MaxisKip answers questions on: The Benefits of Live Service

MaxisKip has been answering questions in the comment section of the Benefit of Live Service blog article by Lucy. Many people aren't happy that the game cannot be played offline, therefore there were many questions on this blog. We collected the questions and answers for you:

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Submitted by Vendetta_1337x on Dec 20, 2012

Thank you for providing some insight into a question that a lot of people have been asking. For the record I love the ability of multi-city play and regional play with friends, I think this is a fantastic idea and will revolutionize this game genre. I have already taken time off of work and preordered the game for the week it comes out.

However, I am concerned about a few things on the EA backend.
1. With so much computational data being offloaded to EA servers would it even be possible to host games locally on one’s computer? I know that it is meant to be online only but it begs the question of if perhaps Glassbox is to resource intensive to be run on a local pc.

2. What happens if SimCity is a flop and EA shuts the servers down? Am I now out of 60 dollars because Glassbox is not capable of being processed on my local machine, and would require a cluster to work properly?

3. What happens if EA is having service problems in there data center? I am now at the mercy of EA when I can and cannot play, this is a real disappointment since I own the game but cannot play it when I want to.

I want nothing more than SimCity to be successful but I feel like these are concerns by the community that are not being addressed.

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
This is Kip Katsarelis, Senior Producer on SimCity. Clearly you're a huge fan of the franchise, as am I and the folks working on it everyday. You have some legitimate questions, let me see if I can answer them.

1. Our servers are working hard and it would be too much for a single machine today. We have created a truly connected experience, which means we are not only processing individual city information, but we're stitching that data together for region play. We also store, access and pass a ton of data for Leaderrboards, Global Market, Challenges, and Achievements. This was all part of our original designs, to make this a truly connected experience. I hope you give it a chance.

2. Assuming we all make it through 12/21/12, I can't guarantee anything about the future. What I can say is that successful games tend to stay active for a long time, our Spore servers for example are still very active. SimCity 4 is still very popular today, with new people picking it up everyday. My hope is that this SimCity has a similar life span, we shall see.

3. We've been upfront about this game being online. It's really your choice to buy into the experience or not and I'm not here to sway you one way or the other. If you choose not to come along for the ride, I can respect that deicision, but I think you'll be missing out on something great.

Submitted by dioxias on Dec 22, 2012
understandable, however does this mean if one's internet isn't fast or reliable, the simulation will act wonky or slow?

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 22, 2012
There are many factors of course. However, we have built some protections in so that we handle temporary disconnects in service. This allows player's to experience the game uninterrupted. We know many people have wi-fi service that goes in and out.

Submitted by CHA1N5 on Dec 20, 2012
I've played Diablo 3 and, even with a good internet connection, it drove me nuts when I would click and nothing would happen. Worse, I would click, nothing would happen, and then the game would back-up to a prior state from a few second earlier. I do not look forward to this experience in all of my games.

Playing and sharing the online experience with my friends is a fine idea. A fine *mode* for the game. I do not want it to be the only mode.

Making online a requirement has tempered my interest in this game.

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
I'm with you on that one, no one likes lag. It's been an important goal for us to make sure the experience is a smooth as possible. We have a relatively low min spec, so that's forced us to keep performance budgets a priority. We've made some decisions on how our game was architected, to reduce risk of lag. The asynchronous nature of our multiplay is one example how we mitigated some of these risks. There's a whole team here at Maxis dedicated to making sure you won't be frustrated by your experience.


Submitted by dailycrumb on Dec 20, 2012
Here is my prospective on it.
Mostly the only times I play games is when I am on long train journeys, in those cases there is no internet and even if there is i dont want to pay for it. The other case is, none of my friends will buy it with me, the only person that will want to play it with me is my girlfriend, but as we are mostly always together it would be silly and expensive to buy two full separate copies.
Maybe a way of solving this problem is making it so 2 people can play the same purchased game from 2 accounts without the disc. I dunno.
So one, without internet i wont be able to play = bad
two, no friends

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
I think the 2 accounts is a good idea and I have it captured. To be clear it's not part of the current plan. I'm not sure what your schedules are like, but you and your girlfriend can play together in a region or on your own, just at different times. The game was built with asynchronous play in mind. So you could be working on one city during times that fit your schedule and she can be playing another city on her time. It could be a lot of fun playing this style and see what you create together. It's actually a play style that is quite common and one we wanted to deliver on. I know I plan to have a region with my kids, deciding on the name will probably be the hardest part. Cheers.

Submitted by gmen10280 on Dec 20, 2012
One question also asked a lot is when is beta coming out.

It would be nice to have an answer.

Many of us would be satisfied with a timeframe an exact date isn't necessary.
An answer like mid January to early February would be just fine. Just an idea
of when it is coming would be nice.

Please answer. Thanks in in advance.

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
I know! I get this question all of the time. I can't answer that today, I'm really sorry. If you want, friend me on FB to get some inside info or see what I'm working on each day. I tend to post pics and answer questions when I can. I'm Maxis Kip.

Submitted by Ildrin on Dec 20, 2012
As I'm sure is true of many users, I have a somewhat temperamental internet connection, it's prone to dropping out for days at a time. I don't see the point in buying a game if 10% of the time I won’t be able to play it because I can't connect to a server.
Anyway, I'd rather play with no influence from other humans, why are you forcing society upon us isolationists? (Joke.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to buy it (loyalty to the franchise and all that), but I'll complain about it requiring internet a lot. :P

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
From one old school fan to another, I appreciate the loyalty. We are well aware of connectivity issues many of our customers experience. We're building our game to handle short burst of outages so player's can have an uninterrupted experience. And for you isolationists, you can set your regions to "private" and play all alone to your hearts content.

Submitted by pcmotorsports on Dec 20, 2012
In the blog, it said that there would be global leader boards. What about a global economy? will it just be regional or would it be World Wide. I personally think that world wide economy would be neat. I hope this is the case.

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
Yes, we have a Global Market that will be affected by what our player's buy and sell. You'll have the ability to move markets up and down. Cities will be able to specialize and introduce businesses into their city that harvest resources and make goods. Those goods are bought and sold on the Global Market. We track all of this activity on our servers. It's one connected world. We thought it would be neat as well.

Submitted by mlomeara123 on Dec 20, 2012
We all understand what Maxis believes are the benefits of an "always on" requirement, so, why no address some of the concerns people are bring up, instead of continuing with the same answer over and over.

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
We are listening to the concerns, we do hear you. We have made some design decisions that we're standing behind. We are reaching out and trying to answer the tough questions. Sometimes those answers may not satisfy everyone. What I can say is that we do value our fans and the team here at Maxis is dedicated to making a great game.

Submitted by SimCityNet on Dec 20, 2012
Thank you very much Lucy for making a blog about this. Interesting (new) information!

The always online idea seems nice, but I'm a bit concerned about not being able to play SimCity when, for example, travelling without internet. Or what about people with a slow internet connection? I'd like to play SimCity everywhere I can.

Besides that I'm really excited! Keep up the good work!

– SimCityNet

Submitted by MaxisKip on Dec 21, 2012
We will, thanks! As far as the slow connections, we're looking at putting some settings that allow player's to set their upload speeds. There are many countries with caps and cost associated with uploading. As I mentioned in a previous reply, we're also looking to support intermittent interruptions in internet service for short bursts.

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