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

Wait, how is a grid setup inefficient in a system where the mechanics are based on road distance away from something?

Pretty much all new developments, terrain permitting, are set up on grids precisely because that's the optimal way of doing things.

looking at that image it does seem like his blocks are a little small, but other than that it seems fine.

Some random thoughts on my part:

A lot of the reviews seem to follow the train of thought I had. It's fun if you don't try to think of it as a SimCity sequel. I kept worrying about the smaller city sizes, but as I looked at various videos, I realized if I stopped trying to compare it to the previous titles, it just looked like a lot of fun.

I am a bit worried about the servers. Honestly, nowadays, it should all be cloud-based, and they should auto-deploy new servers and load balancers as needed based on demand. And if their private infrastructure can't keep up, it should transparently start deploying more infrastructure on one or more public clouds as well.

Maybe we should start a thread for each region, along the same lines of the various multiplayer strategy games that get going (Civ, etc.)? I'll be on vent tonight to hop on and play for a bit, if I can get it loaded. Personally, I plan on developing some higher education and high-tech commerce.

You say failure, I say progress.

Yonder wrote:

Wait, how is a grid setup inefficient in a system where the mechanics are based on road distance away from something?

Gridlock. Any sim can access anything from anywhere, yes, but it will take a long time because of all the intersections to get pretty much anywhere, and they have a maximum time/distance they're willing to travel. It will be more important to strategically place and the right class residential buildings near the right-class commercial and buildings and make travel between the two efficient, and to do likewise with all the other major simciten functions. Unlike earlier SimCities, the per-sim simulation means things have to be practical for every person and not just a statistical average.

I imagine, though, that any city with 200k+ will be crowded and inefficient (until they add subways).

deftly wrote:

It's fun if you don't try to think of it as a SimCity sequel. I kept worrying about the smaller city sizes, but as I looked at various videos, I realized if I stopped trying to compare it to the previous titles, it just looked like a lot of fun.

This will be easy for me because I loved SimCity on PC and SNES but tried playing 2000 and 3000 and was put off by the minutia.

After watching some gameplay footage and seeing the group response here, I broke down and ordered a box copy from Amazon. So I'll have it Wed. or Thurs. depending on which warehouse the game ships from.

I'll be a little late compared to you first day gamers, but maybe they'll have any server issues fixed by the time I have the game.

EDIT: My Origin friends list is non-existent so I'm dropping friend requests to a number of you in the thread. Apologies for the invites without messages referencing GWJ, but I can't seem to find a way to attach messages to the invites in Origin. I'm also Jasonofindy on Origin if any one would like to add me.

No steam makes me sad, I never use origin.

My key just popped up on the GMG site. Can't wait, hoping the servers don't implode tonight, so i can get some early work in on the city (not on again til sunday).

Hypatian wrote:

Wow. That ArsTechnica review makes me very sad with just how much the guy whose screenshots are shown tried to play it like it was exactly the same game as SC4. Looking at the last image, it's clear to me that he was trying to hew to a SC4-style grid layout that just plain doesn't work with the road-oriented nature of the game.

It's not about physical proximity, it's about network proximity on the roads, and it would be difficult to produce a layout that was uglier and less efficient than what he was doing.

I can understand the confusion—it's a very different game, in terms of the core mechanics. But I kept feeling like he was blaming the game for his lack of understanding, and never attempted to try to figure out what he was missing. He just did what he always does and assumed it would work and was pissed off that it didn't.

It hurt to read. :(

And do you blame him? Sim City games have ALWAYS been about physical proximity with a grid layout being the most efficient.

It's clear that Peter Bright was not enjoying himself. He says that "it's not the game he wanted it to be", so you can understand his frustration.

I'll reserve judgement until I actually play it and I've deliberately been avoiding vids and stuff so it'll be interesting to see what it's like.

Due to the "paused city" issues it would be really nice if you could either run several instances of the game on one machine, then just alt-tab back and forth. I'm guessing even a modern machine couldn't do more than 3 or 4 at once, but that would be better than only 1.

Happytime Harry wrote:

No steam makes me sad, I never use origin.

Origin is the devil. He told me so yesterday.

Yonder wrote:

Wait, how is a grid setup inefficient in a system where the mechanics are based on road distance away from something?

There are a few aspects to this. One is a bit what Keithustus said with the gridlock.

First: In previous SimCity games, traffic and pedestrians were an abstraction. In this game, they actually follow some semblance of traffic laws. That means that gridlock and traffic congestion and the like do occur. (It's not perfect: cars will sometimes travel through each other.) Anything involving vehicles uses the traffic network: police and fire services can get caught in traffic. Services like electricity, water, and sewage use the network but don't congest it the same way.

Second (and I'd say this may be most significant): streets take up valuable space. You want enough streets to satisfy your needs, including every building needing street access.

But you don't want to tie space up in streets when a building could go there instead. And how many you need to avoid congestion is based on different things than it used to be, because the new game is working on a simulationist model rather than a statistical model. For example, rush hour is a thing that happens. The congestion of a given street is based not on its pure connections, but on what's actually using it. So a residential neighborhood doesn't really need perfect cross-connections in order to avoid congestion on the way home, so long as there's enough road for everybody. It might be congested sometimes, but not all the time. You might see a lot of traffic between a high-rent residential area and a high-priced commercial area, but the connections between the high-priced commercial area and the low-rent residential area won't have problems.

So if you're smart and manage your connections more reasonably, you can improve efficiency. Trying to impose a perfect grid constrains the space in ways that results in less density of useful buildings, and particularly in wasted space around civic buildings with expansions as you plop more add-ons and suddenly they're taking up an area that doesn't fit the grid well. (So now the spot next to your fire station doesn't have room for a high-rise any more--whereas if you'd had a less aggressive grid, the high-rise could grow a little bit further over.)

Finally: Distance measured in number of possible turns is somewhat significant, because of the way the simulation works. This isn't apparent on the surface, and making use of this knowledge is a rather gamist way to look at the problem. But, overall: when an agent is making a choice of where to shop, where to work, where to live, what house to provide water to, etc. it's going to randomly choose a direction at each intersection. As a result, a perfect grid allows more doubling back, leading to a greater concentration near the source. A good simple example of this would be police cars. Let's say you have a single police car out on patrol. It's going to drive around randomly until it spots a crime or a criminal or a crime or criminal is called in. When it apprehends a criminal, it will head out again randomly from the station. Where that car is at any moment [em]matters[/em], and on a perfect grid it's going to be more likely at any given time to be near the station than far away from it. In some ways that's good: the station will provide uniform coverage in all directions, and the police car is unlikely to be far away in one direction when a crime occurs in the other. But as you increase the number of cars, it gets less good. Let's say you have three cars out patrolling: they likely to wander in different directions. Because of that, if they're more likely to wander far, the chance of a car being close to a called-in crime improves. If they're likely to all stay close to the station, you can handle more crimes at once but you're not covering as much of the city as well as you could.

This shows up anywhere that a random walk occurs. It [em]does[/em] happen for water and power networks. For directed traffic (an emergency vehicle speeding to a location to help) it doesn't appear to matter, except that the traffic network may be congested. For random traffic (shoppers, job-seekers (and don't forget that sims seek jobs daily)) it determines where they're likely to end up. They don't always go for the closest acceptable buildings, but they'll choose nearer ones more often than far ones.

Like I said, this one is very mechanical and very gamist. And, it's actually a pretty small effect, unless crime is rampant. There's some benefit either way, and no matter what you do the cars are going to be out there patrolling and ready to respond. It's only when resources are very tight that the difference is even that noticable. So this is less of a matter of "the grid is worse than a non-grid" than "there's no reason to adhere to a strict grid for efficiency".

AP Erebus wrote:

And do you blame him? Sim City games have ALWAYS been about physical proximity with a grid layout being the most efficient.

It's clear that Peter Bright was not enjoying himself. He says that "it's not the game he wanted it to be", so you can understand his frustration.

I think the thing I blame him for is not appearing to recognize that this game works on different principles, and not appearing to be willing to attempt to learn what those principles are. He seemed to bull on through under the assumption that everything he knows about previous SimCity games applies here. When it became clear that this wasn't the case he didn't sit back for a moment and try to figure out what had changed and how it might work, but rather began criticizing the game for being wrong.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a new game, even one with the same name from the same franchise, to be [em]different[/em] from the older games in the franchise. In the context of this article "We waited ten years for [em]this[/em]?", I think it is in fact pretty [em]obvious[/em] to expect that the new game will be different--it's been ten years, after all. Why should it be the same? There's an obvious choice of games if you want the mechanics of older SimCity games: older SimCity games. They still run. They still work the good old-fashioned way. They're still good games. If the new game was simply going to be a shinier version of the old games, why bother making it at all? There are also other games that exist which run on similar principles (like Cities XL, for example).

I do understand that it might take some adjustment--and it seems like they may have been playing under the 1 hour demo time limit sort of scenario, and that time pressure certainly limits the amount of time available to explore the game. But the overall impression I got of "didn't even try to look for or understand new game mechanics" just makes me want to roll my eyes.

As a great case-in-point for both the "assume things work the same as older SimCity games" and the "grids don't work the same way", take a look at the bottom left corner of the image I linked before from the final state of his city for the article. The avenues that trail off in that direction and aren't connected to each other make perfect sense in the world of older SimCity games. They provide street connections to buildings on both sides of the street, with quick access to the grid. There's no reason to spend another cross-street there, because things would be just as far away on that cross street as they are on the streets as they exist.

However, if you think about the [em]real world[/em] logic of those streets, you see that they're completely insane. For a car coming from the NE (which is to say: all of them) to visit a building on the SE side of the street, it has to travel all the way SW to the turnabout at the end of the street and then come back up. Emergency vehicles might be able make U-turns or zoom across the center, but normal traffic doesn't do that when there's a raised streetcar lane or green strip in the center of the street. They have to go to the intersection. LIkewise, vehicles leaving from the NW side of the street have to travel all the way down to the turnabout and back up the street to get to the main drag. So all of these buildings are twice as far away as they have to be, either coming or going.

This kind of structure is inefficient, and [em]only makes sense[/em] under the old physics of SimCity. It doesn't make sense in the real world, it only makes sense in those games. (And, in fact, I would argue that even if this SimCity used the old-style statistical models, it would be perfectly justifiable to write code that punishes this kind of absurd construction.)

So the new game has a similar level of "makes sense in the real world" to the old games in a lot of ways, but in some places its simulation has much more verisimilitude. In other places, there are strange rule-based effects in both the old and new games--but they're different effects. If you play this game from the point of view of "I am trying to run a city", everything fits together pretty well. You'll make mistakes, but you'll move on from them and learn how the world works. And eventually you'll consider making use of some of the really fine rules details for your benefit. If you play it from the point of view of "I am a SimCity master, I know how to arrange all of my blocks optimally to make a perfect functioning city", you will fall down hard (as this reviewer did) because all of those master-level designs depend on game rules that no longer exist.

In short: The essence of the game, the spirit of the game, is the same. You have to provide and manage city services including roads, utilities, and emergency services. You can choose how different areas are zoned in order to manage where private activities occur in order to manage how pleasant your citizens' lives are. To me, these are the heart of what SimCity is. The fine details of how you do that are the rules of the game-world, and those are entirely new. So if you want to play a city simulation game in the spirit of SimCity, this appears to be a good bet. If you want to play more SimCity 4, it's not going to work out as well.

(And contrast my "spirit of SimCity" with the gameplay of the "Anno" games or "Tropico" games to see other possible game spirits. Those are also city building games, but with very different ideas about what the game is about. Contrasted with those, this game is clearly in the SimCity camp, even though the underlying rules are different.)

P.S. I guess Origin still doesn't support pre-loading after all, or I'd be pre-loading by now. Tsk.

What an excellent explanation of things, Hypatian!

Hypatian wrote:

P.S. I guess Origin still doesn't support pre-loading after all, or I'd be pre-loading by now. Tsk.

Yeah, I was just about to post "so hey, how about that Origin pre-loading?"

Great post, Hyp.

You say that, but I look at it and all I can think is "Wordsmythe is going to come after me with his old-school SimGrammar skills."

The rumors still persist about Origin preloading. If it does, all the close-to-verified information I've seen suggests that preloading will not become available in North America until tonight at 11pm EST, with the game "going live" at 12:01 am EST tomorrow/tonight.

Hypatian, wow, thank you for writing what I was leading towards but hadn't put nearly so much though into conceiving or writing.

I want Hypatian in my region

Hypatian wrote:

You say that, but I look at it and all I can think is "Wordsmythe is going to come after me with his old-school SimGrammar skills."

Yes, yes, but I can look past that when the content is good.

I would like to expand upon what Hypatian said a little with regards to mapping out your city. Because everything is simulated now, traffic patterns will matter a lot. There will be periods of the day in which people are going to be leaving or returning in great droves, which will really stress your roads. Properly zoning your city will make or break it with regards to gridlock. Think about traffic patterns and where people will be going at certain times, then build your RCI tailored to that.

Keithustus wrote:

The rumors still persist about Origin preloading. If it does, all the close-to-verified information I've seen suggests that preloading will not become available in North America until tonight at 11pm EST, with the game "going live" at 12:01 am EST tomorrow/tonight.

So... one whole hour ahead of time? :l That's great. I should be done downloading by Thursday. Probably. Oh, well. More time to play Tomb Raider before temptation strikes.

Hypatian wrote:
Keithustus wrote:

The rumors still persist about Origin preloading. If it does, all the close-to-verified information I've seen suggests that preloading will not become available in North America until tonight at 11pm EST, with the game "going live" at 12:01 am EST tomorrow/tonight.

So... one whole hour ahead of time? :l That's great. I should be done downloading by Thursday. Probably. Oh, well. More time to play Tomb Raider before temptation strikes.

Yeah, that may technically be pre-loading, but it barely counts.

No the game just releases at 12:00 EST. EA has confirmed there will be no preloading.

It's a decision they made for who knows why. They had preloading with Crysis 3.

Maybe they want to stagger their server load rather than have X thousand people all try to launch at midnight.

Well, I impulse bought this. Never really got into a sim game before but the level of detail in the simulation here is pretty interesting. Looking forward to some region play.

jonnypolite wrote:

Maybe they want to stagger their server load rather than have X thousand people all try to launch at midnight.

Forcing the download servers to catch fire is certainly one way to accomplish that goal

Latrine wrote:

Well, I impulse bought this. Never really got into a sim game before but the level of detail in the simulation here is pretty interesting. Looking forward to some region play.

Me too. MisterStatic on Origin if there is a free region anymore...

Here are the GWJ clusters as far as I know:

GWJtropolis #1
1. Laarrs [Laarrs_GWJ]
2. IUMogg [IUMoggg]
3. LiquidMantis [LiquidmantisGWJ]
4. Tkyl [Tkyl]
5. ZaneRockfist [BoogtehWoog]
6. Edgar_Newt [EdgarNewt]
7. Farscry [FarscryGWJ]
8. zojirushi [zojirushi_bot]
9. Mantid [MantidSwarm]
10. deftly [deftly0]
11. Keithustus [Keithustus]
12. Elysium [ElysiumGWJ]
13. Apollo0507 [Apollo0507]
14. LupusUmbrus [LupusUmbrus]
15. ChrisLTD [ChrisLTD]
16. clever id [clever_id]

GWJtropolis #2
1. jonnypolite [jonnypolite]
2. Redwing [Rothving]
3. davet010 [DaveT010]
4. Lucky Wilbury [LuckyWilburyGWJ]
5. Toddland [GWJ_Toddland]
6. Cobble [Cobble75]
7. TempestBlayze [TempestBlayze]
8. Lothar [Lothars]
9. Robear [RobearGWJ]
10. mateofalcone [MateoFalconeGWJ]
11. Copingsaw [Copingsaw]
12. Kerplunk [Kerplunken]
13. ChipRMonk [ChipRMonk]
14. Coolbeans [Sarbeth]
15. Kestrel [cwoodard73]
16. crunchy [GWJCrunch]

GWJTropolis #3
1. omnipherous [oOomnipherousOo]
2. Xeknos [Xeknos]
3. Happytime Harry [?]
4. Jasonofindy [Jasonofindy]...maybe
5. MisterStatic [MisterStatic]

I expect that by tomorrow we might see some other GWJers want to join in, so #3 should fill up quickly even on a 16-player map. If folks want to get the regions started tonight, we'll need some volunteers to set up the region. If you're the first person in the region and do this, please post here so we don't have duplicates and confusion.

EDIT: Crap, never mind. 5 folks for region 3 instead of just 2.

Possible to put me next to Elysium? I need to destroy his city as revenge for beating my Forza Horizon times.