SimCity Is Broken, And It's Not Just the Servers

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SimCity Is Broken, And It's Not Just the Servers

It doesn't matter that its connectivity is shit, the game's shit anyway.

Read Full Article

Very well written article! After reading in depth of all the issues even if they fix the always-on-DRM issue I am going to wait until they fix all the core game issues as well.

I guess these problems slipped under the radar due to all the EA drama going on.

Reading about the pathfinding in the new SimCity is always entertaining, but complaining about naming the highest speed "cheetah mode"? Aren't you, like... a couple decades late on that?

Thank you Greg. My wife is all about Simcity 4, and I've been telling her that we need to wait until the servers and all the bullshit calm down if we're going to pick this one up. It's good to know that the issues were covering up a mostly broken game at the core, as I wasn't all that excited about paying for this thing on an ethical level in the first place.

There is fun to be had in the other direction.

Make all roads dirt paths, hack up tax rates, put all your industry and sewage treatment plants up wind of your housing, bus stops on every corner, just enough police to encourage criminals to move over to other cities, only stop fires by destroying buildings.

See how much of a hell scape you can create and how far can you drag down the other cities in the region with you.

So the game is so broken you're doing a preview of the review you have in store for us?

Wow...hahaha...WOW.

Wait! So you're saying the game works just like real-life cities? Buses that clog streets because you can't get people to ride them? Singular highway entrance ramps that cause traffic nightmares? Cities fighting with each other to be the best at one particular thing? It's the PERFECT city-building simulator!

Just a bit of cynical humor from a real-life urban planner. One who picked my field partially because of Sim City, and cries a little each time I hear how bad this iteration is.

Not G. Ivingname:
There is fun to be had in the other direction.

Make all roads dirt paths, hack up tax rates, put all your industry and sewage treatment plants up wind of your housing, bus stops on every corner, just enough police to encourage criminals to move over to other cities, only stop fires by destroying buildings.

See how much of a hell scape you can create and how far can you drag down the other cities in the region with you.

The fact that they can let you "troll" other cities in your region shows me that this formula wont last long.

From what Ive been able to tell, Sims are not rational humans. it seems more like some massive communist hive-mind. They share jobs and houses because no Sim has a set role, and like to follow others around in little groups, taking what looks to be the shortest route. But this is more of an issue I have with the series than the lastest SimCity itself.

Greg Tito:
SimCity Is Broken, And It's Not Just the Servers

It doesn't matter that its connectivity is shit, the game's shit anyway.

Read Full Article

The speed names are the same in every sim city with a speed function (iirc).

But other than that your criticisms are spot on.

Refreshing to see discussion of the live version of the game without being stuck on the server issues. I think this article echoes my thoughts on the game more than any other I've read.

Personally, I stopped playing a few days ago once I managed to get a couple decent sized cities and saw the issues described. I have no plans to fire it back up until that traffic patch is out and positively reviewed.

And yes, the speed setting names have been the same in every SimCity. In the first game, speed controls were just buttons with a turtle, llama and cheetah on them, and the names have stuck since.

Just going to leave this little guy right here... funny...

Maybe some language here that is questionable... nsfw... been warned and all that.

Come to think of it...

image

DrunkOnEstus:
Thank you Greg. My wife is all about Simcity 4, and I've been telling her that we need to wait until the servers and all the bullshit calm down if we're going to pick this one up. It's good to know that the issues were covering up a mostly broken game at the core, as I wasn't all that excited about paying for this thing on an ethical level in the first place.

Wait holy shit, Vault got banned? Would you mind if I borrowed your avatar?

I think you're being rather generous with your "I will only review it as Maxis intended"-attitude. Their game has been on sale for a week or so. They haven't stopped selling them or recalled them. That they pinky-swear that they'll make the game functional at some unspecified point in the future is nice and all, but it doesn't change what the product they're selling to customers right now is.

Or in other words, I don't like the 'sell a beta, promise patches later' buisness model, and I'd rather not see reviewers let them get away with it by holding of reviews. If they seriously patch the game later, add an update or a new post about the changes.

Looks like I'll stick to Cities XL, though it may have some issues they pale in comparison to simcity.

GAunderrated:

Not G. Ivingname:
There is fun to be had in the other direction.

Make all roads dirt paths, hack up tax rates, put all your industry and sewage treatment plants up wind of your housing, bus stops on every corner, just enough police to encourage criminals to move over to other cities, only stop fires by destroying buildings.

See how much of a hell scape you can create and how far can you drag down the other cities in the region with you.

The fact that they can let you "troll" other cities in your region shows me that this formula wont last long.

Let you?

They all but encourage you with buildings like the super villain tower and stuff, and encouraging crime is extremely easy (leave abandoned buildings, give citizens the education of Somalia, etc.) The worst that can happen is that people move away from your city. If you insure that their are a lot of jobs, it doesn't matter because people will come from other cities anyway.

What happened to, you review the game that exists on release? I mean, I don't remember if that was ever officially Escapist policy, but, it, at least, used to be, the standard on reviewing games. You review what gets released, not what they turn out two months later after three or four patches.

I suppose a review of the current state of the game makes sense for MMOs, particularly ones that have been in circulation for a while. The STO that exists today bares little resemblance to the one that launched three years ago. Still, as much as EA and Maxis would like to claim, this isn't an MMO.

Sorry, I guess it just comes down to the question: do you have faith that the developer/publisher will actually improve the product after launch? With SimCity, I'm really not sure they will, especially since it sold like gangbusters already.

Desert Punk:

DrunkOnEstus:
Thank you Greg. My wife is all about Simcity 4, and I've been telling her that we need to wait until the servers and all the bullshit calm down if we're going to pick this one up. It's good to know that the issues were covering up a mostly broken game at the core, as I wasn't all that excited about paying for this thing on an ethical level in the first place.

Wait holy shit, Vault got banned? Would you mind if I borrowed your avatar?

I borrowed it from DVS Bstrd, so go right ahead. I wouldn't mind if every avatar was this one. She got banned for posting a big picture of a crying toddler. This is gonna be a different place from now on, that's for sure.

On topic: Watched a let's play of Simcity, yeah it's definitely horrible. Getting Tropico 4 instead.

DrunkOnEstus:

Desert Punk:

DrunkOnEstus:
Thank you Greg. My wife is all about Simcity 4, and I've been telling her that we need to wait until the servers and all the bullshit calm down if we're going to pick this one up. It's good to know that the issues were covering up a mostly broken game at the core, as I wasn't all that excited about paying for this thing on an ethical level in the first place.

Wait holy shit, Vault got banned? Would you mind if I borrowed your avatar?

I borrowed it from DVS Bstrd, so go right ahead. I wouldn't mind if every avatar was this one. She got banned for posting a big picture of a crying toddler. This is gonna be a different place from now on, that's for sure.

On topic: Watched a let's play of Simcity, yeah it's definitely horrible. Getting Tropico 4 instead.

Thank ya kindly!

and Tropico 4 is great

You may be different, but I don't want to care about importing coal or whether I can build processors at a profit when I'm playing SimCity.

Oh, that's so twentieth century. Don't you know the new paradigm is that companies like EA tell people what they want to play and how they want to play it, and then they buy it...?

Once the network issues are fully resolved, and features like the fast mode of play - stupidly called "cheetah mode." What, fast, medium and slow was too complex? - and leaderboards are re-implemented, we'll let you know The Escapist's official opinion.

I'm genuinely baffled that this game warrants such a grace period. Maybe it shouldn't have been released nearly two weeks ago, but it was. The story is that the game was literally inaccessible for many of the people who had pre-bought it, and now that most of them can get to it, it's broken in fundamental ways. While the most glowing review of whatever could be considered the "final" product at this point won't erase from most people's minds what a hash the thing was (and that fact has certainly been all over the news), I'm not at all sure it deserves that much of a second chance. How stunningly good would the refinement of its current state have to be for it not to be a better bet for players to go play Cities XL or Tropico or any of a number of other games instead?

If multiplayer is what Maxis wanted to focus on, that's fine with me.

I want to build a city that functions on its own.

Sounds like you wanted that single-player (also the problem with always-online is it doesn't affect 99% of us, meaning that 1% of people get screwed and there's no-one left to care)

"...not our official opinion..." As usual, while the games industry burns down around them, the 'journalists' fiddle.

The game is broken. It should be reviewed AS IT WAS RELEASED TO CONSUMERS. Anything else is base cowardice, fearing for ad revenue provided by the games industry and "exclusives."

Would you review a car the same way? "Looks nice, but we're going to hold our reviews for a month until Ford puts working engines in."

How about a restaurant? "Waiter shat on our plates, but we'll wait until the replacement meal comes out before giving you our full review."

Review. The. Damned. Game. As. Shipped.

30 hours, three cities and a grand project in and I can only agree - the game is fun but it's not really working from the mechanical point of view. The things that stuck out to me in particular are the following:

* Small city size: makes sense from a design-perspective as it forces one to develop a tactic to squeeze the maximum of inhabitants, industry and commercial buildings out of the available space. The only problem: that's just one hell of an annoyance if you really want to build a city and not an oversized village or like to give it any kind of soul - there's simply too less space for that. How about the following: allow bigger city sizes, fix the number of specializations to a maximum of two and make the trade-port/trading centre a non-specialization building (it's simply too important for that). I can easily imagine how cool it would be to just make the city size variable such that you can drag and drop the size across the region until it is filled up or borders the great work or such.

* Round streets are a no-no: since the pathing is just so ridiculously broken and the buildings need a certain space in their largest variant one can't so easily see without just trying to zone, any non-rectangular street-setups usually messes up stuff. And considering that I like eccentric cities with a little bit of soul to them instead of the planned roboticness that I didn't like in SC4 for instance that's a wasted opportunity in my book.

* No continuous resource trading: one is only able to share production goods between cities via one-shot gifts - and that's idiotic pure and simple. In a game so obviously designed around sharing between cities it would make perfect sense to have one city produce alloys and let another use them for consumer electronics. Too bad one has to currently jump between the cities every other minute to gift a new batch of resources to the other. It's an annoying design-oversight.

* Messed up vehicle sharing: together with the horrible pathing makes vehicle sharing a double edged sort. If you build a hospital (which annoyingly seems to be one of the most expensive buildings to run) it simply doesn't solve the health issues of another city, it just means a whole lot of wasted money. It seemed to work with my police precinct, though, but only barely.

* Contradictory or simple lack of feedback: shared garbage with another city so that I didn't have to put a land-value dropping piece of thrash in my tourist trapping-gambling city, turns out I never received any kind of feedback about how the garbage was pilling up and poisoned my ground water supply. I might have just missed it, but the lack of feedback really annoyed me there. In other things, the feedback also seems strangely disjunct and never really conveys enough information about what is going on or how the development and shopping actually works, how to get rid of homeless or why on earth my industry plant right next to a trade-port complains about a lack of freight capacity - strange to say it in a game that prides itself on all those nice looking informative charts in the glassbox engine. Then again, I might have missed out a tutorial or where to find that info...

* Water supply is annoying as hell: I don't want to always have to switch around my water-pumps to the non-white areas of an already filled up map. Can't we have a way to get that supply automatically refilled? Like desalination plants, university research or a much deeper supply?

* Oversized goals: In agreement with Greg those intermediate goals for upgrades to the centers are either ridiculously low (gambling) or ridiculously high (electronics) - and considering one needs the trade-port due to a lack of space, faster selling times and more storage capacity that's extremely annoying (also don't get me started on the university).

* The tax-system: considering I thought I was smart by constructing an exhaustive public transport system in all my cities from the start, I never got to deviate much in terms of taxes from the 10% mark. Given that everything above 11% seems to lead to the quick demise of your city and there's usually not enough money below 9% and you are certainly always in the red when trying to produce goods it seemed rather pointless to me except to possibly speed up the early game.

* No terraforming: I still recall those fun times in SC2000 when I built a city across mountaintops and even labeled some cool landmarks in that whole thing. I can't do that anymore or build any kind of interesting height differences or make more room by drying up some parts of the ocean. I could also imagine that this would allow for cool user generated regions. Another wasted opportunity in my book.

* Bugs, Bugs, Bugs: why isn't my recycling center working despite having a full materials storage and empty goods storages? Why is that glob of sewage not going away from that particular point on the streets despite my capacities being more than enough? Why are all of my six fire trucks at one burning building while another two burn down? Why doesn't my trade port sell stuff?

As for my personal perspective about fixing all of this I'm not really sure if this is going to be done to the point of creating a game that is worth more than one look. EA has already sold up to 1,1 million copies and I'm not convinced that EA really cares too much about public opinion to put itself behind fixing more than the most extreme issues. The only way I can see this becoming a properly balanced game are mods - and those are bound to not be allowed by EA and it's insistence on the always online DRM aspects of the game. On the other hand, at least in this way I got 30 hours of playtime from a broken game and either DS3 or BF3 for "free".....go figure...

EDIT: I should also mention that after buying the game last Tuesday, I didn't have any kind of connectivity issues at all and I don't have any particular complains about the always-online aspects as of yet.

I'm with the others. Review the game as it is, right now.

I'm sorry but this is stinking of "we don't want to offend publisher". They screwed up, it's not your fault. Don't piss on your customers by licking boots.

Harsh, but I don't like that policy of "let's wait until they fix it." I can understand that when servers are not working because servers not working means the game itself can't be run. But now? It's not the case anymore.

RELEASE the review.

Desert Punk:

DrunkOnEstus:

Desert Punk:

Wait holy shit, Vault got banned? Would you mind if I borrowed your avatar?

I borrowed it from DVS Bstrd, so go right ahead. I wouldn't mind if every avatar was this one. She got banned for posting a big picture of a crying toddler. This is gonna be a different place from now on, that's for sure.

On topic: Watched a let's play of Simcity, yeah it's definitely horrible. Getting Tropico 4 instead.

Thank ya kindly!

and Tropico 4 is great

I miss Juanito!!!!

defskyoen:

Greg Tito:
I honestly don't care about the always-connected restriction at all. If multiplayer is what Maxis wanted to focus on, that's fine with me. I also don't want to pass judgment with an official review until SimCity plays exactly how Maxis envisioned, but I feel like I need to get something off my chest

You're part of the cancer that is destroying the gaming industry.

You honestly don't care about horribly crippled design decisions that made people unable to play the game for the most part of the first two weeks? You don't care that this apparent "focus" of theirs is built on lies upon lies?
And you don't "want to pass judgment" till the game "plays exactly how Maxis envisioned"? Seriously? How convenient, too bad their customers so far couldn't pick and choose their enjoyment for when it is agreeable.

When people think about shills in the industry and complain about "Gaming Journalism", they're thinking about you! The rest of article after you've said all of this seems like a farce.

"an article I dont agree with! how annoying! Instead of closing out of it and potentially never reading an article written by the poster again, I shall comment on it because as we all know everything on the internet is serious business! This will definately show them the error of their ways and that I am right no matter what!"

.... did I get that right? or should I run it through Bing translator again?

I hate how SimCity 2013 was envisioned to be, I hate how Multiplayer was the main focus instead of a stable, playable game.

I did not buy it because of these two things.

I still play SimCity 4.

Nothing of value was lost due to me not buying SC2013.

You probably bought the game, you are more than likely angry how the state of it is. You probably wont be playing it for much longer because of the state of the game. Thats you. Some people, while I cant fathom on why, actually want to play it when it gets fixed, that is their decision.

This is the most depressing thing I have read. I grew up on sim city. I guess I will just get sim city 2 off good old games. Super depressed now.

All these "review the game as shipped" comments are absurd.
What if Half-Life 3 was released on Steam and it was so popular that it literally crashed the Steam servers so no-one could download it? Would it be appropriate to review it as "Couldn't even play the game; Rubbish. 0%"? Of course it wouldn't.

EA certainly should have handled the release of the game better, but the problems were down to the servers, not the game itself.

Further, the simple fact is that we now live in a time where games can change significantly from their launch form, and that's not an inherently bad thing. It used to be that the launched version of the game was all the game would ever be, and so reviewing the launch version was appropriate, now that's no longer true and so altering review policies to match the changing state of game development is reasonable.

Now, certainly, such a change could be taken too far the other way, where a reviewer ends up never actually reviewing the game as they always end up waiting for the next change before doing the review. As such each reviewer needs to be able to decide for themselves when the appropriate time is to start a review. Some may very well decide to stick to a strict "At release" mandate but I personally would not take such reviewers particularly seriously.

Edit: And no, reviewing a game later is not something done for the sake of the publisher, it's something done for the sake of the player.
Sure, the first two weeks seems a like big deal at the time, but once you've owned a game for a year that just a few percent of your potential play time.
Why on Earth should I prefer a review that focuses on the state of the game for less than 5% of the time I might play it, over a review that focuses on the other 95%?

Well said. This is the type of thing that is more objective than almost any review out there currently. Forget the fact that the "Always Connected" part is broken. Forget the part where they forced you online. While it's unacceptable for designers to force users into such a thing (in my book, anyway, it's fine for the users that are not bothered by this), no one has actually mentioned how the game is in reference to the way it's supposed to work. And the fact that the games built in pathfinding breaks everything about a city is an issue. I would imagine that bottlenecking the player into creating a city that is incapable of self sustainment is game breaking as well, but that game is meant to happen, so take it as it is. It sounds to me like when it's working as it's meant to, it's still broken.

defskyoen:

You're part of the cancer that is destroying the gaming industry.

You honestly don't care about horribly crippled design decisions that made people unable to play the game for the most part of the first two weeks? You don't care that this apparent "focus" of theirs is built on lies upon lies?
And you don't "want to pass judgment" till the game "plays exactly how Maxis envisioned"? Seriously? How convenient, too bad their customers so far couldn't pick and choose their enjoyment for when it is agreeable.

When people think about shills in the industry and complain about "Gaming Journalism", they're thinking about you! The rest of article after you've said all of this seems like a farce.

Okay, two things. First of all, he doesn't care about those things because A) they're old news and B) that horse was dead, buried, and the grave still being beaten on 2 weeks before SimCity came out. No one wants to read the exact same story over and over again. Secondly, when in the hell did it become imperative to become an activist about everything? Last time I checked, gaming was about fun. While you sit there raging about how EA is screwing over the consumer, I'm going to be sitting here building skyscrapers and watching Godzilla tear them down, laughing like a fool, and enjoying myself. If I had to choose between us who was "doing it right", as it were, I would say the one ACTUALLY HAVING FUN, not the one scowling at a computer screen hating everything about the industry. Sure I know I'm getting cheesed over in a lot of these cases, but you know what, as long as I'm having fun, then I don't give a rat's ass. It's my entertainment, just who the hell do you think you are to judge me for it?

And before you go throwing around "cancer on the industry" and "shilling out" accusations, I'd suggest you THINK for a half second. The majority opinion on the game is that the DRM is balls, but past that is an amazing game; this writer dares to day "actually, that second part sucks too." Yup, sound like he sold his soul to EA long ago, to accuse their game of being inherently broken at the core. Before to say that he's the cancer on the entertainment industry, try not to act like the cancer on the comments section.

DrunkOnEstus:

Desert Punk:

DrunkOnEstus:
Thank you Greg. My wife is all about Simcity 4, and I've been telling her that we need to wait until the servers and all the bullshit calm down if we're going to pick this one up. It's good to know that the issues were covering up a mostly broken game at the core, as I wasn't all that excited about paying for this thing on an ethical level in the first place.

Wait holy shit, Vault got banned? Would you mind if I borrowed your avatar?

I borrowed it from DVS Bstrd, so go right ahead. I wouldn't mind if every avatar was this one. She got banned for posting a big picture of a crying toddler. This is gonna be a different place from now on, that's for sure.

On topic: Watched a let's play of Simcity, yeah it's definitely horrible. Getting Tropico 4 instead.

This isn't her first ban you know... I'm sure she'll be back.

AC10:
Snip

What's so threatening about a ban if you can just "be back"? To think that I've been all nice to people and upstanding for nuthin! : )

OT again: Cities XL even looks better than this. I guess all that's selling is a name in this case.

Maze1125:
All these "review the game as shipped" comments are absurd.
What if Half-Life 3 was released on Steam and it was so popular that it literally crashed the Steam servers so no-one could download it? Would it be appropriate to review it as "Couldn't even play the game; Rubbish. 0%"? Of course it wouldn't.

EA certainly should have handled the release of the game better, but the problems were down to the servers, not the game itself.

Further, the simple fact is that we now live in a time where games can change significantly from their launch form, and that's not an inherently bad thing. It used to be that the launched version of the game was all the game would ever be, and so reviewing the launch version was appropriate, now that's no longer true and so altering review policies to match the changing state of game development is reasonable.

Now, certainly, such a change could be taken too far the other way, where a reviewer ends up never actually reviewing the game as they always end up waiting for the next change before doing the review. As such each reviewer needs to be able to decide for themselves when the appropriate time is to start a review. Some may very well decide to stick to a strict "At release" mandate but I personally would not take such reviewers particularly seriously.

A non existent game does not make for a good analogy in this case. Especially since you seemed to miss the point entirely of this article.

Greg is ignoring the launch issues. He says he is sick of talking about it. This entire article is devoted to alerting people to the essentially broken game underneath the shit mountain that was its launch.

Fundamental components of the GAME, basic mechanics and functions, fall apart under extended play times (note that I'm saying roughly 4-6 hours of play... in older simcities 10-20 hours would be considered a short venture). The online functionality that was, seemingly, the sole direction they were going for with this game, is also counter productive to the experience. There is no synergy between neighbouring towns despite it being the entire point of the online component... if anything the presence of other towns in your region only hampers your progress.

Then there is the endgame, which completely destroys the potential flexibility for an avid sims fan. You are railroaded into a specific industry, exasperated by limited space, with infrastructure that seemingly fails to accomplish basic tasks and important (and expensive) services that often fail to accomplish their only purpose regardless of a players attempt to optimise their cities layouts.

Also, as a poster above mentioned, its quite possible to sabotage an entire region by fiddling with the shitty AI and exploiting its retarded pathfinding. The game fails to create a pleasant experience for groups and seemingly makes trolling other players the only viable means to derive enjoyment from the game. That is not the experience the average gamer wants, not just sim city fans.

The game should be reviewed under the merits of its gameplay. Simcity is broken fundamentally. People desperately want this game to work out and too many allowances are being made for its benefit.

A few sites have already recalled their initial reviews and posted reassessed versions. Greg shouldn't shy away from this grilling, it will only look bad on him in the long run.

Ragsnstitches:
A non existent game does not make for a good analogy in this case. Especially since you seemed to miss the point entirely of this article.

Greg is ignoring the launch issues. He says he is sick of talking about it. This entire article is devoted to alerting people to the essentially broken game underneath the shit mountain that was its launch.

Fundamental components of the GAME, basic mechanics and functions, fall apart under extended play times (note that I'm saying roughly 4-6 hours of play... in older simcities 10-20 hours would be considered a short venture). The online functionality that was, seemingly, the sole direction they were going for with this game, is also counter productive to the experience. There is no synergy between neighbouring towns despite it being the entire point of the online component... if anything the presence of other towns in your region only hampers your progress.

Then there is the endgame, which completely destroys the potential flexibility for an avid sims fan. You are railroaded into a specific industry, exasperated by limited space, with infrastructure that seemingly fails to accomplish basic tasks and important (and expensive) services that often fail to accomplish their only purpose regardless of a players attempt to optimise their cities layouts.

Also, as a poster above mentioned, its quite possible to sabotage an entire region by fiddling with the shitty AI and exploiting its retarded pathfinding. The game fails to create a pleasant experience for groups and seemingly makes trolling other players the only viable means to derive enjoyment from the game. That is not the experience the average gamer wants, not just sim city fans.

The game should be reviewed under the merits of its gameplay. Simcity is broken fundamentally. People desperately want this game to work out and too many allowances are being made for its benefit.

A few sites have already recalled their initial reviews and posted reassessed versions. Greg shouldn't shy away from this grilling, it will only look bad on him in the long run.

I believe you may have misunderstood my post, as I cannot see any relation between what I said and your response to it.
I wasn't commenting on the article, I was commenting on the people who, in the comments, complained about Greg postponing his review because of the server issues. I was disagreeing with those people as I believe postponing the review in cases such as this is perfectly appropriate.

Edit: And, as for an non-existent game being a bad analogy? Okay, here's an edited version that's entirely true:
What if, when Half-Life 2 was released on Steam and it was so popular that it literally crashed the Steam servers so no-one could download it? Would it have been appropriate to review it as "Couldn't even play the game; Rubbish. 0%"? Of course it wouldn't.

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