In a mammoth new blog post that begins: ‘We’re listening’, Maxis Emeryville studio manager Patrick Buechner admitted that SimCity’s lauch “wasn’t what anyone on the team hoped for”.
“We think about this every single day,” he wrote. “but we’re proud of how far we’ve come over the past few months.”
Bitterness will give way to a bittersweet future: we might well be getting that offline SimCity we’ve been clamoring for, but won’t be playing it on planes any larger than those we’re building on currently.
“After months of testing, I confirm that we will not be providing bigger city sizes,” said Buechner “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.”
The dev team have attempted a number of different approaches to the performance problem, but have always been driven back to base camp by the limits of the engine. As such, they’ve chosen to stop working on bigger city sizes, though some of those experiments in performance will be rolled into future updates. Instead, Maxis are planning to expand the main game, as well as, yes, pursue an offline mode.
“Right now we have a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode,” confirmed Buechner. “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.”
Maxis opened up the conversation about SimCity modding to their community earlier this week. They’re working on a set of guidelines for what should and shouldn’t pass as acceptable file jiggery-pokery, and plan to draw the line at regional play.
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