SimCity 5 Catch-All - Offline mode coming in next update

B Dog wrote:

Plus, it looked like a** on the recommended settings for my system and chugged when I upped the eye candy. Not Maxis's fault, of course, but it would certainly make me think twice about buying it until I've had a chance to upgrade my computer.

I upgraded my PC just to play SC4 because it murdered my old Gateway machine. I'm thinking I'll have to upgrade my current one to play the new version.

Speaking of, I think we (OK, me) need to let go of the idea that this game is going to be Sim City 5 (i.e. a sleeker, updated version of SC4). I know that's what a lot of folks wanted, but EA didn't deliver that for reasons both good and bad. The new SC will be a new and different game, and we'll have to evaluate it on those merits. I'm willing to withhold judgment till I get my hands on it.

As for the always-on component, I'm a pretty hard-core WoW player, and the always-on server is the way WoW has rolled for eight years now. The servers have been exceptionally stable for several years now, with regular Tuesday maintenance and the occasional rolling restart. I have no complaints with Blizzard. I hope EA is as close to as good on the server issue.

Limited beta experience so far, but it ran great on my i5-2500k, Radeon 6850, 8 gb ram maxed out and I'll test it on my old lappy 486 if I can actually play today (see below). As far as actual beta issues I has some screen tearing on scroll and had some mouse issues with nothing being clickable other than the menu button during the tutorial.

I really like how the glassbox engine handles the simulation (power, water, etc.) As far as the game goes I've enjoyed it, curvy roads are very cool but the guide snapping seems to be a little off, especially on curves. They need to clean up the tile merging and intersection generation a bit, but I never saw anything as bad as some of the screen caps floating around the web. Also, [Insert small region comment here] and I really wish (mostly from an aesthetic standpoint) the regions were adjacent to each other, I think that would help mask the region size.

Overall I like it and I'll buy it* but I'm not going to give up SC4 (especially with a new NAM coming out). It's a different experience from simcities past and as much as I was opposed to the online play aspects I think they'll bring an interesting aspect to the game.

I'll play some more over the weekend and see how I feel then.

*I'd preorder if I could get over being scared about network connection errors:

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/JYwcikB.png)
Hopefully a BETA issue and not something that will carry over. It also says the "beta is not open yet."

Quintin_Stone wrote:
ahrezmendi wrote:

That EA got smacked down by the market. They tried new things (Mirror's Edge, anybody?) and the buying public was proven to be liars.

Not liars, just the vocal minority. Sadly, we here at GWJ are the exception, not the rule. I just finished Mirror's Edge and it was a lot of fun.

We are, but I have to imagine that EA did at least some market studies before investing in a bunch of new IPs to determine how much general interest there was in it. Regardless they got hit hard. I also loved Mirror's Edge, I thought it was a fantastic game and I keep hoping it will get a sequel.

Downloading the beta now, I'm excited.

mrwynd wrote:

IMAGE(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8217/8416139724_36ea925b42_o.png)

Got a key in my email!

+1

Play is currently blocked while they investigate problems. Sad face.

Hey, Origin has built-in streaming support through Twitch.TV. I think this is awesome, and I wish Steam would do this.

Here's a preview from PC Gamer that has some images showing the max 'city' size.

That's what you get when you have to run on a server farm, instead of using your own hardware. If you could run it locally, the hard reality of the CPU market is that you could have a city easily four times that size, if not much larger -- and that's assuming they can afford to devote an entire core just to you, which is probably optimistic to the point of brain damage.

CPU cores in consumer hardware are super cheap. CPU cores that run the exact same speed, but in hardware that's designed to be reliable enough to work as a server, are astonishingly expensive.

Forcing you to run your game online is impossibly f*cking stupid. You can deploy massive CPU resources, devoted just to your own game. If you have to run on their servers, the $10 profit they make selling you your copy would barely pay for the electricity to run a CPU for a couple hundred hours, much less buying the actual CPU.

This game is going to be a complete clusterf*ck.

And all this stupidity, all this insane f*cking stupidity, is because they think you're a thief.

Hence why I'm still on this fence - I'm not shelling out $50-60 for a game that I won't be able to play once EA decides to shut off the servers (likely to push people toward the next SimCity purchase.)

Wow. You really think the simulation is running on the server? I'm honestly at a loss for words.

I hope they resolve the login issues soon, today is my free day to play.

ahrezmendi wrote:

I hope they resolve the login issues soon, today is my free day to play.

I was able to get in earlier (about a hour ago) and play for almost a hour before I had to quit, but I know the server kept going up and down while I was in. I went 15 minutes without getting booted before it connected again.

I ran it on lappy, which is an older i3-350 with intel HD graphics and 4 gb ram. Ran everything on lowest 1024x768. It's not pretty but it ran ok, so it could be done if you were really serious.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Wow. You really think the simulation is running on the server? I'm honestly at a loss for words.

I hope they resolve the login issues soon, today is my free day to play.

My problem is more so with any system that requires you to authenticate with EA's servers in order to even play the game. Most of the simulation stuff is running on your machine, (I think) except for when it needs to check on what your neighbors are doing.

Malor wrote:

That's what you get when you have to run on a server farm, instead of using your own hardware. If you could run it locally, the hard reality of the CPU market is that you could have a city easily four times that size, if not much larger -- and that's assuming they can afford to devote an entire core just to you, which is probably optimistic to the point of brain damage.

CPU cores in consumer hardware are super cheap. CPU cores that run the exact same speed, but in hardware that's designed to be reliable enough to work as a server, are astonishingly expensive.

Forcing you to run your game online is impossibly f*cking stupid. You can deploy massive CPU resources, devoted just to your own game. If you have to run on their servers, the $10 profit they make selling you your copy would barely pay for the electricity to run a CPU for a couple hundred hours, much less buying the actual CPU.

Has anyone looked to see what connections are open when you play the game and to where? I know EA use Amazon for their Origin download hosting (as do a lot of people) but I wonder who's hosting this game. They use independent server providers for things like Battlefield where it makes a bit of sense to let put up their own servers, but no longer let people host their own (for a variety of debatable reasons), but I wonder what they do for SimCity which is more centralised.

Also what's the lag situation, whether it waits for the server to confirm actions, or if it accepts being behind the client and syncs every so often, both for the state of the city and the wider region data.

Well, I'm cancelling my pre-order. The game just has no soul, it lacks that "je ne sais quoi" that made 2000 and 4 so great. It's sad because I really like some of the ideas they have, like improving service buildings by buying additions, and the regional improvements, but I was bored playing it. I found myself wishing I could zone like in 4 and have the game auto-place roads for me. I also wanted to be able to tweak my budget more than just raising/lowering taxes.

I hope those of you who do buy it have fun.

I'll step up and defend.. :]

I thought the beta was pretty great, and left me wanting more. I haven't played Simcity 4 since it came out, and if you judge this is a successor, I understand the disappointment, especially with regard to city size. But judging on its own merits, it think this is worth a try. Looks beautiful, the interface is great. Loved building arcing roads mirroring the coastline. Most importantly, I felt much more connected to the simulation. The cars on the road feel less like an abstracted representation of traffic, and more like literal cars participating in the world. I'm ok sacrificing scale if it comes with well executed detail. And while online DRM that keeps you from playing is infuriating, I'm very interested in seeing the multiplayer, and participating in a region.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Well, I'm cancelling my pre-order. The game just has no soul, it lacks that "je ne sais quoi" that made 2000 and 4 so great. It's sad because I really like some of the ideas they have, like improving service buildings by buying additions, and the regional improvements, but I was bored playing it. I found myself wishing I could zone like in 4 and have the game auto-place roads for me. I also wanted to be able to tweak my budget more than just raising/lowering taxes.

I hope those of you who do buy it have fun.

You nailed my thoughts exactly. I'd add that waiting half an hour for their server issues to get resolved only reinforced my hesitance about this game.

I think I need to expand my boycott of Ubisoft to just include all ridiculous DRM-laden games. The pile is so big and there are so many other fantastic games that it's just not worth the hassle to me anymore. If a game is not "launch and play" without required secondary logins (e.g., UPlay, Origin) I'm not going to waste my time on it.

Interesting, 'cause I felt less connected to the simulation because all the intricacies of running the city from 2000 and 4 were gone. No more adjusting individual tax rates per zone, which means no more encouraging Tech by lowering tax rates on Commercial and reducing pollution by heavily taxing Dirty Industry. No more zones of influence for your service buildings, probably in part due to the smaller map size, but it still gives you less to tinker with.

I really would have liked to try the Region features, it's disappointing they disabled all of them for the demo. It's also the feature I was looking forward to the most, so finding out it wasn't available for this really cooled my interest.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Interesting, 'cause I felt less connected to the simulation because all the intricacies of running the city from 2000 and 4 were gone. No more adjusting individual tax rates per zone, which means no more encouraging Tech by lowering tax rates on Commercial and reducing pollution by heavily taxing Dirty Industry. No more zones of influence for your service buildings, probably in part due to the smaller map size, but it still gives you less to tinker with.

I really would have liked to try the Region features, it's disappointing they disabled all of them for the demo. It's also the feature I was looking forward to the most, so finding out it wasn't available for this really cooled my interest.

You can adjust taxes for each zone. You have to add a Department of finance onto you Town Hall. And there are zones of influence. They just are no longer hard cutoffs. The area near a hospital will see an increase in land value plus Sims in that area will receive medical care quicker than Sims outside of it.

Tkyl wrote:
ahrezmendi wrote:

Interesting, 'cause I felt less connected to the simulation because all the intricacies of running the city from 2000 and 4 were gone. No more adjusting individual tax rates per zone, which means no more encouraging Tech by lowering tax rates on Commercial and reducing pollution by heavily taxing Dirty Industry. No more zones of influence for your service buildings, probably in part due to the smaller map size, but it still gives you less to tinker with.

I really would have liked to try the Region features, it's disappointing they disabled all of them for the demo. It's also the feature I was looking forward to the most, so finding out it wasn't available for this really cooled my interest.

You can adjust taxes for each zone. You have to add a Department of finance onto you Town Hall. And there are zones of influence. They just are no longer hard cutoffs. The area near a hospital will see an increase in land value plus Sims in that area will receive medical care quicker than Sims outside of it.

I was able to play an hour last night, and I can confirm that the department of finance opened up granular tax setting. Overall, building improvements seem to be much more than 'now it produces more power'-type of changes. I also found that my fire and police buildings had effective zones as well - they simply couldn't respond to calls further out because the individual cruisers/trucks were busy closer to home. As a result, I had people demanding more vehicles (e.g., extend coverage) or new stations.

I had a lot of fun with it, but I could tell that an hour was not enough time to understand everything they're offering. 1/2 the buildings weren't even available. I'm definitely not cancelling my preorder even if I felt the game didn't have everything I wanted - because we haven't seen the whole game. I can't even imagine what I'd think of SC 4 if someone handed to me for an hour.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Interesting, 'cause I felt less connected to the simulation because all the intricacies of running the city from 2000 and 4 were gone. No more adjusting individual tax rates per zone, which means no more encouraging Tech by lowering tax rates on Commercial and reducing pollution by heavily taxing Dirty Industry. No more zones of influence for your service buildings, probably in part due to the smaller map size, but it still gives you less to tinker with.

After SimCity 4, Will Wright said he felt they needed to simplify things a bit, but that sounds like they decided to roll the level of control all the way back to the original SimCity (simple taxing rates, no areas of influence for services). I was hoping they would roll things back to 2000.

shoptroll wrote:

After SimCity 4, Will Wright said he felt they needed to simplify things a bit, but that sounds like they decided to roll the level of control all the way back to the original SimCity (simple taxing rates, no areas of influence for services). I was hoping they would roll things back to 2000.

As we noted above, neither of those things is true.

As someone who has not played a sim city since 2000, should I go ahead and pre-order? My nostalgia says yes, but my brain wants to temper my excitement. Stupid brain.

Why preorder? Why not wait and see if the servers will meltdown at release and make it worth waiting a few weeks (or months) first?

That's my plan.

I'd pick up SC4 or Cities XL before I preorder a game that might have a horrific launch.

Farscry wrote:

Why preorder? Why not wait and see if the servers will meltdown at release and make it worth waiting a few weeks (or months) first?

That's my plan. :)

garion333 wrote:

I'd pick up SC4 or Cities XL before I preorder a game that might have a horrific launch.

Good point. I'll hold off and wait until after release then. Perhaps I should warm up with SC4, which I didn't know I already had a copy of on Steam.

Really though, as soon as it's clear that the servers are stable and people aren't getting connection/crashing/saving problems galore anymore post-release, you can bet I'll be grabbing this one. I'm disappointed that the city size is apparently so small, but otherwise I'm still pretty excited about what they're doing here.

The current max size doesn't bother me that much, but I get the weird feeling that larger city sizes will be locked behind dlc in the future.

This should be my most anticipated game of the year. I have loved the Simcity games for virtually my entire life. But the lack of a large city option (or the ability to string together multiple city plots to form a large metropolitan area) is pretty close to a deal breaker for me.

I don't care if every citizen is simulated. Who cares if that comes at the expense of city size? Abstraction can be your friend, Maxis! And it could even be scalable! For small-ish towns, go ahead and model every citizen. But as the size of your city grows, maybe the engine only models half of the "agents" in the game. Or whatever number it can handle.

This is just shaping up to be so disappointing.

I don't care that much about city size; even in all the previous SCs (and I played all of them to death but that Societies one) making huge metropoli never appealed that much to me. As long as there is enough space to do the thing I want to do, it's fine. The game looks great and I like the simulation aspects of it.

What is worrisome to me are the servers. Always-on is problematic especially for EA games, given their track record of quick hooks for their servers. Shoot, I recently fired up SC2K after re-buying it on GoG; I want to be able to fire this up in 2026 and chances are I will not be able to.

Anyone in the beta that can comment about how much fiscal control you have? I saw the posts where your tax options open up by building certain things; I like that. What about ordinances and such? Is there any mechanic in this that corresponds to those?

Regardless, this is probably a day-month purchase for me; I need to see how the servers shake out post-release before dropping some money onto it.

It's funny but I'm again reminded of the RDR vs GTA argument in relation to Sim City 5.

I'm a huge Rockstar fan and will buy virtually any sandbox game they develop sight-unseen. That said, as much as I love the GTA series, the cityscape always felt like a fake Hollywood back-lot set. The player can only enter 1% of the hundreds of houses, buildings, and skyscrapers sprawled throughout the environment. It's beautiful to look at, but there's an odd Twilight Zone feeling about it.

Juxtapose that with the recent Red Dead Redemption the late-19th century Western Territories were sparsely populated, with only dustbowl towns dotting vast expanses of wilderness. As such, the player in RDR can enter virtually every building in the game (sans one late-game area). They're so few and far between that the artists and game engine can easily handle the task of full freedom exploration for the player. It makes the world feel authentic and immersive. Far more than GTA's urban centers.

The issues I keep hearing about Sim City 5 are now reminding me of the Sim City vs Tropico argument. Sim City is going for density at the cost of expanse. It's great to have granular systems in place, tracking every last Sim Citizen populating your town. But it seems as though that's taxing the baseline system specs Maxis/EA are shooting for. I can certainly see an argument to be made for breadth vs micro-systems. An ideal world would have both, but it seems resources and particularly in this case, end-user system specs, prevent this from happening.

Now look at something like Tropico 4. It has the identical depth of Sim City (perhaps lacking in some areas and exceeding in others), down to the single citizen behavior/stat-mapping. But it masks these complex computations in a game world far smaller than Sim City. Tropico 4 is just a small island nation with a generally low population. The island is big enough to have a busy center, surrounded by "suburbs" and industrial/commercial locations, but it never taxes the game engine too much. However, the trump card is the naturally low population and the way that it's all spread out in a completely authentic fashion. The island is big enough to support a growing population and economy, but the natural land size (compared to real-world) is 100% authentic, so nothing ever feels fake or constrained.

I'm really curious to see how SC5 turns out and if the devs can indeed expand the land size. I just wonder if that's a ways off as standard targeted consumer PCs catch up to the number-crunching necessary to support large Sim City maps at the level of detail they're shooting for now.

I think you're right: a lot of the problem is the framing of the game. If this was SimSmallTown or SimDetailedDowntown or Children of the Nile or some comparable framing no one would blink an eye, but there's a lot of baggage that comes along with the name SimCity.