In a blog update post, General Manager Patrick Buechner of Maxis has announced that they are at long last exploring what SimCity players have wanted since the beginning: Offline Mode.
Along with Diablo III, SimCity has become one of the two major arguments against always-on DRM. Unable to handle the strain, Maxis’ title was infamous for server crashes upon release, long waiting queues, instability and unfortunate limitations. Electronic Arts’ requirement for the title to have it was not helped when modders proved it could work just as well offline, and contrary to claims the DRM was far from essential to playing the title.
The post did not confirm that offline play would be a certainty, but Maxis was exploring the potential of implementing it within the game. While the post was directed to assuring that Maxis was listening to the passionate fans still interested in the title. Citing major updates and previous community driven changes, this small section was devoted to offline mode:
“Right now we have a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode. I can’t make any promises on when we will have more information, but we know this is something that many of our players have been asking for. While the server connectivity issues are behind us, we would like to give our players the ability to play even if they choose not to connect. An offline mode would have the additional benefit of providing room to the modding community to experiment without interfering or breaking the multiplayer experience.”
While this is nothing certain it’s a definite step in the right direction. Furthermore it is combined with another section citing that they have begun a discussion with the idea of supporting user generated content. Both will address major problems people had with the game and do much to please those jaded by the title’s many issues. Unfortunately, despite heavy criticism at the severe limitations placed upon them, city sizes will not be increasing.
Buechner cited its reasoning for refusing to increase the borders of set environments citing system problems which would be caused as a result of it. “The system performance challenges we encountered would mean that the vast majority of our players wouldn’t be able to load,” the post stated as reasoning for this decision “much less play with bigger cities. We’ve tried a number of different approaches to bring performance into an acceptable range, but we just couldn’t achieve it within the confines of the engine.” Instead Maxis is focused upon developing offline mode.
This is a step forwards fans wanted, but it remains to be seen if it will be far enough.
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