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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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  • EA at it again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cod3r_ (2031620) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:52AM (#43093083)
    Seems like every new EA release has similar issues. With hordes of bad amazon reviews because of it.
    • 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.

      • 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:EA at it again (Score:5, Informative)

          by SirSlud (67381) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:34PM (#43093767) Homepage

          I'm not defending EA out of hand, but Sim City 5 is not a single player game. It *could have been or arguably should be* (and there is a sandbox mode that is arguably this single player game people are talking about, that has cheats etc enabled) but it's been very overtly designed to be primarily played as one region between a group of 3 people.

          Also, I havn't experienced any of the problems people have been talking about.

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

            by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:40PM (#43093881) Homepage Journal

            There is no need for everything to live on the server in order to have the game be multiplayer, no matter what anyone tells you. That might be the only way the simcity team could get it to work, though. Simcity 4 is a bugfest.

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

              by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:55PM (#43094155)

              There is no need for everything to live on the server in order to have the game be multiplayer, no matter what anyone tells you. That might be the only way the simcity team could get it to work, though.

              It's really DRM. Online gaming is really the only way to have a pretty robust DRM scheme that can't be cracked.

              Games saved on server? Means they can leave out code ot save games locally. It doesn't matter if you crack the game - unless someone writes local game save code, pirates can't save their games (which is a pretty big restriction).

              Likewise, the server can require everyone have unique issued serial numbers. Hell, all you need to do is prevent two people from using the same serial number at the same time (you can transfer the serial number for used game sales, if any company REALLY cared for that - though buyers would have to worry about the original owner depriving them of the game by continuing to play it)..

              Even better is such a DRM scheme requires zero intervention on the user's computer - you don't need any spyware installed or anything. The only real danger is someone trying to reverse engineer the server a la Bnetd. And we know how that turned out.

              • 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]

                • by steelfood (895457)

                  I see D3 is not yet supported.

                  That's also part of the online-only allure. By moving more functional game code online, they restrict players to using their online services only, rather than a 3rd party.

              • 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.

              • by mjwx (966435)

                It's really DRM. Online gaming is really the only way to have a pretty robust DRM scheme that can't be cracked.

                Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

                /wipes tear from eye

                Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

                And I'm done.

                Even better is such a DRM scheme requires zero intervention on the user's computer

                I'll spare you another round of sarcastic laughing. EA requires Origin, Ubisoft requires Uplay. All of these things are exactly what you descr

          • by sdnoob (917382)

            there is absolutely NO NEED for simcity 5 to have been purposefully designed to require publisher operated servers to run other than to implement a harsh DRM scheme.

            we played sc2000 on a 33mhz cyrix slc (essentially a 386sx that spoke i486).. sc3000 on a 133mhz pentium (non mmx version and original win95 no fat32).. and sc4 on a 550mhz k6-2 (2000, later xp).. the slowest bit of any of those games on any of those systems? the fucking cd-check drm for sc3000 and sc4.

            things have sped up just a tad since then..

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          but... but... but... 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.

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

        by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:09PM (#43093345)

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

        • by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:21PM (#43093567)

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

          "We have detected a sharp increase in the number of lengthy tech support calls following the game's release. For our next game, as a pre-emptive measure, we have included the 'Help me!' button, which will instantly connect you to one of our SimCity helpfriends, who will aid you with whatever you need! To reduce call waiting time, your phone will be dialed when you log into the game, and the call will remain active until you sign out."

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

            by Applekid (993327) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:26PM (#43093661)

            The next big trend: "premium" support. Free access to a "community" support forum, where other users -- for free -- may or may not help. Then for bigger problems you can call a 1-900 number, or a 1-800 number to pay up with a credit card per incident. Maybe the Premium box set versions of their games includes one free incident resolution (expires 3 months from purchase, no guarantee they will actually fix the issue).

            • by sarysa (1089739)
              Makes me think of those 900 numbers in the late 80's and early 90's dishing out video game tips, which went more or less extinct after the proliferation of the internet.
              • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:46PM (#43093989)

                Makes me think of those 900 numbers in the late 80's and early 90's dishing out video game tips, which went more or less extinct after the proliferation of the internet.

                To defeat the cyberdemon, shoot it until it dies.

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

        by hobarrera (2008506) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:10PM (#43093369) Homepage

        The real problem is stupid people who continue to give them ridiculous amounts of money.
        If people stopped doing this, EA would have no money and stop making this "products".

      • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:13PM (#43093413) Journal

        Awww, come on now.

        Ctrl-alt-shift God_mode
        Giveme 100000000000

        (Web window pops open)
        "Please click to confirm $9.95 micro-purchase."

        It's very well thought out.

      • Not true (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oGMo (379) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:33PM (#43093739)

        The limit of what you can do easily is not give them money. There are plenty more things you could be doing, depending on how much you really care:

        1. Encourage others to not give them money.
        2. Start a campaign to spread awareness about how their (and any other similar) games harm everyone.
        3. Start a campaign to boycott any games similar to this. A nice fancy website listing these games would be a start.
        4. Bring this up as a consumer rights issue, start a lobby.

        If you get enough people wound up about something, you can get the backing and momentum to really have an effect. Unfortunately few people actually care enough to do more than complain on slashdot as they're downloading the thing they claim to hate so much. There is much that could be done, but few people willing to do it.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          There is much that could be done, but few people willing to do it.

          My experience is that people don't even want to hear about how the game companies are boning them. They complain that it impedes their enjoyment of the game. People tune you out when you talk about this stuff. The best way to go about it IMO is to wait until someone is dissatisfied and then pounce. Don't belabor the fucking point though, just make your point succinctly and then let them make up their own mind. Most people just tune out anyone saying stuff they don't want to hear, so you have to wait until t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tgd (2822)

        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.

        Why? How does it impact you, if you don't buy it?

      • 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.

        • by Applekid (993327)

          "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.

          There is no obligation in the US to provide a warranty. If a company does not offer one, they do not have to comply with Magnuson–Moss. Plus, every EULA pretty much states they provide no warranty. You might argue that the EULA is not legally enforceable as a contract, but even then it's still a declaration that they don't provide a warranty.

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

          by Zalbik (308903) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @02:56PM (#43095759)

          WTF are you talking about? The Magnusson-Moss anti-tying provisions are in regards to voiding a warranty for the use of third-party components (i.e. Honda refusing to warranty your car if you use non-Honda parts).

          Requiring a game to have online access has nothing to do with Magnusson-Moss.

          EA has done nothing illegal here.

          And why the heck would I waste the courts time (and public money) over a video game? It seems a more sensible, mature response to just not buy the video game in the first place. If I was particularly upset about the practice, I'd exercise my free-speech rights and attempt to convince the market that this is a bad idea.

          Suing them is just childish...

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

        by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:36PM (#43094737) 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.

        There's no limit to how much money you can take away from them if you buy the product and can convince the jury that you were irreparably harmed by it. :-D

        Alternatively, there's no limit to how much damage you can do if you encourage people to post negative reviews on Amazon. Most sane people will think twice before buying a product whose reviews look like this:

        1.5 out of 5 stars
        5 star: (17)
        4 star: (8)
        3 star: (11)
        2 star: (15)
        1 star: (191)

        EA has RUINED it with the persistent DRM that prevents you from saving your game to your computer. ”
        KiloEchoNovember | 92 reviewers made a similar statement

        Unless EA starts astroturfing to bring the ratings up, I suspect this game is pretty much doomed to be a total bust, at least as far as sales on Amazon are concerned. You don't just "get over" that strong a negative reaction to your product.

        And if enough folks posted such consistently harsh reviews at every game review site, every store site, etc., then companies like EA would have exactly two choices at their disposal: correct their craniorectal inversion or go out of business. That's the nice thing about online shopping: by putting lots of information about the product at your fingertips, it forces companies to compete on quality instead of just competing on price.

  • by Servercide (2820403) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:56AM (#43093149)
    I miss the era simple gaming. Where myself and my buddies would have a LAN party. COD4 was a godsend when I was deployed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The era is still here, just it isn't hosted by any large Corp like EA. It is the Indie developer who you need to be looking at for good gaming.

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:18PM (#43093519)
      Many of the good old games are still for sale (cheap) [gog.com], without all the modern BS connection requirements, broken first releases, DRM, etc.
    • I miss the era simple gaming. Where myself and my buddies would have a LAN party. COD4 was a godsend when I was deployed.

      I was about to argue with you but see that you are from a different age. I was thinking of 10 Base T networks with Doom that were anything but simple to configure due to hardware that wouldn't communicate or, more often, hardware that wouldn't communicate *at the same time* ("Is everyone in this time?", "arses, it just dropped me again - can you restart the server? In fact, forget it, I'll just watch and drink beer").

      There is an argument to say that waiting 20 mins for a login is still quicker than cart

  • Wrong lesson. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:56AM (#43093151) Homepage Journal

    From the Ars Technica story:

    Hopefully EA will learn from the experience and buff up its servers ahead of the game's official European launch on Friday.

    As nice as that would be, it's the wrong lesson. The lesson EA needs to learn here is the same one that every other video game publisher has to learn: don't build inherently single-player games with always-on requirements! There was no reason for this in SimCity.

    Maybe the next SimCity will learn that lesson from this one. Maybe EA will release a patch that offers the option of offline play. We can hope ... but as it stands now, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the end of the SimCity series -- Maxis' version of Master of Orion III, if you will.

    • Re:Wrong lesson. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:11PM (#43093383)

      I've watched the demo videos, the new Sim city is not a single-player game. It may be (incorrectly) sold as a single-player game, and it follows many years of single-player games with the same name, but this revision is not single-player.

      The root functionality in this version is that people divvy up chunks of a region and build. The different microcities interact, and together you build something big and cool. The drawback is, that is not what Sim City has ever been, and I think the developers are overestimating how much support that model will have.

      • by firex726 (1188453)

        > The root functionality in this version is that people divvy up chunks of a region and build.

        Exactly, the game is made with multiplayer in mind.
        You can play it without any other players, but the mechanics then become annoying and are obtuse.

      • Re:Wrong lesson. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:30PM (#43093711) Homepage

        Not true.

        The multiplayer part only happens if you actively invite someone into your region. If you don't take that step, it's an entirely single player affair, with you controlling all of the areas inside the region yourself. As a result, there's quite a large number of people playing it as a strictly single player game, and the always on nonsense is nothing but a dependency that breaks the game with no benefit.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Incorrect. In fact you can create an "Open" Region - where other players can choose to enter or not. The original poster was closer to the reality of the game. Projects are undertaken by cities which directly benefit other cities in the Region and allow the collective group of cities in the region to achieve a larger goal.

          Its quite an interesting model of play. I was skeptical at first, but after 12-14 hours of play (almost non-stop Im embarrassed to say) it works quite well, and provides interesting va

          • by Tridus (79566)

            And then one of those players stops playing and their corner of the area stops developing.

            Or they blow up the power plant that everyone was using before leaving, and now every city is having a bad day.

            Yay?

            It's fine for people who want to use that model, but there is no reason they had to break the single player with this always online stuff to make it work.

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:24PM (#43093611)

      We can hope ... but as it stands now, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the end of the SimCity series -- Maxis' version of Master of Orion III, if you will.

      Hey! That's unfair!

      In the case of Master of Orion 3 an always-on requirement that prevented you from playing the game at all would have been a great feature.

      • by pellik (193063)
        How can you hate MOO3 so much? It's one of the all time top 10 games released in February 2003.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:56AM (#43093155)

    Didn't someone just claim that EA were not scumbags?

    Because this is again stuff a scumbag does.

    In another X years, you will not even be able to save progress with this game. Why would anyone buy into that?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:18PM (#43093531)

      X Years? try now. Players are complaining that saved games won't load back.

      The game has been deliberately broken in the name of DRM, without any thought of what the outcome would be. With no commitment from EA to remove this built-in self-destruct, anyone would be a fool to buy this game. In 18 months when the "water pumps that work" DLC and the "slightly larger map, so you can actually build a city" DLC fails to meet sales targets, EA will simply pull the plug and all those people who paid a premium price will find, what they had was a bug-ridden FaceBook game.

      Blaming "high demand" for these problems is an outright lie. The servers were taking three hours for people to download and unlock the game and 30 minutes to connect! This was when only pre-order clients and press who'd stayed up until midnight were on-line - hardly the maximum player-base you'd expect, certainly nowhere near "high demand".
      And why would they be needed anyway for a SINGLE PLAYER game? Because EA broke it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What a ridiculous question... We know that there are at least 3 obvious reasons for this:

    1) To prevent you selling the game. I'm guessing that there is some unique key for the copy you bought tied to your online profile.
    2) To make you have to upgrade when they shut off the servers for SimCity 5 when they launch SimCity 6. EA are known for this. Anyone tried play FIFA 2011 or The Sims 2 online recently...?
    3) To try and stop piracy. Instead of just having to activate online, which could be bypassed by som

  • I'm sure there are many SimCity fans out there who would love to play the latest iteration. Unfortunately, EA has proven time and again that they're willing to sacrifice players' freedom in the name of profit. The online requirement is arbitrary DRM. Their backend is not thought out at all. This isn't WoW, there is no reason to tied to a particular server. Players are dealing with all the downsides of online play (long queues to log in, savegame problems, disconnects), and none of the benefits (finding frie
  • ...to the consumer.

    No one minds WoW (etc.) requiring an online connection because that connection serves a purpose and delivers part of your experience. Without it you lose the basis of the game. Even while farming you have some social interaction and the chance to go off and raid or help out a guildy.

    But what does this bring? As I understand it there is a social component to the new simcity but is it fundamental to the game? No. Can you build a city on your own? Yep. And on top of all that you don't

    • What's *wrong* with the people running this show?

      Everything, obviously. Perhaps you should ask, instead, what is right...

  • Commerce, wont you think of the children.

    We'll be having micro transactions for everything!

    *This post is deliberately meant to be stupid and lulzy.

  • fooled (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:07PM (#43093319)
    My brother talked me in to pre-ordering the game, it's been awhile since I had played any of the sim city games and I enjoyed the 1hr beta using his account.

    But wow what a clusterfuck yesterday's launch was. I was woken up around 2am by our infant and used that as an opportunity to d/l and install the game. Apparently it was a very wise decision. Once I got home from work around 5pm ET trying to get connect and stay connected was impossible. Three times I got a city started only to get booted after about 15 minutes and the game did not save any of my progress. After making and eating dinner my brother and I tried to start our own region. That took around 30 minutes before it finally worked and again we were kicked after about 20-25 minutes. I gave up at that point since the baby was fussy and my wife needed a break.

    The N. American servers were filling up almost immediately after being brought online. It's almost as if EA thought only a third of their pre-orders would try playing on day 1. But a failed launch for EA is par for the course. Fool me once, shame on you... fool me again, shame on me.

    The game itself was enjoyable during the beta... too bad the publisher is one of the worst companies on the planet.
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:08PM (#43093327)

    EA hasn't been a game maker for years. They're just another Hasbro now. Turning out cheap copycat toy after cheap copycat toy. The only difference is who's branding they put on the game. They want everyone to pay more and more regardless of how much they paid for the game up front and that is much more difficult offline. With an always on, always tied to your account, always able to verify, always able to control the save game so you can't possibly just hex edit yourself the extra ???? you need.

    The reason EA games suck is not because they are more greedy than useful, the reason EA games suck is because they are hundreds of times more greedy than useful. Ubisoft is hardly any better, those they at least learned how retarded always on was and stopped.

    Remember, always connected means you in no way own your game. When they turn off the servers, your game goes away and you don't get your money back, its just done. No one will play SimCity5 again after that point.

    Won't effect me.

    When I first heard about SC5 after seeing the fucktarded SimCities Socities, I thought KICK ASS! A new SimCity ... and then put it in the back of my mind until it was actually released so I don't nag myself about it until then ... then yesterday I read a review on arstechnica.com ... Always on, small play area, economy is entirely unpredictable and irrational in its turns from bust to boom to bust with no logical reason why, all sorts of further issues in the full article. All of the issues seemed to stem from the fact that force you to play and depend on other people.

    NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO FUCKING PLAY GAMES WITH INTERNET MORONS OKAY?

    I certainly don't. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes I will play with friends, in certain games, when my mood fits it. But any game that I'm going to sit down and dedicate hours of effort and planning to, I'm only going to play with about 3 select friends who will NEVER have the time to be online at the same time as me (kids tend to make schedules hard on you). The rest of the Internet is pretty fucking annoying to deal with in those games, I certainly don't want my game to have to deal with how that jack ass sells his commodities and prices which screw my plan or spews his environmental mess at me.

    I ALREADY HAVE REAL LIFE, I DON'T WANT IT IN A GAME.

    In a game I want to be in control. I don't want to be at some little 'Anonymous' asshole's whim.

  • ...You only get one chance to make them.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:09PM (#43093353)

    Simcity 5 dumbed down the road and zoneing system way to much.

    I want citys in cities in motion 2

  • by Godai (104143) * on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:09PM (#43093361)

    Look, this is from someone who last night made his first city about 8 times and lost it all 8 times because of the server nonsense. I was pretty annoyed.

    But if we're going to lambaste someone for doing the always-online thing, maybe we shouldn't just jump to conclusions, maybe you should, learn something about i it first? Or maybe you just want to be hip & cool like everyone else and be against always-online without using any actual critical thinking. If so, bravo.

    One of the cornerstone features of the game this time around is the Region play aspect. This was introduced in Sim City 4, but they've taken it to a much more interesting place in this iteration. Basically, there are about a dozen regions you can choose to play on; first, you choose one. Each region has X 'city slots'. This doesn't necessarily mean # of players, but it obviously puts a cap on X players in that region. Nothing stops you from building all X cities yourself over time. The cities have a lot of interconnection, hooked up by highway, or rail, or whatever. You can specialize one city as a college town, make another the bedroom community, etc. And, of course, you can invite people into your game (if its private, otherwise they just find it) to fill out the other cities instead -- and cooperate, fight, whatever.

    That doesn't work without a server authority, so that needs always-online to work. Otherwise you'd need one person to host, and never stop. So this is logical. Plus, you can still play it by yourself if you want.

    The part you can argue for the always-online component is whether they should have let you play in a local region offline. That's a reasonable question. But they didn't just 'tack always-online' on as a form of DRM (though I'm sure they were happy to have it) -- its pretty clearly a foundation of the way they expect the majority of people to play. And I think they're right -- the *only* reason I'm playing the game is so I can play with my brother. If it was a purely single player game, I'd have passed.

    Now if could just get that server mess sorted out, I think this would be a fun game. From what I've seen so far, the UI is easily the best SimCity has ever had. It was pure pleasure laying out zones & drawing roads, etc. And I like their module system for expanding the utilities & other buildings.

    It's not fair to say this is "how not to design a single player game". That's insipid. They've taken a single player game and made an interesting multi-player game, that if you really want to you can play by yourself. That's not the same thing.

    • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:20PM (#43093557)

      That doesn't work without a server authority, so that needs always-online to work.

      Thats funny because my friends, myself, and many others had that same sort of feature in SimCity 4 without a central server. And ... guess what ... EA even had a way to do it through their servers without any such always on requirement.

      Thinking they NEED to be connected for this just shows how you don't understand how this stuff works and as such are being taken advantage of.

    • 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.

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:36PM (#43093791)

      Is your city called 'Stockholm' by any chance?

    • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:40PM (#43093869) Homepage

      Man, the amount of wrong on this thread is getting annoying.

      It's actually pretty easy to solve this. Quite a lot of people aren't playing multiplayer. They're not inviting other people to their regions. They are not getting anything from the always online requirement except a broken game (as your first line mentions, before you go ahead and dismiss that clusterfuck as apparently not a problem).

      In fact, other games have had the same thing without always online servers. The easiest implmentation is to say that if you're creating a region you want to use in multiplayer, then it goes to the servers. Or when you actually invite someone, it goes to the servers. This is not that complicated and it doesn't require single player maps to be on servers for no fucking reason.

      The fact is that the servers are there for DRM and microtransactions.

  • 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 Khyber (864651)

      So in other words, we're opening mini servers, which many ISPs forbid on non-business-class connections.

  • 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.

  • This is considered news? Anyone who paid to rent this part of EA's temporary entertainment service must have known it was going to be a train wreck for a week or so, then be littered with similar problems from time to time, until the service is withdrawn.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:17PM (#43093487)

    Not-knowing-what-regressions-are-FAIL:

    Origin didn't allow purchasers to pre-load SimCity before its official launch at 12:01am EST this morning, apparently because the development team was "working to polish the game until the very last second"

    Hint: you don't "work to polish the game until the last second", you work to polish and then delay launch because you can't be sure of the quality until you've retested and had a solid set of builds passing your regression testing and product testing. Who can possibly think it is a good idea to still be changing software code seconds before the launch?

    Server-capacity-FAIL:

    Later, even after the problems were officially "resolved," EA warned that "due to server load it may take up to three hours for your game to unlock.

    Invasive-DRM-where-you-make-legitimate-users-suffer-disproportionally-for-your-FAILures:

    Some online reports indicate that even those with the disc-based retail version of the game were delayed in their installation by Origin server problems.

    Got-it-wrong-before-and-still-managed-to-FAIL:

    The issues bring to mind the infamous "Error 37" that prevented many Diablo III players from logging into the game in the days after its launch last year, though it's unclear how comparatively widespread SimCity's server issues are

    It isn't surprising that EA treats their customers like shit, but it is still infuriating that they can get away with this.

  • 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 ArchieBunker (132337) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:28PM (#43093679) Homepage

    EA treats you gamers like shit all the time and you keep coming back game after game like an addict needing a fix. All this crying and bitching and I guarantee every single complainer here will be first in line for the next EA launch.

  • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:37PM (#43093821)

    Note: I don't own the game, and likely won't.

    That said, EA was pretty clear in that Sim City 5 is a multiplayer game that has the option of a private game with only 1 person, not a single player game with a multiplayer option.

    Calling Sim City 5 single-player is like calling Tribes (letting my age slip) a single-player game because you could setup a private map with bots.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      No one participating in this thread is unaware of this, because that is what we are complaining about. It's like you're saying "The ship IS sinking" when the argument is over the fact that there's not enough life rafts for the situation in which the ship is sinking.

  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:40PM (#43093883) Homepage Journal

    Every dumb ass that bought that EA shit stain deserved every second of their queue times. Lets see: Gutted map sizes with Regions 1/4 the size of Sim City 4 (+1 step backwards) plus actual cities smaller then Sim City 1 (+4 steps backwards) along with gutted gameplay (no underground utility design, no subways... +3 steps backwards) along with always online requirement and DRM (+10 steps backwards), pre-order nonsense (imagine paying up front at a restaurant for you food.... +2 steps backwards) in exchange for Curved Roads (-1 step backwards... wait, nm Sim City 4 had mods that added those +0 then) and no modding support (+10 steps backwards).

    It's almost like EA was jealous that Monte Cristo made a shittier Sim City game then Societies (Cities XL) and wanted to 1-up Monte Cristo in the fucking horrible Sim Socialist genre so they made this "Sim City" which is more a Cities XL 2 then anything else. It's just missing that magical "No, the state has decreed that only Executives can purchase these homes. Be gone peasant and free market subscriber!"

  • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:59PM (#43094211) Journal

    Does this possibly indicate future microtransactions in game?

    Yes.

    I haven't seen this mentioned yet in the discussion above (maybe I missed it somewhere), but EA's CFO announced [slashdot.org] that all of its games would include microtransactions from now on.

    Requiring an online tether would be a logical way to add or take away features in the future through microtransactions. Requiring your save file to be in the cloud would also prevent people from hacking around it. The launch problems won't stop this – EA will chalk it up to a server glitch, fix it and move on – because they see too much money sitting on the table. They watched the rise of Zynga, who made money on the most senseless games through addictive microtransactions, and said "we want a piece of that pie."

    They simply failed to notice when my response to their CFO's announcement was: "20-year customer of EA to stop buying all future games." Not that I expected them to notice. It would take a lot more people than we have on Slashdot to wake them up, because for every person here who understands that microtransactions are a method for making you pay repeatedly for something you already bought, there are 10,000 average Joes out there who think microtransactions make the game better.

  • by alienzed (732782) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:43PM (#43094819) Homepage
    buys the rights to all your old favorite games implements them poorly, making them virtually unplayable.
  • by m93 (684512) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @02:02PM (#43095095)
    Four years ago I got a copy of the original Bioshock for my PC. I had just moved into a new place and didn't have internet yet, so I decided to install this single-player game for entertainment until I had connectivity. Lo and behold I couldn't install the game, as it required a phone-home. I haven't purchased a computer game since. I've discovered hobby board gaming, which works great in the absence of power and internet connections. The new way of doing things in the world of video games can go eat it's own asshole.

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