Company is actively seeking feedback on "first draft" of mod guidelines, though.
Ea is currently discussing whether or not to officially allow mods like this in certain circumstances.
EA is taking the first steps toward adding long-promised official modding tools to this year's revamp of SimCity (not to be confused with the unofficial modding tools hackers opened up months ago). However, the company's opening bid on restrictions for such user-generated content (UGC) is spurring intense discussion among players and developers.
Yesterday, EA rolled out a "first draft" of the guidelines it hopes to put in place when UGC is added to SimCity in the future. That draft includes a rule that says "acceptable UGC and mods do not jeopardize the integrity of the gameplay or harm the experience of others." Another rule disallows "UGC that effects [sic] the simulation for multiplay[er] games and features."
As written, these initial guidelines severely limit what the modding community will be able to alter in the game, restricting mods to cosmetic and incidental features. In fact, the only acceptable examples of UGC the guidelines explicitly mention are "swapping art assets, like buildings and vehicles."
Users don't exactly seem happy about these proposed restrictions. In an ensuing thread discussing the guidelines, user Oppie pointed to the wide-ranging gameplay mods available for SimCity 4 and worried that restrictions on modding the underlying simulation would leave "SimCity modding... dead in the water."
"While I understand that there's a huge drive to keep the integrity of the multiplayer aspect of the game intact, one has to aslo aknowledge [sic] that there is a large segment of the fanbase that exclusively plays in single-player regions who don't have any interest in leaderboards, global markets and other multiplayer aspects," he wrote. "Why not allow these players to play the game their own way[?]"
Of course, the only reason this is even a discussion is because of SimCity's always-online passive multiplayer, which causes each player's individual simulation to have knock-on effects for other players in the same region. "The idea behind this point is that one player modding their game shouldn't disrupt the way another player experiences the game," developer MaxisStaab wrote in the resulting forum thread. "I wouldn't want to join a region where someone purposely made a super-pollution factory and polluted the entire region. Well okay I might, but I wouldn't want to do it without 'opting in' first."
It's that "opting in" mention that offers a glimmer of hope for some kind of compromise on this issue. Developer MaxisKane hinted that he'd be open to allowing simulation-based modding in private regions in the game's current sandbox mode—or in an entirely new mode specifically designed for UGC.
Developer MaxisStaab seems similarly open to player feedback on more open modding options. "As a player what would you want to be able to know about mod enabled regions?" he asks in the forum thread. "Would it matter if the mod's [sic] used changed after you started playing in the region? If a mod created an unbalanced region would you care? If a SimCity update created an issues [sic] with a mod and the region broke—would you be upset or just realize that's part of modding a game that updates?"
While EA's opening bid to heavily restrict modding in SimCity is a bit disheartening, the fact that the company is soliciting fan feedback and seems to be taking it to heart has us hopeful that more substantial gameplay mods may eventually be allowed in the game.