Reports contest Maxis’ claims that SimCity cannot work offline

Despite the fact that SimCity is now working, the online games community continues to target it.

Accusations of all sorts are being flung online, ranging from broken AI pathfinding to critical services bugs, but perhaps the most significant is the claim that EA has lied about the game’s dependency on servers.

"An online interconnected world has been part of our design philosophy since day one," Maxis GM Lucy Bradshaw told Polygon last week. "With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud.

It wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."

However, Kotaku has discovered that it is possible to play the game offline for a certain period (such as when a wi-fi connection is dropped) without any noticeable ill-effect when a connection is re-established – something that would appear impossible if Bradshaw’s claims were correct.

Adding further fuel to the fire and anonymous Maxis insider” has supposedly told RockPaperShotgun that the statements regarding server dependency are simply not true.

The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing,” the source said. 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.

The game would regularly pass updates to the server, and then the server would stick those messages in a huge queue along with the messages from everyone else playing. The server pulls messages off the queue, farms them out to other servers to be processed and then those servers send you a package of updates back.

The amount of time it could take for you to get a server update responding to something you’ve just done in the game could be as long as a few minutes. This is why they disabled Cheetah mode, by the way, to reduce by half the number of updates coming into the queue.”

The truth is that at this stage it is almost impossible to distinguish fact from fiction. Forums are all too willing to accept at face value unsubstantiated claims on Reddit and other outlets as it serves to sustain the tidal wave of hate being directed at EA.

On the other hand, a growing body of YouTube evidence does suggest that there are key issues with the title – many of which might have been forgiven had it not been for the server disaster that cursed the game from the word go.

Whatever you believe there is no disputing that EA still has a long way to go to appease its community.

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