haggis

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haggis

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#1  Edited By haggis

@bisonhero said:

I'm on my phone so I can't reply directly, but oh man, jdh5153, continuing his streak of being a pretty big tool. "You'll be losing money if you wait to buy it." That's precious.

If getting some undefined game for free before the cutoff motivates someone to get the new SimCity, then A) that's ass-backwards, and B) they're a terribly irresponsible consumer.

It's a legitimate point, even if he expressed it badly. If you're leaning toward buying the game, it makes sense to at least get something additional out of EA while you can. On the other hand, if you're not leaning toward buying the game, the free title from EA shouldn't be enough to change your mind.

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haggis

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#2  Edited By haggis

@djou said:

@haggis: I take your point but I don't think that explains all the problems that have plagued this game. I don't know the size of the Maxis team, but they only develop three franchises, all simulator games. The last SC was 10 years ago. When production of SC4 wrapped they had to have at minimum design concept meetings about the next game. This is the next installment of a long running franchise, not a reinvention of the wheel. I find their attitude of "oh, we didn't expect the new SimCity to be so popular, or oh, our fans our the best looking how much they care about examining the game mechanics to our simulation" complete crap. They've been coasting on the payday they get from the Sims and thought they could release a half-baked idea, capitalize on people's enthusiasm, and then iterate with patches and DLC to fleece players some more. I honestly can say outside a few free-to-play games, I never felt so duped and mislead by a game.

Well, I'm not sure how much they'd follow design concept notes from nearly a decade earlier, and while it's probably not a reinvention of the wheel, it's clear they redesigned most of it. Although it's worth noting that SC4 was originally in full 3D, with very detailed low-level simulations. (I remember them talking about two gas stations close to each other competing over prices, etc.) So they took some broad direction from that original plan that that they scrapped.

I'm not going to hold the development team responsible for the idiocy of the PR team. The dev team did not want to put out a half-baked idea. I have little doubt that they wanted to put out a great product. I even think some of them might be convinced that the product is, as it is, decent. But I'm sure most of them know better. And it's the PR dept.'s job to spin this, however transparently idiotic their spin is. People want to attribute a singular motivation to a company, but it's not like that. Game developers do not want to make shit. Sometimes they're forced to make shit by people who don't understand, or who have different priorities. It's not the PR department's fault that they've got to come up with some way of covering the mistakes the dev team made, and vice versa.

The marketing people want to sell the game. They say all sorts of things to do their job. The dev team is doing it's job, trying to deliver on those promises. The game has a deadline. The managers are tapping their watches, knowing shareholders want to see progress, not delay. The penny-pinchers need to get the game in on budget, even if that means putting pressure on the dev team and the marketers. In many cases, these priorities work together and we get a decent game. Sometimes the entire thing breaks down, and we get SimCity.

I think it's a mistake to attribute to malevolence what is, essentially, a number of different groups within a company trying to do their jobs and failing to coordinate. A company like Maxis is not going to risk sinking one of their major franchises this way. These sorts of things are almost always unintended. The idea that they'd deliberately try to pass something off like this as part of their strategy seems far less likely than incompetence compounded by miscommunication and misguided priorities. People want to produce good products. SimCity is the result of a bunch of people throwing up their hands in frustration and giving up, not some Machiavellian scheme to make money.

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haggis

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@kane_233 said:

So....here's my question: How does something so integral to the gameplay (These roads serve as the foundation for your city, literally, via transportation of sims, electricity, sewage, water, etc.) not get attention until now? Or maybe it was and it's only now that their work has been revealed? I mean, isn't this an issue you'd consider as you developed the game? Or in Beta? It just makes no sense to me anymore.

People often ask these sorts of questions, like how did this game get released with this feature broken, etc. I think the answer is usually something related to priorities and release schedule. It's unlikely the dev team didn't know it was an issue. Chances are, they have a fix in mind but couldn't complete it in time to meet the schedule. Pressure is on them to release on time. So they release with a half-assed version of the feature that gets the job done but does it in a way that isn't ideal. There's hope that a future patch might fix it ... but the game is out, and the pressure is gone. The feature kinda works. Maybe they'll fix it, maybe not.

I bet that's 90% of these situations. In some cases, I suspect there's a hefty amount of "maybe they won't notice" going on. But SimCity players are detail oriented. They were never going to "not notice." With games like this, there's always a long period of fine tuning, where beta tests simply can't prepare developers for every little thing that could go wrong. So I would give them some latitude. This much latitude, though? Probably not. This isn't a fine tuning thing, this is core gameplay. They're going to try to pass this off as a minor issue, and I don't blame them for trying. Still, it seems pretty obvious that even aside from the server issues, this game really needed to bake for another six months before being released.

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What I thought they meant by offloading calculations was basically interactions between different player cities, nothing internal. And so I was expecting more influence by other cities on my own. From a multiplayer perspective, that seemed to make sense. Now, it never made a lot of sense that they'd be offloading anything too substantial, but I thought it was certainly plausible that batch-processing some of these calculations might be more efficient on a server specifically designed to handle those sorts of things quickly. Of course, now we know that's not what's really going on.

The existence of terraforming tools and larger city sizes in the code are pretty damning, though. And if they're right about offline mode being cut hastily and possibly at the last minute, then there is no reason to think that they couldn't quickly and easily patch the game to allow that, and for offline, local saves. If they don't patch it, it looks like we'll have a mod to do that soon. And the game's only been out a little more than a week.

Does anyone else remember such a clusterfuck of a release?

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haggis

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haggis

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I never got the impression that Gilbert was going to be a permanent part of Double Fine, so I'm not surprised. The comparison with JJ Abrams seems at least partly apt--there are definitely people out there who are more about ideas than they are about game production, and Gilbert seems to be one of those. The comparison begins to break down on quality--Gilbert's best game design days are long behind him. One might even say the same about Schafer. And I say that as someone whose favorite game of all time is Grim Fandango. The last few Schafer-run games have seriously bummed me out. That said, I am optimistic about the Double Fine Adventure. But Gilbert's apparent focus on iOS games says basically all I need to know about his future in gaming: ie., I won't be playing any of his games.

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@magzine said:

@haggis: I'm not arguing with you. You're arguing with something I agree with and is tangential to the original person's post. Jesus Christ. Go back to the original post I replied to and get some context.

You're not arguing with me? Seems like you are. There's not a lot of context here. Someone claimed the game wasn't ready to be released because the servers weren't ready. Your response was, "what was it about the game itself that is not ready to launch? p.s., servers aren't part of the game itself."

Except servers are a part of the game itself, and as I pointed out, even with the servers up, key functionality wasn't working correctly.

And you've been arguing with me since then. Unconvincingly, but still arguing. I wasn't the only one who pointed out that your perspective on this seems out of date, given the facts. So, if I'm missing some crucial context here, please point out exactly what that is.

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#8  Edited By haggis

@giovanni said:

@scaramoosh said:

@haggis: How do you know they can just patch it? If it is designed like Diablo 3 or an MMO like they've said, then the calculations are done on the server and so it isn't as simple as just patching it. If this is true then it means it was never designed to be Single Player.

The calculation aren't actually done on the server. You can play the game for time after being disconnected, and the server just essentially syncs to your game. I don't doubt it would take a lot of restructuring to make it an offline game, but it's not like Diablo 3 where literally everything is done server-side.

This was my impression from how the game works--which is, by the way, different from what was originally explained by the dev team. If the calculations aren't done on the server, then they've been very misleading about what the servers actually are doing. I didn't want to be categorical about it because, well, I'm not on the team that built the game. But from the way the game actually functions, it doesn't seem like it would be difficult to patch the game to work from locally-saved data.

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@scaramoosh said:

@haggis: How do you know they can just patch it? If it is designed like Diablo 3 or an MMO like they've said, then the calculations are done on the server and so it isn't as simple as just patching it. If this is true then it means it was never designed to be Single Player.

Anything can be patched, even if calculations are done on the server. They could just do the calculations locally. We don't know, exactly, how many calculations are done remotely so it's hard to know how much of a burden that would place on local systems. At worst, it might require turning off some data reporting and dealing with sluggish local performance. I think some would prefer that at this point to not being able to play at all. At least people could make the choice for themselves.

As far as I've seen, they've been denying that it's an MMO. It's really somewhere in-between. The game includes single-player regions, for instance, so it was always part of the design to develop cities and regions without other players interacting. It all depends on whether the server-side data processing has more to do with alleviating local calculation burdens in general, or if it has more to do with city interactions between multiple players. I'm not sure we know that much detail at this point.

Admittedly, a patch would be easier if the reality is the later rather than the former. If they could simply patch the game to keep the data local (since it wouldn't be needed to pass on to other players) it would be easy. If they're really performing specialized, high-processing requirement calculations on the data, then it would be harder (but not impossible).

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@qlanth said:
@scaramoosh said:

@slyspider: This statement is just total bollox. There was lots of warning about the always online DRM, any one who plays games knows to expect server issues for the first few days in an online game. Not so much with say an FPS because lots of companies sell servers to the players and they're not all in house. Also because Sim City runs a lot of the simulation server side (apparently) so there was always going to be a much bigger toll on the servers, similar to how Diablo 3 or MMOs are made.

Also 3 non vital features were turned off that barely have any impact on the gameplay and they will be reintroduced once they're confident in the server performance.

It's hardly like they turned off the city building or anything worth crying over.

This has nothing to do with DRM. This is a server load issue. The DRM starts and ends at authentication, which I never had a problem with since Day 1 of the this games launch. Bringing up the launcher and authenticating has worked fine (for me). It was getting the servers to load up ANYTHIGN past that point where it completely broke. At the heart of this is the decision to design this game in such a way that you need to always be online to make it work. This is more like a Sim-City MMO than anything. I imagine if they marketed it in that way people would be a lot more forgiving of server load issues since it's totally expected at the launch of an MMO.

People want to blame the DRM because they don't like the idea of it, but you're right--it doesn't have anything to do with the DRM. Core game functions rely on the servers, and the design is way too server-dependent. You're probably right that if they'd marketed it as an MMO people might be more forgiving of server load issues, but if they'd marketed it explicitly as an MMO, I suspect far fewer people would have bought the game.

They could patch the game to allow an offline mode (while retaining the authentication DRM) and local saves, and be done with it. But that's a logical response, so it's unlikely EA and Maxis will do it.