SimCity’s always-on internet connection enables cloud computing features, says Maxis boss | PCGamesN

SimCity’s always-on internet connection enables cloud computing features, says Maxis boss

SimCity looks to be a lot of unambiguously good things, but it’s also going to require an always-on internet connection to play. That’s caused a fair few grumbles, understandably. A couple of months ago, Maxis explained that they “thought about this SimCity as multiplayer from the ground up”. They’ve since explored in a little more detail precisely what they mean by that, and what exactly EA's servers do for the game.

“I understand why this may be a concern for fans who have been playing SimCity for decades now. Like all of you, I’m a long-time SimCity fan.” That’s Maxis master and commander Lucy Bradshaw there, over on the Maxis blog.

“Creating a connected experience has always been a goal for SimCity, and this design decision has driven our development process for the game. We knew we had to make sure we put our heart and souls into the simulation and the team created the most powerful simulation engine in its history, the GlassBox Engine.”

GlassBox is the mass of tiny, interconnected systems that makes SimCity’s buildings, economies, trading, and a potential 100,000 individual sims tick along nicely. That takes a lot of processing, apparently, and consequently the weight is split between EA and the user.

“GlassBox does more than just segregate computing tasks [however], it also allows us to make it so that you can create specialized cities that are visually unique and personalized, and that can be economically integrated into a larger region,” continues Bradshaw. “You’re always connected to the neighbors in your region so while you play, data from your city interacts with our servers, and we run the simulation at a regional scale.

“For example, trades between cities, simulation effects that cause change across the region like pollution or crime, as well as depletion of resources, are all processed on the servers and then data is sent back to your city on your PC. Every city in the region is updated every three minutes, which keeps the overall region in sync and makes your decisions in your city relevant to any changes that have taken place in the region.”

Phew. Those are the best reasons for always-on connection silliness SimCity has.Then there’s the social and competitive stuff we’re all familiar with, that lies at the gooey centre of most of our online games.

“Running the regional simulation on our servers is something we also use to support features that will make this SimCity even more fun. We use the Sim data to update worldwide leaderboards, where you get to see your city or mayoral standings as compared to the other cities in your region and between all of the regions in the world. And since SimCity is a live service, we're also using the data to create weekly global and local challenges for our players that keep the gameplay fresh and surprising.”

In short: SimCity is always-online not only to make somebody at EA feel better about pirates, but also at least in part because it’s working really bloody hard. Is that a reasonable compromise? Let us know what you think.

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Persus-9 Avatar
2 Years ago

Nope, it is a bloody terrible idea. If it were just an anti-piracy thing I'd have hope that they'd just patch it out at some point down the road and, while I wouldn't like it and probably wouldn't but it because of that it also wouldn't worry me too much. The fact that EA are actually doing a good chunk of the calculations required to run the game suggests it'll never be patched out and will cost EA a good chunk of money to keep running. You can therefore bet they won't be running them indefinitely unless someone somehow is willing to pay them. EA have plenty of previous regarding shutting down servers for online games after only a couple of years so I wouldn't bet against them shutting these down in three or four.

The question is will EA want to keep those servers running for as long as I want to play the game? Here we get into a lose-lose situation for me as a consumer. If a game like SimCity is good then it will be pretty much timeless and something I'll want to dip into again years after release. I'll thus be more than a little upset when EA switches off the servers at their end and kill my game. The only reason I wouldn't be upset when that day comes is if I didn't enjoy the game in the first place which is an obviously bad scenario for me. Either way if I buy this game it is at some point in the future going to make me sad. Given the number of games out there competing for my money and promising me only joy there is no way I'm throwing my money away on this one.

0
Persus-9 Avatar
2 Years ago

Nope, it is a bloody terrible idea. If it were just an anti-piracy thing I'd have hope that they'd just patch it out at some point down the road and, while I wouldn't like it and probably wouldn't but it because of that it also wouldn't worry me too much. The fact that EA are actually doing a good chunk of the calculations required to run the game suggests it'll never be patched out and will cost EA a good chunk of money to keep running. You can therefore bet they won't be running them indefinitely unless someone somehow is willing to pay them. EA have plenty of previous regarding shutting down servers for online games after only a couple of years so I wouldn't bet against them shutting these down in three or four.

The question is will EA want to keep those servers running for as long as I want to play the game? Here we get into a lose-lose situation for me as a consumer. If a game like SimCity is good then it will be pretty much timeless and something I'll want to dip into again years after release. I'll thus be more than a little upset when EA switches off the servers at their end and kill my game. The only reason I wouldn't be upset when that day comes is if I didn't enjoy the game in the first place which is an obviously bad scenario for me. Either way if I buy this game it is at some point in the future going to make me sad. Given the number of games out there competing for my money and promising me only joy there is no way I'm throwing my money away on this one.

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Htorne Avatar
388
2 Years ago

To be honest, I don't like the idea, but, from where I'm sitting the internet is almost never down. So I really doubt it is going to effect me in a bad way.

In short - it's not going to effect me so I'm fine with it. Might be selfish but if I were to defend the every point of view my argument would not be very coherent.

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kevinw729 Avatar
2 Years ago

...to be closely followed by a new payment subscription model and new member only registration - great way to kill pre-owned!

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