Lucy Bradshaw’s “straight answers” on SimCity being online only

15 Mar 2013  by   Paul Younger
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Maxis Lucy Bradshaw

Maxis’ Lucy Bradshaw is back today with a full statement regarding the online only SimCity requirements which has frustrated the huge SimCity fanbase.

In the past week there has been mixed comments from Maxis, including comments from Lucy herself that gave players some hope that an offline mode would be available at some point.

Maxis will be wanting to put this offline mode debate to bed and today Lucy Bradshaw is trying to do just that explaining the online only requirement once again. This is lenghty but as this is such a hot topic with players at the moment, here it is in full.

I hate to disturb you when you’re playing SimCity, but I’d like to offer some straight answers on the topic: Always-Connected and why SimCity is not an offline experience.

Always-Connected is a big change from SimCities of the past.  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.

We put a ton of effort into making our simulation and graphics engines more detailed than ever and to give players lively and responsive cities. We also made innovative use of servers to move aspects of the simulation into the cloud to support region play and social features. Here’s just a few:

  • We keep the simulation state of the region up to date for all players.  Even when playing solo, this keeps the interactions between cities up to date in a shared view of the world.
  • Players who want to reach the peak of each specialization can count on surrounding cities to provide services or resources, even workers.  As other players build, your city can draw on their resources.
  • Our Great Works rely on contributions from multiple cities in a region.  Connected services keep each player’s contributions updated and the progression on Great Works moving ahead.
  • All of our social world features – world challenges, world events, world leaderboards and world achievements – use our servers to update the status of all cities.
  • Our servers handle gifts between players.
  • We’ve created a dynamic supply and demand model for trading by keeping a Global Market updated with changing demands on key resources.
  • We update each city’s visual representation as well.  If you visit another player’s city, you’ll see the most up to date visual status.
  • We even check to make sure that all the cities saved are legit, so that the region play, leaderboards, challenges and achievements rewards and status have integrity.

Cloud-based saves and easy access from any computer are another advantage of our connected features.  You can pop from work to home, play the game and have your cities available to you anywhere.

Almost all of our players play with connected cities. But some chose to play alone – running the cities themselves.   But whether they play solo or multiplayer, they are drawn to the connected city experience. And Always-Connected provides a platform for future social features that will play out over regions and servers.

The game we launched is only the beginning for us – it’s not final and it never will be.  In many ways, we built an MMO.

So, could we have built a subset offline mode?  Yes.  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 SimCities.  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.

So I’ll finish with another HUGE thanks to everyone who stuck with us through this launch.  Hundreds of thousands are building and sharing cities online now.  And what you’re creating just blows us away.  SimCity is a special game, with a very special community of players, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

Having sunk over 100 hours into the game this week, I tend to agree that the online experience is better than playing solo. To be fair to Maxis, they had stated that the game was designed from the ground up with online being their key focus so there was no backtracking on their statements prior to release. Where confusion and frustration comes in is when we read comments from Maxis saying they may look at an offline mode at some point.

I think we can agree that a “fully featured” offline mode will not be coming from Maxis, but perhaps modders may have more luck with a version that doesn’t include any of the online region functionality. We shall see.

SimCity fans will need to accept the way the game is designed and go along for the ride. The other option is to continue ranting but it doesn’t sound like anything is going to change.

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