EA Removes Forum Posts for SimCity Offline Mod

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Nocturnus:
The mod in question did not operate the game in full offline mode... at least if we're still talking about the news story from yesterday. It put the game into Debug Mode, which allows full editing of all elements (including region specific space) and no internet connection to perform those particular things to be done, because the region is a locally saved file.

However, all the calculations that were going on involving that region, in the video, were broken. IE: Communication of Region based pollution was completely and totally off kilter.

Could they possibly fix that with a mod? Sure. Could EA Possibly move those calculations to the local client? Yeah... at what hit to performance? I have no idea.

But was that particular mod doing that? From the video I saw, no.

Though i'm sure people will still take the first opportunity to flame me for this...

It's currently in it infancy so most functions are screwed at the moment, however the modder is confident that he'll fix those issues as it turns out that the 'servers' EA insisted are required for gameplay do't actually do anything other than store basic information about each city.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/16/simcity-modder-tells-us-offline-regional-play-easily-done/

I expect a full offline mode that works for entire regions to happen some time in the next few weeks.

Desert Punk:

LetalisK:
Is EA close to just disappearing? I know it's gotten bad PR after bad PR, I believe its stock is going to shit, but I have a hard time imagining a company that big dying.

THQ was a really big name in the industry, one bad year and a really shitty product took them down. You would be surprised how fast a big name can collapse in upon itsself.

And this last few days EAs stock prices have droped over 2% alone thanks to their horrid PR

18.88-0.46‎ (-2.38%‎)
image

Will they collapse soon? Probably not. But if they keep making stupid decisions it will likely happen eventually.

Another important thing to realise is that it is getting to the end of the financial year. That is almost certainly why the game was released practically untested, with some fairly severe bugs, and with (for example) traffic calculations more basic than those in SC4 (which were already so terrible that one really needs the NAM mod for traffic to work). They were desperate to get it out in time - an April release wouldn't boast that lovely yearly revenue figure for investors. I would not be at all surprised if server side calculations were the original intent, only for them to go client side due to the lack of time.

It has, however, completely bit them in the bottom. Their year end is going to be mired in PR disasters and concerns about escalating costs (to the extent that I wouldn't be surprised if SC5 ends up a loss maker in a year). Will EA collapse? Probably not. However, it could cause one hell of a wobble.

Erik Reynolds:
Hacks are not mods

Oh ho?

Well Mr. Reynolds, perhaps you would like to offer a functional definition of what a "hack" and a "mod" is and how exactly they differ?

And please, make FUNCTIONAL definitions, not "Hacks are the ones we don't like"

Ed130:

Nocturnus:
The mod in question did not operate the game in full offline mode... at least if we're still talking about the news story from yesterday. It put the game into Debug Mode, which allows full editing of all elements (including region specific space) and no internet connection to perform those particular things to be done, because the region is a locally saved file.

However, all the calculations that were going on involving that region, in the video, were broken. IE: Communication of Region based pollution was completely and totally off kilter.

Could they possibly fix that with a mod? Sure. Could EA Possibly move those calculations to the local client? Yeah... at what hit to performance? I have no idea.

But was that particular mod doing that? From the video I saw, no.

Though i'm sure people will still take the first opportunity to flame me for this...

It's currently in it infancy so most functions are screwed at the moment, however the modder is confident that he'll fix those issues as it turns out that the 'servers' EA insisted are required for gameplay do't actually do anything other than store basic information about each city.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/16/simcity-modder-tells-us-offline-regional-play-easily-done/

I expect a full offline mode that works for entire regions to happen some time in the next few weeks.

I got a real kick out of the end of the article, where EA is now locking any thread with the word MOD in the title automatically, without even looking at the threads.

The Artificially Prolonged:

Mister Six:
God, this whole debacle is quality entertainment, and here I am almost out of popcorn.

Agreed. I'm having more fun reading about SimCity than if I had bought the game :P

Same here, as I'd just build cities to later destroy anyway.
But this....they've built a HUGE city, and I get to watch the crap all over it again and again, with no effort on my part whatsoever.

Davroth:
So.... companies are just allowed to lie into our collective faces and get caught red handed and face little to no legal consequences? Cool. Cool cool cool.

image

I'm so glad I resisted buying SimCity.

I'm with brown Jamie Lee Curtis on this one. :)

Yeh, don't have much else to say here, just had to post that.

This is turning into quite a saga - somebody ought to pick up the film rights. I'm sure Peter Jackson could wrangle at least a trilogy out of it....

Monsterfurby:
Yeah, EA hate has been going a bit far lately.

The key problem here is basically a missing shared understanding of what a game actually is. EA sees it as a service which is provided continually until they sunset the servers, some people see it as a product to be bought once and then used at one's leisure.

At some point, the industry needs to find an answer to this, because this is really going to hurt as long as publishers and at least some customers speak a different language.

If EA's goal is to provide a "service," then they've done a shitty job of it so far. Huge swathes of their paying customers were unable to access the product they paid for days and days after they bought it, they still are unable to activate features in the game said customers have paid for, it loses them the business of other customers for circumstances they do not always have control of (such as a shitty Internet connection), and all of these problems are caused by a feature that was both unnecessary and highly unpopular with the customer base at large. They should be ashamed, both as a game publisher and a business. And they want to consider themselves a provider of "service" on top of those things? They have to be joking. I've seen better service in skeezy gas stations at 2 in the morning.

There is really no upside to this model of games, as far as making money is concerned. It costs way more resources on their part, so much more can go wrong, and they stop making money as soon as the servers shut down. You can go on Steam right now and buy Sim City 4, a game that came out 10 years ago now. And people still do. To this day Maxis/EA are making money off that game, and they will continue to do so as long as they don't unlist it from the store.

I don't mind the fact that they wanted to add a multiplayer aspect to SimCity. It's a cool idea. However, their execution has been a train wreck, the way they've handled it and the criticism it's brought them has been arrogant and borderline belligerent, and they could have been spared so much grief if they'd just offered an offline singleplayer mode (which we now know is possible). If any other company launched a product that was totally unusable when it came out of the box, they'd be scorned by every media outlet and they'd be giving their customers refunds and freebies left and right to stay in their good graces, and if the problem persisted for a while they would start a dialog with their customers to resolve the issue. EA has barely issued an apology, and still refuses to admit that any decision they have made was wrong or that they deserve the ire they are getting from their customers.

So if they aren't a maker of products anymore, and the services claim to provide in their place don't work, then what has EA become exactly?

bringer of illumination:
Oh ho?

Well Mr. Reynolds, perhaps you would like to offer a functional definition of what a "hack" and a "mod" is and how exactly they differ?

And please, make FUNCTIONAL definitions, not "Hacks are the ones we don't like"

For one, we absolutely know this is a mod because the person is just modifying client-side software. That's a textbook mod. They aren't going out and changing the way the servers treat them or how other people see them. Modding is generally the changing of your software whereas hacking involves external activity. If this was a modification that impacted online play or something like that then it could be considered a hack, but solo play? Nah.

As for actual definitions on the subject:

http://www.thetechgame.com/Archives/p=834584.html

"Modding/Mod - Modding is a slang expression that is derived from the verb "modify". Modding refers to the act of modifying a piece of hardware or software or anything else for that matter, to perform a function not originally conceived or intended by the designer. The term modding is often used within the computer game community, particularly in regard to creating new or altered content and sharing that via the web.

Hacking/Hack - In common usage, a hacker is a person who breaks into computers, usually by gaining access to administrative controls. The subculture that has evolved around hackers is often referred to as the computer underground. Proponents claim to be motivated by artistic and political ends, and are often unconcerned about the use of illegal means to achieve them."

I personally find the hacking definition to be the sloppiest of the two, which is why I gave my own requirement for an external element being necessary. I would posit that both mods and hacks are mods. Hacks are just a more specific subset. Any change/editing on your machine that doesn't even cross the network (let alone the internet) will almost certainly remain firmly in the modding category.

EA is free to remove from their forums anything that they like. that is their forum. But TOS does not hold ANY legal value.

Davroth:

You literally just have to remove a line of code that kicks you out of the game after 20 mins of lost internet connection. That is all. In what world is that "significant engineering"?

And how about the ability to save a game? or do you think the game needs none?

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