The SimCity 2013 5 fiasco is well known now. The basics is SimCity is forcing all players into online mode and thus to relay on EA’s servers. Ok fine. Except EA’s servers cannot keep up. Last I checked, they still have not enabled cheetah mode because the servers cannot catch up. All of this could have been avoided if there was an offline mode offered as well. But sadly no. Why? Because it did not match Maxis’s ‘Vision”. Riiight. Aside from this vision been myopic at best, this is keeping many players from buying the game and some hackers trying to jailbreak the DRM function to allow the game to run offline.
Lucy Bradshall from Maxis made a blog post explaining why SimCity will not run in offline mode because it was not part of Maxis ‘vision’ for SimCity. Here are the reason they give and my replies:
- We keep the simulation state of the region up to date for all players. Even when playing solo, this keeps the interactions between cities up to date in a shared view of the world.
That’s great if the servers could keep up, but even with the doubling of servers and slowing SimCity down to Lama, it still takes hours for some city to city or person to person interactions to take place. Fail. And for SimCity Players like myself. I do not need much less want this.
- Players who want to reach the peak of each specialization can count on surrounding cities to provide services or resources, even workers. As other players build, your city can draw on their resources.
Great. Then make this an option. This can easily be simulated in a single player mode.
- Our Great Works rely on contributions from multiple cities in a region. Connected services keep each player’s contributions updated and the progression on Great Works moving ahead.
For who? What is I only play perhaps once a week? How am I suppose to keep up?
- All of our social world features – world challenges, world events, world leaderboards and world achievements – use our servers to update the status of all cities.
- Our servers handle gifts between players.
- We’ve created a dynamic supply and demand model for trading by keeping a Global Market updated with changing demands on key resources.
- We update each city’s visual representation as well. If you visit another player’s city, you’ll see the most up to date visual status.
- We even check to make sure that all the cities saved are legit, so that the region play, leaderboards, challenges and achievements rewards and status have integrity.
I have the same answer for the rest here. NON of these features and function require always on connections. Changes in the city can be cued to be updated once a game year. One can open a socket and exchange and update that data (IF THEY WANT TO). To force people in to a feature and function requirement that in all actuality has only a marginal effect on the inner workings of your City does not make any sense.
And that is we get to the enviable jailbreak efforts to run SimCity offline. Initially Maxis said the SimCity 5 2013 could not be run offline. That was quickly disproved by a few hackers to got it to function fine, only missing a few features and the ability to save. I think it will only be a matter of time before someone writes a packet sniffer, decodes the DRM protocol and just redirects the send / get requests for saving a city, and placing it on a local hard drive. So now, not only has this foolish ‘vision’ cost you customers, it will actually drive up the interest in pirate version because a majority of SimCity players, myself included, want to play SimCity as a fun diversion, not a goal focused game where you are trying to compete with other players.
Oh and remember this gem?
Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw told Polygon. ”It wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team.”
Not only did a hacker prove that wrong, a dev from Maxis said it outright!
A developer at Maxis told John Walker of Rock Paper Shotgun. “They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything.
Its only a matter of time Maxis. Someone will Jailbreak SimCity to allow saves and even fix the population issue and unlike Apple which benefited because the jailbreak community pushed the iPhone forward into development, people will (if possible) mod and expand the pirate version.