EA Admits That SimCity Could Have Been Offline

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EA Admits That SimCity Could Have Been Offline

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Following the recent discovery that SimCity can function without an internet connection, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw admits that they could have created an offline mode for the game.

At this point, SimCity is less a game and more an ongoing controversy. We recently reported on the efforts of a modder who managed to turn off the game's online requirements with little trouble, disproving EA's assertion that the game simply doesn't function without a connection to the 'net. In light of this revelation, developer Maxis has admitted that it could have created an offline, singleplayer mode for the title, but couches this admission with the caveat that such a feature would have compromised the firm's vision for SimCity.

In a newly-published entry on the official EA blog, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw attempts to offer blunt honesty on the situation. "... could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes," Bradshaw states in no uncertain terms. "But we rejected that idea because it didn't fit with our vision."

"We did not focus on the 'single city in isolation' that we have delivered in past [SimCity games]. We recognize that there are fans -- people who love the original SimCity -- who want that. But we're also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality."

"The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology," Bradshaw adds.

Describing SimCity as akin to an MMO, Bradshaw also illustrates a number of reasons why key aspects of the game's core functionality rely on the presence of an online connection. "Always-Connected is a big change from [SimCity games] of the past," Bradshaw writes. "It didn't come down as an order from corporate and it isn't a clandestine strategy to control players. It's fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity."

"From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind -- using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world," she adds.

It's not our place to question Maxis' artistic vision, though the issues experienced by many players immediately following SimCity's debut serve as ample evidence that perhaps the lack of an inherent offline mode wasn't the best decision the developer could have made when creating the title. On the other hand, as Bradshaw points out, the Always-Connected scheme does allow the game to keep constant, ever-updated saves on an off-site, cloud-based server. That's undeniably convenient.

In the end, the question is how many of you would have traded this convenience and the game's multiplayer functionality for a title that simply worked, straight out of the box. If internet furor is anything to go by, we'd guess most of you would opt for the latter.

Source: EA

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Vision, my foot. Release a legit single player patch and see if anyone sticks around for your MMO crap.

I wonder, are the folks at the helm are really this detached from reality or are they consciously working towards the destruction of their brand?

"Could I have bought Simcity? Sure, however I rejected it simply because didn't match up to my standards as a game so I decided on Tropico 4 instead"

Hey it works both ways!

If Maxis says that they put it in, then you might want to not put EA in teh title.

Actually yes. You are hearing from people trading and communicating in the limited 4 player Coop sections. The map may say 16 but there are no rails between those cities and unless you download the debugmode mod you won't be able to change the rails/highway layout to connect all 16.

Now back to what you actually hear from them:

"Oh my god why do all my busses keep going to Jim's town! My entire fucking street is congested because those fucking busses keep going to his town. Why can't I plan out bus routes that way they don't form a fucking conga line because of the stupid AI AND they won't be fucking around in towns I don't WANT them to go."

or

"Where did the water go? Fuck what happened to the sewage? Why is it blocking up constantly. Hey Phil what the fuck bro I thought you had me covered. What's that? Your roads are congested and the sewage is blocking up because of the horrible design that allows road congestion to block out sewage? What the fuck is that?! My people are getting sick. Oh fuck your water is contaminated from all the shit blobs exploding in the sewers."

or

"Hey Bob I just built those train stations you wanted. I bombed my res areas and put up industry. You can start building stations now so people can commute to my city. What? You already built stations? You built 4 of em? But the entire highway is still packed with cars! How is that possible hang on I'm switching to regional view. What the hell!? Why are only 300 people commuting to my town?! The train stations are already capped at maximum it says 5000 people use it every day. Where the fuck did they come from and why are none of those fuckers working in my factories. They are all going bankrupt!"

or

"Hey guys when will you send me that money. I'm almost bankrupt. I built the university so you could boost your industry a bit. I don't know when the tech level will finally increase. It has been a few hours already but the servers must be clogged up or something. Fuck dudes! I'm losing 3k an hour. I need that 50k to build some more roads fast. Guys? Come on, you told me you already sent the money. Alright I'll take out an emergency loan... Oh fuck none left..." Game pauses because of bankruptcy, money gets frozen mid transit, it never arrives.

Yes I am 100% sure you are hearing ALLOT from people about the multiplayer. Basically that it is the most horrid badly designed piece of ass imaginable with tons of lag between cities and constant resource and communication problems between the areas.

Just to add to this. If people love the always online. Let THOSE people CHOOSE to stay always online. Let the rest of us just go play our sad uncool and totally not happening singleplayer/private server/LAN games. What is the problem with Choice? Is it because your intention is NOT to offer an OPTION of multiplayer but FORCE people online for DRM reasons and as an easy way to sell them shit?

*ahem*
I believe I speak for 3.5 million disenchanted players when I say this to you, EA: YOUR VISION BLOODY WELL SUCKS.

Nobody but YOU wanted an online city-builder. The core CB audience is NOT the same audience that enjoys Facebook and social media - and fie on you for erroneously conflating the two. I hope you learned your lesson.

My vision of playing games without corporate internet oversight is a vision without Diablo3 or Simcity.

Couldn't they have implemented AI controlled cities to make the region features work in an offline single player mode, or even had LAN support for it? That why Maxis could have done their "vision" of SimCity and the player base would have been albe play a functioning game while not having to be online constantly.

I love how the pictures show more and more sever disasters as this story goes on.

I *like* the presence of online multiplayer in this game. But it needs to be a mode, not the whole game. If you really wanna prove that this isn't a DRM decision handed down by EA, get to work on a proper offline mode.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. Also give us bigger cities, perhaps? That hurts gameplay more than the always-online "feature" does.

I've been having fun with this game, haven't had any real connectivity issue but there are some issues. The AI is damn stupid fires all over the city? guess where your fire engines are? sitting in traffic as if they were normal cars, they don't think oh maybe we could go on the outside lane or anything smart like that, also if there on the wrong side of the road they will go all the way around until they get to the right side...

Last night the game decided to spam disasters at my city, i had something like 8 disasters within an hour. Oh one final thing this region stuff, yeah it works your cities trade/employee workers with each other but the city itself doesn't seem to continue when your not in it, i left one alone while working on another for a few hours came back to the same balance even though my city as earning 8k an hour.

*EDIT* i retract my previous statement about connectivity, i can no longer connect to EU West 6 meaning i can't access my region, and because it's a half arsed cloud system my saves aren't on the other servers, bravo EA bravo.

Slight problem here, if it was part of their "vision" and not a shallow and poorly disguised attempt to control players, why did they repeatedly state that they couldn't make it single player as the game required their servers to do a large portion of the calculations which has now been proved a colossal lie?

Why couldn't I just have an offline region where I control all the cities in it?
You could have your "connected vision" and I could have my offline game.

If I ever get SimCity I won't let someone else in my region.

Earnest Cavalli:
"But we rejected that idea because it didn't fit with our vision."

Translation: "EA wanted this thing to be online only and none of us wanted to lose our jobs."

Anyway, now that the cat's out of the bag maybe EA will relent and allow for the single-player patch. It still won't sell a copy of the game to me but it might make people like me stop saying mean things about Electronic Arts.

For such poor vision you're not much of a Daredevil are you?

Holy crap, Ms. Bradshaw. Disclosure is fine, but damn...TIMING! Timing is everything!

In this case the proper time for disclosure of this detail would have been after you retired.

while i can somewhat accept the fact that it didn't fit into their "vision"

a.k.a. bucket loads of money and turning every copy of the game into drm facebook slaves

they had to have known what kind of backlash this would bring, hell look at diablo III and many other instances of drm shenanigenz, people hate this shit for a reason, it's entirely unnecessary and makes you come across as cartoonishly evil.

PR and marketing department just needs to be tossed to the wolves at EA, across all games these past years i have yet to see anything be said by them that reacted any sort of positive comments from the community, beyond the "we support LGBT" comment(s) they made a while back, hell they'd be 1000000000% times better off by not saying a damn thing about the games they release and just releasing them at random and let the games and reviews do the talking.

not touching this game until a full offline mode is put in, until then EA can fuck right off if they are ever getting a single cent out of me.

Earnest Cavalli:

"We did not focus on the 'single city in isolation' that we have delivered in past [SimCity games]. We recognize that there are fans -- people who love the original SimCity -- who want that. But we're also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality."

Bull-fucking-shit. I'm sorry but my BS meter just jumped off the charts there. They can try and spin it however they want but they were proven liars and their credibility sinks even further.

I can't see how there could be any more controversy after this. I mean there has to be a limit to how much they fumble this situation right? Right?!?

The obvious question that comes to my mind is, why not have both?

I don't see how an offline mode would conflict with their vision of also allowing a connected MMO experience. The only thing an offline mode would conflict with would be the DRM aspect of games as a service.

saintdane05:
If Maxis says that they put it in, then you might want to not put EA in teh title.

Except with all the lies that have been spewed about from both companies, who can really be sure as to who is saying what and why?

I knew that this artistic integrity crap was gonna bite our end in the end.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! EA LOVES using artistic vision to cover up smoking piles of shit do they not? ME3 ending? Why that was artistic vision not we made them rush the game out the door early. Multiplayer crashed from lack of preparation? That was our vision. Micro-transactions ruining a perfectly good game and you forgot to fix items respawning for infinite loot? Artistic Vision.

Your vision must be of a sewage plant in a Fallout wasteland then EA cause nobody else likes it.

You can't cover shit with sparkly things this many times. Why can't they just admit they were wrong and give the people what they were told they would be buying?

Lvl 64 Klutz:

saintdane05:
If Maxis says that they put it in, then you might want to not put EA in teh title.

Except with all the lies that have been spewed about from both companies, who can really be sure as to who is saying what and why?

Maxis is saying this, thus Maxis is saying it.
We don't know and have no way of knowing. For all we know this is an alien attack. I say, in the practice of journalism, you give the proper quote to the proper person. Its like some random democrat saying something stupid and the Republicans going all, "THANKS OBAMA!".
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News Reveal! EA associated company is dishonest! ah HA! Got you EA!

I'll just file this bit of information away in my documents folder titled 'shit I already know'

I'm not big on EA bashing but...

Impressive Maxis.

Most Impressive.

Edited for accuracy...

Bullshit. Yeah, call me an edgy cynic but that has nothing to do with vision. It's all about the "microtransaction future" EA is pushing for. It's about DRM, and it's about Maxis being in complete control over the customer's experience. Funny how these official posts/tweets or whatever are always "EA didn't force us to change Mass Effect, EA didn't force us to put microtransactions in Dead Space 3". I'm not going to trust a post either from EA or under the heavy review of EA to tell the complete truth about what EA did or didn't do. I'm not one of those people who hate everything EA does all of the time because it's them, but this right here is particularly bullshit.

"It's not our place to question Maxis' artistic vision"

No, it is exactly the place of the paying customers and fans to question it's "artistic vision"

"The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology," Bradshaw adds.

>implying that always-online DRM is an improvement to technology.

At least they're telling the truth now, but it's a little too late for their pitiful excuses.

Why not both? You could still have your precious online mode that connects people together to capture the "dynamism of the world we live in," and have an offline mode.

Earnest Cavalli:
It's not our place to question Maxis' artistic vision

I bet hardly anyone here didn't think of the words "artistic integrity" when reading that.

At least this debacle has provided plenty of "speculation for everyone!"

All we need is that modder to produce a full offline experience and the disaster will be complete.

Bravo EA, you managed (somehow) to top ME3 in terms of a PR firestorm.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't SimCity have a single player component? If so, then how would making that offline affect the multiplayer game? You could have had both!

saintdane05:
snip

Just saying it could easily just be her repeating something EA's PR team told her to say.

""... could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes," Bradshaw states in no uncertain terms. "But we rejected that idea because it didn't fit with our vision.""

If that's your vision, you need some new glasses. Putting to one side every single other problem with the Online system (technical issues and game restrictions (and that's a big thing to ignore)) and taking her words at face value (which I don't. I think she's lying through her teeth.), I love how she talks about always online as supporting some kind of bold, new option. When it's really forcing multiplayer into a game genre that is well-known for being more fun in single-player. Cities XL tried this, and it failed. Your "vision" indicates a willingness to simply take control away from players and say, "No. This is the game now. I know you didn't want it to be this way, and I couldn't care less."

""loving the Always-Connected functionality"" - although "lack of functionality" is more accurate, I hate this. I hate the idea that for a game's multiplayer mode to be fun, there must be no single-player. It's illogical. It's basically saying, "We wanted to focus on a new, multiplayer orientated game for SimCity. To that end, there is no single-player mode at all. And yet, we're still charging a preposterous 45 for this, with no discernible reason beyond naked, short-sighted greed."

Imagine this thinking in a different industry - "Green cars are, we think, the future. We really want to support green as the primary car colour. To support this goal, we refuse to sell any other car colours. It's green or nothing."

"We think that pizza is the future of the restaurant business. We really want to support pizza as the primary food served in all restaurants. To support this goal, from now on we will only be serving pizza in all of our restaurants. It's pizza or nothing."

I see no reason, literally none (from a game design perspective), that these supposedly-epic multiplayer features could not have been optional. If you build a good MP, people will play it. That's no justification for removing single-player. Her carefully-worded PR speak uses words like "focus", when the correct term would have been "focused on to the exclusion of all other possibilities."

We talk about "artistic vision" and how fans have no right whatsoever to shape a game series, but reality of the situation is this - Maxis made SimCity an MMO, and was then surprised when fans of a traditionally single-player franchise were annoyed at waiting 10 years for a new SimCity, only to get an MMO.

The response to this, of course is, "Well, if you don't want SimCity the MMO, don't get it. Buy another city-builder." This would be basically fair, if the modern city-builder market wasn't made up of;

Tropico. Fun and pleasing, but a much smaller scale than actual "city" management. The bigger towns never get past a few thousand people maximum.

Anno. I've never played this, but it's apparently a bit wonky, and suffers a bit from the Tropico problem of not really being a "city" management game. Plus, if you don't want a Tropical/Medieval/Futuristic aesthetic? You just want present-day, vaguely realistic-looking cities? Then you have...

Cities XL. The only fair competition to SimCity as a modern, pretty "true" city builder. Rather flat mechanics aside, the game's virtually unplayable. By the time your city is nearing 1 million population, the game has serious, crippling performance issues. It doesn't matter what your rig is at all, damn near EVERYONE gets Cities XL FPS drop. Serious FPS drop.

And that's it for the past 4 years. From the perspective of an eager SimCity fan, this idea of SimCity the MMO is a slap to the face. It tells them that they don't have any kind of say in their favoured genre, and no games will be made to cater towards them any more. While it is perhaps a legitimate debate to argue to what degree they have a right to demand a certain type of game from a company, it's very easy to see where this bad blood comes from. The only solution to this (another example of the AAA gaming industry refusing to plug gaps in the market) is Kickstarter, but I don't believe it can raise the kind of funds needed to make the game the fans wanted.

People just want a nice, slick, modern city-building/management game. That's all. But no, it has to be "social", it has to be an "Always-Connected experience" (again, I must stress that "sometimes connected" is more accurate. My offline games run 24/7, no problem. The only games I can't access are those dependent on servers.)

In EA's Brave New World, the consumer has no options. No choices. It's their way or nothing. Fuck the lot of 'em.

So Maxis' vision for SimCity was taking the bloated corpse of a decades old franchise, simplifying it, screwing up the launch then being caught deceiving/dissapointing all of their customers? Mission accomplished!

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