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DRM Networking Games

Hacker Skips SimCity Full-Time Network Requirement 303

Posted by timothy
from the expected-lies-and-got-some dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Geek.com: "Ever since SimCity launched, there has been a suspicion that the need for the game to always be connected to a server was mainly a form of DRM, not for social game features and multiplayer. Then a Maxis developer came forward to confirm the game doesn't actually need a server to function, suggesting the information coming out of EA wasn't the whole truth. Now EA and Maxis have some explaining to do as a modder has managed to get the game running offline indefinitely." The writer names a few small ways in which the game is actually improved by being offline, too.
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Hacker Skips SimCity Full-Time Network Requirement

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  • by AdeBaumann (126557) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:36AM (#43170825) Homepage

    Not a huge surprise... Though I wonder how they're going to wriggle their way out of that one. I'm guessing they'll just try to ignore it and hope it goes away.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:43AM (#43170917)

      Not a huge surprise... Though I wonder how they're going to wriggle their way out of that one. I'm guessing they'll just try to ignore it and hope it goes away.

      It will just go away. If people were really upset by this type of thing they would have fought it long ago. Anyone who didn't see it coming is blind, stupid, or both. I wouldn't be surprised if they are monitoring what else is going on on your computer (but of course not full on spying, that would be illegal...) and selling as much as they can to marketing companies. Personally, I no longer buy games, I refuse to use steam or any other software, I will not buy a console and I bitterly await the time when I cannot find something to play games like AoE, BG and BGII, and the like. The last game I bought was Witcher 2, specifically because they removed the DRM after installation (or at least marketed it as such), but that game was terrible. The interface was clearly meant for a freaking console, not a computer.

      AlphaA

      • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:50AM (#43170985) Homepage Journal

        It will just go away. If people were really upset by this type of thing they would have fought it long ago.

        Bullshit. Ubisoft got smacked upside the head. EA's been smacked upside the head -- HARD -- in the past with limited activations and other shenanigans. If customer outcry is loud enough, EA will take the hint this time, too.

        • by Looker_Device (2857489) * on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:05AM (#43171161)

          I keep hearing a lot about "consumer outcry" about EA games. And yet every time a new one comes out, those same consumers seemed to be lined up around the block to buy them.

          • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:19AM (#43171343) Homepage Journal

            And yet every time a new one comes out, those same consumers seemed to be lined up around the block to buy them.

            This launch was so bad Amazon actually stopped selling it. It was so bad that EA's offered a free game to anyone who made the regrettable choice of purchasing SimCity (though they still won't offer refunds to anyone who ordered the game through Origin). It was so bad that Polygon's reviewer downgraded their initial review from a 9.5 to a 4.

            So trust me when I say people are going to remember this the next time someone takes a traditionally offline game and tries to add an always-online requirement -- for any reason.

            • by Time_Ngler (564671) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:32AM (#43171525)

              The reason for all that was because too many people bought it and it crashed their servers! All EA has to do is turn on the hype machine, and people will come flocking regardless of whatever happened in the past.

              • Gamers are not idiots. They accept network connectivity for multiplayer games, knowing the downside that goes with that. But I've seen enough posts on other forums to suggest that they are getting right pissed that a single player game should require always-on connectivity, and may in the future make that requirement a factor in the purchase of future single player games.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Anonymous Coward

                  Gamers are not idiots.

                  Perhaps not, but many of them are addicts, and behave in the same self-destructive fashion that weak-willed addicts always exhibit.

                  I've known people who wrecked their lives with computer games, and I've known people to wreck their lives with drugs, and the effect on their families, friends and health was pretty much the same. [steveswink.com]

                  If you're not an addict, it's a pleasant diversion, and if you're an addict, no amount of DRM will stop you from lining up at the EA store.

                  • by Cederic (9623) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:00PM (#43173817) Journal

                    If you're not an addict, it's a pleasant diversion, and if you're an addict, no amount of DRM will stop you from lining up at the EA store.

                    Nonsense. If you're an addict you're going to take the easiest possible route to feed your addiction. On the PC that's going to be MMOs or Steam.

                    EA store? Far too much hassle. I'm too addicted to sit around watching a game tell me I can't play.

                    • I have to admit, as a gaming addict with over 500 steam games, I just never bothered to even try Origin.

                      ME3? Sim City? These games do not exist to me. I can get my fill of gaming with steam alone.

              • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:21PM (#43173057)

                The reason for all that was because too many people bought it and it crashed their servers!

                And another way to say that would be that the reason it happened was because the game was required to connect to a server in the first place in order to play. If it didn't need to connect, then there wouldn't be overloaded servers, would there?

              • by shentino (1139071)

                That's another thing.

                Since they're not crunching all those numbers in the cloud like they said they were...how the hell are their servers overloaded?!

                I mean seriously, how much power does it take to log in, log out, handle saves, and bounce numbers between cities?

            • by Lithdren (605362) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:33AM (#43171541)

              ...Polygon's reviewer downgraded their initial review from a 9.5 to a 4.

              Wow...if that doesn't tell you something about how the game was reviewed, nothing will.

              • by virgnarus (1949790) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:44AM (#43171675)

                That's because it was most likely reviewed by a copy given to publishers and other reviewers prior to retail. There was no stress to bear on their cloud when it was just a few reviewers testing the product, so everything went smooth. But when it came time for the floodgates to open, the cons of their cloud-centered setup got exposed. This is one those situations where when it works, it's all fine and dandy, but when it doesn't, it crashes and burns for just about everyone.

                • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:12PM (#43172077)

                  Or... Reviews are bought and paid for wholesale.

                • by Lithdren (605362) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:10PM (#43172943)

                  My point is more about how fake a review score has to be, to even do that.

                  I get people are upset because the servers wont even let them play the game, and I fully support people who are angry at EA over it, no question.

                  But how can you cut a games review in half, after the fact? Either they're riding the wave of hate and trying to keep it off themselves; which means you shouldn't trust their reviews because they're not being honest about what they are reviewing; or they're honestly saying the game is half as good as it was before the release; which means you shoulnd't trust their reviews because not not being honest about what they are reviewing.

                  An honest review should have come out saying the game was (for example) a 7/10, because of the possible issues the always-online DRM could cause, even if its a fantastic game. Still good, but be warned, there could be issues. It just highlights how unreal they're being with game reviews. a 9.5 out of 10 means its almost perfect, which is clearly absurd on the face of it. The scores are getting paid for, either over or under the table (or both) and clearly shouldn't be trusted.

                  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3.justconnected@net> on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:03PM (#43174721)

                    Not necessarily. It could mean that the game was great, but the problem of overloaded servers basically ruins the game. Just how much it ruins the game wouldn't necessarily be apparent from a pre-release copy, and the fact that it happened once means it could happen again - putting a serious dent in the scores. No dishonesty required - a great game that has a huge major flaw that ruins the game is a perfectly valid reason to downgrade its score, and this probably qualified. You're probably just annoyed they didn't get all up-in-arms about the online requirement while everything was working fine. I have a problem with that too, but most people don't and wouldn't hold it against a game if the game worked fine

                    Now of course some reviews are paid for, and some reviews are dishonest. But it's not a necessary condition for this to happen.

                    For the record, I don't have this game, nor will I ever buy it despite being somewhat interested in it. So I can't make any claim about how good the game is when it's working.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by PhxBlue (562201)

                Reviewers conducted their initial reviews on private EA servers. That should have been a factor made clear in every review.

                Going forward, I think reviewers -- and game "journalists" in general -- are going to have to be more skeptical when dealing with publishers' PR flacks. Hopefully this will teach them to do that, because apparently Blizzard's "Error 37" fsck-up didn't. Then again, the "Error 37" was a pretty minor glitch compared to this.

                • by steelfood (895457) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:18PM (#43172153)

                  The thing about persistent-online game (including MMO) reviews is that you can't really review the most important aspect of the game until after the game ships and people begin playing. Any review of such games is really just a preview, and mostly a graphics, game mechanics one at that.

                  Reviews need to stop calling such previews "reviews" and call them by what they are. Once the game is launched, they then should go back to do an actual review of the game. That's how things should be done anyway. Getting a preview mislabeled as a "review" out of the door faster than everybody else seems to trump the disservice they are doing to their readership.

                  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:35PM (#43173321) Homepage Journal

                    Reviews need to stop calling such previews "reviews" and call them by what they are. Once the game is launched, they then should go back to do an actual review of the game. That's how things should be done anyway. Getting a preview mislabeled as a "review" out of the door faster than everybody else seems to trump the disservice they are doing to their readership.

                    In full agreement with you here. Reviewers are still basing their methods on a single-player model. That needs to change. Polygon did OK by updating their review, but I think Metacritic still has SimCity somewhere in the 60s ... which is about 60 points more than EA and Maxis deserve.

                • by Xest (935314) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:49PM (#43172623)

                  Reviews have always been protection rackets. Companies pay for them with money or freebies and in turn the reviewers give it a good review.

                  This is why just every once in a while great games get oddly bad reviews - someone in the marketing department forgot to pay a certain reviewer their protection money.

                  There are very very few review sites (if any?) now that review honestly and independently. The best metric you can get I guess are post-release user scores, assuming they're never manipulated.

                  For what it's worth this isn't new, I remember all the way back in the 80s there was some scandal about print magazines here in the UK doing the exact same thing back then.

                  • by Cederic (9623)

                    There are very very few review sites (if any?) now that review honestly and independently.

                    I can't promise that they're completely independent, but the reviews at RockPaperShotgun are not the usual fawning affair.

                    They're not even traditional reviews. No scores. No awards (except the 25 games of Christmas). Just discussion on upcoming games, and the journalist's thoughts on the released game that he/she just played.

                    The journalists also participate in the discussions on each article, addressing any challenges to the article, giving a little more info, etc.

                    If you want non-PC game reviews, I've no id

              • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:38PM (#43173389) Homepage

                ...Polygon's reviewer downgraded their initial review from a 9.5 to a 4.

                Wow...if that doesn't tell you something about how the game was reviewed, nothing will.

                I don't own SC since I do not buy EA, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to blame the the reviewers or the beta testers.

                The beta only allowed one hour of play at a time. I'm sure the reviewers had a pretty limited amount of time to look at the features trying to touch a little bit on each part. EA designed the well enough that it could pass a few hours of uncritical inspection, but once the curtain was pulled back and people were had time to play it long enough the SC engine has revealed itself as a sham. I'm going to assume that most reviewers are not given a whole lot of time to review the game on purpose. This just goes to prove my next premise. Any game review created before release will be creatively framed by the manufacture to limit the amount of actual review that can occur.

                tl;dr Don't believe the hype and never preorder. Let your peers test the water for sharks.

            • by asylumx (881307)
              The game is still available for sale on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B007VTVRFA [amzn.com]

              I'm not sure why people keep saying they took it down. Maybe they did, but it's there and available now and the ratings on it are still horrible.
              • by wbo (1172247) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:32PM (#43172351)

                The game is still available for sale on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B007VTVRFA [amzn.com]

                I'm not sure why people keep saying they took it down. Maybe they did, but it's there and available now and the ratings on it are still horrible.

                Amazon did take it down for a few hours but they put it back up and added a notice to the page stating that EA was having server problems and was working to resolve them and that customers who purchase the game may be unable to play until those problems are resolved.

                Now I see that Amazon has since removed that notice and replaced it with a note saying that owners of SimCity are entitled to a free game from EA.

            • So trust me when I say people are going to remember this the next time someone takes a traditionally offline game and tries to add an always-online requirement -- for any reason.

              How many of those people are 14? Or grandparents-oh-look-sonny-I-got-you-a-game? And how many are slobs with your average consumer's short-term memory, though?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            But it wont matter anyway, in a few months after this whole fiasco the very people who condemn EA for lying to them will still buy the next shiny AAA game from them anyway. They're happy being ripped off and lied to, and I can see them everywhere. Such spineless people who cant make a stand would only pretend joining the "so called game vendor is bad" bandwagon to get their "gamer" cred. They don't really care about gaming, they only identify themself as one because right now it is cool to be a nerdy gamer.

          • by sdnoob (917382)

            EA has a large enough business in *console* games that a little hissyfit over DRM in PC titles won't be noticed... especially given that there are new console hardware launches upcoming for which they'll sell a shitload of games for, and which will save their chief executive asshole's job.

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:05PM (#43174745) Journal

            Look at the sales before and AFTER they started being douchebags when it came to DRM, you'll see that they lost a LOT of sales thanks to douchebaggery which is one of the reasons EA is now for sale and shows that voting with your wallet DOES work, its just not magic and takes time.

            I have personally refused to buy any games that require me to be online for SP and honestly? I don't miss 'em. There are so many good games out there that don't treat you like shit that you could buy 3 new games a day and never get them all. My only suggestion is to write a nice little letter when you do so explaining WHY you bought the other guy's product, sure they'll probably use PPT math anyway (Our PPT shows X number of people like Y so since we didn't sell X copies of our DRM douchefest it MUST be those evil pirates yargh) but at least you will have made it clear why their product isn't being bought. I gifted my friends and family Torchlight II through Steam when it came out D3 was online always DRM and RMM and even though I was a buyer and fan of D1 and D2 I'd rather have TL2 where I'm treated as a customer than D3 where I'm treated as a walking ATM.

            But you just have to realize voting with your wallet takes time and there are certain genres where the fans? Would buy dogshit in a box and not care. Take Madden, I used to work with a guy that had his CC on file with Gamestop so the SECOND a new Madden came out a copy for both his console and his handheld was sent to his house so when he got off work it was waiting. He never looked at a single review, never looked to see if EA was treating him like shit because he really did not care as ALL he wanted was the latest rosters, that's it. The same thing applies to the CoD games where the hardcore MP CoD players don't give a rat's ass WHAT EA does as long as they have the latest maps on release day so they can learn every place to go to bitchslap the noobs.

            But thankfully CoD and Madden aren't enough to sustain a lumbering hulk like EA so they really need more buyers and if we refuse to purchase and spread the word we CAN hurt them by voting with our wallets, just don't expect change to happen overnight. By voting with your wallet you can not only refuse to support douchebag behavior but you can boost support to those that treat you well, which frankly is what we should all be doing anyway.

        • Customer outcry won't do shit. After they have your money, they do not care. People not buying is the only thing that would make them care.
          • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:04PM (#43171943)
            People not buying means the software companies blame piracy, or tablets, or some other silliness instead of solving the real issue. Many people such as myself have the disposable income and a long history of gaming, but we now hate the companies so much that it's lost its appeal. I will do something else with my money and time instead of dealing with modern gaming frustrations and the companies' shenanigans. <shrugs>
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              People not buying means the software companies blame piracy

              EA rolled out the big guns on this one, using the most advanced & effective anti-piracy technique available: making a shitty game.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It will just go away. If people were really upset by this type of thing they would have fought it long ago.

          Bullshit. Ubisoft got smacked upside the head. EA's been smacked upside the head -- HARD -- in the past with limited activations and other shenanigans. If customer outcry is loud enough, EA will take the hint this time, too.

          [citation needed]

          Preferably in the form of actual drops in sales, plus evidence that these shenanigans are what caused it.

          No, seriously. Show me one time where this was the case. Show me a single road bump this sort of thing has ever caused in either Ubisoft's or EA's business plans.

          I don't mean for you to show me where a few people whined really really really really really really loudly. I don't mean for you to show me the most flowery, prosaic form of bitching about it by a few dissatisfied customers.

          • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:37PM (#43173367) Homepage Journal

            No, seriously. Show me one time where this was the case. Show me a single road bump this sort of thing has ever caused in either Ubisoft's or EA's business plans. ... Yeah. You won't find any examples. You CAN'T find any examples. I know you can't.

            There ya go. [rockpapershotgun.com] Took me about 10 seconds on Google, by the way.

            • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:43PM (#43173511) Homepage Journal
              Additionally, here's another story produced by WebProNews [webpronews.com], based on the RockPaperShotgun article produced a day earlier. From the story:

              This week, Stephanie Perotti, Ubisoft’s worldwide director for online games, confirmed in an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun that Ubisoft has ditched always-on DRM. In fact, the company hasn’t implemented such tactics in over a year. Ubisoft’s policy is now to require only a one-time activiation when a game is first installed. In addition, the company now allows gamers to activate a game on as many PCs as they want. Perotti stated that Ubisoft changed its policy based on feedback from its customers.

              "Whining" helped. "Creative protests" helped. Not buying Ubisoft's DRM-encumbered games helped.

              Not going to bother posting more citations; I have decent karma already. I'll just leave this here [lmgtfy.com] and let you find some examples of your own.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:02AM (#43171127) Homepage Journal

      Not a huge surprise... Though I wonder how they're going to wriggle their way out of that one. I'm guessing they'll just try to ignore it and hope it goes away.

      The same way they always wriggle out, Pinky! [vgcats.com]

    • This is EA we're talking about. They'll just use their dark arts to conjure up a demon to swallow the souls of all SimCity critics and a Siren to sing a beautiful song to lull more suckers to keep buying it.

    • by Ben4jammin (1233084) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:09AM (#43171227)
      I don't think they have any plans to wiggle out of it. This "always on" setup is by design:

      Frank Gibeau, the president of EA Labels... is very proud of the fact he has never green lit a single project that consisted solely of a single-player experience.

      http://www.geek.com/articles/games/ea-wont-green-light-any-single-player-only-games-2012095/

      So the engineers were REQUIRED to do something that made it "social" and thus needing to be always online.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        but they seemingly managed to fuck up copying diablo 3 enough.

        the devs clearly were supposed to copy it. but it's extra effort, so they skipped actually moving the game logic to servers...

    • by cob666 (656740)
      Cool...

      But, where are the instructions to do this mod?
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:01PM (#43171907)

        The article noted that you can do everything, and better, offline except "save" and "socialize". I would bet that you can work around the save issue simply by running a virtual machine and saving the session using the virtual machines capability to preserve memory state. Unless this thing is actually monitoring gaps in the wall clock time record for DRM puproses it should be possible to use a memory image.

    • by sdnoob (917382)

      how they're going to wriggle their way out of that one

      oh, that's easy..... all the bugs in the AIs are because of a client-server interaction bug preventing the proper calculations from being run on the "servers".

  • I read the article and don't see any source code, just a screen shot. Anyone have additional info?
  • SimCity Rescued? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frightened_Turtle (592418) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:38AM (#43170863)

    This is probably the best thing that could have happened to SimCity 5 in order to save the SimCity franchise.

    It's a pity how corporate greed can ruin an otherwise excellent product. Management at EA/Maxis was obviously incredibly detached from the product. Comments such as how surprised and unprepared they were for the massive response they got to the new product speaks volumes to the fact that the people in charge had absolutely no clue about the products they make, nor what it takes to make them successful.

    The good news? At least there is one team out there that gets it! [kickstarter.com]

    • I have no clue how their beta testing works, but I'm confident suggestions aren't a part of the process. Many of the EA games I've played have clunky UI elements that would've been exposed in seconds of observed interaction.

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:33PM (#43173283)

      This is probably the best thing that could have happened to SimCity 5 in order to save the SimCity franchise.

      What? No, the best thing that could have happened for the SimCity franchise was for SimCity 5 to be released with no major bugs or problems like the online requirement. EA's decisions are what caused the problems. EA could have made different decisions, and those problems wouldn't exist. Those are all manufactured problems. If I was a programmer at Maxis and this was my project, I would be pissed. I hope more of them speak out.

    • The good news? At least there is one team out there that gets it!

      *cough* [citiesxl.com] Two.

  • by Leafheart (1120885) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:38AM (#43170865)
    According to TFA you still need to go online to save your progress. So, no, he did not skip the requirement. At most it is not full-time, but "so many times itis easier to keep it on full time"
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by schneidafunk (795759)
      Further down it says you can save the game by reconnecting at the end of your offline session and it will save all the progress from when you were offline.
      • by jythie (914043) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:46AM (#43170947)
        I suspect someone will throw together a mini-server at some point that will facilitate local saving, it will just take more time then this work around.
        • I'm waiting for the open source server. Sniff some packets. Reverse engineer. Now you can run your own server.

          Either edit the code to point to a new server or just edit your hosts.

        • by Krojack (575051)

          As of right now, EA has stopped all SimCity server work to push out a patch preventing this is my guess.

  • The only surprise is that it took this long. Seeing how much press the SimCity mess got, this hack will probably get some press as well.
    • by Wamoc (1263324) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:11AM (#43171253)
      They were probably finally able to login to the game last night.
    • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:34AM (#43171555) Journal

      The only surprise is that it took this long

      There is another surprise: that anyone ever believed that a *significant amount of the calculations.* would run on the server. Seriously, it doesn't pass the sniff test that they would offload calculations from the clients onto their own servers.

      • it doesn't pass the sniff test that they would offload calculations from the clients onto their own servers.

        A Super NES console has a ~3 MHz* single-threaded processor and 128 KiB of RAM and can run the Micropolis model that powers SimCity. A modern server is clocked about a thousand times faster than that, CPUs like the Bulldozer have eight cores, and servers have sockets for multiple CPUs. So I'll guess that each server can simulate at least sixteen thousand cities at once.

        * The Super NES CPU can operate at 2.7 MHz or 3.6 MHz depending on what part of memory is accessed. Early games always ran at 2.7 MHz; as

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:41AM (#43170897)

    I just don't care to spend that much effort fixing something that should have had the option out-of-the-box. EA is a big company, if they want sales, sell a finished game. Getting upset and spending my TIME trying to hack it or pirate isn't worth the $60 anymore... The have created a situation where even FREE is losing me money.

    The solution is that the servers needed to JUST WORK. As a grown up, waiting twenty minutes even twice has wasted more of my money/time than the price of the game... They're jerks, fix it.

  • Let us ask Data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:42AM (#43170915)

    Here is what Lt. Cmdr Data [youtube.com] thinks about this.

    I was a big fan of the game since the original and thought it odd it was one of the few mega-popular EA franchises that did not get updated frequently. I was anticipating the release, but I have learned not to pre-order any video game, nor buy it until it has been out a number of months for it either to be "fixed", for customer reviews to roll in, and beta test NDA's to expire. The bigger the game company the worse the lies become.

    Professional game reviewers and magazines can simply not be trusted. Shorly after release metacritic scores showed the "professional" critics giving 90's and 100's, while no customer aside from a stockholm syndrome candidate gives a good review at all. Now that it is popular to bash the title, magazines being rolling in with the poor reviews.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:13AM (#43171269)
      I thought this was going to be a comment by Brent Spinner. It was not.

      I am so disappointed.
    • Re:Let us ask Data (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Looker_Device (2857489) * on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:13AM (#43171275)

      Shorly after release metacritic scores showed the "professional" critics giving 90's and 100's,

      Hard to believe, considering most of those critics work for magazines and publications heavily supported by EA advertising.

      • by Phrogman (80473)

        Its not only that. In order to do a review of a game, you need to be able to play it, or at least an advance beta of it. Review sites that do not give a company good reviews, stop receiving advance copies so they can review them.
        Any game review that is online or in print media is likely bullshit if the reviewer is talking about a brand new game. The pressure to write as good a review as you possibly can is pretty intense.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Professional game reviewers reviewed the game before its release, because guess what? Gamers expect reviews to be out by the game's release date! If the review isn't out within the first few days of release (which would be impossible with a game like SimCity), the site's either criticized for not putting out a review, or the review is ignored because it's too late already.

      You can't blame everything on the reviewers. If you played before all the servers started going boom, you'd have had a fine and dandy t
    • by Raptoer (984438)

      My problem with the game isn't the servers, that was resolved rather quickly, it's the way that traffic objects work. Traffic objects are anything that travels along a road, so buses, streetcars, garbage trucks, and sims trying to get to and from work.

      Every traffic object just goes to whatever is closest and meets their needs, regardless of how many others are also going there. You end up with 10 buses that hang out at 3 or 4 bus stops and traffic jams because every single worker is trying to get to the sam

  • It's false advertisement, no matter how you put it.

    • by Dunega (901960)

      You're interested in making a bunch of lawyers rich for your $2 off the next EA game coupon?

  • by TheSpoom (715771)

    That took longer than I thought it would.

  • Over the years I've read article after article about EA Games that are too invasive, too expensive, too restrictive. Does this really surprise any of you?

    Personally, when I see EA attached to any game, I tend to want to run the other way. Sure they may make some good games every once in a while, but they are too much trouble.

    For those that enjoy EA Games and don't mind their restrictions, I say to you. "Game on".

    • Yep, I stopped buying EA, no Dragon Age, no Mass Effect, no Sims, no Sim-City. They have some skilled dev teams, but way way way way way too much hatred for me for me to buy their products.

  • This horrible DRM has created a huge amount of negative press, and prevented piracy for around a week. Now that a hack exists, not only is piracy not prevented, but the pirates get a clearly superior version of your product. As a result, many kids will be driven to try the pirated version, and thus educated on how easy torrenting and patching a game can be. You may even have inspired some burgeoning young hackers to learn how to crack your future games!
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      This horrible DRM has created a huge amount of negative press, and prevented piracy for around a week. Now that a hack exists, not only is piracy not prevented, but the pirates get a clearly superior version of your product. As a result, many kids will be driven to try the pirated version, and thus educated on how easy torrenting and patching a game can be. You may even have inspired some burgeoning young hackers to learn how to crack your future games!

      I don't think you've been paying attention.

      EA's core audience (that they think is) doesn't simply read reviews.
      or newspapers. or anything.

      in short, if you haven't been following their bigger franchises for the last two years EA DOES NOT GIVE A FUCK. they just keep hordes of devs on their ranks so they can manage to get something out - nobody in charge cares what they get out as long as it looks polished.

  • Regardless of the online vs offline debate - which is interesting to Slashdot readers for a variety of reasons (DRM, cloud, corporations lying to the users (do they ever not?), etc.), is it even a fun game?

    After seeing videos and reports like these:
    http://kotaku.com/5990362/with-simple-ai-like-this-why-does-simcity-need-cloud-computing [kotaku.com]

    I'm inclined to think that the answer may well be 'no'. At which point it really doesn't matter much whether you play it online or offline, does it?

    • by meta-monkey (321000) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:09PM (#43172917) Journal

      "Is it even fun?"

      The answer is "no."

      I'm embarrassed to say I purchased this game. The goddamn digital deluxe edition for $80 goddamn dollars. I should probably click the "Post Anonymously" box to hide my shame, but I won't. I'll wear my scarlet EA.

      Now, I knew about the "you have to be online" thing, but I thought that was just for authentication, like StarCraft 2. I do not like DRM, I run Linux on most of my computers, and I'm a donation-making member of the EFF (got the t-shirts and everything) but I will, on occasion, fork over cash for a DRMed video game and roll my eyes when I have to sit through "verifying with server..." bullshit. I'm weak.

      I read pre-reviews of the game, and I watched gameplay videos. I have fond memories of SimCity 2000, and thought this game looked awesome.

      I was annoyed when I couldn't play for the first two days because of 'server load' issues. They were right about the "multiplayer experience." Not being able to play a video game because "servers are unavailable" is definitely part of the multiplayer experience.

      But, I'm a patient person, and I wanted to play this game. So when the servers stabilized and I had time over the weekend, I played. And it was great! It was a ton of fun drawing and planning my city.

      Until.

      Until you hit about 100k population (which, as the decompiled ui code shows is only actually 15000 sims because they inflate the pop to make it seem like they're doing more). When you get about that big, all of a sudden, the city collapses because of incredible traffic jams on the roads. No one can get to work or back, a building catches fire and the fire trucks can't get to it so the building burns down. Sims get sick and the ambulances can't reach them because of traffic, they die, people become unhappy and leave, no money from no taxes, city collapses etc etc.

      And at first you think, "Oh, I have clearly been mistaken with regards to my city planning abilities! What an interesting challenge! Let's look closer at the traffic patterns to see what I've done wrong, and what I can do to fix my city that is being simulated in exciting and challenging ways!"

      So you start looking closer. You turn on the traffic map and see, "hey wait a minute. Why are all cars using that one narrow side street instead of the massive 4 lane highway right next to it..?"

      So you think, "perhaps I've overloaded that street, or have failed to understand the population density along it?" So you look closer. So you follow a single sim to see what he does to get to and from work.

      And when you look at an individual sim, an "Agent" in the GlassBox lingo, you see that he is stupid, and does not behave in any way like a real denizen of a city. Which is what you're trying to simulate.

      You follow the sim and discover that when he leaves his house at 6AM to go to work, he does not know where he is going. It isn't even correct to call it "his" house, as it's not his house, it's the first open house he came across when he left work the night before. When a sim goes to work, he becomes aware of the closest building with an available job. And closest means "shortest path" routing, not "least cost." So he will take a .99999 mile long dirt road instead of 1 mile long super highway, because it's shorter. So he travels to this closest building, and if when he arrives, there is still an available job there, he will go inside and fill up a job slot. If by the time he reaches the building, some other sim has arrived first and TOOK HIS JERB he will pick the next closest building with a currently available job and try his luck there instead.

      However. Every other sim that spawned is following the same process. Which results in the city-ending traffic jams.

      And this is when it happens. There's an word for it, "anagnorisis." It's an element of greek tragedy. It's the moment when the protagonist realizes the clearer, fuller picture of the situation and of his destiny, in all of its horror.

      Because you think, "so how

  • by Wingfat (911988) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:38AM (#43171603)
    so easy to do it. so very easy. (if you know how to read that is)
  • by Warhawke (1312723) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:35PM (#43172379)
    "Well that's fantastic, a really smart decision. We can put a DRM requirement into a traditionally single-player game, then we'll require a permanent internet connection to thwart piracy aaaaaand it's gone."
    "Uh, what?"
    "It's gone. It's all gone."
    "What's all gone?"
    "The DRM on your game - it was circumvented, it's gone."
    "What do you mean? The game is social and computational. It requires servers to make all of those calculations and connections!"
    "Not anymore it doesn't. POOF."
    "Well, well what can I do to get back my customers?"
    "I'm sorry sir, but this release is for DRM-employing, user-abusing companies only."
    "But we're EA!"
    "Do you have any DRM on your game?"
    "No, you just hacked it!"
    "Then please stand aside for companies who actually have a poorly-implemented DRM scheme on their game. Next please."
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:08PM (#43172907) Homepage

    This is the top positive review on Amazon [amazon.com]:

    You'd think I'd be mega unhappy like everyone else at the constant waiting and lack of actually being able to play a game I purchased.

    Well, you'd be wrong.

    The hours upon hours since launch that I haven't been able to log in, whether it be sitting in queues, or server busy messages, or just plain old not working screens, I've managed to do a heap of things that I never do when I'm locked in my man cave playing video games.

    I've washed the dishes, the laundry, changed the oil in the car, mopped the floors, dusted, did a spot of gardening, greeted my children who I hadn't really seen since Christmas, walked the dog, asked how my wife's day has been and listened to the entire response, restocked the groceries and many more things! My family has never been happier that they've got a father and husband again.

    In fact, I feel like Simcity has given me a new lease on life. This wouldn't have been possible without the seemingly crazy decision to have constant online connections and server side save points even for single player.

    So I can only thank EA and Maxis. Your failures have been my rewards. 5 stars!

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