Since the launch early last week of EA and Maxis' latest simulation title SimCity, the game has been marred not just by tedious game bugs
and server issues
, but also by the consistent online-only connection that many believed was a necessary part of the game. Previously head of Maxis, Lucy Bradshaw, has told both Kotaku
that the requirements for the online-only connection was due to the use of their cloud system, stating that "we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers", but also adding that single player would not be possible without "a significant amount of engineering work by our team."
According to a report from PC-gaming enthusiast site RPS
however, an unnamed (and apparently verified) member of the Maxis development team has come out and supposedly clarified that this isn't actually the case, and that "engineering a single-player mode would require minimal effort." RPS's source also states that the cloud-based servers are not actually handling calculations for non-social aspects.
The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. 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.”
Recent tests by both Kotaku
and Minecraft creator Marcus "Notch" Persson
have also confirmed that players can continue up to roughly 19 minutes in-game without the need for an Internet connection, something I personally verified by simply pulling the connection plug. The only real issue that was found was when trying to interact outside of your city, which would cause the client to drop you citing server errors.
RPS report that while the servers are involved in allowing players to share the same maps and process imports and exports, they are also there for checking whether players are cheating or hacking. According to the rumoured Maxis employee however, this isn't actually done in real-time.
“Because of the way Glassbox was designed, simulation data had to go through a different pathway. 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.”
Hopefully an official statement will be revealed soon to clear up the confusion, but until then all we can do is simply wait.