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3:05 PM on 03.12.2013

SimCity - Unplugged

The need for a constant online connection to SimCity is a lie. In it's current form, you need a connection in order for your city to survive (power, water, etc) by connecting to other nearby cities, but that is from design, not by necessity. Even then, it doesn't really even work. There were other ways to go, better ways of doing this. They could of easily created a singleplayer option.

The "fact" that you need to connect to EA's server to "handle" the calculation / processing load, is a bunch of bull. There's even an anonymous developer at Maxis that states this. For those that have the game, here's a fun little thing you can do. Disconnect from the internet, and watch the results. Is your city going into chaos? Is it burning to the ground? Is the traffic getting out of control? ...OK, well, all of that can happen, but it's certainly not due to the disconnect. For as much as they like to tout just how marvelous the AI is, for as much as they like to say that's the reason why you need to be connected to their "powerful" servers, it certainly leaves a lot to be desired. The AI is a complete mess, and so is their goal for control.

Source: Sunfighter

The Sims don't really go where they're suppose to go, they just kind of stumble their way to their destination; nor do they really do what they were designed to do. They don't drive the quickest / fastest route, they drive the closest route. They don't fight the nearest fire, they tend to all go to the same fire, or blindly drive around. The police doesn't patrol every road in a realistic pattern, they usually go down the same roads, blindly. You get the picture. The AI in this game is horrible, it's simplistic, and does not require the help of any server. It's the reason for most of the traffic problems, despite having every service in place to combat it. It's the reason why so many houses burn down, or that people get mugged or killed, that garbage get's out of control. Every Sim blindly drives / walks out into the world, and that bogs down everything in the city. There is so much that is broken in this game.

Source: UKAzzer

The connection is only needed to connect to the market place, and to communicate with other small cities. Outside of that, it's not needed at all. Why should we have to connect to some bogged down EA server, just to play in our tiny sandboxes? Why couldn't we have a true SimCity game that features real singleplayer? One that, instead of having to build and play multiple little cities to try and imitate a full city, could have the whole region be one major city. Can you image that? Image what you could built with that kind of power? The fun, the vast creativity at your finger tips! No need to worry about only being able to have one specialty, maybe two. Forget that noise, have it all! Big police stations, fire stations, hospitals, etc. Your city, not someone else's interpretation. Having the freedom to actually control and build your city, to be able to breathe; like the rest of the SimCity games.

It's not that I'm against the multiplayer in this game, it's because this is all the game is. The fact that you can play with others is great, and it's great that EA / Maxis wants that feature in SimCity. But the loss that comes with it, is too great. They could of had multiplayer, while also including true singleplayer in the process. Singleplayer consisting of the whole region as one major city for offline play. It would have saved EA massive trouble, money from servers, and ultimately would have provided them with more sales. For them to say otherwise, is a bunch of bs. For all you have to do, is point to evidence. It's a lie, a cover, for their DRM.

I was sadly weak enough to cave in and buy SimCity, fully knowing that this would all happen. It was too long since the last SimCity (10 years) and I really wanted to dive into this game, despite all the red flags. What a shallow pool it turned out to be. Yes, I know it was my fault for caving in and supporting this horrible DRM.   read

3:33 PM on 03.02.2013

A Slow Rise of Online Only

I've noticed a disturbing trend that's starting to take root, one that will probably grow into being the norm for the gaming industry. At the very least, certain types of games will probably change into this. Turning games which could of been a single player game, into a 'connected' single player game. Meaning that you have to be connected, in order to play the game by yourself. Online only single player, we've all noticed it.

Multiplayer isn't enough anymore, the whole game has to be online. Multiplayer is often included to keep the game in the system, to keep people buying it and buying content for it, and now singleplayer will be connected into that. So far the most notable games to include online only, is Diablo 3 and SimCity, but were does it go from here? How many developers will venture into this unknown territory, and what will be the end result of it all? Who truly wins from this, the players, or the developers?

What was once just idea's on paper, from various developers, is now being put into action. It's still in it's infancy, making small baby steps along the way. In the case of Maxis and SimCity, they state that it's due to the computing power required to run and connect multiple cities at once. It sounds reasonable, but I'm not sure if I completely buy into that notion. I'm no developer, but something seems off about it. Why not include a simpler version, then? One that can truly be played alone. I hope that one day we'll discover if this statement is in fact, true. Hackers may one day find a way to break the game open and see if it does hold true.

I can't help but feel that the real purpose of the connectivity isn't for users communicating and having fun, that's just icing on the cake for them, but for combating piracy. Not that I'm for piracy, but there is a big issue that isn't being addressed by any publisher or developer, and will it ever be? Once the servers are shutoff and gone, the game goes with it. And with that, what do you have? What plan, if any, do they have?

You bought the game at launch, decided to play it quite a few years later, you'll then find a game that no longer functions. A product that can no longer be played, and therefore, no longer exists. No server communication, no game. What is left, is a bunch of crippled files on your PC. Sure, if the developer / publisher decides to be altruistic, to be 'generous' enough, to develop a patch to include offline play, then that's great, but will they actually do it? Will they actually take the money, and time, that is necessary to make the game fully functional again? Or will they shovel their wares? "Buy our next game in the series! Pre-order now!" It remains to be seen, and I'm unsure of how it will all go down.

What happens next, when the servers go dark? In the case of EA and singleplayer connected games, they cannot apply the same tactic they do with their old multiplayer game servers; or will they..? Will they poorly fix a work around, do nothing at all, or will they do what is right? Looks like we'll all find out, in time. I feel that it will be a mixed bag, game to game, depending on which developer / publisher has control over it.

Boy, this shall be fun!! How about them video games?!   read

4:06 PM on 02.02.2013

EA and SimCity's DRM

Oh SimCity, it's almost here! March 5th (US) March 8th (Europe), and I'm on the fence about it. On one hand, I love the game. I love look and how they streamlined the game, while still keeping it deep and complex. The game looks great, and more importantly, it's really fun to play. The multiplayer connection gives the game more depth and longevity. On the other, it has a major issue attached to it. It has always-online DRM. There's an easy way to fix the DRM complaints that many gamers have, while keeping the core game intact. Thereby satisfying almost everyone in the process.

Simple Solution: Split the game into two modes.

In various interviews and gameplay videos, the developers talk about why players have to be connected online to play SimCity. While it's true, and obvious, that in order to play with friends and strangers, you have to be online, you shouldn't have to be online to play by yourself. That's where it goes side ways for me. It's one thing to keep everything on the servers for online play, but it's another to force players who want to play offline, into being online to play offline. That's just crazy, and lazy; the solution is right in their face.

Separate the two. Online Mode, Off-Line Mode

Keeping everything that is online, in the servers, that's fine. It keeps people from hacking, cheating, or modifying the online portion of the game. But in turn, simply create an off-line mode that doesn't communicate with the online section at all. It allows those who spent 60$ to do whatever they want with their game. To save it wherever and whenever they want, to modify and play it however they please, and to play it whenever they want. It doesn't ruin the game for anyone, it doesn't keep potential customers and players out, and it doesn't ruin the core (online) portion of the game. Doing so will definitely create more sales, and may even save EA / Maxis money on their server setup and maintenance.

You can even go crazy!

By implementing a mode that allows people to create their own servers. Which allows any one with the right setup, to do so and play on their own terms. Much like Sins of a Solar Empire. Allowing them to save the progress as a group, and continue it at a later date. Or just have the option to allow players to set up their own full 24/7 server.

The last part might be hard to do, but the developers, and EA, need to at least include the off-line mode. I'm really leaning towards buying it, but the restrictive control is saddening and really disappointing. I'll probably end up buying it. What are your thoughts on the matter? Let me know.   read

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