Good And Bad News For SimCity Fans
When SimCity first released earlier this year it faced the same problems that GTA Online is currently facing: no-one could really connect and play. Gamers were furious that SimCity was always-online, whereby a day-one purchased meant ‘play in week two’.
As the months have passed and the anger has subsided, Electronic Arts has changed their stance a bit. The company has been working on “exploring” an offline mode for the game. As if this couldn’t have been done before.
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Maxis general manager, Patrick Buechner, has explained that an offline mode for the game is, all of a sudden, something very realistic. However, he never said that it could be a reality. Two completely different words starting with ‘R’.
“Right now we have a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode,” he noted. “I can’t make any promises on when we will have more information, but we know this is something that many of our players have been asking for. While the server connectivity issues are behind us, we would like to give our players the ability to play even if they choose not to connect. An offline mode would have the additional benefit of providing room to the modding community to experiment without interfering or breaking the multiplayer experience.”
While that’s good news, it is unfortunately followed by bad news. The size of cities has been limited, and Maxis cannot and will not ever be able to allow for bigger cities, due to technical restraints. Players will need to manage and use their current plots, no matter how big or small.
“We’ve put months of investigation into making larger city sizes, reworking the terrain maps, changing the routing algorithms of our agent-based system and altering the way that GlassBox processes the data in a larger space,” he said.
“After months of testing, I confirm that we will not be providing bigger city sizes. The system performance challenges we encountered would mean that the vast majority of our players wouldn’t be able to load, much less play with bigger cities. We’ve tried a number of different approaches to bring performance into an acceptable range, but we just couldn’t achieve it within the confines of the engine. We’ve chosen to cease work on bigger city sizes and put that effort into continuing to evolve the core game and explore an offline mode. Some of the experiments we conducted to improve performance on bigger cities will be rolled into future updates to improve overall game performance.”
Electronic Arts’ vision for SimCity seems to have changed a bit, by allowing an offline mode. It also proves that not having an offline mode is honestly pointless, as gamers still want and desire offline play. The world is no where near ‘digital-only’ yet, as has been seen through the Xbox One launch. Furthermore, the amount of failures at launch with always-online games has been far to great as of late, and developers need to step away from this attitude and focus on actually allowing gamers to play the game.