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Maxis Insider Says Taking SimCity Offline Not Too Difficult

By - Source: RPS | B 28 comments
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According to a Maxis insider, taking SimCity offline isn't quite as difficult as Maxis and EA have made it out to be.

For the past week, Maxis and EA have been dealing with the PR and technical fiasco that was SimCity's launch. Since the game requires an online connection to play, players have had to deal with server issues. Many accused EA of forcing SimCity to be always-online for DRM purposes. However, both the developer and publisher have gone on record to say that the always-online was necessary for in-game calculations that had to be performed by the servers.oio

According to an unnamed Maxis employee that spoke to Rock Paper Shotgun, this is apparently a lie. Allegedly, the servers are not performing any of the claimed calculations, and that taking SimCity offline would be a relatively easy feat.

“The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," said the inside source. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless.”

Both Kotaku and Mojang's Notch claim to have been able to play the game offline. According to Kotaku's Stephen Totilo, he was able to turn off his Internet connection while playing and continue playing the game for about twenty minutes before he was notified that his game was no longer connected to the Internet. When he reconnected to the Internet, his game was able to successfully synchronize to the servers without a hitch.

The Maxis source explained that while the servers aren't handling any computations, they are doing something. They're processing any data between players and checking to make sure that players aren't cheating: “Because of the way Glassbox was designed, simulation data had to go through a different pathway. The game would regularly pass updates to the server, and then the server would stick those messages in a huge queue along with the messages from everyone else playing. The server pulls messages off the queue, farms them out to other servers to be processed and then those servers send you a package of updates back. The amount of time it could take for you to get a server update responding to something you’ve just done in the game could be as long as a few minutes. This is why they disabled Cheetah mode, by the way, to reduce by half the number of updates coming into the queue.”

RPS's inside source's final verdict on the difficulty of taking SimCity offline? "It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff," he stated.

 

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  • 24 Hide
    rantoc , March 14, 2013 10:06 AM
    Ofc not, all it does currently is to handle the save files for singleplayer... ty EA for your pooooooor choice in drm, hope it bite the company in the ass - HARD!
  • 18 Hide
    MaXimus421 , March 14, 2013 10:05 AM
    Must be Obvious Day at Camp Stupid. *rolls eyes*
  • 18 Hide
    mauller07 , March 14, 2013 10:13 AM
    Toms is behind, the entire simulation runs offline and a modder has activated debug mode to show that what ea is sprouting is just FUD.

    http://uk.gamespot.com/news/modders-find-way-to-play-simcity-offline-6405296
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    MaXimus421 , March 14, 2013 10:05 AM
    Must be Obvious Day at Camp Stupid. *rolls eyes*
  • 24 Hide
    rantoc , March 14, 2013 10:06 AM
    Ofc not, all it does currently is to handle the save files for singleplayer... ty EA for your pooooooor choice in drm, hope it bite the company in the ass - HARD!
  • 18 Hide
    mauller07 , March 14, 2013 10:13 AM
    Toms is behind, the entire simulation runs offline and a modder has activated debug mode to show that what ea is sprouting is just FUD.

    http://uk.gamespot.com/news/modders-find-way-to-play-simcity-offline-6405296
  • 18 Hide
    d_kuhn , March 14, 2013 10:15 AM
    Their servers can't handle game saving and 'social' crap... how exactly are they going to perform realtime game computation. Sounds like another of those "we can't raise the borderlands 2 level cap without breaking the game" throwaway statements.
  • 12 Hide
    Chairman Ray , March 14, 2013 10:19 AM
    If their servers are only saving games and doing minor message routing, how in the heck did they get overflooded on the first day?
  • 17 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , March 14, 2013 10:23 AM
    Just cave in to our demands already EA. I want to play this game but I won't be buying it until I can play it offline.
  • 8 Hide
    dextermat , March 14, 2013 10:50 AM
    The great thing about the internet and forum is this: companies cannot BS as much as they want to and have to comply if they want to make profit !!!!

    Way to go normal people !
  • 1 Hide
    RADIO_ACTIVE , March 14, 2013 10:56 AM
    This video shows someone in debug mode :)  enjoy! Shows that changes can be made fairly easy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bmce9oIxJag
  • -7 Hide
    janetonly42 , March 14, 2013 11:26 AM
    On another site I read EA said they had to keep constant online connection running for single players so their servers could do complex calculations. This lying hack at EA has a job waiting for him in the Obama regime. Last time I checked Sim City is played on a computer and that is what computers are really good at.
  • 10 Hide
    pxl9190 , March 14, 2013 11:48 AM
    anyone with a BS degree in computer science, any sort of engineering, or even a high school kid who know how to program, could tell this "always on connnection needed for single player" is total BS.

    These people amounts to at least 1/3 of the simcity's target audience. For EA to claim otherwise is an insult to the technical intelligence of the gaming community.
  • -1 Hide
    wildkitten , March 14, 2013 11:52 AM
    Chairman RayIf their servers are only saving games and doing minor message routing, how in the heck did they get overflooded on the first day?

    Because it's not what the server are doing but rather the sheer number of people accessing it. Regardless of what the server has to do for the game, it's still switching from user to user.

    Now one thing about it, this employee took a major risk. Odds are he/she would get fired for saying something so contradictory that their bosses are saying UNLESS this was meant to float the idea that a single player offline patch may be in the works. I'm not holding my breath, but I could easily see the Maxis people, especially Will Wright, applying pressure of such a thing.
  • 6 Hide
    bigdragon , March 14, 2013 12:14 PM
    What I find really interesting is that a single city could easily span an entire region now that we've seen what debug mode is capable of doing. THAT"S the game I want to play! Huge maps, huge cities, full access to highway and rail networks, and so on. That's the game they should have made. It looks like SimCity 5 could have easily been a 3D version of SimCity 3000 Unlimited in which they could have simply sold expansion content on top of. Instead they took the DRM to the extreme. Tons of people today are reporting that they are getting errors about not owning content found in regions. What a mess. EA demonstrates again how to screw things up.
  • 7 Hide
    ibjeepr , March 14, 2013 12:29 PM
    I could have told you that. Whlie playing, it is constantly telling me that the connection to the server has been lost, but it never stops me from playing. Obviously the calculations are being done by my PC, not the server.
  • 7 Hide
    icepick314 , March 14, 2013 12:30 PM
    there is an article and video that a modder changed timeout on the game from 20 minutes to even longer so he was able to play it offline indefinitely...

    http://www.geek.com/articles/games/modder-proves-simcity-can-run-offline-indefinitely-20130314/

    yeah EA and Maxis added online for DRM ONLY and no significant calculations are done on the server like they said...
  • 1 Hide
    hate machine , March 14, 2013 1:29 PM
    mauller07Toms is behind, the entire simulation runs offline and a modder has activated debug mode to show that what ea is sprouting is just FUD.http://uk.gamespot.com/news/modder [...] ne-6405296


    EA is spouting Fear Uncertainty and Doom?
  • 2 Hide
    hate machine , March 14, 2013 1:32 PM
    Chairman RayIf their servers are only saving games and doing minor message routing, how in the heck did they get overflooded on the first day?


    They are cheap and spent the least amount of money possible to get their farm going. Even then they waited quite a while to upscale due to demand which just shows you they aren't willing to put anymore money in besides the cost of bandwidth. I would even be willing to wager they didn't scale up server operations much but instead relied on less people hammering it and disgruntled people giving up and claimed that the lower usage was "increased capacity".
  • -4 Hide
    uuicked , March 14, 2013 1:57 PM
    Simply put, it is to control video game piracy. Anyone who doesn't see that is blind
  • 1 Hide
    shafe88 , March 14, 2013 2:41 PM
    ibjeeprI could have told you that. Whlie playing, it is constantly telling me that the connection to the server has been lost, but it never stops me from playing. Obviously the calculations are being done by my PC, not the server.
    See right their is some proof you can play without being connected to the server/internet. The only problem is they can't, the problem is they don't want to.
  • 2 Hide
    noblerabbit , March 14, 2013 2:52 PM
    Sin City
  • 2 Hide
    shafe88 , March 14, 2013 2:58 PM
    uuickedSimply put, it is to control video game piracy. Anyone who doesn't see that is blind
    It's not that people don't see it, people just see it as a stupid way of controlling piracy.
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