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SimCity mod shows offline play, editing roads outside cities

A modder has posted a video showing SimCity highways being built outside city boundaries, and a sort of "offline mode" in which the disconnect timer has been disabled.


To say that the SimCity launch has not gone smoothly would be an understatement. Two chief complaints have been the lack of an offline mode amid server issues, and the generally small city sizes. One intrepid modder has killed both of those pesky birds with one stone, and argues that it shows EA could easily pull it off too.

A YouTube video posted to Reddit (via Eurogamer) shows the game running in debug mode. He notes that not all of the debug tools are enabled in the consumer version, but it did let him edit the highways outside of the city boundaries. He claims this means editing outside of the boundaries is potentially viable. On top of that, he disabled the disconnect timer, saying "the simulation can carry on with no connection indefinitely." This removes the ability to save/sync or use region-related features.

The official SimCity Twitter recently posted conflicting messages about the possibility of an offline mode. The company has assured users that the launch issues are nearly over, and EA has promised a free game to affected users.

From The Chatty
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    March 14, 2013 8:15 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, SimCity mod shows offline play, editing roads outside cities.

    A modder has posted a video showing SimCity highways being built outside city boundaries, and a sort of "offline mode" in which the disconnect timer has been disabled.

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      March 14, 2013 8:32 AM

      Why isn't this considered a crack? It's circumventing the DRM, even if it is a shitty DRM scheme.

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        March 14, 2013 12:07 PM

        It's the game's built-in debug mode.

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          March 14, 2013 1:03 PM

          I wonder how that would work then?

          Using a built-in part of the game that's not intended to be used by consumers in a way that circumvents the DRM, essentially cracking the game.

          Maxis really made a huge mess out of this.

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      March 14, 2013 8:36 AM

      It also neglects the fact that a lot of the gameplay hooks are having it connected with other uses. Great, you get to build a small city offline... now what?

      Seems to miss the point in why you'd even play this version of SimCity.

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        March 14, 2013 8:37 AM


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          March 14, 2013 8:50 AM

          Well they still do not understand at this point, so might as well say: Maxis misses the point of why people like to play SimCity.

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          March 14, 2013 10:13 AM

          I don't disagree, but the point of this Simcity is to play online, so by creating an offline mode seems pointless.

          The design direction would need to change for this to be useful.

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            March 14, 2013 10:19 AM

            "the point of this (game in a traditionally offline franchise) is to play online..."

            That's how I read it. And that's why the "always-on" announcement last year was so bizarre, and it's also why this mod showing evidence of the technical possibility of offline play with this codebase is even more bizarre. This whole situation is far from cut-and-dry, but it's ridiculous how blatantly the business side of EA has disrespected the tradition of SimCity.

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          March 14, 2013 1:12 PM

          to be fair they've been trying to stick region-based multiplayer stuff into the game for a long time, ever since sc2000 at least.

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        March 14, 2013 8:42 AM

        It's not impossible for those to be added in. It's not like Maxis themselves didn't already have a networked SimCity game with regional competition and cooperation between cities.

        You know, like:
        13 years ago.

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        March 14, 2013 8:52 AM

        The point is that the modder actually disproves the theory that the game needs to always be online as all the simulation/calculation is done server side (it apparently doesn't) and that it does not take 'significant engineering effort' to actually bring this game offline so people can play and do not have to deal with the server issues.

        The connectivity simply serves as DRM and a glorified chat mechanics for people to send messages and to save cities (which can simply be transferred locally, if needed).

        Majority of people playing it do not really see or feel the benefit of the multiplayer requiring the game to always be online just to be played. This mod/hack simply enforces the belief.

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          March 14, 2013 8:55 AM

          It's worse than that, actually. The save games are written out locally before being transferred to the servers. They write them into a temporary folder in case of disconnections.

          The only parts mission are the messaging of resources / agents (sims) between the cities. Hint: It's not that hard to fix this. Even the proper SimCity client fudges a lot of the numbers so that it does not have to actually simulate them.

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            March 14, 2013 9:03 AM

            Is this for real? This is new info for me...And that does not look good at all.

            THanks for the additional info though. Seems like people who bought this game are being lied to all the same in the end.

            What a mess.

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            March 14, 2013 1:17 PM

            hahaha wow. this is just amazing to watch unfold. EA is being completely dissected. the closer it gets to being modded and/or fixed the closer I am to buying it. I'd still like to play the game. It sounds like local saves, larger maps, and fixed simulation is all plausible at this point.

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              March 14, 2013 4:55 PM

              id donate money if it meant that guy figuring out how to build a city using the entire region without the border. im sure it would cripple performance but this does get my hopes up

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          March 14, 2013 9:43 AM

          i havent played a multiplayer game yet. nor do i have a desire to.

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          March 14, 2013 4:29 PM

          No one has ever said all the simulation is done server side. Some were misinformed about how much is handled by the servers, but without them the inter-regional stuff is useless because of the current design.

          That doesn't mean they couldn't do all that stuff offline and have it working in a single player's game with multiple cities. It would actually be a lot of faster (updates for city to city stuff online can still take 3-20 minutes) with less issues because it's all handled on the client side.

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      March 14, 2013 9:13 AM

      The reason EA will not come off of this is because they spent a lot of time and effort to sell their DRM as a benefit to customers. The message is "having an always on connection means you get all these other things". The problem is that a good number of people do not WANT all those other things, they just want to play the damn game when and where they want. Additionally, they did not adequately estimate the demand on their servers by people who actually were willing to deal with the always on connection.

      So they managed to alienate pretty much their entire audience in one failed launch day.


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        March 14, 2013 10:00 AM

        And yet people still try and defend EA's DRM and Maxis developers despite the hundreds of problems that have come up that are basically game breaking.

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          March 14, 2013 3:18 PM

          i wonder how much money those servers cost. i cant imagine it was worth all this just to stop thousands of pirates who may have not even bought the game anyway.

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            March 14, 2013 4:25 PM

            They pretty much guaranteed that I won't be buying it!

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      March 14, 2013 12:39 PM

      Uh oh.

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      March 14, 2013 4:54 PM

      This might be one of the biggest PR disasters I've seen in gaming. It's just one thing after the other.

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