Sandbox Soon for SimCity?


I might finally be tempted into buying the latest version of my all-time favorite franchise:

EA has finally promised to reverse its original decision and enable an offline mode. The tenth major update for the game, Update 10, will bring offline mode with full local loading and saving of games.

As a consequence, this move will make the game a lot friendlier to modders. EA has been asking modders what they’d like to be able to do with the game to customize it and extend it, but the online aspect has imposed a number of constraints. Mods can’t fundamentally change the way the game works, because they could disrupt online interactions. With an offline mode, those restrictions should be largely lifted.

Unfortunately, other issues with the game—in particular, the tiny maps—are unlikely to be addressed any time soon, with EA previously claiming in October that even after “months of investigation” the performance of larger cities means that the “vast majority” of players wouldn’t be able to use them.


Then again, no.

EA originally tried to fudge the fundamental problems with the game in two ways. The first was to make really tiny cities. The second was to make the tiny sims not really sims. As originally envisioned, each tiny person in the new SimCity would have his own job and his own home and his own car. But that didn’t work for whatever reason (I can think of a few extra gigahertz I might need) so EA made each little sim into an ant, which would go to the nearest available job each morning, and then to the first available house each evening. This kludge resulted in some very strange traffic patterns — especially for city services like fire and police — which EA had to add an extra abstraction layer over to de-kludge.

The fact that they still can’t get the cities to scale up to actual city size tells me the very heart of this game is fouled beyond repair.


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