So how good is the simulation actually?

#1 Posted by Nictel (2429 posts) -

“With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud. It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team,”

Lucy Bradshaw

So no Sim City before this needed to have any part of the calculations being done outside the users computer. Personally I didn't feel Sim City 4 was so unrealistic in its simulation that it needed much improvement. Also I don't come to Sim City for 100% realism. Still I must ask, how much better is the simulation? The cities are smaller, calculations are being done on separate servers, so this must be the best most realistic simulation ever, or?

#2 Edited by DeeGee (2141 posts) -

You could put a gun to my head and I still would not be able to tell you anything it does different then SimCity 4.

#3 Edited by PufferFiz (1379 posts) -

People have actually done some packet sniffing and almost no data is transferred while playing... So its a lie(kinda there is still region simulations and stuff).

#4 Posted by Azteck (7449 posts) -

Also, if there was actually any simulation happening serverside, you'd get booted as soon as you lost your internet connection, rather than how it is now. Unless they've done some really crazy computer magic in the development of the game.

#5 Posted by Subjugation (4725 posts) -

The consensus from random internet people (obviously the most reliable of sources) has been that very little data transfer is happening between the user and their servers at any given moment. Some have gone as far as to speculate that the little traffic that does occur is just a check to see if you are connected as well as any regional interaction. Those same people then said that if the data isn't being sent to their (EA) servers for the simulation aspect that it must then be done on your local pc. So basically people collectively agree that the whole "your data is sent to the cloud for complex simulation" thing is bunk until proven otherwise.

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of simulation going on in the game, but I don't think it is anything that should explicitly require outside servers to calculate.

#6 Posted by BisonHero (6674 posts) -

I don't own the game, but from what I've seen, if you actually zoom in and watch an individual commuter or fire truck or bus, their behaviour can sometimes be nonsensical/wildly inefficient. So that aspect of the simulation could use some work.

#7 Edited by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

The sim aspect is actually pretty cool, the thing this game does well is detail. Like seeing individual garbage trucks going to all the houses, delivery vans transporting materials you need from out of town, then another van takes that to your factory, then another van takes that to your trade harbor Raising taxes and seeing people go homeless, which ends up with your towns parks being occupied by homeless, how crazy the traffic gets when your population increases and how much that changes when you add a decent bus system or ferry terminals if you have a town with a river like mine. I would love to see things like car crashes on your roads, that just add mayhem to your traffic. I decided to start over last night and before I did I just raised taxes all the way, turned off power and water and watched the city transform into anarchy. The criminals severely out numbered the cops and they were lighting fires and having shootouts, even my trusty superhero couldn't do anything. This game has enormous potential, but if they are going to add alot of expansions, they need to increase the boundaries of your cities. I would actually love to see some desert and snow based maps in the future. But as much as I enjoy the game at the moment the key word here is Potential so I hope they add stuff to the game for free which would actually justify the always online nature to it, a city about 4 times the size of the current ones would be perfect, I want some crazy highways like in Sim City 4 and a subway system.

#8 Edited by Ares42 (2731 posts) -

I would assume that anything that has to do with regional stuff has to be simulated server-side (as that's where all that stuff is saved).

As for the actual quality of the "full simulation" I would go as far as saying it's complete garbage. There are tons of examples like having plenty of hospitals yet everyone is crying because of injuries and people dying. Yesterday I built a city and then removed all the commercial districts and there was no new demand for commercial zoning. Apparently they all started commuting out for their shopping, but the only other city in the region was already way under-zoned for commercial. And that's not even touching the traffic-issues. Just look at the situation in the QL they did. Jeffs highway got clogged up by moving trucks that all did a U-turn once they were inside the city. I've had people complaining about air pollution and the pollution map showed nothing but some minor natural pollution with no apparent source. The list just goes on and on.

#9 Edited by minorinya (178 posts) -

Honestly... not very good. I've turned on data maps to watch garbage trucks drive in circles, seemingly avoiding blocks that have garbage to be picked up. It's been well documented that emergency vehicles wait in traffic and respect stop signs and traffic lights. Traffic AI is just horrible. Children going to schools will sometimes just hang out as pedestrians right outside the school (I think it might be a bug of having a bus stop too close to the school, though I needed it since the "walking range" around the school isn't that far).

The simulation AI needs to work out how to handle multiple vehicles from a service (what's the point of being able to add additional service vehicles, like buses, if they literally just follow each other?),

#10 Edited by RollingZeppelin (2027 posts) -

Yep, I've witnessed all these problems and more in the game and yet somehow it still seems kinda fun. I can see the potential there and if they can fix all of these issues the game will be amazing.

#11 Edited by minorinya (178 posts) -

@rollingzeppelin: Definitely a great game (I'm playing right now~), but some frustrating issues that I hope can be patched up.

I miss the whole area-of-service concept from earlier Sim City games, where you set up schools for specific neighborhoods you create. Building two elementary schools in different areas to serve those two areas respectively doesn't work because of the aforementioned bus-following-bus problem.

One huge pleasure I have from playing the game is the land value system - much more intuitive and not as game-y.

#12 Posted by zFUBARz (634 posts) -

yeah it'd be nice if the busses had a route tool as well.

#13 Edited by Zeg (91 posts) -

I think there's two main problems with the traffic simulation that I've been noticing.

  1. It's not really doing anything like a complex simulation. Mostly it seems everything is based on 'random walks', with very little, if any, weighting for outside factors. This started to make more sense to me when I started thinking of their 'Agent' method (like the power flow, all random walks) also applying to traffic. You can see it quite clearly sometimes, like when all the cars commuting home from an industrial building will all drive in a line until they reach the closest house, then 3 or so will turn in there, then the convoy moves to the next house... it doesn't really seem to say 'this specific person lives in this specific home'.
  2. U-turns and lane changes. I know U-turns are kinda required on avenues, but they happen on all roads. Turning across the oncoming lane would help. But much worse with the U-turns is that they just jam up traffic much faster, especially combined with lane changes. A single car trying to do a U-turn onto a blocked road stops every other car behind it in that lane that would potentially be making a normal turn instead. Then since cars will also try to change lane only on the approach to the junction, one inevitably will which then blocks the other lane of traffic too.

Those things are maybe quite intrinsic to the simulation. The random walk element could potentially be mitigated somewhat for city service vehicles like buses by having each new bus 'created' from the depot choosing a random bus stop to path to, or by some kind of weighting where they are less likely to turn down a road that another bus recently turned down. It shouldn't be so hard to make emergency vehicle priority either... though I've seen the twitter comments from Maxis saying that it was too difficult in their simulation... so maybe we have no hope at all.

#14 Edited by Jams (2962 posts) -

If it's true that the packet sniffing actually shows all the simulation is done on the client side then what's the excuse for all the wonky simulation bugs everyone seems to be getting? I would have though it'd be tied with the simulations being done on a sever and something getting lost in the process. That doesn't seem to be the case after all.

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