is available on Steam again, and people are buying it again. Not as much as before, but it is selling.

          Gearbox teased a new DLC character for Borderlands 2, and Aliens: Colonial Marines as well as some Borderlands grumbling is forgotten.

          Sometime in the next year, EA Maxis will make some patches to SimCity, make the broken simulation a little less obvious, and expand the city limit. And people will be happy. Maybe not everyone, but enough.

          And Maxis will release a new Sims game. It will be GlassBox. It will be buggy and broken like most (all?) Sims games. People will buy it in droves. People will complain. And the cycle will repeat.

          EDIT: Funny thought… SimCity is unspectacular enough that when EA does finally shut down its servers, people likely won’t be extremely upset. Particularly if a new and better game has since been released. In that way, an underwhelming game helps EA’s long term goal of switching to a service model.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            The BL2 grumbling continues. People haven’t stopped yammering on about a level cap increase. Meanwhile, Aliens: CM was built by a half-dozen different companies with different goals, and no one can blame any of them exclusively.

      • Omega Tengu says:

        Actually, It’s been “proven” by CDProjectRED (The dudes who made The Witcher Games) that DRM actually CAUSES an increase in piracy. Proven from how the DRM version of The Witcher 2 was not only pirated first, but also is more downloaded than the non-DRM (and therefor not cracked) version.

        • jpvg says:

          or it’s proof that the first version released will get more seeds since it’s new and fancy. I might lean to that explaination.

      • jwfiore says:

        I think it’s less an issue of “Piracy hurts sales,” which is probably true overall, and more of a “DRM has never successfully stopped piracy for more than a week or two.” Day-1 sales are key in PC gaming because DRM that can delay crackers for more than a week is considered a huge success, with *one to three days* being a more realistic goal.

        Thus, with heavily-guarded, non-service-tied games, what you essentially end up with are people who buy the game and can’t play, and pirates. Many of these pirates, like myself, will purchase a game and then immediately hit TPB so we can play the damned thing without crippling DRM. This even happens with ostensibly service-tethered games like Minecraft, WoW (private servers), and SimCity.

        I will bet anyone here five dollars edit:(that is what we call money in America) that there will be a high-functionality offline mode crack (e.g. saving) on TPB within two to three days. I would also guess that a hefty chunk of those leechers will be people that have bought the game.

        • Darklordx11 says:

          If DRM is supposed to help day one sales it’s doing a crappy job. The following games were cracked on or before release day.

          Skyrim 2 days before it released.
          Dishonored, release day.
          Fallout 3, release day.
          Starcraft II During Beta.
          etc…

          The list goes on and on. These are all AAA titles with strong DRM. Cracks don’t often take days anymore and haven’t for a long time. This is especially true of games made available on steam, origin, or Ubisofts download service as they all use very similar DRM.

          DRM is like a lock on a window, it only keeps the honest people honest.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        It’s not to stop piracy, it’s to stop one time investment.
        Pirates aren’t the enemy anymore, it’s these damn gamers that think they can spend $60 on a game and be done with it! Now that needs to become a thing of the past. If you want to KEEP playing the game there needs to be ways so that you get to keep PAYING for the game.

    • trinka00 says:

      one day, you will get a job someplace. and it will all make perfect sense.

  2. IgnitingIcarus says:

    Ah, the fury in my heart grows stronger with each passing day!

    • Llewyn says:

      Fury? I assume that means you bought it then? Personally I’m rather enjoying this whole fiasco (and the fact that it’s got me back into SimCity 4).

      Every post-launch article about the game does make me a little more depressed how gullible and easily manipulated Cara must have been on her pre-launch ‘hands on’ though.

      • Bweahns says:

        I felt the same way about Civilization V. I tried to get into that game twice and was pretty unhappy with how simplified it had become and then spent the next few weeks playing Civ 4 again and absolutely loved it. Still, at least Civ V wasn’t a buggy always online mess.

        • lordcooper says:

          Civ V has actually improved a lot, especially with the expansion.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            Oh it has not. The expansion does nothing but add yet another type of currency meter you watch fill up until you can buy some permanent bonus. It’s almost exactly like culture.

            There’s no particular gameplay changes or reasons to pay much attention to religion – it has a negligible impact on strategy and profoundly simplistic.

            The problem with Civ 5 is the underlying philosophy that “Civ 4 was too complicated / too much like an empire simulator, not a ‘game.’”

            The idea that the hexagons are better is also total nonsense – Civ 4 didn’t have squares, it had octagons. You could move diagonally. I know it looked like a square, but functionally it was an octagon.

            I think 1/1UPT is an interesting choice and not bad given the rest of the game, but it would have been better to keep everything about Civ 4 but add logistics that made doomstacks impossible. Instead, we get a weird and artificial 1/1UPT (1 support/1 military).

        • mouton says:

          The problem with Civ 5 ws not simplification. It was terrible and opaque design.

          • Apocalypse says:

            There seem to be enough people who disagree without, I actually prefer Civ 5 over Civ 4. It is different and some stuff was better in Civ 4 but other just is better in Civ 5.

          • sabasNL says:

            I found Civilization V the best in the series yet- Especially the abovementioned expansion and the Steam Workshop integration (Modding banonza!) really make this installment the best one. Also, I LOVE the change to hexagons, it feels so natural, and the combat and graphics (that includes interface, the enyclopedia, animations, etc) are so much better. I love it.

          • mouton says:

            There were many good things about Civ 5 and hexes were certainly one of them.

        • AngoraFish says:

          Comment initially ignored, but since this this is turning into a thread, I can’t let it go past without pointing out that this is an entirely subjective opinion almost completely unrelated to SimCity.

          For what it’s worth, as a veteran of the original Civ and each subsequent iteration, I’m 338 hours in and very happy to say that Civ5 is the best version of the franchise yet by some considerable margin. No loading boats, no unit stacking, hexes, streamlining out much of the micromanagement – all brilliant additions.

          Give me more time and I’ll describe a few dozen more reasons why Civ5 rocks best, but as that argument has been done to death elsewhere I simply leave this here for latecomers to the Civ franchise.

          • JD Ogre says:

            “No loading boats, no unit stacking, hexes, streamlining out much of the micromanagement – all brilliant additions.”

            …or horrible simplifications that help ruin the fun (especially the no-stacking combined with hexes – not only can your units not share defense, but your attacking force has to be smaller and/or more spread out with no defense for your ranged attackers)

          • Bweahns says:

            I’ll be brief but had to reply. I loved the removal of unit stacking. It was the one feature I liked in Civ V. I really disliked the extreme streamlining of the game as it leaves you with absolutely nothing to do other than keep clicking end turn.

          • Banana_Republic says:

            I still think civilian units should stack though, at least for movement, not for using any of their other abilities. How many times have I sent a worker up the road and it gets diverted into the ocean because the road hex it would land on was in use. Irritating.

          • Machinations says:

            inane diplomacy, excessively simplified resource model, city state nonsense, broken multiplayer

            it was a travesty CIV IV is 10 times as good

          • x1501 says:

            “Streamlining”, broken multiplayer, and inability to use mods (especially mindblowing content mods like this) in MP games made Civ V completely irredeemable to me. Just a complete waste of $50 from my perspective.

          • ucfalumknight says:

            Angora, I am in complete agreement with you. Civ V with the G+K expansion is a deep and wonderful game. But the problem here is that you are trying to convince people that the color Blue is by far the best and most wonderful color. Different people like different things. The Diplomacy in G+K is better, but not great. At least when the enemy AI does a 180 and declares war on you (after being Friendly for umpteenmillion turns) they will say “You were a fool to trust us.”. I like that, others may not. We can bicker about whether IV or V is the better iteration, personally, they are both amazing games with their own personal caveats. I will not buy SimCity because it is a failure. It failed to live up to any of their claims, so I will happily play SimCity 4 or yes, the sadly flawed but beautiful Cities XL. I will tell EA that this is a crap game not by screaming it from the roof tops, I will simply tell them with my wallet.

          • JabbleWok says:

            I’m another one who reckons Civ V is generally an improvement on IV; the hex map and stack limitaiton is a distinct improvement over the previous Civs’ stacks of doom, and I think the territory acquisition is the cleverest method yet. I do miss some of the features of IV, but on balance I prefer V. And I’ve also been playing since the original, as well as the boardgame beforehand. This is all subjective, of course, but personal preference in that area is still a very different ball game from this SC fiasco which seems to be universally derided.

            FWIW I’ve not played SC since the first, but I’m tempted to get SC4 since reading all this. I’ll be giving SC5 a wide berth.

          • Ateius says:

            “But the problem here is that you are trying to convince people that the color Blue is by far the best and most wonderful color. Different people like different things.”

            This was essentially the conclusion to my series on the two Civs. Civ IV is a much better empire simulator, with all its nitty-gritty details and opportunities for micromanaging. Civ V is a better game, streamlining all that away to let you enjoy the core gameplay. Neither is perfect and both are good at different things (although Civ V isn’t worth spit without G&K installed).

            This whole SimCity fiasco has got me hankering for some city-building, so I got SimCity 4 for $10 off Amazon. That’s $10 more than I’ll ever spend on the new one.

      • Chris D says:

        That’s a bit harsh. Cara did mention the DRM was a problem in her preview and you wouldn’t really expect to notice in depth gameplay issues after just a brief session.

        • Llewyn says:

          She did talk quite a bit about how solid the sim was, and at length about how good the game was. No, I wouldn’t expect her to have uncovered the gameplay problems that have come to light this week, but equally she was in no better a position to be making claims about how good the model was.

          Unless of course the version she played at EA was considerably different from the one that’s been released, which wouldn’t entirely surprise me.

          • solidsquid says:

            They did start disabling features after the problems with the servers, maybe that along with patches they’d written have caused problems with the AI she didn’t notice?

      • cqdemal says:

        I’m one of those idiots who bought SimCity on day one. I can tell you that you WILL fall in love with the game if you had known nothing of it before hand and were given only a few hours to play. It’s an impossibly charming game that covers its deficiencies very well. Even when the simulation engine’s limitations are causing wildly idiotic issues all over the place, it remains eminently playable, and since the engine actually does its fair share of simulation, it will be ages before you start to notice something fishy.

        Once you see it, you can’t go back though. Try to break the game just once and the flimsy facade falls like wet tissue paper.

        Also, Cara didn’t have to deal with connection problems. Her preview focused on what actual gameplay she had experienced, and my feeling throughout the game’s first few functional hours line up very well with her impressions. In fact, I admit that I found the game quite enjoyable – far from the heights of SimCity 4 but not bad at all – until I saw the videos of residential-only cities. That’s my last straw.

        • P7uen says:

          Being another idiot, I agree with this idiot’s sentiments.

          For those first few hours it’s quite entrancing (assuming you can log on), then you start to get a bad feeling. Then either you realise why, or someone laughs at you and explains.

          Sure, everyone likes to try and break games, but if you’re previewing it for a limited time for RPS, you’re probably going to spend that time actually playing the game instead, just like Cara did.

        • Apocalypse says:

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

          Thank you for mentioning it.

          • Stromko says:

            Did we watch the same video? I agree that SimCity has massive core gameplay issues, I was saying this when everyone was still going on about the server issues and not much else. I could clearly see on my own that the traffic AI was non-existent, and the major issues this posed during extended play sessions.

            However, that 100% residential city video is amazing. Nothing is broken, what it demonstrates is a remarkable amount of planning and out-of-the-box thinking. The player is constantly adjusting and tweaking every aspect of the city in order to maintain and extend the progress of their city.

            It is strange to think of a city with no commercial zoning, though I can imagine perhaps all goods and supplies are delivered directly to tenants or the in-building stores and diners that really big residential blocks can have. Perhaps the people in that city are just really not materialistic and enjoy having parks and human companionship enough to stay entertained, I don’t know. (Naw, they just get by with knicknacks from Ebay)

            On the jobs front, the player is actually providing a lot of jobs with services and utilities. I do not know how the buildings aren’t all being constantly abandoned, though, given that most of the population has no income and shouldn’t be able to pay rent (happens in my cities a lot when there’s not enough industry for a given level of residential income). I could see it in a real-life context (telecommuting, or just commuting outside of the region, or receiving assistance from distant family or government), but I don’t know how they made it work in the game.

            They seemed to be tweaking tax levels quite frequently, must be something to do with that, or maybe they were only doing that to keep happiness high. I’d need it explained to me to get what’s really going on there.

            Personally I have more faith in the new SimCity after watching that video, because I really didn’t know if it allowed for much out-of-the-box design. I think the game is flawed in a great number of ways that should have been easy to fix, and I’m pretty pissed about that, they overpromised in a lot of ways, but I’m just saying that video is pretty amazing.

            I’m tempted now to attempt to make a close-to-100% residential city on one of the servers I play with my friends. Seems like there’s almost always a worker shortage.. I’m not sure if I can handle the problem of commuting to outside jobs though, as the braindead traffic AI is really a killer issue.

          • Chalky says:

            No, that video shows the game to be completely broken. 100% residential means 90% unemployment but yet everyone in the city is high wealth and happy due to loads of parks and low taxes.

            It’s completely stupid, he’s not using out of the box thinking, he’s demonstrating that the entire “simulation” is a sham and there’s basically no management required. Your sims are starving to death because there’s nowhere to buy food but they spawn money out of thin air to pay rent and taxes so it’s a paradise!

        • UniuM says:

          Well, beeing another blind idiot i feed exactly the same. this game is like a russian hooker… Great legs, awesome body and no teeth…. to actually eat some of your hardcore 6 hour long gaming session. To bad. I don’t feel bad for spending the money on the game… it is actually worth it, i feel bad for that money is now in EA pocket.

    • trinka00 says:

      Fury is the heart’s hair

  3. communisthamster says:

    The soup thickens….

  4. lizzardborn says:

    Popcorn.

    This is getting ridiculous … at least make proper client server architecture and absorb the costs if you want DRM.

  5. Lyton Darque says:

    The modder only uses regional tools outside the city limits; basically plopping extensions of what is already there – not that exciting. If only they’d managed to plop some buildings there too, it would give me hope.

    • Tanksenior says:

      That won’t really work without significant changes. What would be easier to accomplish however is increasing the city limits I would assume.

  6. Kaira- says:

    The blunder of century.

  7. Meat Circus says:

    John, slightly surprised you didn’t mention that the 20 minute cooldown is written in *client side javascript*.

    DUMB FUCKS KLAXON.

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      Hmm. It’s almost like the coders wanted us to find out this bullcrap and take it to pieces.

      • Meat Circus says:

        Alternative explanation is that Sim City 5 started life as a Facebook game. In fact, if you think of it as more akin to Zynga’s excrement than a real game, large amounts of previously incomprehensible EA stupid start to make a kind of awful sense.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Wow, it’s like one of those trick pictures where you are looking at the young lady wondering why everyone says it’s an old crone, and all of a sudden something flips a switch in your brain and suddenly you can see the crone clear as day but the young lady has vanished.

          Suddenly it flips into view with such clarity it’s amazing that it wasn’t obvious all along.

          • lasikbear says:

            Evidently you’ve met my ex-wife.

            I’m here all week folks!

        • darkChozo says:

          I’m completely unfamiliar with web game development, but aren’t social games typically done in Flash? The backend is probably still similar to a standalone game, but I’d assume the UI’s all done in… whatever Flash does?

      • Lemming says:

        After what happened with DS3′s back-door avoidance of micro-transactions, I’m inclined to believe this. At least one person working at Maxis knew this was bullshit and left breadcrumbs to follow.

        • caddyB says:

          At this point it feels obvious that at least some people in Maxis weren’t happy with what they had to do. The leaks, the naming of stuff in the code and how obvious everything are it is not unreasonable to assume they didn’t really want to do it.

          But at the end of the day you do what your boss tells you to do because you still need to sleep somewhere and buy food.

    • zbmott says:

      lolwut

    • FriendlyFire says:

      I know this doesn’t gel with conspiracy theories, but my first reaction upon hearing that there was a 20 minutes limit at all was “this is the game’s autosave mechanism kicking you out so you don’t lose hours of progress to a crash”.

      That the check wasn’t in any way made to be resilient against hacks further reinforces my perception.

  8. Coflash says:

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha..

    *Ahem*

    I knew they were full of it.

  9. Alien426 says:

    Save/load functionality from a modder seems just a matter of time now.

  10. Guvornator says:

    “However, it amply demonstrates that the game can very easily be modded to run offline, rather than the “significant amount of engineering” Maxis repeatedly claimed. A local save is all that’s required.”

    In (an extremely grudging) defense of the EA/Maxis of Evil, fiddling around with saves late in the day is a bugger – look at the mess Hidden & Dangerous ended up as.

    Still, fuck ‘em for having the gall to charge £45 for a PC game at all, let alone one that doesn’t work…

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Can you remind me of the Problems H&D faced? My memories of the 2 games are universally happy.

      • Guvornator says:

        Basically, as I remember it, the story goes something like this -

        Hidden and Dangerous is sent to reviewers who all love it. However, in between reviews and release they added a save game feature. It added loads and loads of bugs, ensuring any PC gaming magazine wasn’t complete without pictures of players falling out of a level and grumpiness in the letters pages. Much patching ensued…

    • solidsquid says:

      It’s not as big a deal in this case as it might be, the game already has a local cache save system for when someone loses the connection while playing. If it were able to load that save file as well then it’d sort the local save system (and disable the 20 minute timeout)

      • Deadfast says:

        It probably doesn’t have a save cache, it simply keeps the data in memory. However that data does have to be serialized at some point and transferred to the server for it to create the save file. Bottom line, they’re either lying or they fired all their competent programmers and replaced them with a single intern.

  11. man-eater chimp says:

    So Maxis and EA I doing the equivalent of facing the wall, closing their eye, sticking their fingers in their ears singing ‘lalalalalalalala’ hoping that all this just goes away if they ignore it long enough…

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Ms Bradshaw has gone awfully quiet, hasn’t she?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      The wall that is riddled with bullet-holes and comes with its own firing squad.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I suspect it’s more a case of them scuffing their toes on the floor, fidgeting with anything within reach while desperately trying to concoct a bullshit story on the spot. I’m betting their pet tortoise ate their homework.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      As John Major famously said ‘When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight’ is befitting of this situation methinks!

    • Kamos says:

      I doubt they will respond. At this point, they’ve probably given up their hopes of coming here and convincing us that it was just a big misunderstanding. Instead, they will let John keep “talking alone” and use other, “friendlier” sites to do their damage control.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        It’s a fine line to tread for the Gaming Reporting Media though. Cozy up to EA while the consumer is getting shat on and the readers will go elsewhere for their info.

        The cosy attitude happens because of advertising budgets but if you start shedding readers you lose advertisers.

        It’s a fine line(for the accountants) but I like the RPS take, honesty. It will pay dividends in the long run!

        • Kamos says:

          Indeed, but never forget that there are:

          1) People who honestly don’t give a fuck about what is going on, and think we’re all crybabies.
          2) Journalists that apparently don’t really care about their reputation.

  12. Drake Sigar says:

    Get out of that one, Rommel.

  13. Bweahns says:

    Killian is lying to you.

  14. Apocalypse says:

    I would like to buy that developer build of sim city, it sounds like a fun game worth its money … once it is out of beta ;-)

  15. frightlever says:

    If EA just came out and said they wanted always on DRM because they think it’ll maximize their profits, I’d have a good deal more respect for them than all the weasel words they spouted. Profits are good, what’s the problem? I don’t think this is the way to do it (though the game is stupid popular so activist gamers howls of protest are meaningless to them) but it’s a valid strategy. Own that fact and don’t try to hide it. The millions of people buying the game in general don’t care about this sort of thing and there’s just no way to reach them that hasn’t already been tried and failed.

      • basilisk says:

        Yep, that guy nailed it. I’ll happily spend more money on games I like, but not if I’m being actively bullied into it and what’s more, forced to go through ridiculously inconvenient hoops to do it. BioWare points were utter bullshit, and it only went downhill from there.

      • Apocalypse says:

        Thank you for sharing.

        “They’re trying to turn games from a product to a service, and their service is so bad it borders on sabotage.” – That is the way to describe EA since at least a decade.

      • Banana_Republic says:

        Thanks for sharing that. I can definitely relate because I have dozens of games purchased through Steam that I’ve never played and never even installed. Despite that, I still feel like I’ve been on the winning end of every transaction I’ve had with them. When it comes to EA though, just seeing their logo makes me want to jump in the shower and scrub myself clean with Javex and steel wool.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      If they were honest I would have marginally more respect for them than I do now. But to be frank, whether they are honest about their aims or not, their attitude stinks.

      Sure, there’s nothing wrong with profits – there is something wrong with treating your customer base like something you stepped in and prioritising your own profit line above the needs of your customer.

      EA clearly have no respect for their customer base, all they are really interested in is wringing as much money out of them for as long as possible. I think they are a despicable business.

  16. Mr.Snowy says:

    What is really pissing me off is how long they are taking to see sense and u-turn on this stupidity. I really want to buy the game, but my wallet stays in my pocket like many others until such time as this shitty DRM goes.

  17. Calle says:

    The german tech-site golem.de did some testing of their own after reading your previous coverage and the following tests by kotaku. From what I understood, they played for about 20min offline, saved and we’re able to load that save afterwards..

    http://www.golem.de/news/sim-city-zweifel-an-eas-begruendung-fuer-onlinezwang-1303-98159.html

  18. perablenta says:

    Yeah, he made it “work”, but he can’t “play” it, nor can he play it as it was made to be played.

    We all know that they made it so to use always online for DRM sake, but this is not a singleplayer game. Once you accept that this is not SimCity 5 all your troubles will go away.

    • Don Reba says:

      Except all those server troubles, of course.

    • DerNebel says:

      Will the servers work? Will the AI pathing problems go away? Will I be able to build bigger cities? Will modding be possible? And what is in my opinion the biggest transgression: Will I be able to freely use savegames? Will I be able to save, experiment and reload if it didn’t pan out? Or just save, unleash fifteen catastrophes and watch the carnage?

      Look, if it really was convenient and nice to have, then I’d have no problem with it. However, it’s not and I see no reason for it to even be there. I really, really like the idea of cooperative maps, but let’s face it: It’s hardly integral to the SimCity experience in such a way that you feel robbed and cheated when you play on a private map.

      The game is broken, and it’s broken in ways that seem to trace back to some stupid directive plastered across the design document: “Pretty good, but make sure it can’t be pirated the first month.”.

      If bringing the game online had led to amazing improvements in simulation and pathfinding, in scale and scope, in the feeling of truly being connected to an outside world, then I’d been all aboard this particular ship, but it just isn’t. I considered buying this game, solely so I could play with my friends, but it just doesn’t look like a good game, let alone a passable ‘service’. So no, I won’t just accept that SimCity 5 is an online game, because that really means nothing. It’s a bad game, a step back from SimCity 4, and to boot you’re not even sure you’ll be able to play it.

    • RakeShark says:

      I someone can turn Skyrim into a Mario game, then someone can turn this unfortunate mess into a semi-competent Simcity 5 that we all wanted from the start. You can stay behind with Maxis, I’m waiting for all the engineers/programmers/modders that grew up on Simcity that are mad as hell for what Maxis/EA has done, and will attempt to fix it themselves.

  19. bigjig says:

    The ironic thing is, if a modder patched it to allow for offline saving and loading the game would probably sell a whole heap more…

  20. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Before anyone rejoices, remember that one possible insane (eg wouldn’t put it past them) reaction to this is “we need DRM that stops modding”

    • Firgof says:

      If they say that, it’ll only cause more controversy because they already said they’d support modders.

      http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/03/08/simcity-is-built-to-be-moddable-say-maxis/
      https://twitter.com/oceanquigley/status/299566347438936064

      • mrmalodor says:

        They’re never going to support modding. Mark my words.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        They’ve lied about everything else, what makes you think they’re going to keep their word regarding modding?

      • ChromeBallz says:

        In the current model, they CANNOT support modding because they made it online-only. Modding means that people in a region could possibly run entirely different simulations than their neighbours, unless they make the system ala second life – Which is dangerous, given that the TTP in such a system is likely to be less than 5 seconds, which would hurt their age rating.

        They won’t support modding. If they do, it will be a (very expensive) paid option that can only be used in private regions.

        • solidsquid says:

          Someone mentioned that you could probably do client side reskins as mods without interfering with the server side stuff. Otherwise can’t see them supporting it though

          • tyren says:

            I’ve seen it suggested that mods could be saved to “the cloud” and be shared with everyone playing the same region.

            Aside from the fact that you’d then have to have one “region owner” that determines what mods get used or this would open up HUGE griefing potential, I think it makes sense.

      • Thermal Ions says:

        “GlassBox is built to be moddable, but beyond that we haven’t announced anything.”

        So the ENGINE can be modded, not quite the same as support for the game being moddable. The later’s only going to happen when they work out how to monetise it.

        • Ich Will says:

          Pretty sure they mean’t server side graphics mods – I don’t think it’s going to be a truly open modable platform.

  21. JoeGuy says:

    John you clearly will not be letting this one go lol. Which is good. You did seem to help steer Ubi away from needless DRM, Hope you help make it happen with EA.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Agreed. We should not let Simcity fade into Obscurity. EA has gotten awat with far too much by delaying and defering issues.

  22. Beernut says:

    I’m curious, whether EA/Maxis will choose to prevent this offline-operation of the game by putting more of the computations on the server side in a future patch (like they pretended to do in the first place), or if they’ll admit to their lie and implement a real offline mode with local saves.

  23. P7uen says:

    I want to apologise to all of you that I didn’t read up first, and then I bought this game.

    I’m sorry, everyone.

  24. Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

    At this point who cares? If you bought the game you knew that it shipped with always on DRM. If you don’t like the fact that it has always on DRM you shouldn’t have bought it.

    Stop punching yourselves in the face and maybe it will stop hurting.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Fuck off, retard.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      You clearly miss the point. While I’m happy you’re willing to accept the degridation of the gaming industry, and be a cow for the big 3 to milk, there are a lot of gamers who care about the games they buy.

      When EA expected me to be always online to play a game that costs upwards of $60, then fail to do the same, that’s bullshit that needs to be called out. Especcially when the player shouldn’t need to be online at all, as this article represents.

      • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

        Why do you assume that I am happy with the always on requirement? It is a disappointing trend that I dislike immensely. Having said that EA as a company are perfectly entitled to release the game withg this form of DRM. It doesn’t matter why they’ve chosen to do it this way. There was no ambiguity. They were honest about the requirement and their honesty means that I was given enough information to stear clear of their product. Anyone who is against this form of always on DRM who buys a game that implements it should probably turn their criticism inwards.

        • Berzee says:

          I guess that part where you compared buying SC5 to punching yourself in the face, is what made people assume that you bought and adore it. o_O

        • BobbyDylan says:

          While I understand your point about informed consumerism, You make the online requirement sound like an artistic choice. As if EA were choosing between 2 equally good alternatives (red or green). This is not the case, EA chose to provide an inferior product on grounds that are now turning out ot be bullshit. Customers could swallow the always on DRM on the basis that it’s needed, the game doesn’t work without it, or that it’s integral to the experience. The above shows it’s not.

          The reality is that EA chose to put it’s need for post purchase control at the expense of the customers enjoyment. EA knew it’s servers would fail (as did we all) at launch, it knew that the online requirement is a load of bollocks and did it anyway. It did this to ensure control of your product after you paid for it.

          They quite literally have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

          • Brun says:

            All he’s saying is that the proper way to “punish” EA for their “transgressions” (which were perfectly legal business decisions, and entirely within their rights to make as owner of the SimCity IP) is to not buy the game. Just because he isn’t verbally eviscerating EA doesn’t mean he’s a shill, it doesn’t mean he’s an apologist, it doesn’t mean he likes always-on DRM. It means he’s keeping things in perspective, and not trying to turn this into “Le Revolucion!” like all the other naive kids in here.

        • MentatYP says:

          Honest? They bloody well weren’t. Yes, they told us ahead of time that you’d have to be online to play. But they very dishonestly sold us an imaginary bill of goods by claiming that Glassbox was so complex that they had to offload a lot of the calculations to the server for it to run well, when in fact it’s now obvious that’s a straight up lie. If all they said was that we had to be online to play we’d all assume it was DRM and go about our merry way. Instead they tried to make themselves look less like bad guys by concocting a fictional story about the benefits of always-online play. That’s not ok.

    • Beelzebud says:

      Using the exact same logic, I’d say you can always just not read the SimCity articles you see come up. No one is forcing you to read them, or the comments.

  25. Bostec says:

    Time to put on the Tinfoil hat and say that this is what EA was implementing all along. Poor server support, shit AI, poor coding. They must of known the game would get picked apart, its what we do. Anyway the first couple of weeks sales of a game are the most important and they have probably sold enough to make some kind of profit.

    Next they will do a complete U-turn, announce a big ol’ patch, offline mode, bigger cities, decent pathfinding and everyone will go awww and buy it. I wouldn’t put it pass them.

  26. mana says:

    There seemed to be some comments that said they have already disabled the debug mode… I wouldn’t be surprised if they force-update the game to remove the ability to do this, as clearly DRMicroGouge is more important than a decent singleplayer game

    I remember wanting to pick up Settlers 7 but never did due to the DRM/online crap. Hope SimCity gets fixed!

  27. mrmalodor says:

    HAHAHAHAHA. Oh man, this keeps getting better and better. I’ve never felt so good about NOT buying a game.

  28. Hamlet says:

    This just keeps getting better and better.

    My EA boycott keeps finding new and interesting ways to justify itself.

  29. xtom says:

    DRM and pushing future DLC sales are the main reasons they haven’t provided the option, and possibly some unrealistic vision of a multiplayer only utopia for all Simcity gamers (too much facebook influence perhaps ugh) but accommodating what the majority of gamers really wanted and asked for all along is way down their list as is respecting our intelligence with marketing BS and lame excuses.

  30. MeestaNob says:

    IT TOOK LESS THAN A WEEK, EA. Less than a week.

    So, it has been proven that no notable computation occurs on the servers, that nothing is offloaded from the gaming PC (which explains the shoddy performance that can often be observed), that the computing that IS occurring is of a low standard resulting in poor/non-existent pathfinding and water usage simulation (to name but a few issues), that the lazy implementation of Sim activities has resulted in some reasonable city designs being utterly unworkable, and that the meagre limitations of the 2 x 2km sandbox are easily circumvented leading any intelligent person to believe that these glass(box) walls exist purely to encourage future purchases that would unlock this terrain.

    I’m pretty sure most countries with a consumer watchdog would agree that the customers have NOT been given what they thought they were buying, and well within their right to ask for AND RECIEVE a refund.

    EA are a cancer.

  31. InternetBatman says:

    I’m really glad they did this, but I’d be worried about running afoul of the DMCA. Of course that would make EA/Maxis look bad, but looking bad hasn’t stopped them yet.

  32. Themadcow says:

    If they hadn’t had the problems with the servers at launch… would the news that it doesn’t have to be online have got 10% of the attention it’s getting now? Sure, there still would have been serious gameplay issues but I suspect it would have got minor column inches.

  33. Dubbill says:

    Proof, if proof be need be.

  34. Nashua says:

    I would like to add that eventho i bought the game (and i have to sadly admit that i am loving it)
    I do not in the slightest support EA and their business practises.
    I did not pay 80 euros for a game that i cant play if my ISP decides to be a bitch(which it does frequently)

    I did not have anything usefull to say, i just had to add my 2 pennies.

    • Toberoth_Syn says:

      Well actually, by buying the game you DO support EA and their business practices, in a very direct sense.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      If I may make a suggestion, I would recommend that as a paying customer, your word might carry more weight with EA. Send them some feedback – describe what you dislike about the product and explain the impact this will have on your future purchase pattern. IE, you don’t like the forced connection, you don’t like the lies and you are losing trust in them as a company.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Why risk an Origin account ban though? They’ve already done that with at least one SimCity forum user.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I am confident that a well worded private complaint would not result in a ban.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            You’re probably right, but given EA’s attitude towards dissenters lately, I would not put anything past them.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Next time have patience and don’t buy it. Play something else.

  35. Jack-Dandy says:

    I really appreciate your on-going coverage about this fiasco-
    You probably don’t need me to say this, but keeping this kind of corporate bullshit revealed to the public’s eye is very, VERY important.

  36. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Does anybody else feel the conversation went something like this:

    EA: Yo Maxis, how’s it coming?

    Maxis: Good, the multiplayer prototype is working well, we’re having a few performance related technical issues with the single player but we have top men working on it and we’re confident of hitting yesterdays milestone by next month.

    EA: Well get them working on online only instead.

    Maxis: Come again?

    EA: We want the game to be online only… piracy is a serious issue and we expect you to set an example of how EA can rule with an iron fist of water tight DRM. We actually asked the president if he could pull an Osama Bin Laden on those pirate bay guys but apparently sending a spec ops assassination squad to Sweden would be an issue… yea, lame right. OH, OH, GAME IDEA, MUST CALL DICE NEXT, I think we’ve found our Battlefield 4 plot. HOW DO I DO THIS EVERY TIME!? Seriously, I was just saying to those Danger Close guys the other day, my brain… bottle it.

    Maxis: Ummm, yea great idea on all counts…. but we kind of need time to finish up the single player or it won’t be ready for release.

    EA: Well, we think your time would be better spent working on online only *jingles the money bag*. Oh and try and sell it as a necessary feature, not a punishment… they get whiny.

    Maxis: Well… we’re not sure we want to alienate our fan base… online only is an effective method of piracy protection but as you can see from these examples…

    EA: Don’t blind us with science, we want online only DRM and we want it now.

    Maxis: Oh crap

    EA: What was that?

    Maxis: Umm, sure that..?

    EA: That’s what we thought and forget the single player, multiplayer is the future we all know it no point in denying it, there’s no money in single player. By the way, any chance of some DLC? Maybe take some of that London stuff out and sell it back to them, people love that London stuff. You can do that instead of your single player, see, business solutions, none of this core design crap, learn from the champs. Chao bella.

    Maxis: …oh crap. Guys… I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is they aren’t selling us to Activision… the bad news is I almost wish they would… totally screwed us this time.

    That’s how I like to imagine it went down at any rate.

  37. Salastradius says:

    Oh, I tought this Simcity was a paid early-access Beta for a Facebook game…

  38. apa says:

    EA is sooo going to ban that modder guy from all of their games and forums. Just wait for it to happen…

  39. TechnicalBen says:

    Aaaaand I got Tropico 4. I don’t care if it works or not. It’s at least 1 iota better and more honest than EA and SimCity 5 at this point.

    • caddyB says:

      I also got Tropico 4. A game that does simulate everyone in the community and doesn’t make up bullshit numbers to make it seem like I’m ruling over thousands and thousands of people.

      I would be okay with Simcity if they actually delivered on those promises you know. Small scale, detailed simulation with pretty graphics.. sure. I play Dwarf Fortress, I know how it goes.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        What is funny is I remember being able to actually check the sim level in Simcity 4. Everyone forgets that feature. You can even set a character in game and it gives them a house (which they buy/sell to upgrade) and a job (which they can loose/get promoted in). And you can follow them to work.

        • Brun says:

          As I understand it that feature is just added on top of the real simulation – it’s not actually integrated with the underlying calculations. It’s basically letting you play a “Sims” minigame, using your city as the Neighborhood. But nothing your Sim does actually affects your city.

  40. StranaMente says:

    Well, I guess now Ea will ban everyone who tries that. That’ll teach ‘em to try and enjoy the game they bought!

  41. Rockman says:

    I always purchase games I like after trying a copy or a demo if available. But with this I think I’ll be sticking with the pirate copy just to spite them. They obviously take us all for idiots, I’ve got no time for that kind of disrespect.

  42. Emohawk says:

    With this mod and an offline save I might actually buy the game…

  43. GuyIncognito says:

    Why do I feel like the EA/Maxis “response” is going to be to ban the modder’s Origin account for life?

  44. ShockLobster says:

    Oh it took a modder’s personal efforts to correct EA problems and make a game fun? This is not surprising.

  45. cpy says:

    I like this game, i just don’t like EA that comes with it.

  46. Tei says:

    People on this thread are acting like having a game modable is a bad thing.

    Is good that we can modify the game to whatever we want. If some limits are “softlimits” are not a error of design.

    • caddyB says:

      The main gripe is EA said it would be impossible for the game to run offline because of the complex calculations that were server-side. It would be impossible to make the cities larger because of how the simulation worked.

      Then it turned out there is no real simulation apart from a pathfinding algorithm that doesn’t even do it’s job, the game makes up numbers after you pass the 500 citizen point to make your city seem bigger, you can actually play it offline indefinitely and there are no problems with said simulation, you don’t actually need shops or industry ( jobs ) because if you put some parks around you can have 200k people living in your city sustained only by happiness gain from parks and they will keep paying their taxes. Then it turns out the city limits are there to sell some bigger city DLC later on.

      It’s not even an always online debate anymore. Because if it was actually true that the game simulated everything to such level as advertised, it would still be bad but it would be justified.It’s just lies over lies and marketing speak to cover up an obviously unfinished game rushed out to meet the earnings report at this point.

      • Tei says:

        Companies use marketing people to talk to customers, because can translate from the engineers language to the customers language. Theres no direct translation, something that a engineer can say can look completely solid from the engineer point of view, while for a customer will sound completely vague. To do this translation, marketing has to do a creative job of inventing the image the customers may understand. That image has not complete fidelity to the real thing, even if the intention of the marketing people is to be as honest has possible. This is necessary. If you let engineers talk directly to customers, the customers will not understand a lot, will misunderstand a lot of things said, will get angry and very scary. Sanity is only possible when theres people doing the translation. On the other hand, a CEO or executive could be so removed from the technical parts, that his descriptions resemble a medieval guy trying to describe a sXIX space rocket. The general public can only get the real thing, that will not understand, or a bunch of simplifications, that are not how things really work.

        • caddyB says:

          “It happens all the time” is never a good excuse to accept something that is wrong.

          • Brun says:

            It’s only “wrong” (by which I assume you mean morally wrong) if the mistranslations occur in bad faith. At EA I’d say that there’s an equal chance of it being caused by maliciousness as by incompetence.

        • SeismicRend says:

          This sounds like the floundering justification the marketing character in Office Space gives as he’s trying to explain to the Bobs why they shouldn’t downsize him.

          “Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the *** **** customers so the engineers don’t have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can’t you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people? “

  47. luukdeman111 says:

    Pirates already cracked this game this monday I believe… I mean, they’re no good for gaming, but you gotta admire the effort those guys put into their work

  48. Iskariot says:

    So cool to see EA exposed again and again for the lying money grabbers they have become.

    I wish everybody would boycott them until they went out of business.
    Then Bioware could rise from the ashes and become its former uncorrupted glorious self again.

  49. Crows says:

    I will ask for a refund !

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