SimCity's GlassBox engine shown off

SimCity gameplay lead Dan Moskowitz talks about some details of the Glass Box engine running the upcoming title.

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We've heard some impressive details about next year's SimCity, but none of it would actually work without a solid engine under the hood. At Game Developers Conference, EA and Maxis showed off the game's new "GlassBox" simulation engine. Now, you can see a quick recap of EA's presentation in a new video.

In the video, gameplay lead Dan Moskowitz walks us through some of the features of GlassBox--although he notes that the graphics are simply placeholder. Every simulation rule will trigger visible effects, like a coal refinery that creates both power and air pollution. This way, players will be able to see every aspect of the simulation in action. "What you see is always a 1:1 representation of what the simulation is doing," said Moskowitz.

"Agents" carry the game's resources, and the most common of them are members of the population. To give you an idea of the game's scale, Moskowitz says the system is built to support "tens of thousands" of agents at a time.

SimCity is due for PC in 2013.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 20, 2012 8:15 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, SimCity's GlassBox engine shown off.

    SimCity gameplay lead Dan Moskowitz talks about some details of the Glass Box engine running the upcoming title.

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      March 20, 2012 8:47 AM

      Cool! I just hope the graphics improve significantly...right now it looks on par with, or worse than Simcity 4. Aside from that, this was a neat video.

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        March 20, 2012 8:56 AM

        "although he notes that the graphics are simply placeholder."

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        March 20, 2012 8:59 AM

        It seems like Maxis has never really been apt at making high end graphics, and the graphics they do have seem to run quite sluggish on all but the most high-end machines. I've always had the feelings their games are riddled with bugs and the performance isn't really stable. That said, I love me some Sim City and I'll have a slick new rig when it hits.

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        March 20, 2012 9:51 AM

        This isn't representative of the final (or even current) graphics at all. Features have been turned off, debug stuff has been turned on, etc. This is just a demonstration of the gameplay engine, not of the graphics tech.

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          March 20, 2012 9:58 AM

          its running choppy even with the non-graphics...does not bode well =(

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            March 20, 2012 10:00 AM

            [deleted]

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            March 20, 2012 10:13 AM

            And this so close to release. What were they thinking?

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            March 20, 2012 10:27 AM

            jfc

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            March 20, 2012 10:27 AM

            [deleted]

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            March 20, 2012 10:28 AM

            I just hope the ending makes sense and ties in all the choices I made in previous SimCities. Bonus points if they include substories from The Sims!

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              March 20, 2012 4:36 PM

              If it's not backwards compatible they have already lost.

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            March 20, 2012 10:31 AM

            fuck notch

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            March 20, 2012 10:34 AM

            This is why most companies never show off cool stuff like this. People who know jack shit about game development say dumb things like this.

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              March 20, 2012 11:15 AM

              What this smart motherfucker right here said.

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              March 20, 2012 11:45 AM

              I apologize, I guess I should just know about game development by default?

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                March 20, 2012 11:46 AM

                How about not commenting on something you have no knowledge of?

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                  March 20, 2012 11:48 AM

                  I'm commenting on the video? Also, this is a discussion forum?

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                    March 20, 2012 11:55 AM

                    just as you have a right to comment, other people reserve the right to call you out for being ignorant

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                      March 20, 2012 11:58 AM

                      actually I should say unreasonable, not ignorant.. I don't think any of us really know how this game is really going to turn out.

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                  March 20, 2012 2:17 PM

                  this is the internet

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                March 20, 2012 11:47 AM

                Most optimizations are made in the last few months before the game ships... or after the fact :(

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                  March 20, 2012 11:50 AM

                  I guess I'm not sure why they are releasing this video and expecting people to just automatically know all of this. I'm very excited for Simcity5, I just hope it runs better than 4 did =(

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                    March 20, 2012 11:55 AM

                    Would you rather have the developers not talk about their product at all? It's great to see that the gameplay lead is proud enough of the project to share it in its current state. Should nothing from GDC ever be shown outside of the convention center's walls?

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                    March 20, 2012 11:58 AM

                    I'd imagine it will SC4 is pretty old, has pretty much no GPU acceleration. Also it doesn't really take advantage of multi-core CPUs at all.

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                    March 20, 2012 12:00 PM

                    They're not releasing the video for you to review. It's there to excite fans, and show off features. You're just going all super-critical on it.

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                      March 20, 2012 12:03 PM

                      "This game is ridiculous, it doesn't even have a UI! Will that debug mode text be on my screen all the time?! What a shit game, this is going to be so bad!!!!!!"

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                      March 20, 2012 12:04 PM

                      I wasn't reviewing it! I made one comment!

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                  March 20, 2012 11:51 AM

                  Not to mention the video itself says it's placeholder art. The game is still like a year off, it should be pretty damn obvious that it's not running with shippable art at a fully optimized framerate. Plus there's debug information enabled which is *never* optimized because it has no bearing on the final shipped product and is just there for, you know, debugging stuff.

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                March 20, 2012 11:52 AM

                The game is still at least one year out and this is a developer talking about some neat things in the engine that have been implemented so far. It's not an official representation of the game or some kind of trailer.

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              March 20, 2012 11:49 AM

              Haha, pretty much.

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              March 20, 2012 11:54 AM

              You don't need to know anything about game development to realise something is work in progress or a tech demo! People are generally silly.

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              March 20, 2012 2:47 PM

              and condescending posts like this is why the games industry has such a poor relationship with its customers.

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                March 20, 2012 4:14 PM

                Yeah you tell him!

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                  March 20, 2012 5:44 PM

                  Oat, you and Dahanese come off as us-versus-them in some of game/publisher related threads and a tad bit condescending because you work in the games industry and the rest of us don't, so we don't understand... I don't know where I'm going with this; so yeah, just thought I would point that out.
                  Just thought you original comment was overly harsh.

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                    March 20, 2012 6:05 PM

                    It was harsh, because it frustrates me that people are so dumb. I'm not saying dumb as in "doesn't know how the games industry works". I mean dumb as in "human beings are incapable of knowing when they don't know something". This is not JohnnyRey's fault per se; it's a psychological phenomena of humans as a whole.

                    It just makes me sad that it's often not viable to put out videos like this because even if the guy in the video were to say a thousand times that it's placeholder graphics, and this isn't the full engine, and it's running in debug mode so it's super slow and everything else, many many many many average-joe gamers would walk away from that video thinking, consciously or subconsciously, "SimCity looks like shit."

                    So really my original post was just me lamenting the idiocy of humanity. It's not something that can be fixed; it's just how we are. We also like to kill each other! There are many reasons to hate our own species.

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                      March 20, 2012 6:32 PM

                      These details change you original post, without them it reads: "JohnnyRey you are dumb, and this is why we can't have nice things"

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                    March 21, 2012 11:19 AM

                    wut

                    don't bring me into this!

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            March 20, 2012 11:19 AM

            this is a tech demo of experimental ai gameplay features. They did the same thing with spore, only then they threw out many of the cool experiments and made something worse.

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            March 20, 2012 11:23 AM

            Dude, don't be such a downer all the time. It's unattractive. No one likes to hang out with someone who is just bummed and negative about everything

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            March 20, 2012 11:53 AM

            hahaha

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            March 20, 2012 7:01 PM

            They should just hand the source code over to the modders, cause they're the only ones that know wtf, right?

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      March 20, 2012 8:54 AM

      I wish I could define lot sizes/lines within residential/commercial/industrial zoning rather than relying on the randomness of the low/medium/high zoning preset.

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      March 20, 2012 9:06 AM

      That's freaking awesome.

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      March 20, 2012 9:49 AM

      This is awesome.

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      March 20, 2012 10:00 AM

      That's awesome and looks to have a lot of potential, but I want to see what they're going to do with the engine closer to release. So far, that level of detail is already available in ANNO 2070.

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      March 20, 2012 10:37 AM

      oh man, i would love to see the code behind that

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        March 20, 2012 1:24 PM

        It'll probably be just a bunch of crazy C code with pointers going all over the place because they just need to ship and fuck clean code.

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          March 20, 2012 4:44 PM

          Haha yeah I was going to say no you do not want to see the code in a big budget video game!!

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            March 20, 2012 6:35 PM

            In Game Developer Magazine they would have post-mortems every month and usually they would say how many lines of code the game had. I've always wondered how you manage a codebase with 500,000 to 1,000,000 lines of code.

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      March 20, 2012 10:50 AM

      I've never played a sim city game, but that's giving me mad settlers 2 vibes.

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      March 20, 2012 11:49 AM

      I really hope that they release mod tools close to ship. The amount of customization could be enormous.

      I also hope for continued development after ship. It would be great to see DLC like transportation and/or government extensions.

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      March 20, 2012 11:59 AM

      i just want flowing water ala from dust. imagine all the things you could do.

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      March 20, 2012 2:22 PM

      anyone else notice the dangerous driving of those sims?! turning left from the right lane, and turning right from the left lane??

      preorder cancelled!!!!

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        March 20, 2012 3:34 PM

        hahaha, I was in charge of the AI in an educational car game we developed here at work. Getting multiple lanes to work on the highway caused me such a terrible terrible headache.

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          March 20, 2012 6:27 PM

          Given how we as a collective drive perhaps it was hauntingly accurate.

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        March 20, 2012 8:25 PM

        Driving straight through a line of pedestrians is the best part.

        Although to be fair, the people/cars are really just visual indicators of traffic density in most circumstances, and pathing is incredibly expensive so I don't blame them for having a reasonably dumb implementation of it.

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      March 20, 2012 2:23 PM

      hopefully EA doesn't screw up the ending.

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      March 20, 2012 2:23 PM

      Woooot. Is it wrong that I would consider upgrading my rig for Sim City 5 if mine isn't good enough?

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      March 20, 2012 2:39 PM

      Oh wow that's awesome. Kind of reminds me of Anno, which isn't a bad thing. It's neat that they are going to be modeling things down to such a small level.
      I wonder what the system requirements are going to be like though.

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      March 20, 2012 3:13 PM

      Wow that looks awesome, hopefully some suit from ea doesn't show up in 2 months and tell them to broaden their target audience to include ages 2-95

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      March 20, 2012 4:27 PM

      I hope they manage scaling of cities more appropriately than in the past and it would appear they are moving towards a much more intelligent traffic algorithm.

      I never liked how a house didn't represent a single family dwelling but rather each house was representative of several families, which meant that a suburban area of 20 houses could have been over 120 people or something. It was confusing and I hope they move to a 1x1 scenario but allow for bigger tiled maps.

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      March 20, 2012 6:40 PM

      That was a seriously impressive video. It's clear they've put a ton of thought into the inner-workings of this game engine. I love me some dynamic process simulation! Much more impressive than abstract scripting :)

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