SimCity Offline Mode Being Considered
SimCity is apparently ‘looking into’ developing an offline mode. On the eve of their latest expansion entitled “Cities Of Tomorrow” due November 12th, developer Maxis has been researching various ways to improve their ambitious title with surveys. Of course, one of the most wanted features was the offline mode. Maxis responded with a blog explaining their future intent for the title from general manager Patrick Buechner :
Right now we have a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode,” he wrote. “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
The latest edition of SimCity seemingly became a little to big for its britches. Before release in March of 2013, EA announced that SimCity would have an ‘always online’ requirement which has quickly become a marketing faux pas. At the time, EA explained that the requirement would allow for the game to utilize more features by taking advantage of cloud based servers that would enhance the simulation power of the game. The game engine, called GlassBox, would apparently assign some of the computing to the online servers to allow for more advanced simulation features like reactions from neighboring players’ cities. Explained as a bit of a social experiment feature, the resulting gameplay issues upon release were certainly disastrous. While connectivity issues have lessened since launch, there is still a bad stain left on players from EA’s decision to make the game only playable if there is an internet connection for a game that essentially doesn’t have or need a multiplayer mode.
Of course, removing the game’s ‘cloud power’ would effectively reduce the amount of features that the player would have in the simulation. Also, it would effectively negate any possibility of the biggest player request of all…bigger cities. As it stands, Maxis claims that any attempts to make cities bigger have made the game virtually unplayable (again) during testing. Essentially they would remove and change features and aspects of the game in hopes of allowing for a stripped down version of the game to allow for larger cities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if city size will expand anytime in the near future according to the same blog post:
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
So, I guess that means their social experiment has achieved something at least… sustained outrage and displeasure.