SimCity's offline mode is coming, finally

News Aaron Birch 15 Jan 2014 - 03:34
Sim City

Following major server issues and high fan demand, SimCity's offline mode is coming, but it wasn't easy...

In a recent post on the SimCity blog, lead engineer, Simon Fox, has discussed the trials and tribulations of bringing an offline mode to the city-building sim. In fact, the challenge was so steep, it took six and a half months to implement.

This reworking involved not just the adding of new code to enable the offline mode, but also the removal of various other features tied inextricably to the online aspect of the title. This required much more work than the fairly straightforward tweaks added by user-created mods.

“The original creative vision for SimCity was to make a game where every action had an effect on other cities in your region. As such, we engineered the game to meet this vision, setting up the player’s PC (client) to communicate all of its information to the servers. That means that our entire architecture was written to support this, from the way that the simulation works to the way that you communicate across a region of cities. So yes, while someone was able to remove the “time check” shortly after launch, they were unable to perform key actions like communicating with other cities that they had created locally, or with the rest of their region(s), or even saving the current state of their cities.

“My team did, however, see a path forward towards Offline, one that would maintain the integrity of the simulation. Lucy once said that Offline wouldn’t be possible “without a significant amount of engineering work”, and she’s right. By the time we’re finished we will have spent over 6 ½ months working to write and rewrite core parts of the game to get this to work. Even things that seem trivial, like the way that cities are saved and loaded, had to be completely reworked in order to make this feature function correctly,” said Fox on the blog.

"We wouldn't want someone who was enjoying the multiplayer game to find the single player game crippled due to poor optimization. And it's not just adding, we had to remove parts of the game for it to function properly as well. This means removing lots of code integral to multiplayer include code and UI supporting trading, social features, global market, leaderboards and achievements. And, all without crippling the multiplayer game."

The offline function is set to be included in game update 10, and is in alpha testing. No date has been given for the update's arrival so far.

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