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Post by Eorl @ 10:26am 12/03/13 | 24 Comments
Since the beginning of SimCity's quite tedious and troublesome launch last week, the always-online title has been marred by consistent technical issues including crashes, disconnects and the ever-feared deleting of cities. For many the game was near unplayable, however those who could connect were then greeted with queues that spanned from 30 minutes all the way to several hours, a constant reminder of the ill-inspired DRM.

Developer Maxis has since been scrambling to accommodate the mass influx of players, either by shutting off online features such as leaderboars or opening several new servers to help ease the pain. According to a recent update from Maxis' general manager Lucy Bradshaw the team has "reduced game crashes by 92% from day one," with nearly 8 million hours in gameplay time clocked up since release.

Bradshaw warns that while the team wanted to give an all-clear, "there are still some elements coming together." It is yet unknown as to when the game will re-introduce the previous online features cut out, one of which was the fastest speed for the game (which has now defaulted to second fastest). Bradshaw also revealed in a recent Polygon interview that the core problem revolved around the next Glassbox engine, and how it "managed the vast amount of simulation data through its database."

In the interview, Bradshaw also explained that the mass influx of players was "a lot more people logged on than we expected," citing that players were playing in ways they never saw in previous betas.
"What we underestimated was a huge surge in pre-orders within the last week and the power of the great word-of-mouth created by the media and our community," Bradshaw said.

It wasn't just the number of players either, Bradshaw explained, as SimCity's servers performed differently once the game was released to the "wild ecosystem of live operations."

"We test and work out the capacity load of each server in load testing and through our beta events," she continued. "We have seen play behavior and load in areas that have stressed our game server [databases] in ways that we did not experience in Beta or Load Test.
Over the weekend Bradshaw also revealed that those who have purchased SimCity before March 18th will receive a free EA title from their catalogue for the troubles that many gamers have gone through. It is yet unknown as to what games will be made available, but Bradshaw is hoping that by doing this they can earn your trust back for the abysmal launch that even eclipsed Blizzard's infamous Diablo 3 launch.



simcitymaxislaunch issuesalways-online drm
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Latest Comments
Raven
Posted 10:57am 12/3/13
Just what I need - another copy of Battlefield 1942 :/

You just know the "free game" will be something completely obsolete, and already either has a successor available for sale or soon to be released.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 11:25am 12/3/13
If they are Smart they should release a recent game or a game still played by a good chunk of people. In order to try and bring people into a new franchise for the next iteration of it.
However they have to balance that with how much $'s they lose in future sales of the game chalking it off as advertising costs. Being publicly listed and all.

So Medal of Honor: Warfighter would be on the cards.

The more likely version would be give a free copy of The Secret World base game. On the hopes that people will play the MMO and buy the DLC. It has the added effect of boosting player numbers also, which always helps MMO's.

Anything other than those 2 games would seem like a wasted opportunity, unless they expect a sizable proportion of Simcity players buying those games anyway..
Tollaz0r!
Posted 11:26am 12/3/13
O the other game they would possibly do, and would be more in-line with Simcity is of course The Sims 3, base game. Again the hopes the free game would lead to purchasing DLC/expansions such as Sims 3 Seasons.
Jboy
Posted 11:56am 12/3/13
One would have to be a perfect fool to fall for the free game offer trap. A game released a week ago, you gave them YOUR hard earned money, got a s***** launch in return. I keep wondering why people keep buying games with such horrible DRM methods, We've come to a world where gamers don't own what they buy, yet game companies still get their money and are free to do whatever they wish with them. Pirates play these same horrible DRM'ed games for free and best of all without hassle.

TLDR: You're letting yourselves be abused by these companies and you keep making the same mistake over and over. Stop buying such games.
Herron
Posted 12:17pm 12/3/13
You're letting yourselves be abused by these companies and you keep making the same mistake over and over. Stop buying such games.


But I enjoy the game?

It's frustrating that they shorted the servers but I intend to play the game well past launch week.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 12:43pm 12/3/13
SimCities core game requires that cities network with each other. Many, many people enjoy the multiplayer/social aspect of it and it works quite well. It isn't a case of doing it purely for DRM.

In fact the only DRM SimCity has is CD-Key/account authentication.

They didn't have an offline component because of the way the game is designed and the fact that almost all of the players who play it have an internet connection available at home and on the go.

Why spend lots of time/money making a single player portion of the game, that doesn't require servers and quite possibly requires artificial simulation of many aspects outside of your city for a very small percentage of your gaming audience. It does not make business sense.
Raven
Posted 01:23pm 12/3/13
Why spend lots of time/money making a single player portion of the game, that doesn't require servers and quite possibly requires artificial simulation of many aspects outside of your city for a very small percentage of your gaming audience. It does not make business sense.

Or you could just implement it like Quake 3 and other similar games did: The host /single-player version is really just a server.
Eorl
Posted 01:25pm 12/3/13
Or you could just implement it like Quake 3 and other similar games did: The host /single-player version is really just a server.
That's the thing, the singleplayer portion of SimCity is just that, a "offline" version of a region. While you still need an Internet connection to access this region (which does annoy me), it does offer the "singleplayer" aspects albeit without the benefit of the sharing multiplayer experience.
deadlyf
Posted 01:32pm 12/3/13
It's frustrating that they shorted the servers but I intend to play the game well past launch week.
Until in two years time when they shut down the servers anyway, right?
paveway
Posted 01:34pm 12/3/13
i don't know toll, i tried to accept the same idea with diablo 3

i think the base idea is to have always online as the DRM and then they work out how to integrate the game and the online bit together to make it look like that's how it was always meant to be

the argument for a sim city online multiplayer component is pretty weak it isn't actually needed, they have manufactured the need for it, at least with diablo 3 there was a bit more for them to work with for the multiplayer aspect but it ended up the same way with the auction house
Tollaz0r!
Posted 01:35pm 12/3/13
However you can't say it should easily be single player game without knowing what they are doing server side. Just how much of the simulation is going on back there?

The answer to that question will be when the Pirated version of the game comes out with a fake server, and seeing what that fake server does and how the in-game experience is affected by it.

The fact that there is no crack for it yet, with some probable great minds working on it, indicates that it is far more then a simple authentication check...
Raven
Posted 01:39pm 12/3/13
However you can't say it should easily be single player game without knowing what they are doing server side. Just how much of the simulation is going on back there?


I'm going to hazard a guess that even though it's EC2, they're not buying enough CPU time and resources to be able to calculate more, server-side, than the 1-2 million customers who have bought the game can crunch client-side. It would make zero financial sense for them to purchase cloud CPU time when all that could be done by players own hardware. Nor, frankly, is it going to be possible. Conservative guess, let's say load has been hitting 30,000 simultaneous players, worldwide, while their servers have been struggling. I somewhat doubt they're purchasing the equivalent of more than 30,000 CPUs worth of timeslots - just so people can play a game on a non-subscription model.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 01:39pm 12/3/13
Also, I don't think they started of with the idea of DRM, they probably started off instead with how can we make this a good multiplayer experience? Keep in mind that cloud computing would be very much on their minds and milestones towards a complete cloud computing setup would certainly be part of a larger strategy.

Moving parts of the game server side is the middle part of making the entire game processed by the cloud.

The fact that it acts like DRM is a very convenient side-effect and satisfies big publishes want for such things. However I seriously doubt DRM was the seed and multiplayer the side-effect.
typo
Posted 03:52pm 12/3/13
Keep in mind that cloud computing would be very much on their minds and milestones towards a complete cloud computing setup would certainly be part of a larger strategy.


If cloud computing is a part of their strategy they should have:


  1. Hired someone with experience building at scale solutions.

  2. Changed the purchase model to something suiting SaaS


TicMan
Posted 04:05pm 12/3/13
Interesting community write up on the technical aspects (albeit limited) of the server-client architecture with SimCity.
breno
Posted 04:16pm 12/3/13
Free EA game ey? Everyone get Crysis 3 :D
es
Posted 04:49pm 12/3/13
"Players weren't playing in the same ways we saw in previous betas"

Funny that, when you specifically lock the beta down to one hour at a time.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 05:37pm 12/3/13
If cloud computing is a part of their strategy they should have:
Hired someone with experience building at scale solutions.
Changed the purchase model to something suiting SaaS


Overall strategy being long term over multiple games, just easing into it.

Nevermind, game is good. Bad launch.
Superform
Posted 06:29pm 12/3/13
link
greazy
Posted 06:34pm 12/3/13
maaahhh flawed analogy. Something about delivering half a pizza or a soggy one should fill the gap.
Raven
Posted 09:13pm 12/3/13
Uncooked Pizza? One lacking all the topping?
TicMan
Posted 10:02pm 12/3/13
I hope I unlock the BBQ chicken.
Whoop
Posted 10:11pm 12/3/13
Just what I need - another copy of Battlefield 1942 :/

You just know the "free game" will be something completely obsolete, and already either has a successor available for sale or soon to be released.

or have the servers shutdown in a month
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