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Talroth

This is the future of video games? No wonder I've been buying so many board games lately.

112 posts in this topic

 

Unfortunately, what seems to be getting reported on (and popular opinion) is different e.g. here http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/12/simcity-server-not-necessary/

 

Also unfortunately, there are now some criticisms being reported about the simulation/gameplay itself: e.g. here http://kotaku.com/5990362/with-simple-ai-like-this-why-does-simcity-need-cloud-computing

 

However, since I have not played the game I cannot opine how badly the latter would affect the fun level, if at all.

Hm. Was Sim City 4 like this? I remember following a sim to an specific house instead of just the first available one, I might be wrong though...

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SC4 did use similar logic, where agents would path to the nearest location to fulfil their current need (which meant that in order to design efficient cities / solve traffic problems / etc, you basically had to go on the forums and learn how the unrealistic simulation rules work from the obsessive fans who reverse engineer the game's logic via scientific experiments -- efficient designs are more about tricking the dumb AI into doing the right thing, rather than actually making 'good' designs).

 

However, SC4 also had a feature where you could add customized agents into the city with specific names (or import them from the Sims), and these people would live in specific houses, etc...

 

I'm actually really disappointed in seeing how simple the new Sim City simulation is... I was really looking forward to buying this game in a few months...

Edited by Hodgman
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Yeah, it's really dumbed down, and worst, it lacks some must-have functionalities. E.g. You can't search for games which still have open slots. 

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The fact they seem to have lied about it (including an oft repeated claim that the simulation couldn't run on someone's home computer)

They didn't lie about it. They've said a bunch of times in r/simcity exactly what gets simmed on the server. If you aren't connected to the server you lose pretty much any interaction with the region and the global market until you reconnect.
orly?

"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," Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw explained to Polygon. "It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."

yarly!

A source close to the project told Rock Paper Shotgun earlier this week that the SimCity servers aren't integral to the game's performance.

"The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," the source explained. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they're doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they're not doing anything."

So, yeah... lies.
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However, SC4 also had a feature where you could add customized agents into the city with specific names (or import them from the Sims), and these people would live in specific houses, etc...

 

I'm actually really disappointed in seeing how simple the new Sim City simulation is... I was really looking forward to buying this game in a few months...

Ah, that must be it.

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I hope you had fun playing D3 on launch day. Or any other game that required a server connection.

Blizzard's SC2 HOTS just came out, I was at the launch party and then got home before midnight for the servers to come online. There was a friendly warning on the login screen saying that there was scheduled mainenance from 11pm to 1am, to cover their ass in case of outages, but the maintenance only went from 11:30pm to 12am, and I was able to play without issues immediately.
The original SC2 WOL's launch was just as uneventful.

The only issue that I've seen with HOTS is that they decided not to put the files on the physical disk, so people who didn't want to buy the digital edition basically have been tricked into buying it anyway.

In the MMO realm, I played Guild Wars 2 on release not too long ago, and while it was completely packed and overloaded, they had mitigation strategies in place. When a server was full, new players were simply put into another shard of that server, and then queued to connect to the 'real' one. You could still play the game fine, you just had to wait half an hour after connecting to be put in the 'real' server if you wanted to play with your friends. Alternatively, you and your friends could look through the server list for one that wasn't at capacity. Personally, I didn't have any issues at all -- not like D3 dry.png

Disclaimer: I work for EA also, but also unrelated to this project.
 
Server problems are to be expected on launch day. It happened with Diablo 3. It happened with GW2. It happened with Castle Story. I can't (off the top of my head) think of a game that had zero server problems on launch day (although I'm sure they're out there). If you buy a game, developed by any studio, that you know needs to connect to a server expecting not to see any problems on launch day you're living in a fantasy world.

EA's own Battlefield 3 (PC version) had minimal issues on launch day, because they actually tested it properly. I mentioned this earlier -- they actually stress tested how their infrastructure held up against X-million users before launch (using 'the cloud' to simulate their horde of users), and kept fixing all the load issues before release. On launch day, they simply knew it would work, having already seen it been hammered by X-million concurrent users, and had methods to increase/decrease capacity at short notice, if needed.
That said, there were excess-load issues with the 360/PS3 version on launch day, but it's a bit harder to rent a million Xboxes for pre-release testing, and they're on a restricted internet channel, so it's a bit more forgivable for them to screw up in that arena.

It's not at all a fantasy to expect that things work. You're selling a product, which makes promises on the box. If a consumer takes that box home and the product doesn't deliver, then you're at fault.
If you expect that the first batch of your product may be faulty, you need to write that on the tin.

The number of concurrent users in a game is likely higher on launch day than it will be from then on as people who have pre-ordered etc try to get in to play for the first time. Therefore paying to set up infrastructure that you won't need x days down the line seems extremely inefficient.

Assuming you're using commercial data-centres, then it's not like you have to go out and buy a whole bunch of extra equipment for that day and then decommission it later. Most data-centre resellers can spin-up or decommission any number of servers within 15 minutes to 1 hour. If you're tracking pre-order and real-time sales data, then you can figure out an ideal upper bound on the amount of server hardware you'll need on launch day.
Two days later you can shut most of it down if your active users has dropped.

Edited by Hodgman
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They didn't lie about it. They've said a bunch of times in r/simcity exactly what gets simmed on the server. If you aren't connected to the server you lose pretty much any interaction with the region and the global market until you reconnect.

orly?

"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," Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw explained to Polygon. "It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."


What she said is true. You can't use the global market or regional stuff if you're offline. Without those you can't really make a decent city. You'll have a really unpleasant time making a moderately successful city before you plateau and aren't able to develop further.
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Except she didn't say that, she said significant amount of the calculations which, given people can play offline via various hacks, is shown to be false.

But, lets move past her comments and go and read the ones by a Maxis employee on this blog entry

This is Kip Katsarelis, Senior Producer on SimCity. Clearly you're a huge fan of the franchise, as am I and the folks working on it everyday. You have some legitimate questions, let me see if I can answer them.

1. Our servers are working hard and it would be too much for a single machine today. We have created a truly connected experience, which means we are not only processing individual city information, but we're stitching that data together for region play. We also store, access and pass a ton of data for Leaderrboards, Global Market, Challenges, and Achievements. This was all part of our original designs, to make this a truly connected experience. I hope you give it a chance.

That said, given how poor the overall simulation seems to be, maybe the regional market stuff is a significant part of the calculations which just makes the game even worse. Of course this seems at odds with this from the same blog post...

To do this, we knew we had to make sure we put our heart and souls into the simulation and the team created the most powerful simulation engine in its history, the GlassBox Engine. GlassBox is the engine that drives the entire game -- the buildings, the economics, trading, and also the overall simulation that can track data for up to 100,000 individual Sims inside each city. There is a massive amount of computing that goes into all of this, and GlassBox works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers (the cloud) and some on the player's local computer.

Which reinforces the idea that 'we need to run the sim online'... except they don't.
Oh and the sim is apparently rubbish so god knows what 'the most powerful simulation engine in its history' is doing...
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This is the part that makes me a bit sad. Why would they spend the money needed to make for a smooth launch when it doesn't matter? - people will still buy. There will be some bad press, a lot of grumbling etc., but does that really impact buying habits for the next game?

 

Yes; I haven't bought an EA game since the Spore rootkit,

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