Despite fan requests, Maxis seemed hesitant to stick an offline mode in SimCity. Even with launch server troubles and mods fanning the flames, the most it had committed was to look into it. Now we know offline mode is coming in the next update, so what took so long? According to Maxis, actually building it accounted for more than half a year of the wait.
In a post on the game blog (via Polygon), Maxis lead engineer Simon Fox said the process took six-and-a-half months altogether. Fox says the primary problem was reworking how an offline mode would work with all of the core game architecture, like how the simulation checks in with servers and communicates the city status to others.
"We have an obligation to make the game fun and functional on all specs of machines," Fox said. "We wouldn't want someone who was enjoying the multiplayer game to find the single player game crippled due to poor optimization. And it's not just adding, we had to remove parts of the game for it to function properly as well. This means removing lots of code integral to multiplayer include code and UI supporting trading, social features, global market, leaderboards and achievements. And, all without crippling the multiplayer game."
Maxis had circulated a survey in July regarding an offline mode, so given the timing the team must have hit the ground running right afterwards. That would also explain why it said it was exploring the possibility in October, which would have been in the midst of the process.