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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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88 Replies. 5 pages. Viewing page 3.
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48. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 03:47 InBlack
 
No refunds....ahahahahhah....  
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I have a nifty blue line!
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47. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 03:22 wonkawonka
 
And then the SimCity devs leave, make their own company, start a Kickstarter for Megalopolis, the single-player no-DRM town and community simulator, asking for $1MM.
Within 24 hours they have a stretch goal at 1.5MM that adds cooperative host-to-host multiplayer.

And the rest is history.
 
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46. Re: More Big Picture Details Mar 8, 2013, 03:12 HorrorScope
 
Even NFL players are giving it the boot!:
http://kotaku.com/5989350/nfl-punter-kicks-the-crap-out-of-ea-and-simcity

This comment was edited on Mar 8, 2013, 03:19.
 
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45. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 02:53 Flatline
 
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.

Err... yes, but at the same time it might cost a couple grand to handle the initial surge of players and avoid negative publicity. I mean, you already have a master copy of the virtualized server, you just allocate more resources at your server host and fucking hit "turn on" and 10 minutes later you're golden. As soon as server demand drops you cull the surplus virtual servers.

But I forgot. Your city is bound to the server you play on. So there's that. Because just being able to log in anywhere and retrieve your save game isn't good enough.
 
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44. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 01:50 AngelicPenguin
 
Dev wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 23:08:
I'm more certain than ever they have a lot of processing going on in the server end, or maybe its all copy protection stuff where every minute it polls server "am I authorized to let this user have his water, electricity and sewer perform for 30 more seconds?"

My understanding was that they do quite a bit of processing on the server.

This quote made me chuckle: "What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn't want to leave the game." Spinning like a top!

Is there a marketing reason why they do global releases? It does seem like releasing in one region at a time would make these problems far more manageable.
 
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43. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 01:32 ELITE
 
I didn't really follow the SimCity thing - but am I understanding this right?

OnLive sucked they tried streaming your game play or something right? So here the idea is to basically turn DRM to connecting to a server as if you're playing with a friend and allow the EA server to play Multiplayer connection for your single player game?

That's kind of a smart way to screw people over - Not so smart to not be able to calculate your new Multiplayer DRM.

Thank goodness people have short memories - once this blow over and they have the kinks worked out they'll be able to lock your game to their multiplayer servers and make a bundle! Muahahahaha!
 
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42. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 01:07 EkimDeLhi
 
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.
 
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41. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 01:06 MisterBenn
 
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.  
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Playing: Path of Exile, Pandora: First Contact
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40. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 00:33 BazzaLB
 
I hope David Braben is watching. I think he plans the exact same crap for Elite: Dangerous  
Lurking on Blues since mid nineties
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39. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 8, 2013, 00:02 ViRGE
 
Mad Max RW wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 23:36:
EkimDeLhi wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 23:22:
Starting to realize... this could be a really good thing. I'm not one to hope for other people's failure, but this chabacle may actually bring mainstream attention to this problem. This has got to be pissing a LOT of ppl off.

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.
Heads I win, tails you lose.
 
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38. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:59 Drayth
 
edit - nm, it's been said

This comment was edited on Mar 8, 2013, 00:34.
 
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37. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:44 Cutter
 
MoreLuckThanSkill wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 21:31:
Hrm, I had not been paying much attention to this Sim City game... who the hell thought it was such a great idea to have always online?

Also, why the HELL did so many people buy this game if it has always online drm?

On the plus side, sounds like a lot of customers are getting a rough experience with said DRM, hopefully this will help in the long run.


You'd have thought that after Uplay failed miserably at and all the BS with D3 but Simcity has its own crowd I guess. Or at least it did. I smell lawsuits, probably of the class action variety coming down the pipe with all this.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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36. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:36 Mad Max RW
 
EkimDeLhi wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 23:22:
Starting to realize... this could be a really good thing. I'm not one to hope for other people's failure, but this chabacle may actually bring mainstream attention to this problem. This has got to be pissing a LOT of ppl off.

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.
 
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35. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:22 EkimDeLhi
 
Starting to realize... this could be a really good thing. I'm not one to hope for other people's failure, but this chabacle may actually bring mainstream attention to this problem. This has got to be pissing a LOT of ppl off.  
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34. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:19 RollinThundr
 
Tomas wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 23:11:
So glad I didn't buy this game.
Same, even I have to admit this is awful customer service.
 
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33. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:11 Tomas
 
So glad I didn't buy this game.  
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32. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:11 dubfanatic
 
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.

Blame it on the players. Genius. "It's not our fault our game doesn't work, it's YOUR fault!"
 
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31. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 23:08 Dev
 
This is just sad.

So when they calculated capacity, they just assumed that people who are the die hard most fans (who pre-order without reviews) will only play for a few minutes and let someone else take a server "slot", so they only needed the capacity to run something like 1% of the total pre-orders?

And did they even bother to add servers to help with the problems before they launched in those other countries?
If they had a tiny clue, they would have used those servers for USA, announced a last minute delay in launching all the other markets, while they got it stabilized. Then at least the rest of the world would only be complaining about a launch delay (which isn't unheard of) rather than having the same crappy experience. It would also have fixed the problems faster (well if server capacity was their only problem).

I'll re-iterate what I put in the other thread
Dev wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 21:58:
BTW, I think a lot of weirdness reviewers/players are experiences (like cities saying they are out of water when they have way more than they need), and the rebounding thing where a city bounces between two extremes is due to server issues.
I think the game has to contact the server every few seconds/minutes to do some sorta processing of your city (such as hey, he's got high water supplies, does he actually get to have the buildings marked as supplied?) and when those requests are delayed or lost, then it can't verify they are supplied.
It would be pretty stupid to do something like that, since it adds to server load and should be done on the client end. But, they likely did it because they either didn't think it through, or were trying to do this as some form of online integrated DRM thing so that the online requirement couldn't easily be hacked out.

I'm more certain than ever they have a lot of processing going on in the server end, or maybe its all copy protection stuff where every minute it polls server "am I authorized to let this user have his water, electricity and sewer perform for 30 more seconds?"
 
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30. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 22:54 Redmask
 
SimCity 1.3 Patchnotes:

- Added "Skip Tutorial" button.
- Removed Llama Speed. Llama Speed and Cheetah Speed now move at Turtle Speed.
- Disabled High Density Streets/High Density Streetcar Avenues.
- Large regions (>12 city zones) reduced to 4 city zones.
- Removed skyscrapers. Height is too taxing on servers.
- Removed positive Simoleon gain. Earning money is too taxing on servers.




Obviously not real. They could be real tomorrow at this rate.

This comment was edited on Mar 7, 2013, 22:59.
 
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29. Re: SimCity Pares Down Features to Meet Demand Mar 7, 2013, 22:41 PropheT
 
Verno wrote on Mar 7, 2013, 22:35:
This is really the kind of thing where people post "durrr Blues is so biased about EA" and you can just point to this whole episode and not even say another word.

I like to point out how people here hate on practically everything, but in this case I think it's been justified ever since they announced it. Blizzard announced the same thing, and it was worth seeing how it'd work out, but when that failed spectacularly in that first week it wasn't a tough prediction to see that this would be just as bad off...if not worse, considering the resources and companies involved and the lack of real world stress testing on server loads.

To me, that's the worst thing about this entire mess...that everyone knew it was coming and said so for months, but it still happened and maybe even worse than the doubters predicted it would. Maybe now that two high profile games have laid a big turd on their opening week with the always-online thing we can put the final nail in the coffin for this approach.

/edit for clarity, good lard I shouldn't post when distracted.
 
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88 Replies. 5 pages. Viewing page 3.
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