Taking SimCity offline took over six months

Taking SimCity offline took over six months
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

January 15th 2014 at 10:30AM

Single-player mode still in alpha phase as studio continues rewriting code

Maxis has spent more than six and a half months taking SimCity offline for a single-player only experience, the studio has claimed.

The studio revealed yesterday it had finally given in to fan demand to ditch the city-building game's online-only functionality.

In a post on the SimCity website, lead engineer on the single player mode Simon Fox said the entire architecture of the title had be written to support online, which powered how the game communicated with other cities and Maxis's servers.

He suggested a previous hack by one user to take the game offline meant players who used it would still be unable to perform "key actions", such as communicating with other cities created locally or with the rest of their regions. Users who did this could also not save their game.

To take the title offline, Fox said core parts of the game had to be rewritten from Java and put into C++.

The offline mode is currently in alpha phase, and is expected to be released as part of update ten.

"Our game routes pieces of data from one city to another as data flows through the regions," said Fox. "All of that code exists on the server, and now we’ve brought all of that down into the client. The client processes the region box, which is what all of the cities pushes their data into. We’ve brought that down into the client as well.

"And now, all of the regional simulation needs to be done locally. The algorithms governing trading between cities needed to be retuned in order to make the behaviour between cities more responsive for this type of play. This in itself required major optimisations in order to run the simulation locally. We have an obligation to make the game fun and functional on all specs of machines. We wouldn’t want someone who was enjoying the Multiplayer game to find the Single Player game crippled due to poor optimisation.

"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.

"So where are we at right now? We’ve been working on this since August and now, we’ve hit alpha and are in the final stages of testing before we release it as part of update 10 in the future. On behalf of the engineering team, thank you for your patience on this one. We know you want offline play in SimCity and we are really happy that we are finally getting ready to deliver it to you."