Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a Constant Connection

March 15, 2013 -

As much as EA and Maxis want to smooth things over with fans and make them happy, this latest blog post from Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw isn't being received very well, if you believe the comments following the article.

This is probably because of what Bradshaw claims about the nature of SimCity's need to be constantly connected to the Internet in order to play. Bradshaw at least attempts to address the whole issue of whether SimCity can be played offline and why Maxis ultimately rejected the idea in favor of having a game dependent on a constant connection to a server:

"Always-Connected is a big change from SimCities of the past. It didn’t come down as an order from corporate and it isn’t a clandestine strategy to control players. It’s fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity. From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind – using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world."

After listing a number of reasons why being always online is a good idea for SimCity Bradshaw acknowledges that the game could have worked without the online only requirement, but that it wasn't a direction Maxis wanted to go in:

"So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the “single city in isolation” that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology."

The response to Bradshaw's post was less than friendly. Most of the comments are angry and accusatory, and some go so far as to call Bradshaw delusional. One commenter points out that those who bought the game knew what they were getting into when they bought SimCity.

Whatever fans think at this point, the reality is that they are stuck with how SimCity currently operates and all that they can hope for is a stable game experience moving forward...

You can read Bradshaw's entire blog post here.

 


Comments

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

In other words: They didn't need to make it always-online, they simply chose to.

The reasons for doing so are irrelevant because plenty of games run quite well with both singleplayer and multiplayer game modes. The Action RPG genre is an area with which multiplayer is almost a given, and yet games like Torchlight II or Borderlands 2 don't require the user to be online to play (aside from the usual Steam caveats which can be bypassed).

There was no reason to restrict people in such a knee-jerk, draconian manner, and all this completely disregards the fact you can bypass the online check anyway!

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

They really need to hire a PR person or fire whomever their PR trainer is because Lucy and her staff just keep digging the hole deeper and deeper with this BS.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Here's the thing these companies forget when they hog-tie their games with this always-connected BS - you are time-locking your game. Eventually, interest will wane to the point that is no longer practical to maintain the servers, and you will shut them down.

And then, five or ten years down the line, someone will be like, "Hey, remember SimCity (2013)? That sure was a great game. I should go back and play that again." Of course, they won't be able to. Instead of a treasured piece of art that people can enjoy for years to come, you're making people pay full price to essentially "rent" your game for an undetermined period of time. You are actively keeping people from enjoying your catalogue, remembering your games fondly, or considering you with any degree of respect, EA.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

That's my biggest concern about games increasingly going online.

 

Hell, I get the weird feeling that what you stated may be part of the intent. Why make a game that lasts when you can kill it the moment you release the next one?

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

‎"So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the 'single city in isolation' that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology." - Lucy Bradshaw, Maxis GM.

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/26271_4805353805994_12591164...

*GASP* It's SimCity 4 from ten years ago..and DO MY EYES DEVIEVE ME?! Its a reign of many many different spots for cities. You connect them together. You make deals. Trade goods and services. And you don't need to be always connected..or connected at all. You can make decisions with one city to help make another grow. Almost everything Lucy Bradshaw boasts about this game. Granted, not everything, but still. I think your 'vision' is nothing but excuses to fight theft. I think you've done nothing but encourage it. The game will be stripped and pirated. People will be able to play offline if they want. It will be Spore all over again.

I'll stick with SimCity 4, thanks. I don't have the money to buy a broken, always connected DRM'd game.

 - W

Consumer responsibility is just as important as Corporate responsibility. So, be responsible consumers.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

It's not even fighting piracy, if anything it's engouraging it.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

If there really are people enjoying the online part of it, great.  But make it *OPTIONAL* so the masses of people who obviously don't want to deal with it don't have to.  That way, both groups can be satisfied.  This isn't some strict either/or scenario between with your "online vision" and offline mode.  That's a false dichotomy.  Both could easily coexist.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Both can exist yes, but introducing new modes increases the complexity of the design, which results in longer development times and increased testing.

I agree that they probably should have done it, but it is important to note the cost of taking such a course.  Single and Multiplayer may not be mutually exclusive, but one does not have to search very long to find games that had multiplayer added and single player suffered for it.  

I think one meta-post-mortum I read years ago estimated that multiplayer ads about 30% to a development budget.  Taking a multiplayer game and producing a single player mode probably costs less, but I would not be surprised if it took at least an additional 10-15% more.

And  yeah, people will develop cracks that let you play offline eventually, probably a local server or something that passes back empty data for multiplayer elements and accepts saves, but it will take them time too, and I doubt they will use the same testing rigor that Maxis does.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

When SimCity is completely cracked and you'll be allowed to play offline with no problems you'll see people pirate and use the cracked version because its more stable and safe. This what happened to Spore all over again. Now I liked the fact logging online allows you to automatically load player made species. Honestly, I think its pretty cool! But It should be all optional and after the Spore expansion changed the DRM to let you play with a CD Key I feel EA really needs to suck it up and stop this online only train.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

I seem to recall another company that demanded everyone follow their vision for the game.  And that anyone who didn't like it could suck wind.
Came out around this time last year if I remember.
God, what was it called again...
Can't seem to remember its name over their artistic integrity.
I do recall the creators being an EA subsidiary as well thou.

"If you really want to enslave people, tell them you are going to give them Total Freedom." - L. Ron Hubbard

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Haha only difference is Maxis is being nice compared to Bioware. Bioware employees the ones that took over after many had left a couple years back are now led by nasty staff members who seem bitter at all customers.

Just look at Stanley Woo after he was let go for being disgruntled and HR had to help him understand he no longer liked his job as he said on his blog he is allowed to come back and work for free on the Message Boards so he could get a dose of "righteous indignation"

Maxis is really trying hard to be very nice and kind to customers and as a customer I can respect that. Though yes the people hate what is happening to SimCity she and Maxis are not burning down every bridge they can with their customers like Bioware

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

"But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality."

Well, yeah.  Not like they have any other choice.

"Almost all of our players play with connected cities."

I don't believe you.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Without access to their tracking, it is hard to say.

One thing I do know though is that the gaming community that gets together online on sites like this tends to have a bit of selection bais and forgets that we do not make up the majority of customers.  What we all like and agree with each other on does not always sync up with what the larger market likes.  We socially engage with people like ourselves, and that leads to a certain amount of group think.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Wait... the last part was the one you don't believe? I think your comments should have been swapped. The part about people "loving" the always-connected functionality should be the one that you don't believe.

If you have more than one city in a region, that's considered a connected city. With how small the actual city borders are, I'd be shocked if as much as 10% of players stopped after attempting just one city without even clicking the "claim" button on one of those connected plots.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

"If you have more than one city in a region, that's considered a connected city."

I understand that but in the context of the rest of her post, I think she means "most players are choosing to play with others" and I don't believe that.  I believe most players are playing by themselves, managing all their cities by themselves.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

I agree. I hate playing online. Too many other people are always messing up the game experience. The only online game I enjoy is Left 4 Dead, and even that is beset by griefers. I much prefer to play alone, whether it's a shooter or a strategy game like Sim City.

As for this 'vision' of an interconnected Sim 'world', it's called Sim CITY, not Sim World. I don't want regions with other players. I want my own city. That's all.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Dark Souls is a game that revels in this magical web of interconnectivity he so happily preaches.

It's also completely optional to engage in it and you can start doing so whenever you like.

That being said, it's a Game For Windows Live so when that fails, it doesn't exactly work right, but you get the idea. He really doesn't seem to get that just because you store data on a cloud doesn't mean everyone has to ride a blimp to play the game.

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

Problem with when Games for Windows Live failed that team went on to completely change the face of all MS products.

After Games for Windows Live they

  • Redesigned Windows Messenger For Live which pushed the last few customers it had off the service.
  • Then they redesigned the Xbox 360 Dashboard to make shopping harder with big ads everywhere with NGE
  • Then they helped design ugly the Windows Phones
  • And finally they went on to design the next Windows Vista......WINDOWS 8!

Their solutions for Games for Windows Live though it failed somehow the team was able to gain utter control of the design and direction of Microsoft.

Notice the trend in various industries you have a failed concept pushed by a marketing department and yet in the end the marketing department wins! Whether its online only or pushing tougher restrictions on users or horrible new designs they seem in the end able to overcome customer objections and play politics and are able to get their ideas pushed even if they had a huge failure.

We have been here before. This to me is just deja vu cause this same problem happened when Spore was released. Only difference was around that time a bunch of gamers pissed that all the companies were going online only started hacking and cracking these games effectively bringing solutions that paying customers needed as well as pirates. 

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

*She

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

*It

Don't encourage corporate entities to develop genders.
It will just take this whole conversation into a tailspin.
 

"If you really want to enslave people, tell them you are going to give them Total Freedom." - L. Ron Hubbard

Re: Maxis GM Addresses Decision to Make SimCity Require a ...

It's about Bradshaw and what she was talking about.

 
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