Ah, the epic story that is the SimCity launch debacle continues.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has reported that an unnamed Maxis insider who worked on SimCity stated that the game’s need to “offload a significant amount of the calculations” to servers is not strictly true.
Said the anonymous insider:
“The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. 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. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless.“
This insider’s revelations to RPS only serves to add fuel to an already blazing inferno. Many people have questioned the validity of EA’s/Maxis’ claims that SimCity absolutely needs an always-on Internet connection to play even a single-player game.
Then came reports of some enterprising people, including some from Kotaku, who were able to indeed run SimCity sans an Internet connection, albeit for just around 20 minutes. But perhaps most tantalizingly of all, there is the March 14 The Tech Report story that said a modder has removed the 20-minute time-limit Kotaku’s testers stumbled onto, effectively offering unlimited offline play and circumventing EA’s/Maxis’ claims that players must be online to play the game. But the modder’s methods come with a price: Game saves and region synchronization aren’t yet available. However, the modder did say he was able to get into a special debug mode, which is what enables more comprehensive editing capabilities than what the game itself gives access to. There is even a video showing the modded game.
So what’s the bottom line here? There are two contradicting realities here in play: Either SimCity absolutely requires an always-on Internet connection, or it doesn’t. At any rate, here’s a small bit of editorial commentary to close this story: Assuming the reports from RPS, The Tech Report, and Kotaku are indeed correct (Techgage cannot verify since we don’t have the game, and the only staffer who is even interested in the game has been put off from buying it because of all the myriad launch problems), EA/Maxis are in a tough spot. They’ve already angered many fans of the game by insisting on the requirement for a constant online connection; the discovery of an apparent capability to turn this requirement off can only anger them even more.