Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Sim City

In principle I am looking forward to playing the new Sim City. In practice I haven't done anything yet to get me there. I am not a big fan of the Origin platform, which promptly failed to release Sim City on time. And due to some squabbling between EA and Valve about DLCs, Sim City apparently won't be on Steam. On the other side the first echoes I heard from people who actually got to play the game were that it is very good and a lot of fun. So I might have to reinstall Origin and buy the game Thursday (when it comes out in Europe) or Friday, to be able to play on the weekend.

What about you? Do you already play Sim City? Is it good? And if you haven't bought it, does it matter to you on which platform the game is released, Steam or Origin?

Apparently the US release was a bit of a disaster, as the servers went down consistently and there were queues to login.

In a single player game.
In a single player game.

I think the official position is that Sim City is *not* a single player game. It is a multi-player game with the option to ignore the other players, much like Diablo 3.
The official position is absurd, but enough about that endless debate. I want to know if the game is any good without the save/reload option.
It's decent enough, but the super constrained city size and launch disaster were enough to turn me off on it.
DRM issues aside, the main gripe is that the cities are extremely small. If you've played Cities XL or the previous SimCity games, you should expect city plots that are aprox. 5 - 10 times smaller.

Apparently, since now they simulate every single 'Sim' living in your city, going past a certain size is impossible due to technical reasons. What you can do, is create lots of cities in the same region and connect them with the highway, but if you want the Metropolitan feel that the previous games offered, sorry. Maybe they'll offer DLC options to extend those city limits a bit, being EA and all.

For the record, in Simcity 2000 you could build cities with population of up to 10-20 million, Simcity 3 and 4 supported up to 8-10 million (more or less). In this one, if you can squeeze 300k - 400k inhabitants in a single 'city', consider yourself lucky.
I was excited months ago to hear it was coming out, and was absolutely expecting to purchase it.

However, after seeing some videos and reading some reviews.... the limited city size they're setting seems awfully small. The "no save/reload" design decision seems odd to me too. All together, it seems like the game is launching with some severe limitations. Unfortunately it took the wind out of my sails and sucked out my enthusiasm.

The online-only requirement is kinda irksome but not a show-stopper for me. They "should" have options for single-player offline play though. I'd be happy to try out the multi-player aspects, but it really doesnt sound particularly interesting or necessary.

So, I'm probably not going to be buying now. I'll reconsider down the line when they increase the map sizes, although they'll likely charge more for it and then I'll feel "nickel and dimed".

I'm skeptical that the SimCity game I "want" in my head doesnt match up well with the SimCity game they've produced.

This is the size you should expect of a single city, fyi...
The online part has been a disaster. They were late releasing it. The servers can't handle the load. Origin still sucks. Good luck with EA when it comes to support. Expect to be charged every chance they get for content. City sizes are tiny. Don't expect your cities to save properly, all that work will disappear.

And yet, I still bought it. WTF is wrong with me?
> does it matter to you on which
> platform the game is released,
> Steam or Origin

Origin is a big NO NO for me. Steam, on the other hand, is (almost) always a guarantee under many axpects (price policy, updates, offers, etc).

Sim City features a nasty DRM (a lot of the game code is server-side only) and -sadly- the cities are quite small.

I don't see anything positive in this "online only" policy. Sim City should be a game where I can play when I want, where I want, how I want. The new chapter needs an internet connection AND will never be moddable. It's a huge step back, in my opinion.
I forgot to mention one thing: 60$ for a videogame is a HUGE amount of money. In my opinion it really needs to be "awesome" to deserve my money.

We're in an era whee you can find great products for extremely low prices (if not 100% free). Videogames -at least for me- must be entertaining and let me relax when I have some spare time during the week.

60$ on Steam mean you can really choose a LOT of great/amazing games. Why spending them all at once for just ONE title?

I did that mistake with Diablo III and that was the last time I let it happen.
>It is a multi-player game with the
>option to ignore the other players,
>much like Diablo 3.

Despite it being more of an excuse for Blizzard (and it was a legitimate excuse), Diablo 3's RMAH has no comparative component in SimCity. There was no good reason for SimCity to require an always-on connection to the internet. There are simply too many games that allow a standalone single player experience and still provide rich online multi-player experience (including many *by* EA, such as the Madden series) for their "position" to be even remotely legitimate.

EA is a shite company (not just to its customer base, but in general) and you get exactly what you deserve when you support them.
I tried to play every hour last night after work. Eventually I gave up and went to bed. Horrible user experience. It will probably get sorted out in the next couple days, but the servers were ridiculous last night.
I will absolutely never purchase a game which is Single-Player-Online no matter what and neither should anyone else.
Koal said... "I will absolutely never purchase a game which is Single-Player-Online no matter what and neither should anyone else."

I'm eagerly awaiting the Mac release. I really wish it was on Steam, but I guess competition is good if Origin improves. SimCity and LEGO Lord o f the Rings are the only nonSteam games I've bought in a long time.
Platform doesn't bother me that much. The only Origin game I have is Mass Effect 3, and it seems to work fine, just like Steam. I don't get into achievements or the social stuff on Steam. Actually, ME3 does have achievements, just built in to the game.

In this case, the problem is not Origin; it's Sim City's always online requirement. This is Diablo 3's Error 37 all over again. There is absolutely no reason they couldn't put an offline single player mode in, other than greed and incorrect assumptions that it will prevent piracy.

I will probably get it on sale one day like I did with Mass Effect 3.
incorrect assumptions that it will prevent piracy

Incorrect? I can't imagine any scenario in which this always online requirement does not significantly reduce piracy. As far as I understood significant parts of the game are server-side, so you can't just hack it to play offline like Diablo 3.
Unlike Diablo 3, I cannot imagine SimCity having been a huge Pirate target. I'm sure there are some people who will attempt to hack it, but they would have done so regardless of the online-only DRM, because it's their nature to hack games. Like Sir Edmund Hillary, they hack it because it's there.

When I saw it being advertised I considered buying it. Now that I hear it's an online-only game I will not buy it. And no, that does not mean "...but I will pirate/torrent it." I will not buy it, I will not pirate it, I will not play it.

Online-only DRM does not stop nor prevent your game from being pirated; all you accomplish is hurting your legitimate, paying customers. Other than true MMOs, nobody should buy (or pirate ;) online-only games.
I get really annoyed by the 'It's not a single-player game' argument.

If you spend the majority of your time alone, with occasional/low-impact inputs from other players, that does not make it a multiplayer game. If the game would be perfectly playable without those inputs at all, it is not a 'multiplayer game'.

It is a single-player game which has had multi-player features tacked on to justify DRM.

I just can't put up with this anymore, and it's horribly depressing that my boycotts are only likely to be interpreted as game/developer failures, rather than publisher-meddling failures.
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