The new SimCity game was release a couple days ago. Nice. I guess. Like the rest of us, I can hardly get on the game due to overload and bugs. The game requires me to be online and play on their servers, and even worse, the one thing that really bothers me, my game saves are on one single server only, and only there, online, on that server. Not any of the other servers they have, just that one server.
Before I get into this further, let me say, on day one of its release, I downloaded it and played it without issue. Also, I had quite a fun time. For the most part, its an awesome game. I plan on spending quite a bit more time having fun with it, creating my cities and expanding my creations over the next 10 years or more.
Ok, notice how I said, “over the next 10 years?” I played SimCity 4 since 2003 and still play it, and will continue to play it. I have 2 huge regions I have slowly built upon over the last 10 years. Yeah, think about that. I basically have a single game save that I have been building upon for 10 years! SimCity is the kind of game you mold and shape and rework everything, and you grow with it. It takes a lot of time and its not something you want to dump hundreds of hours into with the possibility of it going away anytime soon. Its a project, a long haul project.
What happens if EA decides they don’t want to run their servers? Just a thought, right. I mean, in 8 or 9 years, I want to open up my region(s) and continue building my cities, right? What if EA isn’t there? What if EA is there, but they decide its not profitable to maintain servers. Well, I lose all that time and creation?
SimCity isn’t an adventure. It’s not a story. It’s not a puzzle to be solved and then started over. It’s not a place to hang out. It’s not something I want to share either! It’s not even an empire you build, like in Civilization. It doesn’t have an end point. It is a game where you build, design, strategically develop, and plan a virtual city. Its something you start, leave, come back, and continue where you left it. IT’S A PROJECT! And it never ends.
Knowing I have this huge project that I have spent so much time tweaking and adjusting to grow my cities just the way I like it, I really, and I mean REALLY, do not want anyone else messing with it. I just have to wonder, why would I find any joy in building a city that others can take part in? Why would I want to even share a region? Other people will just screw up my project I spent so much time creating!
Getting back to the online thing… What happens if I take a 6 month break from SimCity, which I have done, and I come back to my region on my one single server at EA, and they lose it or abandon it, or somehow make that region or even cities in that region unavailable? Why would i spend my time on that if I can’t come back to it? Am I supposed to just rely on them backing up? I hate to say it, but I backup even my cloud files in Gmail, Dropbox, even my Rackspace servers and web sites. They are all backed up, and once in a while I copy them to my own local hard drives. (running on multiple ZFS array’s, of course.) In addition, with SimCity 4, I have installed on a virtual machine, that’s backed up as well. That way, in 10 years, I can still run an old OS and play my old game.
Maybe I am just weird. Maybe I should be more social and force myself to enjoy building multi-city regions with other people, and in truth, I *might* like playing and building with my son or daughter.
Also, its not like I won’t play any shared games. I’ll definitely try that. Those would be the times I just want to “get my fix” on SimCity. But, I don’t play SimCity to solve a problem and spend an hour here or there. Call Of Duty, for example, I just want to get some quick shoot-em-up time in. Again, though, that’s not something I am building on top of my previous work. I’ll post updates over time as I try the multi-city, public regions.
The game has some other flaws that I am very bothered with, but they are not nearly so much a problem to prevent me from enjoying the game. For example, I really don’t like the tiny city size and small, square cities in the region. It just looks ridiculous! I suspect they did this in part to keep the game performance under control, but also, I think it was a way to force the use of specializations and utilization of services in other cities. I like that idea, but I really don’t like the implementation. Cities don’t build in square boxes on teh ground, its stupid! They sprawl outward, and upward. They eliminated the outward sprawl.
Another flaw, one connection to the region? What? And only in that place they decide? What about ther huge open area between CityA and CityB? That place looks like an awesome spot to put a city. These cities can’t grow together, connected in several places. Take a look at any city, in the real world, and you will have many different routes to get from point A to point B, from CityA to CityB. Well, SimCity 5, you just get that one highway connection. One connection and huge open area’s you can’t touch. Sorry, I think that so stupid!
In some ways, SimCity 5 has taken a direction I think will be a problem for replay value. Its forcing multi-user/multi-city play. As I said above, I want to create. My region is my creation. I better be able to come and go as I please, and do so for the next decade or longer! And I didn’t even get into the saved games on single servers did I???!!!! Because of the “building” style of play, I want to return to my game. So far, I can only return to a single server to enjoy it and continue building. What cloud service out there does that? How incredibly backwards thinking that is, to only keep my saves on one cloud server. That would be like Google telling you that your email couldn’t be logged into because your data is on a server that’s too busy right now and you will have to wait, or you can start a new email database on a new server, separate from your old one. What??? EA, if you’re going to take our datafiles out of our control and put them “in the cloud” then you better make them available IN THE CLOUD, NOT JUST ON ONE SERVER!!!! FAIL, EPIC FAIL!!!!! Its 2013!!! Diablo 3 had connectivity and issues, sure, but at least you don’t need to pick a server!!!! Your data is just there, in the cloud. EA doesn’t have a cloud, they have PATCHY FOG!
Before I finish my rant, let me say what I do like about the game. Its very “simcity-ish” and in sim-city-style building, its awesome! For the short time I have been able to play, it was very much fun. I actually do love having so many interconnected aspects of the cities in the region. I really like the detailed upgrade paths that the buildings/services can take. I really like the specializations!! All really cool stuff and very much worth the hassle to get to play. I really like that direction they have taken. I just don’t like the online aspect of it. As I said, maybe I am weird and the majority of us don’t see it that way.
Its a fun game regardless. I am looking forward to lots and lots of hours playing, once they work out some bugs and add more servers. (umm…. I won’t even get into that one, but what the heck are they thinking? run the whole world’s Simcities on not even 10 servers? Seriously?)
First, thank you to the EA/Maxis people for adding more servers and making the game more reliable and easier to get into. You’re doing a great job!
Second, SIMCITY 5 FAIL still!!! I don’t think you EA/Maxis people are going to fix this one. But my biggest annoyance is that my cities are only on a single server! I don’t mind having an online only game (well, sort of) and I don’t mind the some of the other flaws (at least not too much). I really do mind my data files being on your one single server. I only look for my “Europe West 1” server and play on that one because that’s where my region is! I want to keep building on my same region. Please EA/Maxis, can you just make it a download or provide a transfer mechanism? At least give me a way to backup my data files and restore them into your servers. I’d really like that.
Fun game though! I am enjoying my time in the game, its addicting. Still haven’t played in public games yet, and don’t have plans to. Don’t care about playing with others. Sorry.