SimCity Is Broken, And It's Not Just the Servers

zinho73

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Maze1125 said:
All these "review the game as shipped" comments are absurd.
I think your arguments are quite absurd.

Maze1125 said:
What if Half-Life 3 was released on Steam and it was so popular that it literally crashed the Steam servers so no-one could download it? Would it be appropriate to review it as "Couldn't even play the game; Rubbish. 0%"? Of course it wouldn't.
That's not what happened. You have to build arguments in the face of what really happened:
1. All reviewers played the game beforehand, using a safe version of Maxis servers. Most of them knew the basic gameplay and waited to see how it performed online in real circumstances (a laudable thing to do). After that, the only reason to delay the review is to be super fair with Maxis. But in doing that, you are being less fair with the consumer.


Maze1125 said:
EA certainly should have handled the release of the game better, but the problems were down to the servers, not the game itself.
The servers are an intrinsic part of the game. Without them, the game is unplayable. Problems with the servers are problems with the game. What you are saying is like saying that there is a problem with the Artificial Intelligence, but not the game itself.[/quote]

Maze1125 said:
Further, the simple fact is that we now live in a time where games can change significantly from their launch form, and that's not an inherently bad thing. It used to be that the launched version of the game was all the game would ever be, and so reviewing the launch version was appropriate, now that's no longer true and so altering review policies to match the changing state of game development is reasonable.
Yeah, but altering review policies only for Sim City is not. If you are going to wait a week, you have to wait a week for every game, even if it is not completely broken, because even a very good game can become better after a first patch.

Maze1125 said:
Edit: And no, reviewing a game later is not something done for the sake of the publisher, it's something done for the sake of the player.
Reviewing a bad game later is highly beneficial for the publisher because the first weeks are their biggest sale window. A review will always be a snapshot in time - but it is most beneficial at the launch, when impulse buying is taking place and every bit of information can form an opinion. Late buyers are a much more informed bunch and are probably very aware of the state the game they are buying is.

All that said, I don't think The Escapist are cowards or are being payed by EA. That's absurd. I firmly believe in the ethics of the site, they are covering the whole Sim City story very well and the final decision is theirs. But, in my opinion, it is not a decision that is doing the most good for consumers - specially because a harsh review at launch is an element of pressure for companies trying to get everything straight from the get go.

I understand that games can receive a patch to fix one or other thing, but a game this broken cannot see the light of the day and must be received with harsh criticism, not a chance to get it right two weeks after launch.
 

lacktheknack

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Jan 19, 2009
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A review preview declaring how broken it is?

This may be the biggest burn since Nasrin recommended Dungeon Keeper 2 in her Impire review.
 

Eppy (Bored)

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Jan 7, 2009
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It seems to me that this is yet another case of a developer getting way too ambitious and overextending themselves, and then collapsing under pressure from the publisher or upper management. The result is a game that barely functions even after its server issues are resolved. It's like they brought back the Sim City title just to make money, without paying any attention to the functionality or integrity of the game at all.

...Wait a minute.
 

Dumoras

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did anyone else get offered a free digital download because of the cock because i just picked up battlefield 3.
 

Mahoshonen

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So, why not review the game in the current state? EA was obviously content to release the game with all of it's faults. I say they should reap the whirlwind.
 

-Dragmire-

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GAunderrated said:
Not G. Ivingname said:
There is fun to be had in the other direction.

Make all roads dirt paths, hack up tax rates, put all your industry and sewage treatment plants up wind of your housing, bus stops on every corner, just enough police to encourage criminals to move over to other cities, only stop fires by destroying buildings.

See how much of a hell scape you can create and how far can you drag down the other cities in the region with you.
The fact that they can let you "troll" other cities in your region shows me that this formula wont last long.
I'd say that's the least of their issues if this hasn't been fixed yet.

http://www.cinemablend.com/games/SimCity-Hack-Lets-Users-Destroy-Anyone-Online-City-Thanks-Always-DRM-53685.html
 

GAunderrated

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-Dragmire- said:
GAunderrated said:
Not G. Ivingname said:
There is fun to be had in the other direction.

Make all roads dirt paths, hack up tax rates, put all your industry and sewage treatment plants up wind of your housing, bus stops on every corner, just enough police to encourage criminals to move over to other cities, only stop fires by destroying buildings.

See how much of a hell scape you can create and how far can you drag down the other cities in the region with you.
The fact that they can let you "troll" other cities in your region shows me that this formula wont last long.
I'd say that's the least of their issues if this hasn't been fixed yet.

http://www.cinemablend.com/games/SimCity-Hack-Lets-Users-Destroy-Anyone-Online-City-Thanks-Always-DRM-53685.html
Wow that is going to cause such a shitfest if that spreads. I can already see the headlines. lol
 

Gezzer

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I'm another of the SimCity 5 suffers and I totally agree with the points raised.
I've played around with every version of SimCity, even Societies. It wasn't a bad game just not a true SimCity, like this current version. I'm also inclined to consider the current MMO/multiplayer content to be more of reason to slip the DRM past us then actual game play. It's just so broken and does nothing to help push your city to higher densities.

If I was going to do SimCity multi-player this is how I would of done it:
First of let me say my understanding of how city, county, state/province things scale isn't too great and I'm more spit balling here then anything.
Each player grabs a city site the same as it currently works. Then when you tax your sims there is a secondary tax you pay, say the same as the rate you use, but as a percentage of any profits you make. This money from all the player goes into the county budget fund. As you play the funds in the county budget can be used for things like. Expanding your city limits. Adding another city connection to the interstate. Adding various direct connections between cites, freeways, boats, bus lines, what have you. Adding outside city limits services that benefit all cities like, large land fill site, energy producer, most of the things they have as their "great works" but the ability to have more of them on the county map. Pretty much have anything that a county could do the players could do outside their cities with these funds.
But here's the kicker that would make it really interesting, players would propose whatever it was they wanted to do and then everyone would vote on it, and you would need a majority to pass a proposal.

For example, you have a 5 player county and player 1 wants to expand his city limits. Now his expanding will leave less room for player 2 and 3 to expand into. But player 1 offers a contract between him and 2,3 that he will take all their garbage for a lower then normal fee if they vote to pass. They do. Now player 1 later proposes a county land fill and tells players 4 and 5 that he'll send them some resources if they vote for it. Again it passes. Now player 1 simply reroutes the garbage he receives from 2,3 to the county dump. This is just the first possible scenario off the top of my head, but I'm sure all sorts of interesting interactions could develop. There could even be end game goals like, first to a million population, first to 95% satisfaction, what have you.
Now that would make it a real multi-player SimCites instead of this [email protected] Maxis has tried to pass off on us.
 

Joccaren

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Eh, the small city size and end game specialization I can live with. So far as I can tell its more along the lines of Dubai region land, and it makes sense from a design perspective.
The small city sizes aren't to encourage you to start up a new city every 5 hours and play that till its dead, but to have you turn your whole region into one mega city - put simply. You design each city not as an individual city, but as a part of its region, and have all the cities work together as one mega-city of sorts. It works well in theory, as all the cities in your region trade tourists, services, goods, money and everything else with each other, so its all up to you how that goes. Its not just one small city, its more like 5 small sectors of a city.

As for the endgame, it honestly feels more like Dubai planning to me than a tycoon sim. You get your region to start producing a bunch of goods, yes, but here's the thing; they're going to run out one day. I've been mining for 5 hours in one of my cities and I'm almost completely out of ore, my only trade commodity. To me it doesn't matter though, as I've been stockpiling money to build a super-project - the true endgame. Superprojects provide one large benefit to all cities in the region, allowing you to focus on other areas and improve other businesses. As an example, the arcology means you basically don't need residential areas in your cities [Well, you do, but that's another issue], the Solar Power Plant means you don't need power plants, and every super-project has some advantage or other.
Once you've built that and run out of resources though, its time to re-design your city to work on its own without those resources - like Dubai is starting to do to stay afloat once they finally run out of Oil to sell.

The pathing issues...
Criminals are never caught in my city and I have 24 police cars all on the 1 street, whilst the criminals spread out all over the place and do what they want. Its sad. Public transport is useless and no cars seem to be able to take intelligent routes anywhere.

The game is fun, but it really does have a LOT of room to improve in.
 

Urh

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Judging from the sheer quantity of negativity about Sim City that's on the internet, I'd argue that "plopping" is a rather accurate description of this game's development cycle, and of the resulting product. First Colonial Marines, then Sim City - hopefully this isn't a sign that 2013 will be a year of plop.
 

MeChaNiZ3D

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The longer the game has been out, the more its actual gameplay flaws have come to light even through the DRM issue, which is terrible in its own right. The people don't have lives, they change houses and jobs every day, the buses follow each other, trading goods are lost without explanation, universities replace schools instead of functioning alongside them, as do many other things. But I also feel the need to defend Greg here. The purpose of a review is not to get a jab in at the publisher, and although it should be reviewed as shipped, it should also be reviewed as functioning. If a publisher ships a game with glitches and bugs, those are part of the game and should be considered when deciding whether or not to buy it. But when a game cannot be played, that isn't something you can review. That isn't something people will be able to base their purchasing decision on at the point when the game CAN be played. The Escapist isn't in anyone's pocket.
 

Fat Hippo

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Daemascus said:
From what Ive been able to tell, Sims are not rational humans. it seems more like some massive communist hive-mind. They share jobs and houses because no Sim has a set role, and like to follow others around in little groups, taking what looks to be the shortest route. But this is more of an issue I have with the series than the lastest SimCity itself.
Maybe they should just collaborate with Blizzard and make SimZerg.

WE ARE THE SWARM.
 

PH3NOmenon

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How long was Skyrim plagued by bugs?

Where was the newspost detailing how the SC2 servers crumbled when HotS launched?



Traffic has already been patched once.

Buserpillars are already less frequent.

Generating 4 million in profits isn't that hard either. On my first attempt and with gridlocked to hell roads, I still managed 2 million in profits.

Setting aside for a moment that a city government doesn't really earn money from a company in its borders selling oil
Setting aside the whole logic in a videogame argument, a city government should probably expect to earn money selling oil if it paid for the oil wells in the first place. Or are you suggesting that coal mine infrastructure is paid for by the government while private companies get the profits?


Don't get me wrong, SC is in dire need of more patching but at this point I honestly feel like people are gleefully hacking at bone simply because it's EA producing the thing. The bad reviews almost feel like mindless bandwagon-ing.
 

Olas

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Dec 24, 2011
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So wait EA is currently working to fix bugs in the game that they released 2 weeks ago?

If you're not going to sell a completed game up front you shouldn't be charging the full price up front either. Make me pay when you're done with it and I actually get what I'm paying for.
 

NortherWolf

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Geo Da Sponge said:
Maze1125 said:
I totally agree with you on this. It seems like the people complaining about them not reviewing the game as shipped are less interested in actually finding out what the game's like rather than seeing someone else taking their turn to jump up and down on the game for its launch issues.

Obviously a review shouldn't gloss over bugs and other issues if they're present, but a lot of good games get bad reputations over problems that have long since been resolved. Especially Obsidian ones. You should only review a buggy game if you're prepared to soldier on through bugs and errors to review it every bit as thoroughly as you would a less buggy game, otherwise you're just giving a review that probably won't be relevant in a few months time.

EDIT: Of course if it is buggy you should probably put up something saying that it is and that's why you're not reviewing it for now... But that's what's been done here.
A game journalist should do his or her goddamned job. Which is to review a game as it is upon release. If it gets better ten patches down the road, fine, mention that in another article or some shit. But if it's broken as a window store after a tornado then it deserves a low grade!
Or we could start tossing out ten star reviews(out of five, we should be lenient) to games like WarZ because "They'll be better after a few patches!"
Then again, considering the source, I'm happy this article was somewhat honest.
Edit: Also, do you think this treatment would go for any but the big publisher stuff? Think people should have been this nice to Sword of the stars 2?
 

Therumancer

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Maze1125 said:
Edit: And, as for an non-existent game being a bad analogy? Okay, here's an edited version that's entirely true:
What if, when Half-Life 2 was released on Steam and it was so popular that it literally crashed the Steam servers so no-one could download it? Would it have been appropriate to review it as "Couldn't even play the game; Rubbish. 0%"? Of course it wouldn't.
To be fair, I do think that would be a fair review. If a game won't run, it doesn't matter how good it is. As someone who has obtained more than one game that wouldn't play under any circumstances (especially back in the days of DOS) it very much influances my desicians. What's more I think those kinds of reviews and the loss of sales they can cause are exactly what we need nowadays in order to get companies to move away from this "always online" garbage. You game can be gold on it's own, but if mandatory DRM prevents it from running right, or mucks up the rest of my computer, that doesn't matter, basic functionality has to come first in my opinion. Back in the day of DRM like "Starguard" I absolutly panned some games that required it because there was pretty much zero chance I was going to put something like that on my computer, and if I can't play the game without it, the game in effect is worthless, the CD is pretty much an overprice drink coaster.

That said if your panning a game for these reasons you SHOULD specify it, like your hypothetical blurb. For those to whom it doesn't matter (being willing to spend hours tinkering with a computer, or endure any amount of DRM to play) they can look for other kinds of reviews. As far as how it effects Metacritic ratings and such, in this case they POed a customer with their practices before the game even started, they deserve to take the hit, because at the end of the day it's all about gathered opinions, and the bottom line is that they slotted someone off who felt that they rendered the game worthless right off the bat.... and again, that's in part how you get companies to change this kind of thing.

Back in the days when a 386 was an "OMG" powerful computer, let's just say that I was a huge "Ultima" fan but I seriously panned "Ultima 7" despite liking the game due to this thing called "Voodoo Memory Management" which caused me to spend hours creating special boot discs and screwing around with extended and expanded memory to try and make it run right. For any other game I wouldn't have bothered, but to be honest that fustration came out, and I told many, many people that unless you were a die hard "Ultima"/"Lord British" fan it probably wasn't worth it. I probably spent more time talking to people on Echos about how to tinker to try and get the bloody thing to run than I did talking about the game itself.
 

Combustion Kevin

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Daemascus said:
From what Ive been able to tell, Sims are not rational humans. it seems more like some massive communist hive-mind. They share jobs and houses because no Sim has a set role, and like to follow others around in little groups, taking what looks to be the shortest route. But this is more of an issue I have with the series than the lastest SimCity itself.
then again, designing a game around your own communist hivemind could be fun, in an RTS kinda way.
 

ECasThat

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Wow. The problems with simcity just gets worse and worse: bug, bad path finding, unstable servers.
The only other game with this many problems on launch is Sword of the Stars 2. And when you can be compered to that mess, nobody is going to be happy.
 

TheMadDoctorsCat

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weatherfn said:
Wait! So you're saying the game works just like real-life cities? Buses that clog streets because you can't get people to ride them? Singular highway entrance ramps that cause traffic nightmares? Cities fighting with each other to be the best at one particular thing? It's the PERFECT city-building simulator!

Just a bit of cynical humor from a real-life urban planner. One who picked my field partially because of Sim City, and cries a little each time I hear how bad this iteration is.
Yeah, I feel you. I hate it when one of my favorite franchises turns south.

Having said that...
The Crotch said:
Reading about the pathfinding in the new SimCity is always entertaining, but complaining about naming the highest speed "cheetah mode"? Aren't you, like... a couple decades late on that?
Yeah, they had the "animal naming" speeds in SC2000, the first Sim City game I played.