AwayGoalsRule Football Forum

The Internet's Finest Football Forum

Get moneyback specials on your football betting at PaddyPower


It is currently Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:56 pm

All times are UTC [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 25 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:00 am 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
SimCity owners get free game

Maxis/EA 'we're sorry' giveaway includes SimCity 4


By Jack Clark • The Register



Updated Maxis has published the list of the games it's offering free miffed 'Mayors' to compensate for SimCity's disastrous launch.

The offer was announced by Maxis on Sunday and lets existing customers and those who register before March 25 to get a free game along with their copy of SimCity as compensation. The downloads start on March 22 and registered owners have until the end of the month to grab their games.

"Our SimCity Mayors are incredibly important to the team at Maxis. We sincerely apologize for the difficulties at launch and hope to make it up to you with a free PC game download from Origin," the company wrote ina blog post on Sunday.

Disgruntled SimCity owners can go back to the future by choosing a free copy of SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition - a game that many fans of the series have turned to in the wake of the online troubles the new version has experienced, due to its offline functionality, mature traffic model, large city sizes and verdant ecosystem of mods and add-ons.

Besides SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition, customers can also choose the standard editions of Battlefield 3, Bewjeweled 3, Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Need for Speed Most Wanted, and Plants vs. Zombies.

Maxis decided to give a free game away to customers after its hotly-anticipated online-only town simulator crashed-and-burned upon launch due to widespread server problems. Though these problems have since (mostly) subsided, the game has been dogged with further issues, such as shoddy traffic simulation algorithms and server-side saving errors.

Mischievous buyers that want to send a cold, hard, cash-based signal to EA execs, may note that the retail prices for all these games vary by a significant margin, between the cheap Plants vs. Zombies and more expensive titles like Battlefield 3. After the offer expires it is likely that an EA/Maxis bean-counter will run the numbers on the games people chose and come up with a number representing either lost or missed revenue.
Offline hacks

While EA/Maxis is busy offering SimCity buyers a legit way to build their towns offline (SimCity 4) the fan community is working to cut the links mooring SimCity to servers operated by EA/Maxis.

Several guides have appeared online that can help people work out how to run the game offline with varying levels of functionality, either by modifying local files manually, or by downloading dedicated patches.

One hack posted on major gaming forum NeoGAF, requires the user to comment out a mere line of code.

This appears to contradict EA/Maxis' earlier claims that allowing the game to be played offline would require "a significant amount of engineering work by our team".

Update:

EA CEO John Riccitiello will step down on 30 March, the company announced on Monday.

"We appreciate John's leadership and the many important strategic initiatives he has driven for the Company. We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition," EA's newly-appointed executive chairman Larry Probsts said in a canned statement.

No reason was given for Riccitiello's sudden departure.

Bootnote

Terming owners of the game 'Mayors' is a depressingly (and we suspect unintentional) accurate reflection of the state SimCity buyers find themselves in: though they are in charge of their city, this is temporary and eventually they will have to leave office, probably not at their own wishes but due to external factors.

A full list of the games whose online functions are no longer supported by EA, is available here.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:08 am 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
I saw there was a petition going around for refunds for the people who'd bought Sim City. EA quickly moved to say that wasn't going to happen.

Of the free games other than Sim City 4 Deluxe, which is just the predecessor to Sim City (not including Sim City Societies which was awful), the games are unlikely to appeal to strategy fans.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:20 am 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
I think a refund is a much better idea... maybe then they'd either release a working game, or get rid of the online only part... who knows, they may even give you the entire game on the disk one day which doesn't need tons of for money DLC to complete! :dream: :rolleyes:

As it is, EA threaten to ban the ones who moan.

Once again, I genuinely hope gamers will vote with their wallets. This in unacceptable - to me at least - and if you keep paying them it's no incentive to change. Once the sales figures drop and they make less cash they'll take note.

Me? I still play my copy of Sim City 3000 which still runs fine on Win7 and costs £1 in CEX or £4 new off Amazon. And I ain't buying the new one, which is a great shame imo as I've loved this game since discovering it in the Super Nintendo days. :(

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:28 am 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
Think the first Sim City I played was on the Mega Drive, and as a 10 year old most of the fun was unleashing disasters on an unsuspecting populace :lol:

I've still got Sim City 4 Deluxe Edition, not that I play very often.

It sounded like the new one was adding / changing some good things, but it's not worth the online only and all the problems that've been reported.

Also from what I've read it gets to a point where you have to specialise your city in an area and focus on it, as there's not enough space to have a properly standalone city that doesn't rely on help from others... I have no interest in having other players in the adjacent areas, when their city can impact on mine (things like pollution blowing across borders).

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:01 pm 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Modder hacks SimCity for unlimited offline play

DRM the only reason for game launch disaster?


By Neil McAllister, 14th March 2013 - The Register



A server glitch that rendered the latest version of SimCity virtually unplayable mere hours after its launch could have easily been avoided, players say – because contrary to its publisher's claims, the game doesn't actually require network access at all.

SimCity fans have been fuming over the outage, leading Amazon to pull the game from its virtual shelves after purchasers filed thousands of one-star reviews.

Throughout the debacle, Maxis, the Electronic Arts subsidiary that publishes SimCity, has insisted that online connectivity is necessary even for single-player sessions, because portions of the game's content need to be rendered on Maxis' servers.

Retooling the game so that it doesn't rely on servers would require "a significant amount of engineering," company reps said.

But players have been skeptical, with many voicing suspicions that SimCity phones home solely as a copy-protection mechanism – one that, in this case, shut the game down altogether, even for legitimate purchasers.

One player at online gaming site Kotaku tried yanking his network cable during a SimCity session and found that the game carried on happily for nearly 20 minutes before noticing it was disconnected from the server, something that surely couldn't have happened if it was really relying on online content.

On Tuesday, the game gurus at Rock, Paper Shotgun reported that an anonymous Maxis source had confirmed that – for solo games, at least – SimCity doesn't really need a network connection at all.

"The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," the source said. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities ... But for the game itself? No, they're not doing anything."

Now that appears to be all but confirmed. On Thursday, a Reddit user going by the handle "AzzerUK" posted that he had successfully modded the game to enable a special "debug mode," one that appears to eliminate the connectivity problem completely.


A simple SimCity mod demonstrates that many of the game's limitations are purely artificial

[Click the 'i' at the top right corner of the embedded video for more info on the YT vid for and more up to date video]

With debug mode switched on, AzzerUK found that he could edit the main highways in the game, and he was even able to edit content outside of the normal boundaries of game play.

More importantly, though, debug mode appears to disable the server disconnect checks altogether, allowing a solo gamer to play offline indefinitely (although saving the game isn't possible, as it still wants to save to the server).

Long story short, it seems as though it would have been trivial for Maxis to have avoided the entire SimCity launch fiasco, but that it designed the game to connect regularly to its servers for some reason other than game play.

Here at El Reg, we think DRM is stil the most likely explanation, but Maxis has not responded to our request for comment.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:16 pm 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
I forget where it was, but I'm sure I read that someone had managed to change where the game saves to enable local saving as well.

It can't come as a surprise to anyone that this is the case, always online is a complete farce, and to suggest that their servers are doing anything to help the actual game was always quite far fetched.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:30 pm 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Gamers are not happy...but then that's EA for you.

Quote:
The simulation is even dumber than the versions that came before it. A Sim will leave his house in the morning, pick the nearest job that needs a worker, drive down the shortest PATH (without factoring traffic density or road types... so he'll pick the same dirt track everyone else is using rather than the empty superhighway that would have taken 1m extra) to go to work there. When he finishes in the evening, he'll pick the nearest empty house, and move into that one for the night! So realistic... if you lived in a communist commune! The real world just doesn't work like that, which means any attempts to plan your city as you would a real world one utterly fails. Fire engines will all swarm to put out the nearest fire, leaving everything else merrily burning. Wait... don't real life fire brigades have dispatchers, that handle this sort of thing? Garbage trucks will all follow each other, as they've all calculated exactly the same route. It's utter chaos, weepingly naive, and such a waste from developers that have had a decade, and a 50 times Moores-law increase in computing power to utilise since the last SimCity to do things properly.


Nice. Sounds like it wasn't worth the wait nevermind the money. Trust EA to kill every franchise they touch sooner or later no matter how good it was.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:54 pm 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
Apparently the traffic problems are something they're working on a patch for, hadn't even heard the one about the houses... that's hilarious!!

EA haven't killed every franchise... FIFA is still good :lol:

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:52 pm 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Spawny wrote:
I forget where it was, but I'm sure I read that someone had managed to change where the game saves to enable local saving as well.

It can't come as a surprise to anyone that this is the case, always online is a complete farce, and to suggest that their servers are doing anything to help the actual game was always quite far fetched.



Local saves would be a great 'feature' (although it's laughable to call being able to save your game a feature, surely it's an essential part of the game). I would never want my save games on some random EA server, they'd be too prone to disappearing into the ether whenever EA f**k up and delete them all or close down the server after only a year or two.

Having them on the HDD would be much more convenient as well as more secure. :thumbup:

Crappy DRM measures like this just encourages piracy, no doubt about that. Still EA will get what they deserve, I don't know a single person that's actually bought it besides many of the people I know being big Sim City fans.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:08 pm 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
conscience wrote:
Local saves would be a great 'feature' (although it's laughable to call being able to save your game a feature, surely it's an essential part of the game). I would never want my save games on some random EA server, they'd be too prone to disappearing into the ether whenever EA f**k up and delete them all or close down the server after only a year or two.

Having them on the HDD would be much more convenient as well as more secure. :thumbup:

Crappy DRM measures like this just encourages piracy, no doubt about that. Still EA will get what they deserve, I don't know a single person that's actually bought it besides many of the people I know being big Sim City fans.


Thing is, lets face it, PC gaming is becoming a bit of a mess. There was the Diablo 3 fiasco last year, and now the Sim City farce. Not to mention the number of reviews I've read for PC games which basically say "it's great, if you can get it working". I read a review for the PC version of Dishonored earlier, which said it took a 5 hour download from Steam to get the game working, despite it being installed from disc.

There are so many "giants" of the gaming market trying to exert control, and the net result is a big steaming mess.

Punishing legitimate customers is such a backwards idea that I'm amazed anyone ever thought DRM is a good idea anyway.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:42 pm 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
SimCity review: One week later, time doesn’t heal all wounds

Wait for the game to go live, they said. We did. It didn’t.


by Kyle Orland and Peter Bright - Arstechnica.com



When we got our limited review copies of SimCity, EA implored us to wait until the game went live so that we could authentically experience the full multiplayer experience and hence see everything that the game had to offer. Heeding the company’s advice, we wrote up our initial impressions but held off on a full review.

Then the game went live, causing the game servers to promptly collapse under the load. EA frantically brought new servers online, improved its server code, and disabled certain in-game features in a bid to make the software at least somewhat usable. All things considered, the launch was pretty disastrous. Customers demanded—though did not receive—refunds, and EA offered everyone who bought the game a free second game as compensation.

Despite those early concerns, we've now had sufficient opportunity to try the game in the live environment EA suggested, seeing how the regional and global trading markets work with a population of tens of thousands of other players. As you'll see, our thoughts on the game have changed somewhat since those early impressions, but not really enough to overcome our initial opinion on the game.


Continuing server issues

Kyle: It's kind of impossible to start this review without addressing the server concerns that are still affecting the game. Personally, I didn't run into as many problems as were reported by others. I had trouble getting the game to show up in my Origin library a couple of times, and I saw my server listed as “Full” once when I tried to log in. Otherwise, I was able to play as normal. Maybe I was just lucky with my play schedule.

That said, I was still impacted by the server issues thanks to the elimination of the Cheetah speed option, which is in its sixth day as I write this. It may sound like a minor thing, but the game is considerably less enjoyable to play without this speed option. A large part of playing the game, after you have a relatively stable city, is using Cheetah speed to move time forward quickly so you can gain more money and rapidly see if there are any developing problems about to pop up. At the next step down, Llama speed, the wait for these things is frustratingly slow, to the point where I found myself wanting to play the game less.

By EA's latest accounts, the server issues are almost completely fixed, so for the rest of the review I'd like to evaluate the game as if the servers will be working perfectly in the near future. But at this point, it still can’t be ignored.

Peter: Yo, Kyle. I'm really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but SimCity had one of the worst launches of all time. OF ALL TIME. And we owe it to the readers, and ourselves, to really highlight just how catastrophic this launch has been.

This broken server debacle couldn't have been more predictable. This is SimCity for crying out loud. It's one of the oldest non-console gaming franchises still around, if not the oldest. This is a game I remember playing and becoming hooked on almost 23 years ago in black and white on a friend's Macintosh Classic. Over the years, I've put literally thousands of hours into SimCity games, and that's excluding all those nights I left the game running (with disasters disabled, of course) to build up cash so that I could have abundant money by the time I woke up.

Of course this game was going to be tremendously popular right out of the gate. Given the swiftness with which the game servers collapsed once the game went live in the US, there must have been a substantial number of pre-orders. That should have given EA a good idea of how many people were going to want to start playing it at midnight. There is no sense in which the server loads should have caught them off guard. That it appears to have done so means they either weren't paying attention, didn't do any meaningful testing of their server infrastructure before launching the game, or knew that the servers would be slagged the instant the game went live and simply didn't care.

But thanks to all the pre-ordering suckers like me, why would EA care? They've got my money. They're laughing all the way to the bank. Diablo 3 made a compelling case that it just doesn't matter, and gamers will eagerly gobble down whatever scraps the game companies feed them. I know I'm part of the problem. But what can I do about it? I wanted the extra DLC from the Digital Deluxe pack.

It's been more than a week since the game launched in the US, and I still can't reliably join servers. Even servers listed as "available" when you start the game won't necessarily let you on, instead making you stand in line for 19 minutes or occasionally an hour. When you do get on, not only is Cheetah speed (practically the only one you need) missing, but so are many of the multiplayer features like leaderboards. There's still quite some way to go before this game is working properly as intended.

And I'm still having serious core gameplay issues related to the servers. Like SimCity 4, SimCity has large regions containing a number of discrete, semi-independent buildable plots. Various resources can be traded between plots within a region, and SimCitizens can also move between plots, commuting to work or going out of town to shop, for example. I've been trying to make this work for me. I really have. But I can't, because the different plots in my region are, for want of a better word, disconnected. Occasionally the game recognizes that both plots exist and that one can supply people, power, water, and so on to the other. But most of the time it's just plain broken: one plot just doesn't correctly recognize that the other is there.

I assume this is because the server I'm on is overburdened. I would be happy to move to a different, less crowded server, except for the fact that I couldn't take my cities with me. In what EA might actually call a “feature,” you can be on up to ten regions on any one server, and get ten more if you connect to a new server. Personally, I’d rather have a game-wide limit of ten regions with the ability to move my city between servers freely, just to be able to move my region to a server that's in better health than the one I’m on. But I'm not willing to sacrifice a dozen hours that I've invested into my main city just to switch to a server that's only marginally more reliable.

The experience has definitely improved over the last week, I won’t deny that. You can feel the servers getting faster—interactions between cities are taking much less time than they were—but it still has a way to go. We don’t yet have access to the full game.

Kyle: I can definitely see why EA decided to force cities to stay in place. Being able to move a fully developed and functioning city into a new region on a new server at any point could screw up the careful balance the developers were trying to create with the region system, leaving a gaping hole in one region and creating a too-easy source of wealth in another.




It only starts with the servers

As you noted, Peter, the problem is that the cities in each region seem largely disconnected from one another. The main issue seems to be in the single entry point to most cities, the highway on-ramp. In most of my cities, I'd say there was a constant traffic jam on that one on-ramp at least a good two-thirds of the time. I would have loved to give my Sims another roadway entry into my city, but that's utterly impossible. Instead, I have to watch powerlessly as a near endless row of cars queues up to enter my city well past midnight and into the morning rush hour. Adding other modes of entry like a ferry terminal or a train station later on seems to do little to fix this.

This one transportation problem severely limits the potential of the whole regional system. Every city you create feels like an island that only occasionally gets messages or freight from another far-flung rock in the middle of the ocean, rather than an integrated system of mega-cities, suburbs, manufacturing towns, shopping havens, and so on that make up a vibrant metropolitan area.

Peter: This touches on some of my biggest problems with the game. Creating transport infrastructure is in many regards the very essence of city design and planning. Transport can make or break your city. And yet in SimCity I feel hamstrung. In particular, the lack of both subways and urban highways is devastating. I want to extend those highway entry points into my city to have several exit points and free-flowing high-speed roads between them. I want subways so I can take some traffic off the road network entirely, without having to waste precious land. I'd even like exotica such as one-way streets, flyovers, and underpasses to provide express routes to alleviate some of the worst bottlenecks.

Past SimCity games have included highways and subways, and I expected the new game to build on this solid transport infrastructure foundation. But it didn't. It didn't even keep pace with its predecessors, and I just can't defend that by saying, "Oh it's a reboot." Yeah, OK, it's a reboot. That doesn't mean it can simply discard core elements of city-building gameplay.

I’ll say this, though; once you're in the game, it looks spectacular. It's taken Maxis a long time to reticulate those splines, but they're all reticulated now and they look glorious. Free rotation, smooth zooming from high in the sky down to street level. This is a good-looking game, and it's an intricately detailed one.

When you're zoomed in there's a cute tilt-shift effect where the plane of focus is manipulated to give the impression of the city being much bigger than it is, as if it were life-size. Sure, it's totally gimmicky, but it's gimmicky in a way that's fun and enjoyable (although to my annoyance, the highest tilt-shift setting seems to be broken, at least on my system, causing distracting blurring on the object that’s supposed to be in sharpest focus.)

Kyle: I also liked the ability to zoom in down to the Sim level, though I found it pretty odd to find, for example, Sims playing on my well-lit soccer field when it was "Closed," or watching a street car shuttle fruitlessly between two adjacent stops, rather than going further down the line to help waiting customers.

Peter: Oh definitely. The ability to zoom right in lets you see a lot of the bugs and oversights in the design of the game, and the behavior of vehicles is the biggest issue here. The number of vehicles I've seen pull back-to-back U-turns, or make three right turns instead of one left, or other weird stuff, is too high to count. My particular favorite bit of dumb vehicle behavior is watching a herd of fire trucks all rush to put out the fire nearest to them while ignoring the building burning down next door. And although the emergency services vehicles all have sirens, traffic never even moves out the way for them. They'll sit in a mile-long queue, inching forward, all with their sirens blazing. I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen in real life.

Compounding this issue, the pathfinding seems to be atrocious. Sims will ignore marginally longer—but faster—routes, favoring the shortest route no matter how slow it is. It's outright buggy. Occasionally it does do the right thing, but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

Kyle: The regional system also seems to have odd effects on the self-sufficiency of a city. In one of my cities, I was faced with a large employment problem late in the game, with tons of unfilled jobs and no lots to put new residential housing to fill them. Yet despite this, I got exactly zero people commuting in from other towns to fill some of those jobs, seemingly because nearby players didn't have any unemployed people who were free to commute in. That's all somewhat understandable, and it could have been fixed by converting some of my industrial base to even more residential areas. Except the game was also telling me there was an extreme demand for more industrial space. The conflicting advice made little to no sense.

Speaking of advice, the extremely janky alert system is a major hassle. I can't count the number of times my toolbar would light up with a yellow warning that my sewage treatment plant had clogged pipes, only to see the warning disappear a second later with no input from me. Well, is it a problem or isn't it? Citizens complain about crime even when my police tracker reads "zero crimes per day," which makes little sense (also, there were somehow dozens of criminals listed as committing those zero crimes per day. So... how are they criminals again?) The game would warn me frequently about hazmat fires even when I had a hazmat truck that efficiently took care of them automatically. Was that warning really necessary?

On the flipside, I would occasionally be dumbstruck by problems that the game didn't see fit to warn me about, like buildings that weren't getting enough water or businesses going abandoned because they lacked places to ship freight. And even when I did fix problems, the warnings would often take a good long while to realize they were actually fixed, leading to an odd temporal disconnect that took some getting used to. In a game that's primarily about discovering and responding to problems, these interface issues are extremely unwelcome.

Peter: The hazmat trucks you mentioned do introduce one of the things that I'm loving about the new game: the way city buildings work. In SimCity games of old, “ploppable” buildings had a fixed form and purpose. Now, they’re editable after being set down, with a number of extension modules that can be plopped down near or sometimes even on, the main building. You can add dormitories and specialized schools to a university, or hazmat trucks and fire helicopters to a fire station for instance.

I love the flexibility this gives you in tuning the way you build your city services. For example, do you put down a second grade school—taking more space, but spreading the traffic load—or just extend the one you already have, concentrating your resources but also the flow of Sims?

Kyle: The expandable buildings are nice, but I found it frustrating that I had to attach those new extensions on to very specific points. Even if there was room for a classroom behind the school, for instance, I'd instead have to put it next to the school and destroy some existing property at the same time.

Peter: Yeah, it's a bit odd. For some buildings you can plop the upgrades nearby. The university, in fact, lets you plop the upgrades quite a distance away. Others, however, have to be immediately adjacent. Sometimes that does make sense. Other times, it's just a peculiar limitation.

Kyle: While we're saying nice things, I will say that the new road system has grown on me, especially when I figured out that avenues are pretty much better in every way than plain old streets. While it would be nice to have more public transportation options, I have overcome the traffic problems I faced with my first few cities pretty handily. I also really like the curved roads that let you make much more freeform, less strictly grid-like cities if you want to. Sure, it's less efficient, but it allows for a lot more creativity and for more varied city layouts.

Peter: I have had a lot of difficulty with the roads. There seem to be a lot of small bugs. For example, it sometimes doesn't join road segments together, leaving them overlapping but with no way for traffic to pass between them. I can normally get the layout I want eventually, but it's not quite working how it should.

Kyle: The game is also quite good about giving you lots of information at a glance when you specifically request it. From land value to pollution to water tables, everything is easy to grok at a glance with a click of a specific map. Also, I could spend hours just watching blobs of water flow through pipes to all my buildings on the water map, or watching ambulances skittering around to pick up sick Sims on the health map.

Peter: The new visualizations look great, though I'm still sore that apart from the population graph, we don't have any real means of tracking trends over time. It was very handy to be able to see, for example, graphs of water consumption over time. Sure, looking at the water table gives you an idea of the current situation, and advisors do warn you shortly before you run out. Still, graphs in previous games gave a nice indication both of how water production was dropping off and consumption was growing, which let me plan replacements ahead of time.


Devil is in the details

I'm enjoying the detail, however. For example, even though my advisor annoyingly neglected to tell me that one of my schools was filled, I discovered the problem when examining why a nearby apartment complex was unhappy; one of the things it told me is that they used to be educated but weren't any more. That was neat. The game doesn't merely have a concept of being educated or not; Sims can actually lose their education if the city doesn't have the right resources to maintain it.

Detail is fundamental to the new SimCity concept. Past games used a statistical model. Although SimCity 4 let you create a handful of individual residents for your city, everything else was done using probabilities and statistics. The biggest single change of the new game is that it’s supposed to make this model more personal, modeling every citizen individually. Each Sim has a name. They live in a particular building, and they work in a particular location. They commute back and forth between these specific places. You can follow them around. They can be the victim of a crime, or fall ill, or break their leg.

Or at least, that's the theory. It turns out that that level of modeling was so hard to do that Maxis didn't do it. The publicity and promotion that the company has done, touting its "agent model" that simulates each citizen, would lead you to believe this is how it worked. But it turns out, that's only an approximation. Instead of being individuals with defined jobs and homes, the Sims are just dumb automata. Each morning, they wander the street until they hit a building with an open job. Each night, they drive until they find a home with an empty bed, then they move in.

Worse, Sims get confused incredibly easily. One might start out walking to a job, but if that job gets filled while he’s on the way, he’ll continue walking. He'll never decide "Gosh, I have to walk further now; I guess I'd better get on a bus." He'll just walk all day long and then complain he can't find a job. To top it all off, it appears that at some point the game even stops creating these dumb agents, inflating the population statistics to make it seem like there are more citizens than are actually modeled, leading to endless complaints from employers that they can't get enough staff in any large city.

Maxis' ambitions were high, but they were clearly too complex to actually deliver. Problem is, the marketing was never scaled back when the game was.

Kyle: Yeah, overall I’d say the game’s changes generally feel like great ideas on paper that simply fell apart when the developers tried to implement them. Rather than going back to the drawing board and eliminating all the things that were causing the numerous annoying conflicts we’ve been talking about, they seem to have tried to apply a coat of paint to the whole thing and patch it together to make the target launch date.

Some of these problems will be fixable by patches as the game continues to grow and mature. But some of them seem pretty inherent to the way the game has been designed. Things like intercity traffic and commerce and the true simulation of individual Sims seem like problems that will be tough if not impossible to fix. At this point, Maxis might be better off starting over and trying for a more manageable simulation next time around.

Peter: The simulation shortcuts are particularly punishing when you start playing with another one of the big new features: city specializations. The idea here is pretty cool: You pick one set of themed buildings in an area like casinos, mining, petrochemicals, or electronics. These all create jobs and resources that can be sold on the global market. But they can also have more direct effects, like mining for coal to burn in power plants.


With enough time and money, you can work your way up the resource chain to refined products like metal, alloy, plastic, and fuel. These can be further refined into things like processors (made from plastic and alloy), which in turn can be turned into lucrative consumer products (TVs and computers).

The final step in the chain is a "great work" that can be set up on a specific point in a region; major projects like self-sufficient arcologies, giant solar power plants, international airports, or space centers. These projects are designed to take the pooled resources of several different cities and bring great benefits to the entire region in exchange for their high cost in money and resources.

This whole system brings a new kind of complexity to SimCity, and although there are some rough edges (there doesn't appear to be any good way to move resources instantly between specialized cities to set up automated workflows, aside from making manual gift transfers), it's a worthy addition.

Kyle: I liked the general idea of specializations, but I was pretty annoyed at just how much space the buildings they needed took up. To build an expo center or processor plant late in the game, for instance, I had to clear away four whole blocks of productive cityscape. That wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that I had already reached the limits of the very small buildable area for my city, and I wouldn’t be able to find room to replace any of the things I was being forced to destroy. In a game where keeping a careful balance of building types is so important, being forced to destroy old ones just to build new ones, well before the “tech tree” is exhausted, is beyond frustrating.

Peter: And of course, if the multi-plot play were smoother—if there were no server issues, if there were rich transport options between plots, if the pathfinding weren’t so awful—this wouldn’t be such a big deal. It would be practical to spread your city between several plots within a region. But it isn’t. There’s a kind of negative synergy here: not only are the plots too small, the tools we get to deal with the plot size are themselves limited.

This also hampers multiplayer. I think that the multi-plot play is a great idea. In SimCity 4 people devised all sorts of unreliable hacks using Dropbox and similar software to share their regions and enable multiple players to develop adjoining plots, so there’s definitely genuine player demand. But you’re left with this situation of a weird mix of interdependence—there’s not enough room to make any one city do everything—and isolation, due to the poor connectivity.

Given this, one might almost think that the online, server-based requirement isn't in fact to support multiple players, but rather to combat piracy.

“I wanted to love this game”

Kyle: Reading this over just now, it’s pretty clear we’re in agreement on the current state of the new SimCity: some nice ideas, a few of which are even implemented well, but overall a case of too much promise and too little delivery. It might be worth revisiting the game when EA has inevitably had the chance to patch and DLC the hell out of it, but for now, it’s a hard game to recommend.

Peter: More than anything else, I wanted to love this game. I have loved SimCitys past, and I love the SimCity idea. But I do not love this game. I like specializations, the graphics are gorgeous, there are some great little details. These are offset by glaring flaws. The game is broken in ways that are important to me. I hope that, as with Diablo III—another game with a disastrous launch—EA/Maxis can patch the game to fix the things that have gone so wrong. They've made some promising noises. But I'm not holding my breath.

Quote:
The Good

Beautiful, detailed, smooth zooming graphics that bring the cities to life
Effective at-a-glance statistical mapping and visualizations
Specializations add some interesting "end game" options
Multiplayer without Dropbox hacks

The Bad

Extremely limited transportation options
Major traffic and sim-level simulation glitches
Contradictory and confusing problem alert system
Tiny city size limits building options
Lack of graphing over time for many key statistics

The Ugly

Having problems logging into servers nine days after launch
Not being able to play when offline
No real savegames, making experimentation a costly, dangerous affair


_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:43 am 
Offline
AGR Poster Of The Year
AGR Poster Of The Year
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:08 pm
Posts: 3870
Location: Whitehall, PA USA
I wonder if this fiasco and the similar Diablo 3 problem is making Sony and Microsoft reconsider always online consoles for the next gen.....although I'd guess no


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:49 am 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
Wouldn't bet on it James, and depending on how far along they are in development it maybe tough to go back on that decision anyway.

To me it's crazy, not everywhere in the world has reliable fast broadband, so you're effectively cutting those people out of your target market from the get go.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:33 am 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Spawny wrote:
Wouldn't bet on it James, and depending on how far along they are in development it maybe tough to go back on that decision anyway.

To me it's crazy, not everywhere in the world has reliable fast broadband, so you're effectively cutting those people out of your target market from the get go.


You're spot on about artificially restricting sales. It's madness imho, as it seems they'd rather make less cash than not control every single aspect of their games. It's pure greed.

Chances are it's only software that phones home to check connections/authorise the licence/inflict DRM etc. so it could be changed... unless they've included it in hardware which makes it trickier but somebody will still no doubt find a way. I seem to recall Dell doing this with their laptops before, certain models featured an unlisted chip hidden under another component that phoned home with all sorts of info, such as what software you had installed etc. People were not happy when they found out.

It'll be interesting to see what happens because there must be a lot of people who play offline all around the world and even closer to home in their relatively rich target markets. For example, I know my brother has never connected his XBox360 or his PS3 (before it died) to the internet for instance, and he buys a fair few games so it'll cost them a fortune if the new games refuse to play offline at all.


Though tbh, with people like EA and Ubisoft etc. requiring permanent net connections and EA's absolutely shocking "we'll retire game features with 30 days notice" tacked onto their EULA's, and their tendency to turn off games you've bought after only a year or two - who'd be daft enough to buy from them anyway? :rolleyes:

As it said in the article:

Peter Bright - Arstechnica.com wrote:
But thanks to all the pre-ordering suckers like me, why would EA care? They've got my money. They're laughing all the way to the bank. Diablo 3 made a compelling case that it just doesn't matter, and gamers will eagerly gobble down whatever scraps the game companies feed them. I know I'm part of the problem. But what can I do about it? I wanted the extra DLC from the Digital Deluxe pack.


This is the big problem though, too many gamers still hand over their money often well in advance of seeing any 'finished' game (if, indeed, they bother finishing their game at all) and that's why greedy games companies continue to get away with it. I read somewhere that 90% of SimCity 2013 sales were actually pre-orders, another 5% were EA season pass holders so only 5% of initial sales were retail sales where people had the chance to check out (terrible) reviews.

Hell, with all that money banked before they've finished it's no wonder there's no incentive for them to finish/polish the game to any kind of decent standard. It's no wonder these companies think: Oh well, we might as well abandon the current project and move onto the next one so we can start collecting the pre-order cash from that... Kerching! :wall: :cens:

Nobody should really pre-order anything they haven't seen finished. But do you have the will power? :D

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:06 pm 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
Often if I'm streaming a football match, or watching something on LoveFilm then I'll disconnect my Xbox from the internet, just to prevent it taking any bandwidth from my PC. Tend to find that streaming works better without the Xbox connected, even when I'm only playing FIFA in single player as it keeps uploading and downloading stuff from the EA servers, I'll be sat playing a match and it'll tell me that one of my friends has just lost 17-0 vs someone playing as Bradford City... as if I'm meant to care.

The rest of the time I leave it connected, but it's nice to have the option.

I pre-order a lot less than I used to, there are still some games that I will pre-order regardless. GTAV will probably be on that list, Injustice: Gods Among Us is edging closer to that list too.

The thing that annoys me is the pre-order content which is exclusive to certain retailers, Amazon seem to get a fair few exclusive things these days, but when I've used them for pre-orders in the past they're terrible. So you can either get the game on time and miss out on certain content, or have the content but play a week later than everyone else... :wall:

The always online thing is also handy for devs / publishers as it makes it much easier to fix / finish games after release. So you can sell your game earlier, then just release an update to fix the problems you know are there already. Rather than actually making the game playable before release.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:36 pm 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Spawny wrote:
The rest of the time I leave it connected, but it's nice to have the option.

I pre-order a lot less than I used to, there are still some games that I will pre-order regardless. GTAV will probably be on that list, Injustice: Gods Among Us is edging closer to that list too.

The thing that annoys me is the pre-order content which is exclusive to certain retailers, Amazon seem to get a fair few exclusive things these days, but when I've used them for pre-orders in the past they're terrible. So you can either get the game on time and miss out on certain content, or have the content but play a week later than everyone else... :wall:

The always online thing is also handy for devs / publishers as it makes it much easier to fix / finish games after release. So you can sell your game earlier, then just release an update to fix the problems you know are there already. Rather than actually making the game playable before release.


Gamers really should stick to publishers who hate them a little less.

Fingers crossed they're both decent and finished games then... cause these days you're taking a risk it'll even get finished. And it'd be nice if the always online thing = fixed games but that's not what it's for and you're often lucky if it gets finished/fixed at all ever.

Do you have many games that got completely finished/fixed after release, or did the problems persist? IMO there's simply no incentive for greedy developers to do that any more because they have all the money in for it already... and it's pre-orders take that incentive away. Make 'em finish it before you pay is my view.

The exclusive content scam and Day One DLC is amusing, because they know they'll get some gamers with no self-control buying their game more than once each just to get a new bit of DLC that should have been on the disc or an 'exclusive' poster etc. Trouble is, every retailer has an exclusive version these days so you'd need more money than sense to try and collect it all.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:09 pm 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
I'm pretty sure that every single game I've got on my X360 has downloaded updates for something or other at some point. They're usually to fix some bug or other, make a particular function work, make a certain quest appear when it should.

There are still some bugs that get over-looked, but in FIFA13 for example in the first career mode season I offered 3 players new contracts as their deals had less than a year to go, they all agreed the new deals but instead of going to 3 or 4 years it said they had -4 years, I couldn't offer them another contract, and that summer they left on free transfers. That hasn't happened since the first update that was downloaded for FIFA13.

Of course that should have been fixed before the game came out, but it wasn't. It was fixed by a patch later that automatically downloaded when you start the game.

Some people are idiots like that. Personally it would have to be a pretty great pre-order bonus to get me to pay any extra at all. The last game I pre-ordered was £2 more on Amazon than on ShopTo, but Amazon had exclusive content... I bought it from ShopTo. Last game I was willing to buy from a slightly less reliable retailer to get bonus stuff was Mass Effect 3, which I ordered first from Game, then from ShopTo when Game weren't getting any stock. Then switched to Zavvi to get pre-order content, then ended up switching back to ShopTo once they announced they'd have the DLC too.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:44 am 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Spawny wrote:
I'm pretty sure that every single game I've got on my X360 has downloaded updates for something or other at some point. They're usually to fix some bug or other, make a particular function work, make a certain quest appear when it should.

There are still some bugs that get over-looked...

...which I ordered first from Game, then from ShopTo when Game weren't getting any stock. Then switched to Zavvi to get pre-order content, then ended up switching back to ShopTo once they announced they'd have the DLC too.


Fair enough if the updates are meaningful, but I still think pre-orders are bad for gaming generally.

Talk about making your mind up and (not) sticking to it! :lol: It shows the influence the supposed 'exclusives' actually have though.

I think the answer here and with PC gaming in general is not to be taken in by all the hype, and simply avoid publishers that overcharge through DLC/too many DRM and other restrictions/lose your personal data etc. and stick with the ones that just release top quality games without all the drama. TBH 'AAA' has become synonymous with poor quality/rushed and/or unfinshed sequels these days so they shouldn't be too hard to resist.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:06 am 
Offline
Major General
Major General

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 11695
Highscores: 1
I don't think that pre-orders are bad for the business as such, they just shouldn't be taken as an excuse to rush games out. I didn't pre-order Far Cry 3, and when it came out and the reviews were good, I went out to try and buy it... sold out everywhere. So pre-orders certainly serve a purpose.

It'd be nice if there was more media coverage of games from smaller devs / publishers who don't put aggressive DRM in their games, but 99% of the time all the media hype goes on those games, so finding the ones that're good and don't have all that stuff attached is easier said than done.

_________________
idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: SimCity 2013 owners get free game
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:59 am 
Offline
General
General
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 17205
Location: Over there.
Highscores: 2
Spawny wrote:
I don't think that pre-orders are bad for the business as such, they just shouldn't be taken as an excuse to rush games out. I didn't pre-order Far Cry 3, and when it came out and the reviews were good, I went out to try and buy it... sold out everywhere. So pre-orders certainly serve a purpose.

It'd be nice if there was more media coverage of games from smaller devs / publishers who don't put aggressive DRM in their games, but 99% of the time all the media hype goes on those games, so finding the ones that're good and don't have all that stuff attached is easier said than done.


There's always online distribution that cannot sell out, EG Steam etc. and even the likes of Amazon will sell you a download only copy on the rare occasions they're out of stock of physical products. I just don't see the mad rush to get a new game. If you really wanted the boxed version they'll all be re-stocking, no? It's not like all the installation files will be on the DVD these days anyway, almost reducing it to souvenir/shelf-wasting status... :rolleyes:

I can see the value of a pre-order with a small, indie developer where it might help fund development or reboot a 'franchise' (boy do I hate that word) on Kickstarter a la Carmageddon and Divine Divinity that Mrs C helped to fund, but I see the reverse with these massive corporations like EA who just want your money and don't care if the game is any good or if you like it or not. They have the cash to advertise and buy the good reviews which I assume must simply turn out cheaper than finishing the games so it's their preferred course of action and they'll continue to leave games buggy and/or unfinished etc. just to get to the next pile of pre-order cash until people stop giving them the lion's share of the money in advance. And of course, without the rush to buy the latest versions they might be forced to leave their servers on for longer than a year or two.

Totally agree about DRM free getting little or no attention in the press, I can only assume because most gamers don't give it a second thought and hand over their cash even if the game has so much badly designed DRM it is practically broken. :doh:

In the meantime, besides Kickstarter you can always shop at GOG.com of course, or the Humble Bundles, Indie Royale (a lot like Humble Bundle), Desura etc. and stop giving parasites like EA your money.

_________________
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Image
Image


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 25 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
cron