Six months of engineering needed to take SimCity offline

David Wildgoose
Six months of engineering needed to take SimCity offline

Maxis has detailed the amount of development time needed to remove SimCity's unpopular online-only requirement.

The studio on Monday confirmed plans to finally introduce an offline mode to the game.

Much of the reaction to the news in the games press focused on previous claims from the studio that such a move was “impossible”, although this is disingenuous. What Lucy Bradshaw actually said back in March was that “it wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team".

Around six month’s work of engineering, it now turns out.

“When the game released, our fans were calling for Offline. I rallied the team to start making that happen as soon as practical after launch,” SimCity’s lead single player engineer Simon Fox stated.

“The original creative vision for SimCity was to make a game where every action had an effect on other cities in your region. As such, we engineered the game to meet this vision, setting up the player’s PC (client) to communicate all of its information to the servers. That means that our entire architecture was written to support this, from the way that the simulation works to the way that you communicate across a region of cities.

“So yes, while someone was able to remove the “time check” shortly after launch, they were unable to perform key actions like communicating with other cities that they had created locally, or with the rest of their region(s), or even saving the current state of their cities.

“My team did, however, see a path forward towards Offline, one that would maintain the integrity of the simulation. By the time we’re finished we will have spent over six and a half months working to write and rewrite core parts of the game to get this to work.

“Even things that seem trivial, like the way that cities are saved and loaded, had to be completely reworked in order to make this feature function correctly. I wish it were as simple as flipping a switch and telling the game to communicate with a dummy client rather than our server, but it’s more than that. Entire calculations had to be rewritten in order to make the game function correctly.

“We’ve been working on this since August and now, we’ve hit Alpha and are in the final stages of testing before we release it as part of Update 10 in the future. On behalf of the engineering team, thank you for your patience on this one. We know you want Offline play in SimCity and we are really happy that we are finally getting ready to deliver it to you.”

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Tags: ea , simon fox , simcity , maxis

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