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Cloud DRM Games

SimCity 5: How Not To Design a Single Player Game 569

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the profit-above-all dept.
It seems that the requirement to be online and save games on a remote server even in single player mode is leading to a less than ideal launch for SimCity 5. choke writes "Players attempting to play EA/Maxis' new SimCity game are finding that their save games are tied to a particular server, are facing problems with disconnects, inability to track friends or search for specific coop games online and failures to load game, and wait times of 20 minutes per login attempt. The question is, why the online restriction? Does this possibly indicate future micro-transactions in game?"
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SimCity 5: How Not To Design a Single Player Game

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  • Re:EA at it again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:55AM (#43093139) Journal

    There's been a good reason that I haven't bought any EA games for a long time.

    These issues have been A SECOND good reason for a somewhat less long time.

  • Not an EA fan but (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:58AM (#43093183)

    I think SC5 is getting really bad rep for wrong reasons - no one seems to want to remember the answer Maxis gave to the online requirement: your PC is not doing the backend work for the city simulation - its cloud based now. SimCity 3000 had an incredible amount of math behind it, SimCity 5 is the same and there is so much more of it that it has been offloaded into the cloud.

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:02PM (#43093231) Homepage Journal

    What really annoys me is the absolute limit of what I can do to these bastards is not give them money. There needs to be a way to take money away from companies that deliver exceptionally bad products.

  • by firex726 (1188453) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [627xerif]> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:03PM (#43093251)

    List of servers EA took down in '11, notice there are a few '10 games on there.
    http://flawedgaming.com/2011/07/12/ea-shutting-down-15-game-servers-in-august-and-october-2011/ [flawedgaming.com]

  • by Brownstar (139242) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:14PM (#43093429)

    According to EA, hte reason for the always online requirement, is because the game truly is a client server model. Each client, runs 1 region at a time. it then sends data about what has occurred in that region to then be processed by the EA server's and then pushed to the other regions in that game. This occurs every three minutes. Welcome to cloud computing.

    http://www.simcity.com/en_US/blog/article/The-Benefits-of-Live-Service [simcity.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:15PM (#43093445)

    One of the other reasons for the always-on requirement is probably the fact that some computations are offloaded to EA-servers.

    GlassBox is the engine that drives the entire game -- the buildings, the economics, trading, and also the overall simulation that can track data for up to 100,000 individual Sims inside each city. There is a massive amount of computing that goes into all of this, and GlassBox works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers (the cloud) and some on the player's local computer.

    source [simcity.com]

    But also forcing it for save-games is a bit silly.

  • Re:Blame the pirates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trdrstv (986999) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:16PM (#43093469)

    The always on connection is nothing more than DRM in disguise. If the pirates hadn't been so keen to rip every game they could get their grubby little hands on this sort of nonsense probably wouldn't have happened.

    Yes I know, the truth hurts. But if you're a company thats spent 10s if not 100s of millions on developing a game you're no longer going to watch that investment go down the toilet via a DVD bit copier. They figure that since most gamers now have always on broadband the inconvenience is minimal. Except when they fuck up like this of course.

    Piracy isn't the issue here, EA is making it this way so when they shut down the servers in 3-ish years you can't play the game and they can move you onto SimCity6. They already killed the "used game market" for PC games and now they are moving to the "software as a service" model so they can remove games you bought to entice you with a new one. I for one won't be renting games from them, I'll go back to playing SimCity 2000 or SimCity 4 instead.

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CodeHxr (2471822) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:16PM (#43093479)

    There's been a good reason that I haven't bought any EA games for a long time.

    These issues have been A SECOND good reason for a somewhat less long time.

    I personally see no need for online requirements for a single player experience. EA, Blizzard, or any other developer/publisher/whatever doesn't matter - the point is I won't buy games that require an online presence for a single player experience.

  • Re:Not an EA fan but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trashcan Romeo (2675341) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:17PM (#43093495)
    The "We must use the cloud to provide you with all the mathification going on!" claim is also weakened by the oppressively narrow limits on city size.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:23PM (#43093599)

    There is a better game idea on kick starter

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584821767/civitas-plan-develop-and-manage-the-city-of-your-d [kickstarter.com]

    EA has gone to far this this I was thinking about getting simcity 5 but the beta was a real trun off for me. I want to get this and cites in motion 2

  • by Junta (36770) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:26PM (#43093647)

    But they didn't just 'tack always-online' on as a form of DRM

    I think this point is debatable. EA has shown time and time again they seem to only greenlight games that have an always-on aspect to them. I think if SimCity 5 *had* facilitated an offline experience, EA would have never approved it. Games get bonus points for *meaningful* use of online connectivity when applied, but at the end of the day DRM leaning motivations are almost certainly at the core of the design.

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:36PM (#43093789)

    You could always call tech support and see how much of their time you can waste.

    Sony already showed how these companies deal with that: Regardless of the fact that they do not solve customer issues, they now demand payment to even answer the phone. Yes, they literally profit from delivering defective products.

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:48PM (#43094045) Homepage Journal

    "What really annoys me is the absolute limit of what I can do to these bastards is not give them money."

    Son, this is the United States. Sue the fuck out of them like I did.

    I won pretty easily, go find yourself a competent lawyer.

    And go read the Anti-tying provisions of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act while you're in that lawyer's office.

    How many EA products can you find that could reasonably match that violation of anti-tying provisions? (I'll give you a hint, any single-player game that REQUIRES an online connection.)

    Now get to work.

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:57PM (#43094175)

    You mean it turned out great?

    Because Bnetd became: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PvPGN [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cito (1725214) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:08PM (#43094325) Homepage

    Ubisoft tries this with their futuristic simcity clone Anno 2070

    Anno 2070 required always on and connect to remote server to save

    but it was cracked, the reloaded crack replaced the dll and tricks the game into thinking it's connected to the remote server when it's connected to itself and it drops the save file on your pc.

    the default login is username: RELOADED pass: reloaded

    I've been playing Anno 2070 pirated with the server side DRM ripped out of it, lets you play continous build mode as well as the campaign mode. And you can play coop games on the LAN just can't play online.

    which is fine since I dont play simcity style games for online multiplayer anyhow.

    The group that cracked Ubisoft's ANNO 2070 server side saves already have a beta of the crack for SimCity 5, they are claiming to have it full functional in about a week.

    and I plan on downloading it from http://kat.ph/ [kat.ph] or http://thepiratebay.se/ [thepiratebay.se] when it releases

    BTW Anno 2070 is more fun than any simcity game out anyhow. And they required always online and connected to server to save your game, but it was cracked and save games redirected to local pc so it can be done.

  • Re:Not an EA fan but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:10PM (#43094341)

    Hey, I *wish* my city would be corrupted!

    Once I felt I finally had the hang of things after a few hours, I wanted to wipe my city and start over. I can find no way of doing this. I don't really think there is one. It doesn't matter, though, because in the meantime I've grown bored of it and chalked this down as an expensive disappointment.

  • Re:Not true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:36PM (#43094739)

    The main thing is to make an example out of EA and let other companies know why EA is doing poorly.

    Simply not buying, as you suggest, could be any number of reasons. The marketing department might attribute it to not enough ads, not your type of game, copies sold out of your local store, etc. A campaign actively lets them know why they're not making sales and that it's not because of other reasons. It sounds obsessive, but it makes it clear why EA is losing sales.

    With most of the AAA game publishers, if one of them gets away with bad practice, they all pick up the same practice. Not doing anything about EA is encouraging Ubisoft, Square-Enix, and others to do the same thing. If you want on example, Square-Enix used to be vehemently against DLC, even when the original FF 13 came out. Now, they sell garbage like "FF: All the Bravest" which is nothing but DLC and microtransactions.

    You might not get it. Fine, that's up to you what you want to do with your time. But when every single company does it, what choice will you have? Not give any of them your money? Quit gaming alltogether?

  • Re:EA at it again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:41PM (#43094811) Homepage Journal

    Like Thermonuclear Warfare, the only smart move in the DRM game, is not to play.

  • Agile strikes again (Score:1, Interesting)

    by angrysoftwaretester (2858673) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @02:41PM (#43095581)
    EA embraced Agile Development a while back. Coincidence? Look at all these big companies that have gotten suckered into drinking the Agile koolaid. Bugs, bugs, and more bugs. Angry customers galore. Negative reviews. Nobody wants to look deeper within organizations to find out what's going on. Some of you may want to blame management. Well, management embraced Agile. Maybe it's time we took a critical eye towards Agile.

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