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    Maxis to RPS: SimCity servers 'not necessary'


    Gurning_Chimp

    In all the fuss and mess of the disastrous SimCity launch, one refrain has been repeated again and again. While legions may be begging for an offline mode, EA representatives have been abundantly clear that this simply isn’t possible. Maxis’ studio head, Lucy Bradshaw, has told bothPolygon and Kotaku that they “offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers”, and that it would take “a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game” for single player.

    A SimCity developer has got in touch with RPS to tell us that at least the first of these statements is not true. He claimed that the server is not handling calculations for non-social aspects of running the game, and that engineering a single-player mode would require minimal effort.

    Our source, who we have verified worked directly on the project but obviously wishes to remain anonymous, has first-hand knowledge of how the game works. He has made it absolutely clear to us that this repeated claim of server-side calculations is at odds with the reality of the project he worked on. Our source explains:

    “The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless.”

    “Because of the way Glassbox was designed, simulation data had to go through a different pathway. The game would regularly pass updates to the server, and then the server would stick those messages in a huge queue along with the messages from everyone else playing. The server pulls messages off the queue, farms them out to other servers to be processed and then those servers send you a package of updates back. The amount of time it could take for you to get a server update responding to something you’ve just done in the game could be as long as a few minutes. This is why they disabled Cheetah mode, by the way, to reduce by half the number of updates coming into the queue.”

    Clearly an offline game that included a single-player simulation of the region system derived from multiplayer would be more challenging to develop, but our source assured us that it was far from impossible.

    So how difficult would it be for EA to create a single-player game that simply did away with the multiplayer-derived aspects and just let us build? It seems that lies somewhere between “easy peasy” and Bradshaw’s claims of “significant engineering”. According to our source:

    “It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff.”

    EA’s claims about the necessity of online play – claims that more people are seeing for themselves not to be true, just by running the game with the internet cable yanked out – seem inexplicable.

    We’d obviously be very interested to hear a proper explanation.

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    Indiana Joe

    Posted

    Or it's a bogus report....

     

    Our source, who we have verified worked directly on the project but obviously wishes to remain anonymous,

     

    Sounds a little shady to me.

    But I'd definitely be interested in a "proper explanation" from Maxis in response to this.

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    Gurning_Chimp

    Posted

    Judging from Rock, Paper Shotgun's usual reporting I'm tempted to say we were lied to.

     

    But yeah let's see EA and/or Maxis explain this.

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    Bipin

    Posted

    So were we lied to?

    I think the question is at what point in time did they cease lying to us? So far, I think we've got a first.

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    Jahnri

    Posted

    Fundamentally we have a disagreement between the community and EA, not necessarily maxis. EA simply doesn't see the product as a single player service. They probably have no interest in running it as such. They also figure we play online games all the time and dont really question connectivity issues since its so common. 

     

    Fact is, we care. I support this game. I love its elements.

    I LOATHE what Ea is doing though.

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    ManagerJosh

    Posted

    I'll vouch for the report as during the early open beta tests, I successfully played the game for close to a whole hour AFTER they shut down the servers Saturday evening.

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    jrnavid

    Posted

    I dont believe anything EA has to say anymore. Its been such a let down with this whole "online always" approach.

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    mk11232

    Posted

    I've seen on rredit and elsewhere the 20 minute time is correct.  Most have claimed and show in videos that they are able to manually disconnect from the internet and play up to 20 minutes before it stops to force a reconnect.  EA did blatantly lie to justify their DRM scheme and it isn't hard to prove otherwise.  IF you have the game test it yourself. 

     

     

     

    Or it's a bogus report....

     

    Our source, who we have verified worked directly on the project but obviously wishes to remain anonymous,

     

    Sounds a little shady to me.

    But I'd definitely be interested in a "proper explanation" from Maxis in response to this.

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    joejoejoejoe

    Posted

    Didn't EA's CEO state in an investors call that from now on (I believe that was in fall 2012), all EA games would be multiplayer / online only? This would match perfectly well with the statements we're seeing here: A single player game with forced multiplayer / online added on top.

     

    Ergo it is a 100% business decision and has not and never had anything to do with improving Sim City gameplay. It is simply EA's business practice being implemented and all the managers just say what their bosses from the top told them to say, i.e. that the game is "online only". If they would tell anyone otherwise, I'm sure they'd be looking for a new job the same day.

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    xfalcon12x

    Posted

    It is simple, we are upset and the company does not and will not change it back to please the loyal customer. the only think left to do is keep playing simcity 4 and boycott EA I know that is a hard thing to do for some, only because they have selfish issues, however a simple stop in all sales across the board will reduce company profits fast. They only understand money and if they start loosing it, they will change very quickly, and think out this DRM. That would end everyones misery, but if you do nothing, so will they and you will be stuck with this crap. then no more complaining. So back to simcity 4

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    Dirktator

    Posted

    Take it with a grain of salt - the piece on RPS just sounds too much like a perfect chunk of meat for all the gnashing teeth lately.

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    Harlequin_666

    Posted

    Has anyone used a program like Fiddler, to see how much traffic is going back and forth between SimCity and it's servers? That should be a big indication...

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    alexis101

    Posted

    Has anyone used a program like Fiddler, to see how much traffic is going back and forth between SimCity and it's servers? That should be a big indication...

    Actually I did. I have a small lcd screen on my keyboard that show me the bandwidth i use at all time. I was using it a lot when i was loading /playing sim city cause i could know right away if i will be able to load my city. If the load will be successful the download was going up to 320kb/s. But if the load was unsuccessful the download was never reaching more than 10kb/s. I was also looking at the bar while playing because im a programmer and i know that the kind of explanation EA was giving (shared calculation with the servers) would used some chunk of bandwidth all the time. It wasn't the case. My network was only used a some time here and there. After that I decided to investigate more. Found the North American East Server 1 IP (This is the one i used). Check on my firewall the number of data that was actually transfer with this ip. 7.6MB in 11.4MB out for 6 hours of game play and lots of load/unload of the game. So no there is no calculation done on the server. SIMCITYNET.JPG

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    A Nonny Moose

    Posted

    There have been so many pejorative reports that one has to be very cautious.  It appears there are some variable facts here.

     

    And please remember that EA owns the Maxis Studio.  Maxis' people must toe the company line or hit the highway.

     

    I expected a more transaction oriented game, but this appears to be not the case.  Yet, the servers were so loaded that they failed.  Was this because there were no pre-downloads for the pre-orders, or because they are selling an empty box with a login key in it and everyone who connects for the first time gets the game downloaded?

     

    As for the  social aspects of the game, if I wanted that I could play The Sims.

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    lew1984

    Posted

    Well I gave in to curiosity and temptation despite my concerns about my internet being up to the task or not. I also have a data limit which I can check regularly. I can confirm that for me this game has used very little data during game play. For hours of play over the last three/four games it has used 200/300mb max and I have been using the internet for other downloads, browsing etc.

     

    Also being a dongle my bandwidth is variable and sometimes even drops out, combine this with dodgy server connections at launch I should have had a rough time but so far I have only been kicked out of game play only once. So I would say there is probably an element of truth to this article.

     

    Given the official EA/Maxis line on server necessity and my connection/server issues gameplay should be impossible but judging by the forums I am one of the few who have actually had relatively trouble free gaming on simcity. 

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    Resender

    Posted

    The 20 minutes is definatly true,I've experienced it multible times during the server outages in the first few days

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    Motina

    Posted

    So were we lied to?

     

    I knew all along that the game itself did not require the servers to actual simulate the city.

     

    If they had just allowed local saves, and offline single player mode, all the chaos and heat at release would NOT have happened! It has been a complete PR nightmare.

     

    It is humorous really. So many people bought into the power of Glassbox cannot be done by consumer computers. LOL!

     

    Cities are small because they would require larger cloud saves, and Glassbox has shown itself to be incapable of scheduling services and commuter pathfinding.

     

    What a joke of a game.

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    fiver

    Posted

    Lucy Bradshaw isn't EA, she's "Maxis’ studio head". Therefore every time she lies, she does so on behalf of Maxis. That is why some  people at Maxis are not happy to look like liars too.

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    Moriadne

    Posted

    Boy, have EA gotten themselves in quite a pinch.

     

    That's what you get for having such an ass-backwards business model.

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    cirugo

    Posted

    This may or may not be legit but I tend to believe it.  Why?  Because of the way that MAXIS backed off of trying to promote multiplayer in favor of telling people they could have their own regions and not have to interact with anyone else when they first got flack about this issue.  That contradicted the very reasons why they stated it was so necessary for the game to be online in the first place.

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