Modders find way to play SimCity offline

SimCity's 20-minute offline limit circumvented by UK modder.

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A SimCity modder has found a way to partially circumvent the game's always-online requirement and allow for indefinite offline play.

Modder UKAzzer posted a YouTube video (via Reddit) with SimCity's disconnection prompts disabled, showing the game not booting him out after about 20 minutes of offline play.

The feat is achieved by using SimCity's debug mode, with UKAzzer also able to edit highways outside of the game's oft-criticised small boundaries.

"You can edit the highways ANYWHERE - even outside of your city boundary… and even if you quit the game and log back in later, it's all saved safely on the server," wrote UKAzzer.

"This shows that highway editing will be easily possible, AND that editing outside of the artificially small city boundaries should be very viable too."

Inside the SimCity files is also a way to edit the inflated "fluffed population count" statistic to show the true number of people inside the city, another feature that has been regularly criticised by the SimCity community. "My large cities have a population of about 15k now, not 100k," wrote UKAzzer.

There are restrictions in place when using the mod, such as having no access to SimCity's regional features. Players also have to log back into EA's servers if they want to save, or launch the game.

Files in the game also suggest that the full developer build of SimCity features terraforming tools, a long-standing feature of the series removed from the 2013 version.

EA and Maxis' decision to have SimCity require an always-on Internet connection has proved highly controversial since the game's hobbled release last week, with Maxis insisting that the online requirement is to enable social play.

Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw said in an interview with Polygon that the game's always-on requirement is also there because SimCity offloads "a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud."

Meanwhile, an anonymous Maxis employee has claimed to Rock Paper Shotgun that "it wouldn't take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff."

Discussion

214 comments
June-GS
June-GS

Sigh. I really wanted the "anonymous source" to be wrong, but this good modder just proved to us all it's true. Lucy Bradshaw, you're either the most clueless general manager in Maxis' venerable history, or you're just a BF liar.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I would be willing to bet just about anything that EA bribed or blackmailed Maxis to say that the servers were required to play.

That's not to say that Maxis are innocent, I'm sure they're far from it.

obenns
obenns

This comes at no surprise. 

rey2
rey2

A patch will probably come from EA/Maxis but it's pointless now.  Ain't that a shame?   

AlexFili
AlexFili

Everybody in the world is going to remember this travesty of a launch. The SimCity brand has been tarnished forever and will find it tough to recover from this. This is why we need public Betas and more openness with users

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

So every limitation to the game = pure greed

Shidira
Shidira

Now if only people with speak with their wallets, and not actually buy the game (and/or other games), to teach EA (as well as other companies *cough* Capcom *cough*) a lesson. 

lion2447
lion2447

Hold on a minute. Your not supposed to know about the Terraforming tools.  They will come in a month as DLC for $9.99. Pay no attention to that sentence.

Setzera
Setzera

I hate seeing a game like SimCity suffer, but I looooove when EA gets a swift kick in the pants.  I recall them and Maxis saying the game could not possibly function offline and was built needing multiplayer.  We all knew it was BS, now it's been proven. 

Stick it where the sun don't shine EA!

nemes1s3000
nemes1s3000

Once you piss off your loyal fans and community, the fans and the community will bite back.

surferosh
surferosh

now THAT's the way to go about it EA !!!

victorlamy
victorlamy

if pirates want it, they WILL get it. i don't recall drm working for ANY game. ubi knows wassup

vault-boy
vault-boy

Serious question: Why hasn't anonymous hacked EA yet? I mean they are a corrupt and docuhy excuse for a company, and this bullshit they're trying to pull seems right up there ally.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

I sure as hell hope the gaming sites keep the pressure on EA for answers and don't take their bullshit excuses. This should NOT just fade into the background.

darkdayze
darkdayze

I think I saw somewhere where you can make your own mod. EA says: DAMN!

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

I don't believe it. EA told us that the online infrastructure is required for the game to run. Stupid lying modders.

MW2ismygame
MW2ismygame

Soooo, whens the crack coming ? I called this a while ago, all this shit is bound to make this a prime target for piracy, and honestly i dont care if people did pirate it at this point. EA is beyond forgiveness. 

zephyrx50
zephyrx50

Modders could fix all of the games problems for them faster.

DrKill09
DrKill09

Ha ha ha ha ha!  I knew it would happen. 

MGBarotto
MGBarotto

All in all, I still blame the people who actually buy a game with an always-online DRM... when you  hear it's an always-online DRM, you KNOW you'll get screwed.

Just have some patience, wait for those "bad horrible pirates" to make your game playable and get it for free.

I'm up for buying games, but if you make a game knowing the pirates will have a playable version of the game and the people who bought it wont, you're not fighting piracy, you're asking everyone to stop buying your games and pirate them, or just don't play them.


So listen to EA, stop buying games with always online DRM and pirate them, you won't hurt the gaming developer community and you wont hurt the gaming community.

k16campbell
k16campbell

Well now... EA has some explaining to do.

ken_wakashimazu
ken_wakashimazu

are you telling me, EA lied about everything, tried to make you buy stuff twice and gave the simcity fans the middle finger with crappy servers and bugs a plenty from day 1, so they could make more money??


i'm shocked....


that people still waste their money on their products time and time again.

frylock616
frylock616

lol...wonder what all the nay sayers have to say about this?

starcrafthenry
starcrafthenry

I would have thought EA learned from fellow behemoth Ubisoft. People stopped buying Ubisoft games that had always-online DRM; I know I sure did. Ubisoft felt the pain, and have since gotten rid of that requirement.

I am also unwilling to buy any game that requires Origin. Either make it available as a standalone game with no client required, or kiss and make up with the Gaben and bring it to Steam. I still haven't purchased BF3 because of the Origin requirement.

Apastron
Apastron

Everyone saw this coming, surely.

Jinzo_111887
Jinzo_111887

The game didn't need it after all. Only reason it was some company officials were paranoid about pirates. Heck, I get the feeling EA could actually make it possible to get the entire game to play offline. Thing is, I get the feeling they will probably try to patch the game to make sure people who play it play by their paranoid set of rules.

MGBarotto
MGBarotto

Coming soon:

Terraforming DLC! For the totally fair price of $15 you can get access to the awesome tools of terraforming that are already locked in the game anyway!

Offline mode DLC! One of the most expected features! for Only $10 you can get all the "calculations" done in your pc an play the new offline single player mode! (Includes our new anti-piracy technology DVDBurn®, thanks to it, your PC will burst into flames if you try to launch a pirated version of the game!)

SeAzhrei
SeAzhrei

Said ea in reply: "Modders? WHAAA?!? What are those?! Are you making that word up?"

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

Really interresting, EA with their pants off!

tim1935
tim1935

I love SimCity, but will not buy this game because of the stupid always-on DRM.  I'm tired of tried and true standalone games getting ruined by this social crap.  If I want a social game I'll play a MMO.

Lost_Omega
Lost_Omega

@naryanrobinson EA probably said something along the lines of "put on the DRM or we will hobble/cancel your game",

LesserAngel
LesserAngel

@DiscGuru101 Might be slightly more accurate to say every limitation = 3/4 greed, 1/4 laziness and not giving a damn.

MordeaniisChaos
MordeaniisChaos

@DiscGuru101 Not really. The game chugs on good hardware at higher speeds with a decent sized city. They've said the reason that the city size is what it is is because they had to cater to a certain spectrum of gamers, most of whom do not own super computers. Later, they plan on adding the ability to work within larger cities. A lot of it has been technical limitations.

obenns
obenns

@Shidira Yeah, if only... Instead they buy the next EA game and then complain on here again. They don't learn.

vault-boy
vault-boy

@MW2ismygame It is coming shortly before I download my copy of the game if you know what I mean... wink wink.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@MGBarotto Erm... I would stop at "don't buy it". Pirating the game just gives the suits in the boardroom MORE reason to implement even worse attempts at DRM.

Remember, they are COMPLETELY detached from the community, have absolutely NO clue what's going on and only look at the numbers. If the piracy numbers are high, they think "MOAR DRM!1!!1!", not "Man, they must hate DRM".

So yeah, if you join that statistic "in protest", you're actually having the opposite effect.

AlphaWolF_J
AlphaWolF_J

@starcrafthenry your really not missing much BF3 is not the game it once was . its basically a PAY TO WIN game now, with a totally ridiculous fragmented community , just me a 3 friends cant even game together unless its vanilla only.

and they now force you to download  stealth DLC mascaraing as a patch any time you want a quick match with a few buddys its a 6.5gb of useless data stealing your drive space . 

Safe to say I wont be updating this time i do have a line and they crossed it.

Pandajuicy
Pandajuicy

@tim1935 Amen brother! Attention publishers: We don't want forced social interactivity in our GAMES!

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

@MordeaniisChaos @DiscGuru101 Looking at how its built, I'm inclined to agree on at least this point.  The developers are trying to simulate every individual in the city now, or at least enough of them to make it seem alive.  They said they tried it a few years ago but it was too complicated to run on normal hardware.  So 2013 was the time.  Simulation games grind the processor like almost no other game I know of.  Most other things flex graphics or RAM, but games like The Sims always seem processor-limited.  And procs haven't made as many advances as storage and display technologies over the last few years.  

So while I think Lucy was smoking something when she claimed they were offloading processing to the cloud (too slow to get the answers back for that to be useful), I _am_ inclined to think the small city size is a hardware consolation.

MGBarotto
MGBarotto

@Daemoroth @MGBarottoNot really... 
At first, they have no real way to see "piracy numbers", and anyway, I think if they see a game with DRM getting four times the pirate downloads and four times less sales than a game without DRM, they have to realize it's the DRM that is causing it.Besides, most will just say "Yeah, I shouldn't buy it, but I want to play it" and buy it anyway, I guess it's the only case when actually buying an original copy of a game hurts both the game idustry and the gaming community.
In other words, if they release a game with severe DRM and it fails horribly, they'll do it again, and it will fail horribly again, then they will either learn or die and be an example for the future companies.
If the future companies fail to see the example, they'll die too. But that's what happens with companies that can't adap

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@jimrhurst @MordeaniisChaos @DiscGuru101 Then again, if the standards of your devs are so damn low that your pathfinding algorithm doesn't take current traffic (For which you already have a measurable value - the higher the load the more red the road gets, so they're obviously tracking it) into account, what are the chances of them creating an efficient game engine?

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@frylock616 @Daemoroth @MGBarotto Don't get me wrong, I'm not supporting EA or defending them, I'm all for the modders, but as a way to force EA to stop their always-online crap, not as a means towards piracy.

MGBarotto
MGBarotto

@Daemoroth @MGBarotto 

My point is... not playing and pirating it is indifferent, the whole point of not buying it is cutting their money income.

You know what usually happens when a software company breaks? The talent either goes to a better company or starts a better company on their own

Besides, the "pirating numbers" are goin up anyway, because for games with DRM, you have to download a crack to for the game to be playable anyway, even if you bought it

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@MGBarotto You're expecting the same people who thought that converting Syndicate into a generic shooter was a good idea to realise that high piracy is BECAUSE of DRM, as opposed to "DRM not strong enough"?

Whether the numbers are accurate or not, it hasn't stopped them from claiming to have them. You're not talking about gamers who follow the industry, these are people in a meeting room, staring at a pie-chart and some bar graphs drawing the straightest line to a conclusion that their tiny brains can handle.

Gamers should think "I shouldn't buy it, I want to play it but I have self-restraint, I won't buy this until...". Yes, gamers need to develop some self-restraint.

And companies DO adapt, yes, they leave the PC gaming market, they shift their focus to consoles first and "hopefully" drop a port to PC which we can only hope isn't a PoS.

What's the #1 complaint about PC gaming? The piracy, regardless of why it's happening, regardless of whether the pirates would have bought the game and can be counted as a lost sale, there is no context in the statement, it is just "piracy".

Telling people to pirate it will cause even MORE damage to the industry.