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EA Caves: SimCity Offline Mode Coming

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  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:04PM (#45947187)
    Why buy an EA game unless you're a masochist?
    • by erroneus (253617) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:11PM (#45947223) Homepage

      Gamers are picture perfect examples of addiction. Not "all gamers" but there is a subset of gamers significant enough to predict that no matter how bad things get, they will wait in line to spend lots of money so they can "earn achievements." And why? Because they can't get them in real life as easily or as well. That sense of achievement is addicting and even necessary.

      But it's not just gamers who suffer from this. How about all those football fans who rejoice when their team wins or gets sad when their team loses? How about those soccer fans? Have they decapitated and dismembered anyone lately? There's no end to the lunacy. None. And because of that business out there sees unlimited potential for exploitaiton.

      • by Cryacin (657549) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:22PM (#45947301)
        But that argument would indicate that EA and its subsidiaries behave just like drug dealers and pimps! Oh, right... Carry on!
        • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:47PM (#45947493)

          But that argument would indicate that EA and its subsidiaries behave just like drug dealers and pimps! Oh, right... Carry on!

          Please don't compare EA with drug dealers and pimps. Both usually provide exactly what is promised; drugs, or sex. EA can't meet that standard, not by a long shot. When you buy drugs, or a girl for the night, you usually get to do what you want... not guilted at every turn and told you can't be trusted, and that instead of forking over $50 you'll be forked over for about $500,000 and a 7 year jail sentence for "piracy" because your DVD got scratched and you used a backup copy... for shame.

          • When you buy drugs, or a girl for the night, you usually get to do what you want... not guilted at every turn and told you can't be trusted, and that instead of forking over $50 you'll be forked over for about $500,000 and a 7 year jail sentence for "piracy" because your DVD got scratched and you used a backup copy...

            Something tells me that when you finally save up and buy that girl for the night, you will be very disappointed...

            • by rhodium_mir (2876919) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:20AM (#45947965)

              Between The Erotic Review [theeroticreview.com] and TNA Board [tnaboard.com] it's generally pretty easy to get what you paid for as long as you go with a reputable provider.

            • Actually, pimps are probably closer to the "licencing" model game companies want to use. Except you agree to the terms up front before you hand over your cash: You want to do X for Y minutes? That'll be $Z. The people complaining are usually the ones who didn't set the terms before they started, just like with games.

              You properly own drugs, the dealer gives you your packet, then leaves. If you snort it, stick it up your ass, flush it down the toilet or give it to a homeless person, she won't come back and te

          • by BancBoy (578080)

            When you buy ... a girl for the night, you usually get to do what you want... not guilted at every turn and told you can't be trusted,

            Unless you pay for the Real Girlfriend Experience. In which case, it's pretty much as you described ;)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:49AM (#45948511)

        The reason a lot of people play games is because they provide a challenge that's fun to overcome. There's a certain satisfaction that comes with solving the obstacles presented in a game, and the harder the obstacle, the greater the level of satisfaction. Don't be a sourpuss by extrapolating this to mean their real life lacks any means of gaining satisfaction.

        But even if that's indeed true, it's also harsh to have a go at the gamer because let's face it, life sucks for a LOT of people. They go to a dead-end job doing something they hate, then go home in their shitty car because they can't afford anything better, then sit at home worried about whether they'll have a job to come home to the next day. Gaming is a form of escapism and a means of achieving satisfaction from accomplishment, and is increasingly popular precisely BECAUSE society itself is fucked. Given the pressures companies put on their employees these days, no wonder people have no sense of achievement anywhere except in gaming, which readily rewards the player for successes that their efforts in real life tend to go unacknowledged, or worse, continually berated for.

        For a lot of (most?) people, life is just about existing because the alternative (death) is not particularly desirable. So they end up becoming addicts as you say because games provide the satisfaction of accomplishment they don't get in real life, because real life is a harsh mistress. It's not always the fault of the gamer, and you need to understand this.

    • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:35PM (#45947391)

      Because games aren't created by the publishers, and sometimes a publisher contracts/purchases a development studio that actually knows it's shit?

    • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:36PM (#45947399) Homepage Journal
      Because EA owns exclusive rights to professional and collegiate football. Last time I checked, EA was the exclusive licensee of NFL, NCAA, and FIFA rosters.
      • Honestly, if someone's willing to subject themselves to EA's bullshit for the sake of playing "Giants @ Broncos" instead of "Ogres @ Stallions," then they deserve everything they get.

        Probably doesn't hurt that they're already nice and warmed up by the NFL already. EA doesn't seem the type to mind sloppy seconds.

        • Yes, but those people "getting what they deserve" also keeps the company afloat and lets their ill-gotten hoard of IPs sit locked away forever.

    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:49PM (#45947503)

      It's never too late to start doing the right thing.

      If the new SimCity adds an offline mode, and you're a SimCity gamer, you should support it, and shun other games that are needlessly connected.

      • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:30AM (#45947715)

        But they're not fixing other issues, like the minuscule city size. They're probably only doing the "right" thing here so that they can save on server costs.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:40AM (#45948487)

          The limit in the new Sim City is 2km x 2km. That is pathetic. Literally all you can create is a couple city blocks, or a very tiny small town. I mean I live close enough to work to bike in, and I live a good deal further than that (8km).

          While there are always limits as to what you can do reasonably in a game, this limit is way too small to be fun. It isn't a matter of being able to create a "big city" it is a matter that almost all small towns are far larger than that.

          Apparently they aren't fixing it either. They say the performance isn't good on larger cities, which translates to "We fucked our engine up bad so it can't scale at all."

          Unless that is fixed as well, I wouldn't get it. Offline mode is a requisite for sure, but if gameplay is still broken then it isn't worth money.

          • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @05:09AM (#45948841)

            Apparently they aren't fixing it either. They say the performance isn't good on larger cities, which translates to "We fucked our engine up bad so it can't scale at all."

            If, as EA claimed, every resident - and everything else to the last spark of electricity - actually gets simulated individually at the level of walking on street, then the engine likely scales linearly (twice the residents require twice the computing power); it's just that even a small town requires route-finding for tens of thousands of agents in realtime, which is not feasible.

            Not that this should had been a surprise to anyone, given that other games that simulate individuals at this level - such as Tropico - aim for a few thousand residents tops.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              No it doesn't require route finding for tens of thousands of agents. Once an agent has a route from his home to his place of work, then unless he moves house, moves job, new roads are built or destroyed, or his internal 'pissed off at traffic jams' counter exceeds his 'tolerance' statistic, he can continue to use that route. Exactly as real people do. You don't recalculate your route to work every morning. You use the same one until you move house, job, or get sufficiently pissed at traffic.

              • by segin (883667)

                or his internal 'pissed off at traffic jams' counter exceeds his 'tolerance' statistic

                Except that's not how they're doing things anymore. They're more-or-less simulating that virtual person's commute in the sense of actually simulating the car he drives, it's position on the road, etc. They even threw in random variations in the commute start times. Each auto is being independently simulated to a similar degree as each and every individual unit in an RTS.

                If you send 50 Zerglings or 5 Zerglings down a narrow pass, who gets through first and at what speed? The new SimCity doesn't apply some st

                • by Rockoon (1252108) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:40AM (#45950647)

                  They're more-or-less simulating that virtual person's commute in the sense of actually simulating the car he drives, it's position on the road, etc.

                  Thats O(n) .. in other words, a modern computer could handle literally millions in real-time.

                  ..and before you suggest that its an N-body problem.. it isn't. A hierarchical grid makes the types of interactions necessary here linear, so its still millions in real-time.

      • by Common Joe (2807741) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:13AM (#45947919) Journal

        It's never too late to start doing the right thing.

        If the new SimCity adds an offline mode, and you're a SimCity gamer, you should support it, and shun other games that are needlessly connected.

        Disagree for two reasons. 1) Once I despise a company so much that I boycott them, then I'm boycotting them until they proved to me they have made real changes to their management structure and their attitude. How many times have companies suddenly "wised up" only to do something worse on their next game? EA is among the worst of those offenders. Even if they did a 180 tomorrow, I'll be watching for years before I buy anything from EA. I know there will always be people who think like you so most companies with this crap attitude do have the chance to redeem themselves. Even if EA went under, I wouldn't feel bad for the management at all. I'm not even sure I'd feel bad for the programmers and artists... which brings me to point 2.

        2) EA has treated their employees so bad, a wife got online and wrote a very shaming letter [livejournal.com] back in 2004. They aren't the only guilty company either. Has it gotten better? I haven't heard anything saying how things have improved. In fact, I generally keep reading how bad it is to work in the AAA gaming industry. I even know someone personally who works in the AAA gaming industry and he recently mentioned something about mold issues in the office where he was expected to work and it caused him to get very sick. (It wasn't EA.)

        You're entitled to your opinion, but I think you should not support SimCity until EA cleans up its act. If the company goes under, let it be a message to the other companies to clean up their acts. If they all go under, then that gives the little companies an opportunity to thrive -- something which I think is badly needed.

      • by Bertie (87778)

        But it's still a shit game.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      If it truly is a proper offline mode then I will buy it. I really really wanted SimCity as it is something I play in airports and while travelling to pass the time. The online only mode while I could have still enjoyed it in a more limited use scenario, I refused to buy it as I don't want them to think this sort of shit is ok.
    • Why buy an EA game unless you're a masochist?

      Perhaps you missed the headline? EA Caves: SimCity Offline Mode Coming

      Why buy a game with Offline Mode made in EA's Caves?!
      You'd have to be a Sadist AND a Masochist...
      Hmm, or suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

      • EA made Sim City in a *cave*! With a *box of scraps*!

        • EA made Sim City in a *cave*! With a *box of scraps*!

          Actually, that WOULD explain the quality of quite a few of their games...

      • by Quirkz (1206400)

        Yeah, for a brief moment I thought they'd created a spelunking game. Which actually sounds kind of fun. I could do with something like the old Atari Adventure, just spruced up a bit (i.e., not pointless and completely infuriating). Crystal caverns, rope swinging, rattlesnake jumping, fully destructible/cave-in-able 3D environment. Maybe an easter egg bonus cave with ravenous semi-human predators, just for fun.

    • by RogueyWon (735973)

      Because, aside from the high profile cock-ups, EA still develops and publishes quite a lot of good games. Crysis 3 and Need for Speed: Rivals are recent EA-published games which I have bought, played, enjoyed and had value for money from.

      EA is a vast company. Some parts of it are completely disfunctional, while others work just fine. Pointing at a broken game like SimCity and saying "I am not going to buy that game" is a good and sensible thing to do. Pointing at a broken game like SimCity and saying "I wil

  • I might actually buy it now. That was a ridiculous policy.

    • by dingen (958134)

      It's still a terrible game. The maps are way too small to create something that even comes close to a city. Even building a midsized town isn't possible, it's really a neighborhood at most.

      And then there's the bugs, which are still plentiful. And the general lack of fun. It's just a waste of time and money, this game.

      • by TyFoN (12980)

        I agreed until I shelled out for the expansion which should have been in the game from the start.

        The city area is still small, but you can add some towers that make up for it. And it's actually quite fun.

  • by starX (306011) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:08PM (#45947197) Homepage
    I tend to agree it's probably too little too late for SimCity, but hopefully EA and other game companies will learn a lesson from this disaster. The fact that they are willing to release an offline mode hints that such hope is not completely unrealistic.
    • Re:Maybe next time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:11PM (#45947219)
      Not a chance. I predict there will be relatively few sales because of the "too little, too late" status, and EA will simply conclude that they were right all along... offline mode doesn't matter.
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        My alternative hypothesis- sales of the game sucked, and the revenue they're making isn't enough to cover the cost of running the server.

        Malice / stupidity etc.

    • "hopefully EA and other game companies will learn a lesson from this disaster"

      Keep it in Pandora's box dude!

      If EA was gonna learn, it would have happened a LONG time ago.

      They are essentially a holding company of intellectual property, not an actual game maker, and their management will always be "holding company" type of executives that manage brands. Like a magazine holding company.
    • Re:Maybe next time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:44PM (#45947463)

      I tend to agree it's probably too little too late for SimCity, but hopefully EA and other game companies will learn a lesson from this disaster. The fact that they are willing to release an offline mode hints that such hope is not completely unrealistic.

      Or more likely, "Hey, we've made about all the money we can off of Sim City but it's costing money to run those servers for online play. We had better release a fix for offline play before we shut them down to avoid a nasty class-action suit."

  • You mean there was someone EA hadn't terminally pissed off before this debacle? Could have fooled me.

              -Charlie

  • by Ksevio (865461) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:12PM (#45947229) Homepage
    With offline mode, EA can now shut down the servers that were once required while still selling the game. Since SimCity isn't subscription based, the servers are just a drain of money for them at this point since the hype died down and not many are going to pirate it.

    Come a few months they'll be announcing that the online portion will be shuttered, but look forward to the next great EA release!
    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:52PM (#45947525)

      I can't express how disillusioned I was when GT5 Prologue killed their (lame, stuttery) online racing servers. For me, $60 is a damn investment, and I didn't expect to be losing features a couple of years after making that investment.

    • When I read the headline, I assumed Electronic Arts was producing a fully immersive environment console in which to play SIM City. After all, what else could EA Caves: SimCity Offline Mode Coming mean?
    • It is a cave though: they tried to claim it wasn't possible to run the game offline.
    • by guises (2423402)
      Agreed. I suspect that they never got the sales that they needed to make Farmville-style paid DLC to be viable.
  • by gregor-e (136142) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:13PM (#45947231) Homepage
    Since they're not going to increase the city size, perhaps EA should consider rebranding it as "Sim Village".
    • Since they're not going to increase the city size

      The original Micropolis-based SimCity [wikipedia.org] limited cities to 120 cells by 100 cells, where each cell is the size of one house in an R zone, one patch of road, etc. Are cities in the new SimCity even smaller than that?

      perhaps EA should consider rebranding it as "Sim Village".

      Except that concept is taken. Nintendo calls it Animal Crossing.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        No they're larger than 120x100 cells, the problem is people are used to the massive cityscapes they could create in SC3/4 and rightfully expected the same.

      • The original Sim City was like a quarter century ago. Now, my expectations for EA games and how innovative they are are very, very low, but that's ridiculous.

        Hint: A few years passed since the original SC. A few versions of the game did so, too.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Odd how it seems that long ago, and damned if I can still remember playing it in school. Now if only we could get a simearth, simant, and simfarm again I could relive the years I wasted playing them.

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      Village? Hamlet more like. How about calling it "Shamlet". Sound appropriate.
    • by lgw (121541)

      A better name would be Sim Town [wikipedia.org]: at least then it would be old-school (a friend of mine was a dev on that - wow, that was a long time ago).

  • You mean the size of the city plots, right?
  • And I can't see why anyone else would.
  • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:19PM (#45947283)

    What would EA have to do to get me to ever buy another EA game again?

    1. Atonement: They could become a nonprofit organization and only come out with open source games that ran on linux with all profits going to charities to help children in 3rd world countries learn to program.

    2. Deception: Change their name, and payoff every website that I visit and everyone I know not to tell me that they changed their name.

    3. Coercion: Kidnap someone I care about and threaten to kill them if I don;t buy one of their games.

    4. Temptation: Start some crazy PR stunt where if EA sells X copies of a game, the CEO will literally eat the collectors edition of the game (the disc, the box, the manuals, the collectible miniatures, and any cancer causing chemicals, etc), and by some arcane loophole in the law this turns out to be enforceable by by the courts.

  • too late...
  • "EA Caves"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:30PM (#45947363) Journal

    Here was I thinking they'd released a Minecraft clone.

    • I was all excited, like EA Caves was going to be like SimCity, but in a cave, so you're not affected by the cities around you...

  • Day late and a dollar short is an understatement here.

  • Yes it is. Even on Android their game development is just....sad. You turn on The Simpsons: Timehole or whatever & it spends the first 10 minutes updating (what's the point of using Google Play package management if you pull shit like this?) & you spend the next 30 minutes trying to get your phone to charge after dropping from 50% to 2% before the opening cutscene finishes. It's sad & it's fucking disgusting.
    • You turn on The Simpsons: Timehole or whatever & it spends the first 10 minutes updating (what's the point of using Google Play package management if you pull shit like this?)

      Let me explain: Google Play can distribute APKs up to 50 MB. This is big enough for the executable but not big enough for the graphical and audio assets of any game bigger than an N64 game, and a lot of games download these assets from the publisher's server to the game's private folder on first run.

      • Re:50 MB limit (Score:5, Informative)

        by Shados (741919) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:24AM (#45947687)

        google play allows expansion files at 2gb each (I think it lets you have up to two, for a total of 4gb).

      • Tapped Out can't be more complex than, say, that pokemon tetris-jewel-whatever game on N64, let alone Ocarina of Time (which really saw the engine exploited w/ Majoras Mask because of the extra 4MB of VRAM). That pokemon game had roughly the same full-motion video quality & as far as I give 2 shits to care, it probably had just as much content as well. Ocarina of Time takes 2 hours of time just to meet the princess not because of complexity, but because of the 1 1/2hr of cutscenes. Even w/o the asset
        • Cartridges for game consoles are measured in "megabits" (128 KiB). Downloadable games for Nintendo consoles are measured in "blocks" (also 128 Kbit according to GameFAQs [gamefaqs.com]). Downloadable games on the original Wii were limited to about 340 blocks, roughly comparable to the 330-megabit limit of the Neo Geo platform before the "Giga Power" mapper chip was introduced.

          Tapped Out can't be more complex than, say, that pokemon tetris-jewel-whatever game on N64

          Pokemon Trozei (DS): 128 Mbit.

          let alone Ocarina of Time

          The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64): 256 Mbit. Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS): 3646 blocks.

          That pokemon game had roughly the same full-motion video quality

          The DS display is two 256

  • Now need network Addon Mod and bigger maps as a start to maybe make me want to buy this game. also simcity 4 zoning as well.

    now what about giving out the source code for simcity 4?

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:18AM (#45947675) Homepage Journal

    Including this.

  • TO LITTLE TOO LATE! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:41AM (#45947769)

    EA GAMES - we fuckup everything

    Seriously. They killed a giant cash cow with the death of simcity. 2k and 4 are still in the most popular games of all time catagory. How they managed to fuck that up is simply amazing. That took serious work and skill to fuckup so completely! They even had the perfect model handed to them with all the custom mods out there for simcity4. All they had to do was grab a few of those. Slap it on a new compile that plays happy and nice with vista+. Upgrade the graphics some. And bam. Continue to rake in millions for another decade or more!

    The fact they could not do this is astounding.

    And now? Fuckem.. Simcity is dead to me.. (anything after 4 anyway) A game i have paid for a total of 9 times because i LIKED it and wanted it everywhere.
    Dead. Not one cent will they ever get again from me.

    Hopefully a bunch of stupid fuck managers get fired over all the monumentally stupid things that killed the simcity cash cow. Because they deserve it.

    (still blows my mind how they managed to fuckup something so completely like that. when they had how many years of past code and experience and customer feedback to build upon)

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:31AM (#45948011)

    First, how did you make that miracle happen? I was told time and again by your spin department that it is utterly, hopelessly impossible to even fathom thinking about pondering creating something that could resemble something akin to an offline mode, and now you simply snapped your fingers and it comes into existence? You definitely are geniuses, the wizards of software development. Just outta curiosity, did you hire off the miracle workers from MS that managed to untie IE and the underlying OS?

    Second, did the plot size grow? Or will we still be limited to towns, erh, villages the size of the average Texas backyard?

    And finally, will you have the audacity to try to charge premium price again for that ancient piece of software or will we find it priced for the bargain bin, i.e. where we should've found it in the first place?

  • by NickeZ (921522)
    The only ones affected by offline mode are the guys who bought the game...
  • by fjin (36284) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:22AM (#45948429)
    To play city building game, you don't have to rely to products of EA. There is few free alternatives aroud.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      All three of those games, plus every other Open sim game like OpenTTD and FreeCol (with the exception of FreeCiv, which is only bad) have complete shit interfaces that prove that no one gives a fuck about them. This ruins more Open games than anything else. What's sad is that people cook up their own fancy interfaces instead of just copying the original game and using normal OS widgets, and they make them uglier than they need to be. Stop trying to be creative if you have no sense of style!

  • Are we still on this fantasy?

    If you think that the CEO of EA was fired due to SimCity teething problems, then you are suffering from delusions regarding the nature of the business.

    Not just the video game business. Any business.

  • by Torp (199297)

    If anyone is willing to give any money to EA... i've got a bridge i wanna sell to you.
    I don't care how many donations they make to charities, most of their games, especially Sim City, are shit - and not only because of the always online mode. Remember the old Bioware RPGs? Now they're cover based linear erm... something. Not shooter, not RPG, less than either.
    And those games somewhat worth playing are tied into their useless online service, for which I can't be bothered to sign up.

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