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Schrödinger's SimCity: EA On Hacks vs Mods, Fixing Traffic

Global meltdown

In this, our ELEVENTH DAY of the equivalent of PC gaming’s Leveson Inquiry, Senior Director of worldwide communications at EA Maxis Erik Reynolds has written a series of ‘transparent tweets’. These tweets indicate that a post on the Simcity forum about a hack for offline mode violated their Terms of Service, and the discussion would have to be moved elsewhere.

As RPS broke on the 12th of March, it wouldn’t take a “significant amount of engineering work” to make the game offline, and modders have already got on the case. The discussion on the official forums has now been removed as this Reddit thread shows. Maybe it’s just because the Simcity forum Terms of Service are ‘oh holy god what have we got ourselves into let’s pretend it’s not happening LALALALALA CANT HEAR YOU’. But mostly it is because Reynolds says ‘hacks are not mods’. As the dudebros at CVG have also reported, pertinent tweets:

Reynolds remarked to a question asking who sets the terms of service that “Policy is set by legal, but enforced by us”.

Meanwhile, rockily-named Lead Designer of SimCity Stone Librande slated on Simcity Update 8 “I wanted to take a moment to address some of the questions that I’ve been hearing about our game. Now that we’re getting close to resolving our server issues, we’re putting a lot of attention on improving the simulation based on the community’s feedback.” Here is a summary of that community feedback from John.

In reply, Stone Librande, who really should be a luchador, rumbled, “Our main focus right now is updating the pathing system that the Agents use to get to their Sinks,” which is not some sort of CIA-based hygiene initiative, but a fix for cars going stark raving mental.

END OF THE WORLD

“We understand that when cars always take the shortest route between point A and point B there will be unavoidable (and illogical) traffic jams, so we are retuning these values to make the traffic flow more realistically. Guillaume Pierre (our lead scripter) talked a bit about the improvements that we are making to the traffic system in the game here. To dig a little deeper our roads will have a weighting system based on 25%, 50% and 75% capacity. As a road hits those marks it will become less and less appealing for other cars, increasing the likelihood of them taking an alternate path if one exists.”

In addition, Stone also said they were looking into fixing how emergency vehicles are more erratic than a cat on Berocca. Which is sadly not a thing I google searched.

Stone also took the time to address another of John’s favourite issues, the persistence of Sims in SimCity.

“The Sims in the game are persistent in many respects. They go from a home to a workplace or to a shop and back each day. Their happiness, money, sickness, education level, etc. are also persistent and are carried around the city with each Sim as the simulation unfolds. But many aspects of the Sims are not persistent. They don’t own a particular house or have permanent employment. We also don’t track their names, their clothing, gender, or skin color. We did this as in attempt to increase performance so that we could have more Sims in the city. Ultimately we didn’t feel that the cost of adding in that extra layer of micro detail made the macro game play richer. Game design is filled with tradeoffs and compromises like this and we are constantly evaluating these (and many other) decisions.”

But, if a Sim dies in an offline SimCity does it make a noise?

In any case what I like to imagine now is not that I specifically am Malcolm Tucker but that the media is Malcolm Tucker freeroaming the leafy corridors of EA giving every slightly carefree exec a bollocking. “YOU SHOULD HAVE HAD A DISCUSSION WITH ME ABOUT THAT,” Malcolm flanked by fans rages, veins popping out of his head. Other studios observe from afar. “It’s his dream,” they whisper to each other. “A non-stop bollock shop.” Says the other to the first: “Trouble is that we’ll be getting some of that in about an hour.” The first nods. “Yeah. I don’t know which is worse, watching him slowly rumble toward you like prostate cancer, or, him appearing suddenly out of nowhere like a severe stroke.”

Edit by John: It’s also worth nothing that despite repeated requests, and even at one point a promise of a reply “shortly”, we’ve been entirely ignored by Maxis. Now we’re not even getting replies from EA’s UK PRs.

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Cara Ellison

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Senior Scottish Correspondent, often known as the Notorious C A E, though mostly by her mum

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