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SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand

A post to the EA Forums from SimCity senior producer Kip Katsarelis explains the measures they are taking to address launch issues with the new SimCity, which include a server hotfix and a version 1.2 patch, but apparently no refunds (contrary to an early statement that said these would be offered). Word is they have temporarily cut off some features to help their servers cope with demand:

Server capacity is our biggest obstacle. We launched in North America on Tuesday and our servers filled up within a matter of hours. What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn't want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join. We added more servers to accommodate the launch in Australia and Japan, and then more yesterday to accommodate the launch in Europe. As of right now, we are adding even more servers which will be going live over the next three days. And, our plan is to continue to bring more servers online until we have enough to meet the demand, increase player capacity and let more people through the gates and into the game.

Earlier today, we released a patch that temporarily cut off some features including leaderboards, achievements and Cheetah Speed to reduce data stress on the servers and effectively free up space so that we can let more people into the game. These are great features that we're proud of and we'll turn them back on soon, but our number one priority is to bring stability to our servers. This update also resolved some of the bugs and issues that have been frustrating players. You can read all about it at http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/9341807.page

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68. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 09:31 Quboid
 
Redmask wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 08:21:
Quboid wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 08:00:
No they didn't, that's misrepresenting what they said.

"That is just a performance decision," Quigley told IncGamers. "Given that was the performance constraint we decided to work under, we built a larger region environment and a bunch of the multiplay to work with 2km cities. At some point in the future, especially with mainstream computers become more capable, we could certainly make the city sizes larger."

The idea that PCs are somehow incapable of rendering their advanced game is absurd, go look at the resource usage while you're playing sometime. The Dads PC crap is just an excuse to sell you this as an addon later on. There is this concept called scaling and its applied to modern video games all the time.

They are holding it back as a feature to sell later, are you contesting that they will sell this later on or just quibbling about the language they used?

The language they used, or rather the language you used. This all stinks to high heaven, don't get me wrong, but they did not admit that they're holding it back to sell it to us later. They probably will do this, but there's been no such admission.
 
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67. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 09:17 WaltC
 
Quboid wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 08:00:
No they didn't, that's misrepresenting what they said.

"That is just a performance decision," Quigley told IncGamers. "Given that was the performance constraint we decided to work under, we built a larger region environment and a bunch of the multiplay to work with 2km cities. At some point in the future, especially with mainstream computers become more capable, we could certainly make the city sizes larger."

He said that as a mainstream game, it needs to run on "your dad's PC" as well as yours. But as PCs get more capable, he claims the update will come at some point. "We'll eventually get around to expanding the city size but I canít make any promises as to when."


Not the same as holding it back as a feature.

Doesn't the fact that the game was required to utilize network servers contradict their own statement as you have quoted it? They say they didn't build in bigger cities because current computers weren't powerful enough--then they add that they built the game to run on "Dad's PC". EA ships plenty of games that won't run well on "Dad's PC" *and* that run locally, so if this EA game consumes that much in the way of resources in order to run, then it will quickly clog up and destroy the network that's attempting to run critical parts of the game. Unless EA is using "Dad's PC" for their servers then this statement makes little sense at all. The power of the local computer is not an issue here. The power of EA's network is the issue. Very poor game design, very poor.

It really makes no sense at all for EA to make a game dependent on a network to help run parts of the game--and then talk about the constraints of "Dad's" local computer to explain why they didn't build in bigger cities. The bottleneck here is the network, not the local computers the game is running on.

If EA was really aiming for "Dad's PC" then the game should have been strictly 2d, and the networking model should have been dropped (What if "Dad" is still on dial up?) EA is surely talking out of both sides of its mouth here.

IMO, EA was simply trying to do a Diablo III with this game. They are getting what they deserve for worrying more about piracy than about the quality of their game for paying customers. EA has its priorities exactly backwards.
 
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66. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 09:11 Beamer
 
So, Cheetah speed is killed to preserve server time.

Which means that processing is at least partially, if not largely or fully, server side. Which also explains why the game goes to title if you get a blip in your connection.

On one hand, this means that I could probably play this on my crappy netbook, or even a tablet, if they make a client that has a lighter graphical load.
On the other hand, they never said they were doing that, I never asked for that, and unless that's actually in the plans and you're buying something specifically for that then there's no reason to be offloading any of this to the server.

Well, except for DRM. It's as close to flawless DRM as it gets. But man, I do not remember them advertising this as being run off your computer, or ever mentioning it.


Full price for a game I can't run at ALL due to DRM is just... I dunno, for some reason actually doing the work off my computer crosses the line for me. Can't articulate why I see that as the line. If you make your game so it absolutely under no circumstances can be pirated, but I as the consumer am now bearing the risk, I feel like there should be a discount. The product is less risky for EA, and they'll make more money per user for that. The product is more risky for me. There should be a pricing balance there.
 
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65. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 09:06 Verno
 
Blizzards problem isn't so much Activisions influence (Blizzard retained autonomy) as it is the loss of Blizzard North and the success of WoW permeating through the rest of the company. It is not hard to see the WoW influence in Diablo 3. If this was Blizzard they would at least publicly acknowledge it, apologize and offer refunds like they did with Diablo 3.

But anyway that's besides the point, this is all about EA being EA as usual. This is yet another in a long line of EA fuckups, totally justifying every single time they get criticized by the public and the press.
 
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64. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:56 Undocumented Alien
 
When EA buys a developer, everyone needs to quit pretending that the publisher and the developer are different entities.

This isn't Maxis failing you. Maxis no longer exists.

This is 100% the same with Activision and Blizzard (i.e. Diablo 3).

Yes, there were requests for an Auction House/Trading Post from Diablo players. They could have just keep that at the online only B.NET level and still provided a Offline SP Mode like they always did. But noooooooo, Activision saw that Diablo had a HUGE fanbase and said.. "Hmm, yes... we'll give them an Auction House alright, a REAL MONEY Auction House that we get a cut of.... and to make sure we get the most ROI out of it, EVERYBODY has to be online to play.... MWUUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!".

So we know why Diablo 3 is always online, for SimCity it must be about control (DRM). Its a shame that both companies have taken games with strong roots in SP and a large fanbase and held the games hostage, only thing we can do is stop supporting them as hard as it is. I know that I won't.
 
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63. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:56 RollinThundr
 
Verno wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 08:42:
Redmask wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 07:10:
Julio wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 06:49:
Add the features back in as microtransactions!

There will be a Big City Moving On Up expansion, just watch. They already admitted they kept bigger cities sizes held back as a feature.

Wait, they they're actually holding back city sizes on purpose? How is that not the headline? The more I hear about this game, the more it sounds like one big facepalm after another.

Edit: Read that interview link, that's ridiculous, almost every PC sold in the past three to five years is a dual core with 2GB of ram minimum. My fathers laptop could beat the piss out of that game.

I'm not buying it either. EA certainly dropped the ball with this and this is one time I have no issue with people ganging up on them. Congrats guys, you have a legit reason to spew hate for once.
 
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62. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:42 Verno
 
Redmask wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 07:10:
Julio wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 06:49:
Add the features back in as microtransactions!

There will be a Big City Moving On Up expansion, just watch. They already admitted they kept bigger cities sizes held back as a feature.

Wait, they they're actually holding back city sizes on purpose? How is that not the headline? The more I hear about this game, the more it sounds like one big facepalm after another.

Edit: Read that interview link, that's ridiculous, almost every PC sold in the past three to five years is a dual core with 2GB of ram minimum. My fathers laptop could beat the piss out of that game.

This comment was edited on Mar 8, 2013, 08:52.
 
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61. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:41 WaltC
 
EkimDeLhi wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 01:07:
Mad Max RW wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 23:36:
Doesn't matter. If Sim City preorder/launch sales break even or generate any profit you will only see more bullshit like this. If the game is a loss for EA you will never see another Sim City again.

As to your second point, it's starting to feel like EA has already killed it.

Hopefully, EA will then sell the IP to someone who can use it to make the kind of game people want to buy.
 
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60. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:34 InBlack
 
Depending on how well this game does, and I suspect it will do pretty well regardless of launch and its myrad of other problems I predict that this game will have at least 10 expansions/DLC content, maybe more.

How many expansions/sequels did the Sims get? Lets list them:

The Sims
The Sims 2
The Sims 3
The Sims Online
The Sims Stories
MySims
The Sims Carnival
The Sims Medieval
The Sims Social
 
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59. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:28 Boston
 
MisterBenn wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 01:06:
These early problems with always online AAA games are not going to go away. It's always cheaper to plan server capacity based upon expected levels at the 1 week or month mark rather than spend extra for the initial surge and then decommission or reallocate servers afterwards. You just need to explain away the problems until the surge dies down and then congratulate yourselves on the budget savings.

Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. They could just as easily use cloud computing services with massive capacities (eg amazon aws), and scale the servers on demand. But I guess the same paranoia that made the game always-online is making them hesitate passing off the server code to another company.
 
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58. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:21 Redmask
 
Quboid wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 08:00:
No they didn't, that's misrepresenting what they said.

"That is just a performance decision," Quigley told IncGamers. "Given that was the performance constraint we decided to work under, we built a larger region environment and a bunch of the multiplay to work with 2km cities. At some point in the future, especially with mainstream computers become more capable, we could certainly make the city sizes larger."

The idea that PCs are somehow incapable of rendering their advanced game is absurd, go look at the resource usage while you're playing sometime. The Dads PC crap is just an excuse to sell you this as an addon later on. There is this concept called scaling and its applied to modern video games all the time.

They are holding it back as a feature to sell later, are you contesting that they will sell this later on or just quibbling about the language they used?
 
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57. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:14 gray
 
Quboid wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 08:00:
Redmask wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 07:10:
Julio wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 06:49:
Add the features back in as microtransactions!

There will be a Big City Moving On Up expansion, just watch. They already admitted they kept bigger cities sizes held back as a feature.

No they didn't, that's misrepresenting what they said.

"That is just a performance decision," Quigley told IncGamers. "Given that was the performance constraint we decided to work under, we built a larger region environment and a bunch of the multiplay to work with 2km cities. At some point in the future, especially with mainstream computers become more capable, we could certainly make the city sizes larger."

He said that as a mainstream game, it needs to run on "your dad's PC" as well as yours. But as PCs get more capable, he claims the update will come at some point. "We'll eventually get around to expanding the city size but I canít make any promises as to when."


Not the same as holding it back as a feature.

Of course they pretend it's a client side load issue when clearly it's to lower the server load. Seems they didn't quite cut it down enough though, one street might have been okay.
 
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56. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 08:00 Quboid
 
Redmask wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 07:10:
Julio wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 06:49:
Add the features back in as microtransactions!

There will be a Big City Moving On Up expansion, just watch. They already admitted they kept bigger cities sizes held back as a feature.

No they didn't, that's misrepresenting what they said.

"That is just a performance decision," Quigley told IncGamers. "Given that was the performance constraint we decided to work under, we built a larger region environment and a bunch of the multiplay to work with 2km cities. At some point in the future, especially with mainstream computers become more capable, we could certainly make the city sizes larger."

He said that as a mainstream game, it needs to run on "your dad's PC" as well as yours. But as PCs get more capable, he claims the update will come at some point. "We'll eventually get around to expanding the city size but I canít make any promises as to when."


Not the same as holding it back as a feature.
 
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55. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 07:49 InBlack
 
As long as people keep on buying their shit, they will keep on nickle and diming them. Its as simple as that. Its the nature of the corporate beast. Is that evil? Is the lion that killed that poor stupid girl evil?

No its the nature of the predator. It preys upon the weak.

Can we change that though? Yes we can probably, but first of all we need to vote with our wallet and spend our money somewhere else.

 
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54. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 07:10 Redmask
 
Julio wrote on Mar 8, 2013, 06:49:
Add the features back in as microtransactions!

There will be a Big City Moving On Up expansion, just watch. They already admitted they kept bigger cities sizes held back as a feature.
 
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53. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 06:49 Julio
 
Add the features back in as microtransactions!  
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52. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 05:06 InBlack
 
Can EA be sued for saying that they are offering refunds, and then withdrawing that statement?

Lying is not a crime, but wouldnt the Federal Trade Comission have something to say about that?
 
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51. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 04:27 yonder
 
jdreyer wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 22:21:
NKD wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 20:34:
Like I said in the other thread, I can't think of excuses for why putting more servers online seems to be a huge struggle for them. It doesn't take 3-6 days, even if you have to order new servers from IBM or Dell or whoever the fuck EA uses.

And like I said on the previous thread, I find it hard to imagine that they'd need to buy any new hardware. There should be plenty of unused SWTOR servers hanging around.

ZING!
 
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50. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 04:27 yonder
 
Hudson187 wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 22:18:
I had ordered my retail copy from Amazon -- came in on Tuesday. I got around to installing it last night and tried to play it tonight. I first sat in "queue" for 45 minutes... yes... 45 minutes. Then, I got into the title screen where the game "tried" to load the tutorial, but never loaded the map as I kept losing connection to the server. I have just requested a RMA from Amazon so I can send them back this POS. Yes, the key is connected to my account, but I can assure you I'm also uninstalling Origin since BF3 has turned into a cheatfest anyway. I'm truly disappointed in Maxis; I will NEVER give either Maxis or EA my $$ again. I'm still extremely bothered by the fact that a SP game REQUIRES a constant internet connection -- that requirement alone should have been enough to warn me, but I put faith in Maxis and the SimCity franchise. At this point I'd rather play SimCity on SNES.


*THIS* is why EA keeps making money off of people who don't know better.

When EA buys a developer, everyone needs to quit pretending that the publisher and the developer are different entities.

This isn't Maxis failing you. Maxis no longer exists.

EA bought the name and looted the talent, and is now milking every last penny out of the loyalty associated with the name "Maxis" and the name "Sim City" no matter what.

EA would rather make one million dollars in one year than three million dollars in two years. There is no sacrifice too big to make for a tiny short-term game.

It's wrong to think of never giving "Maxis of EA" any of your money ever again. All you need to think is not to give EA *ANY* of your money ever again.

Until people learn to understand that a developer OWNED by EA means that that developer is dead... they will keep buying EA's fecal matter.

They're not entirely horrendous as a pure publisher. When you compare Guitar Hero and Rock Band, for instance, EA clearly comes out as the more customer friendly option. But, of course, they're up against Activision, so that's not really saying a lot.

Hope you get your money back. Send me a msg if you do please, I have friends that don't know better and may have naively purchased the game.

I also hope you truly mean your statement about not giving EA any more money... ever...

I hope everyone learns that lesson in the least painful way possible.
 
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49. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 04:26 Newbro
 
I didn't buy the game, but one particular sentence from the post annoys the crap outta me:
What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn't want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join

Now, do they honestly NOT expect people to stay on the server if they are so damn confident that they created one hell of a game? I understand server capacity and all as it happens all the time, but this guy seriously needs to think before he speaks.....
 
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