Wednesday, March 13, 2013

EXP Podcast #215: Servers, Scores, and 'SimCity'

This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "SERVER BUSY."

You guessed it: this week, we talk about the great SimCity snafu of 2013. The technical issues surrounding the game are fairly well documented, but they raise a variety of broader questions: What does the future look like for single player games? Is the line between design flaw and technical issue getting blurry? Should a game review be amended if the game itself changes? All this (plus some zombie-related speculation) on this week's podcast. As always, feel free to jump into the comments with your thoughts!

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Show notes:

- "Requiring Online for Single Player," by Raph Koster
- "Why this isn't a one-star SimCity review," by Tom Chick
- "SimCity Review: Engineering Addiction," by Russ Pits, via Polygon
- Runtime: 34 min 24 sec
- Music by: Brad Sucks


  1. I find it endlessly fascinating that POLYGON changed their score based on subsequent game changes for SimCity, especially since Notch has gone on record to state that POLYGON has never updated their score for Minecraft on 360, despite the numerous upgrades and additions it has been receiving.

  2. Great podcast as usual, guys.

    What really bothers me about SimCity is that it has now apparently been debunked that the game requires you to stay online. You can play indefinitely without a connection without being kicked off, so the Internet is actually only needed for interactivity between cities, not for in-city simulation. This basically proves what we all knew from the beginning: the main reason for always-online gaming is DRM. Also, so far mods have been allowed, so hacking doesn't seem to be a big worry for EA at the moment...

    Another thing that I don't see reflected on reviews as strongly as I'd like is that Maxis removed two of the funnest features in SimCity 2000 (a game that probably contributed a lot to me studying civil engineering later in life, so kind of important to me). Namely a) being able to save your city, ruin it with aliens and tornadoes, and then reload it, and b) scenarios, where you saved an existing city from a difficult situation and thus earned it. How could Maxis not know that most kids like me spent as many hours destroying their cities as building them? It baffles me.

    What a travesty. I only hope the competition improves, and the new CitiesXL or Tropico really deliver what I want. Maybe then I will actually be able to build a city, instead of an overgrown village.

  3. It would be interesting to learn more about their editorial process. I'd guess it has more to do with the way SimCity took over the conversation. Maybe people already had formed an opinion on Minecraft by the time it came out on the 360, so it wasn't as hot a topic to such a broad audience?

  4. I think the most interesting thing beneath this whole conversation is that people aren't really liking the actual game itself. If it weren't for the technical issues, I get the feeling that the conversation would revolve around what a large departure this game is from its predecessors.