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

Crockpot wrote:
Demyx wrote:

Um, did you miss all the intense outrage over Diablo III?

Ya, right up until the game came out. It seemed like it didn't stop anybody from buying the game.

Stopped me from ever buying it.

shoptroll wrote:

Yeah D3 day 1 stability was horrid, but at least I know that Blizzard will keep the severs up as long as they exist.

RPS had an article on this. The problem isn't D3, and chances are Bliz will get their service pretty stable and keep it online for decades. The problem is all the companies who copy them poorly and don't have the service Bliz currently do, so you should still bring up the valid point that compulsory online services where they aren't required are a bad thing.

As an example that's going on right now, 2K's patching/authentication servers for the retail version of Bioshock are down, so if you want to install you're out of luck unless you use a workaround and a crack.

Scratched wrote:

you should still bring up the valid point that compulsory online services where they aren't required are a bad thing.

I still argue though that Diablo 3 falls into this just like SimCity 5. Hell, you're probably going to be better able to play SimCity 5 on a laptop at a hotel using their crappy internet service than you could Diablo 3, because SimCity at least runs the game engine locally so the loss of solid bandwidth isn't as detrimental. You're also just as restricted from playing Diablo 3 anywhere without good, reliable bandwidth regardless of how good Blizzard's service is.

That's why I made my point; I did buy and enjoy D3 despite the DRM, and expect to do the same with SimCity 5, but neither product is as valuable as their previous offerings were, given that those allowed you to play offline to your heart's content. Hell, I still play Diablo 2 and SimCity 4, and had them running on my laptop when I was travelling recently for business. D3 would not have been an option, and SC5 likely wouldn't either.

So while you can talk about the questionability of how long the service will remain up at a given publisher, and that's totally legit, it doesn't change the fact that any game franchise using always-on DRM is removing the same thing from the customers that they used to have with previous entries in those franchises that didn't require an online connection.

Scratched wrote:

As an example that's going on right now, 2K's patching/authentication servers for the retail version of Bioshock are down, so if you want to install you're out of luck unless you use a workaround and a crack.

That's not a problem with always-on DRM, that's 2K goofing up with their authentication servers. Apples:Oranges here I think. MS had a similar issue a couple years back with the certificates expiring on Gears of War Windows.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Crockpot wrote:
Demyx wrote:

Um, did you miss all the intense outrage over Diablo III?

Ya, right up until the game came out. It seemed like it didn't stop anybody from buying the game.

Stopped me from ever buying it.

me too.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Crockpot wrote:
Demyx wrote:

Um, did you miss all the intense outrage over Diablo III?

Ya, right up until the game came out. It seemed like it didn't stop anybody from buying the game.

Stopped me from ever buying it.

I bought D3, but after a couple of weeks of play I'm pretty convinced that "Online Only" is kind of useless for a single player gamer... Cloud saves are nice I suppose.

Edit: BTW, Simcity, as popular as it is, is so NOT Diablo 3. They can't afford to do what Blizzard does... Maxis has pedigree, but they're not Blizzard. Even Blizzard lost some goodwill there.

Mex wrote:

Cloud saves are nice I suppose.

I was going to say something about not needing always-on DRM for Steam Cloud, but yeah.... :\

shoptroll wrote:
Scratched wrote:

As an example that's going on right now, 2K's patching/authentication servers for the retail version of Bioshock are down, so if you want to install you're out of luck unless you use a workaround and a crack.

That's not a problem with always-on DRM, that's 2K goofing up with their authentication servers. Apples:Oranges here I think. MS had a similar issue a couple years back with the certificates expiring on Gears of War Windows.

I think the point is that is if someone jacks up their servers you cannot play. From that perspective this is pertinent.

It's not inevitable just because it's online. It's possible to generate a large persistent cityscape region but also support private games with only one or a couple of players.

If they supported private games, yeah, if they coded it that way. What I was getting at is that when someone else's game depends on your stats, it's a natural outcome to limit what you can do that affects others, to prevent griefing. It's a result of the approach they've taken, the primary feature of which is that players' cities actively interact with each other online. Or so I understand it.

That's not a problem with always-on DRM, that's 2K goofing up with their authentication servers.

No, it's something much simpler breaking spectacularly. With the requirement to play online, you are at the mercy of the company to let you keep playing the game you paid for, forever. And EA has shown, over and over and over again, that they are quite happy to take down old servers to force you to buy new titles.

You don't buy this game, you rent it. And you don't own what you make with the game, either.

Apparently, a lot of the gaming public is happy with being a tenant. But I'm not. I want to actually own my copy of a game. All this crap is being added for THEIR benefit, not mine, but they have the gall to keep charging me the same price. I am not willing to game under these conditions. If not for the flourishing indie scene, I'd be very worried I'd be driven out of gaming altogether.

But they don't have to do that. This is not an option that's really for your benefit.... an online option would be for your benefit, but being forced online is not.

Malor wrote:

You don't buy this game, you rent it. And you don't own what you make with the game, either.

Apparently, a lot of the gaming public is happy with being a tenant. But I'm not. I want to actually own my copy of a game. All this crap is being added for THEIR benefit, not mine, but they have the gall to keep charging me the same price. I am not willing to game under these conditions. If not for the flourishing indie scene, I'd be very worried I'd be driven out of gaming altogether.

Preach it, brother! (bolded for emphasis)

Based on what I've seen so far, EA is taking some of the best parts of SimCity out to add MMO like components I don't want but can't avoid even if I want to. Unless more changes before release, I think I'm probably out. I think the game will do fine but I agree with those who say that if it doesn't, EA will say no one wants city building games as opposed to going "maybe we just pissed too many people off."

Given what I've seen of the overall design, I'd have bought it in a heartbeat, if I were allowed to actually play with my toy the way I wanted, without the constant monitoring and supervision.

Malor wrote:
That's not a problem with always-on DRM, that's 2K goofing up with their authentication servers.

No, it's something much simpler breaking spectacularly. With the requirement to play online, you are at the mercy of the company to let you keep playing the game you paid for, forever. And EA has shown, over and over and over again, that they are quite happy to take down old servers to force you to buy new titles.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but since when did BioShock require always-on DRM to play? I thought they were using an online check at install via SecuROM. The BioSHock thing is a bit of a blip/bad stewardship by 2K vs. EA's axing server farms every 3 months. Still sucks, and I'm not trying to apologize for them, but the scale of the problem seems a bit different in those two incidents.

Otherwise I completely agree with your assertion.

You don't buy this game, you rent it. And you don't own what you make with the game, either.

Yup, and you don't even own the OS you're running to play games

If not for the flourishing indie scene, I'd be very worried I'd be driven out of gaming altogether.

I know I still enjoy AAA stuff (although to be honest that's primarily JRPGs and whatever Nintendo releases), but I know I've been paying a lot more attention to indie and smaller titles the last few years.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but since when did BioShock require always-on DRM to play? I thought they were using an online check at install via SecuROM.

You're not missing anything. You're completely right. Bioshock requires only to be authenticated, one time, and then you can play forever.

What I'm trying to point out is that this is a LOT simpler than always-on, and they can't even get that much right.

Malor wrote:

What I'm trying to point out is that this is a LOT simpler than always-on, and they can't even get that much right.

Agreed. You know, it's stuff like that which make me glad that GOG exists. Because honestly once your game has been out for 5 years, you really ought to drop the DRM.

Yeah, but with always-on games, they may not be able to do that. These games seem to require that the server be there, so unless the company wants to release the server code, they can't release the game DRM-free.

Malor wrote:

Yeah, but with always-on games, they may not be able to do that. These games seem to require that the server be there, so unless the company wants to release the server code, they can't release the game DRM-free.

Sorry, I was thinking more about the BioShock issue, not SimCity (sorry for keeping this offtopic).

shoptroll wrote:
Farscry wrote:

EA's connectivity (Origin games, namely Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3) has had a better track record than Blizzard did with Diablo 3, so SimCity 5 will be fine with me.

Except for the fact I can still play Diablo 1 onliine but I can't say the same about Need For Speed Underground. Or how there's no official exchange available for The Sims, SimCity 3000, SimCity 4 right now. Yeah D3 day 1 stability was horrid, but at least I know that Blizzard will keep the severs up as long as they exist.

This is exactly why I've playing Diablo 3 non-stop but I'm not even going to think about buying this. In two years, Diablo will still be there but SimCity 5 will just be wasted hard drive space because you won't be able to play it anymore. As for EA's connectivity, I was rarely able to play a full hour of Battlefield 3 without at least one disconnect. I have been disconnected from Diablo 3 exactly zero times.

Malor wrote:

Given what I've seen of the overall design, I'd have bought it in a heartbeat, if I were allowed to actually play with my toy the way I wanted

Another QFT from you, as you again echo my thoughts precisely.

I've been a SimCity fan for a long time and was very excited by what I saw with the first couple videos Maxis put out. Since then, everything I've heard about it had made me disappointed, because I will not be buying it. I refuse to support the always-on DRM model or the pseduo-MMO-ifying of game series that I've enjoyed.

If a dev wants to make an online-only game, create a new IP and make it free-to-play/freemium, and maybe then I'll consider playing it.

iaintgotnopants wrote:

In two years, Diablo will still be there but SimCity 5 will just be wasted hard drive space because you won't be able to play it anymore.

We should find out later this year/early next year how long they plan on supporting this. DarkSpore is Maxis' most recent project and that was client-server based like SimCity/Diablo 3. If they kill those servers on the normal schedule, then I really don't have high hopes for this one.

shoptroll wrote:

The Gamespy article was updated to clarify that you have to turn on "cheat mode" to revert to previous versions. I still have an issue with this because like you say, these were always a toy and you were free to do what you want. Having to jump through a hoop because I want to muck with disasters for 10 minutes and suffer no consequences is dumb.

I can't wait to see them do this with The Sims 4.

Sorry, I don't see that in the article. The only reference to cheats I read is: "The caveat, Katsaelis says, is that there will be a cheat mode that will disable achievements and let you quickly and easily build large cities for the purpose of wrecking."

It says nothing about previous versions of saves.

But they don't have to do that. This is not an option that's really for your benefit.... an online option would be for your benefit, but being forced online is not.

Missing the point - I never said it was for our benefit, just that it falls out of what they did. I think it's boneheaded and I'll be very slow to decide whether to try the game, I'm not defending them in any way. But if you're creating an online world that's not Eve, getting rid of an obvious griefing method is a good idea.

But nobody wants that world. W e want to be ablw to do wohatwe want swith the code wie boughtg. Not buyigg this, and trying to fingure out hwo to sened the message to them liek Dioable III . Tru singleuy0pplayer is gonuging buy the wayside and I don't know ho w to send tem the message thatoi it sucks.

momgamer wrote:

But nobody wants that world. W e want to be ablw to do wohatwe want swith the code wie boughtg. Not buyigg this, and trying to fingure out hwo to sened the message to them liek Dioable III . Tru singleuy0pplayer is gonuging buy the wayside and I don't know ho w to send tem the message thatoi it sucks.

Shalalm Baskur, momgamer. Shalalm Baskur.

MoonDragon wrote:
momgamer wrote:

But nobody wants that world. W e want to be ablw to do wohatwe want swith the code wie boughtg. Not buyigg this, and trying to fingure out hwo to sened the message to them liek Dioable III . Tru singleuy0pplayer is gonuging buy the wayside and I don't know ho w to send tem the message thatoi it sucks.

Shalalm Baskur, momgamer. Shalalm Baskur.

good whiskey, bad game design decisions.

I'm not as worried about letting loose Godzilla as I am about wasting $300k accidentally zoning 15 blocks commercial rather than industrial, or putting down train tracks instead of highways, and then not being able to reload a previous save.

There are three games here, with some overlap.

There's the SimCity sequel the players want, with whatever mayoral fantasies that involves. Maybe that's zoning the perfect suburb, maybe that's watching Godzilla stomp on the perfect tile-by-tile replica of your hometown. Maybe it's just fixing the traffic problems during the simulated commute. SimCity has always been more about the toy than the game. (As an aside, can you imagine a blockbuster movie about urban planning? Or a bestseller novel with no plot, just zoning decisions? My counterargument of the day to games being less meaningful as a medium.)

Then there's the game that the designers want to make. The Glassbox engine, with its whizzy simulation layers. You can probably implement a really fun toy with all of this, if you do the balance right. (I, personally, don't think that Maxis has been good at balance since SimCity 2000. But, then, I haven't spent a lot of time with The Sims.)

And finally, there's the game that EA wants to make. Which is apparently a monetized hybrid of Diablo and Farmville. Not that there's anything wrong with that (Diablo is fun, after all) but it severely conflicts with the other two games, or at least what we picture when we talk about the other two games.

I think that we could get a good game with any two out of these three. SimCity works really well for DLC (download new buildings, new architecture, new widgets to stick around the city...it's single player, so balance is a matter of avoiding dominant choices rather than pvp seesaws). The new Glassbox stuff with a classic single-player SimCity design could be really cool. Doing a new Cities XL could at least be a valid game, if not all that original. But shoehorning all three games into one and overemphasizing The Cloud sounds better for EA's bottom line than for the players.

There are a lot of fun designs that can be done with always-on connections, the cloud, player created content, and persistent worlds. Stuff like Eve and DayZ and Fallen London and Spore and Puzzle Pirates, and lots more possibilities that we haven't even started poking at yet. Spaces where I, personally, have no problem with not running my own single player game, because that's not how it was designed to work in the first place. But the problem is that there isn't a current SimCity to fulfill the player's expectations (not even a rival contender).

It's easy to read this as a parallel to The Sims Online, with EA taking an existing franchise into this new world (MMO! Social Networking!) And The Sims and Spore have been ahead of their time in exploring some of the possibilities (albeit curtailed exploration in some cases).

While I have no problem with a world of innovation, I hesitate to discard everything just to follow the latest fad. I, obviously, have no real say in what EA does with the SimCity franchise, but I do view this hegemonic trend (achievements everywhere!) with suspicion.

Tru singleuy0pplayer is gonuging buy the wayside and I don't know ho w to send tem the message thatoi it sucks.

There are a *ton* of good independent games out there waiting to fill the void. Patronize them instead. Steam, Gamersgate, GoG, even Gamestop Now are your friends.