Have you ever just wanted to disconnect? Get off the grid?
Finally, nine months after its initial launch, SimCity is a good way to do that. Maxis announced today that SimCity is getting a single player offline mode as part of its 10th update to the troubled game.
General Manager of Maxis Emeryville, Patrick Buechner, wrote in a blog post this morning that the update is coming, though he didn’t specify exactly when. Buechner did say that the game is being tested by active SimCity players:
We are in the late phases of wrapping up its development and while we want to get it into your hands as soon as possible, our priority is to make sure that it’s as polished as possible before we release it. So, until then… testing, testing and more testing. As one of the final steps, we’re putting Offline into the hands of some of our most hardcore players, the DevTesters. This group of volunteers is going to put Offline through its paces before we release it.
Single player mode will allow players to play SimCity offline “by yourself,” he said. Saved games are stored locally, allowing players to do what they’ve always done with SimCity – save their game and experiment, then reload and roll back.
All of this comes after Lucy Bradshaw, then-General Manager of the Maxis label, said in a blog post last spring that the team “rejected that [offline] idea because it didn’t fit with our vision.” The bigger problem was that, running up to the game’s release, Maxis and Electronic Arts framed the game as being heavily reliant on cloud processing. Gamers were told flat out that running SimCity offline was impossible and, for a little while, we believed that it was going to help the game despite our misgivings.
Within weeks, or possibly days, however, after we’d realized the game was completely broken, one intrepid modder figured out how to modify a file to keep SimCity from checking in with the mothership. EA had lied, plain and simple, and SimCity worked just fine offline. Whether it was a simple DRM move or a weak defense of a flawed vision, it was still a frustrating lie that we’d be reminded of with each update that followed.
Then in October, Buechner wrote that Maxis had “a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode,” adding that that would give the modding community something to work with. Now, finally, we know it’s coming. But is it too little, too late? If Maxis can get the patch out quickly, while we still remember its announcement, some of us might even be willing to reinstall the game. In that same October post, though, Buechner confirmed that bigger cities will not be coming, which was enough to put a number of the game’s fans off for good.
I’m looking forward to hearing what those still playing think of the update and whether it’s enough to finally get me to reinstall the game and try it out again. I’m worried, though, that the simulations will still break down after five hours like they did before, and that I’ll be sitting in my Mayor’s chair not just broken, but alone as well.