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More on Offline SimCity

A few details have come to light in the question of how difficult it would be to make the new SimCity playable offline, a conundrum that confuses even EA, as they have indicated this would be both possible and impossible. Kotaku writes of pulling the plug on the game and having it play on for about 19 minutes before crapping out, seeming to contradict the notion that a significant portion of the game's calculations are taking place on the server side. Likewise, Notch tweets: "I like how you can keep playing Sim City even when it notifies you that the servers are down. (But I thought it REALLY needed them?)." This plays into a report on Rock, Paper, Shotgun talking with an anonymous engineer the site says they've confirmed worked on the game. He discusses the most difficult part of playing SimCity offline would be how gameplay is based on interactions between regions, but the source says: "It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff." As for the server being required to play the game, he tells them SimCity does no significant game simulation on the server side:

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.

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83. Re: More on Offline SimCity Mar 13, 2013, 19:40 JohnnyRotten
Crustacean Soup wrote on Mar 13, 2013, 17:21:
This speaks to how difficult it would be to pull the regional stuff off of the servers and put it in an offline version. The server environment is entirely different from what an individual with a single computer has. There's a lot intercommunication that would have to be simulated/changed, there's database servers, it's all probably running in a (/ many) different OSs and software environment(s) that consumers wouldn't be running the game on. Getting this stuff all on the client is not the flip of a switch that some people are characterizing it as.

Agree completely - the back end DB could be something godawful expensive like Oracle and you're just not going to throw that to a million client machines. If the cluster scenario is true, then multiple services are all talking to each other across the network, and it may be a bit more of a challenge to separate the unneeded/unwanted aspects of that from a more purpose built single machine client.

This is an argument that they may have programmed themselves into a corner here - and that the solution would need some rework before you could move it to a client machine. This is most likely where they are at, and why the anonymous RPS source said it would be difficult, but not impossible.

However, this wasn't a case of the issue justifying in and of itself of having to program it twice for a server and client implementation being the only option (as was previously claimed in another post). They had the choice to let the game run locally, but decided not to. This was a case of them painting themselves into a corner for no other reason than control (IMHO).
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