Ouch the Sim City beating continues...Hackers open up offline play, modding tools for SimCity
Fans, press uncover massive holes in SimCity’s AI, server connection
EA and Maxis' claim that it would take "significant engineering work" to make a workable offline version of SimCity took another hit today. Hackers have released modding tools that disable the game's periodic server checks without breaking the simulation. The tools also unlock other features not in the final game.
The controversy started yesterday when Kotaku noticed that its SimCity game managed to run just fine for nearly 20 minutes after the Internet connection was cut, before eventually complaining about a bad connection to the servers and quitting. Markus "Notch" Persson later reported the same offline play. EA and Maxis have claimed that the game's GlassBox engine requires an Internet connection to offload complex calculations to the cloud in order to improve local performance. Such lengthy offline play flies in the face of the main public justification for the game's always-online requirement.
As if that weren't enough, Rock Paper Shotgun managed to snag an anonymous EA employee who they verified "worked directly on the [SimCity] project." That employee confirmed to the site that the SimCity servers don't do anything more than a normal multiplayer server in any other game and don't aid directly in the local simulation within a city. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities... but for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything," the source said, in part.
Together, these reports poke quite a few holes in EA's official story that it would take "significant engineering work" to make a single-player version of the new SimCity. It also suggests that the game's forced online requirement may have indeed been driven more by concerns about piracy rather than concerns about gameplay.