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SimCity, I Deserve Better Than What You’re Not Giving Me

in SimCity

I’m not a longtime fan of the SimCity franchise.

Before playing the first beta, I hadn’t played the game in decades and didn’t like the game when I played it back in the day.

But with that first beta, the game hooked me. I couldn’t get enough of the game and built stunningly pathetic cities full of disgruntled citizens and enough pollution to turn the region into a massive disaster area.

SimCity ghetto

Nothing about failing that epically should have been fun but it was.

I clamored for the second beta, had issues getting in due to server problems–Imagine that!–but still enjoyed the game. Even with the obvious problems, SimCity charmed me with its amazing music which coincides with city movements, with the noises the different zones make when you place them. With the layer maps which make extremely complex statistics visually pleasing and easy to quickly understand.

I spent over eight hours on one city, obsessively plopping modules to upgrade services and working to make the most awesome city I could possibly create.

First city I lost.

And then my city stopped “processing properly.” But don’t worry! They promised they were going to “repair it.”

My city was rolled back at least five hours. Back to a point where I had been sucking horribly, hemorrhaging money and had almost had to abandon the city.

Why in the hell would I want to start there and take the chance of that happening again?

What the fucks?

Random? I want to punch these guys!

Jerk SimCity firefighters!

Obviously, I’m a glutton for punishment because similar things have happened eight more times.

Success Town in SimCity: One of many lost.

I completely lost one city; the city was “rolled back” and then refused to load. If you follow me on Twitter [1 and 2], Facebook and/or Instagram, you know all about the problems I’ve been having.

There is no save button where I could have a tiny bit of control of my game. There’s no indication of when the games save to the cloud. I’ve left the game running for extra time just to make sure the thing saved.

I am at the mercy of the game itself and that sucks.

It is obvious how passionate the folks who created this game are and they’ve put their hearts and a lot of time into this project. It has to suck to see your baby getting ripped apart by the media.

Even though I can sympathize, that doesn’t change the fact the majority of the criticism is justified and SimCity is not a stable product.

Though Lucy Bradshaw stepped up to the plate and attempted to quiet the dissent with blog posts [1,2,3 and 4] and a Twitter chat, I feel she waited too long and the earliest handling of the issues switched back and forth between the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand to an attack dog.

It seemed like they were taken completely by surprise.

Did Maxis seriously not think a ton of people would buy the game the folks have been waiting ten years to have in their hands? And then one of the free games they offer is SimCity 4…which actually works. I’m not the only one who thinks that’s weird, right?

So what do I want?

I want SimCity to live up to its potential.

I’ll accept cloud saves if I have a say in when the game saves, i.e., a save button. I’ll accept always online if the experience is stable. My cities being “rolled back” due to someone else’s incompetence is ridiculous.

SimCity is a consumer product which is currently verging on the edge of defective. When I buy something, it is perfectly reasonable for me to expect said product to function as advertised.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want a refund, I just want to be able to trust the game and get what I paid for.

  • http://phineaspoe.tumblr.com/ phineaspoe

    Crappy DRM aside, my biggest issue with this new iteration of the game is they completely transformed the game from the experience I fondly remember. I had a friend comment on a SimCity article I posted on Facebook not long ago, asking if I remembered playing on the SuperNES. And I do. I remember it really well. I loved that game. I loved building my city, my sprawling metropolis, watching it grow, putting out fires here and there to keep people happy and the taxes rolling in. I would separate my cities into districts and start them in different corners of the map, growing them together until my city covered every square inch of space I was afforded before starting over with a new city.

    As time went on and new versions came out the duties associated with running my cities became more varied and complex but that only made the experience better. The game was my sandbox, the cities were my empires. Majestic mountain ranges of glass and steel that I had planned, mapped out, and executed. To me a friend sitting in my living room while I showed off my cities was as social as SImCity got. And my enjoyment of the game didn’t rely on them at all.

    This new version of SimCity seems too much like a Facebook game by Zynga. Your city can’t exist on it’s own. Maxis programmed the game so cities are much smaller and have to count on each other for different services. To me, this is a huge flaw in the game. I understand this makes it more like real life but it’s not the game long time fans want to play. We’re used to enormous self-contained kingdoms that we rule over alone. The idea of making deals with another player (or play multiple linked cities on your own)”You take care of schools, police & fire depts and I’ll take care of power and sewer.” is just anathema to us.

    This arrangement has a couple of flaws. The first is that you have to trust your neighbor. There seems to be much too much opportunity for things to go wrong here. Griefing is a problem in most online games and, a game where my city’s power (or whatever service) is being provided by my neighbor, seems perfectly designed to facilitate it. The worst situation I can think of is a person being a jerk and leaving a neighbor basically stranded for the fun of it. But I can also imagine getting hooked up with someone that turns out to be completely incompetent and ending up in a situation that is functionally the same. And, as far as I know, Maxis still has not provided a way for you to disengage from a city whose owner has left it, and yours too, to die.

    The other flaw is that you, because of the nature of this persistent system, the way your actions have consequences not just your cities but those around you, players are no longer allowed to have access to their save data. It’s all stored in a cloud somewhere. And while that is problematic for the reasons you already outlined, it also means you can’t be as creative as you once would have been. For instance, I have been 10 or 15 hours into building a city when a situation came up. Instead of playing it safe I went for it all, secure in the knowledge that if it didn’t work I could just reload a save and try again. That is no longer the case. No more playing around trying different things to see what happens. The harshest penalty before was you waste a couple of hours, see it isn’t going to work, and you reload your last save. Now you might ruin your whole region.

    A side note to this would be the people who like to destroy their cities for fun, again secure in the knowledge that they could put everything right again by simply reloading their last save. It’s analogous to saving your game in Skyrim or Fallout before massacring a city. You don’t want it to screw up all of the progress you’ve worked on but it is a fun way to spend an afternoon. And it’s ok because you can just reload that last save…

    Maxis seemingly changed or removed almost everything about the game that veteran players enjoyed. They made the cities smaller, less self-sufficient, added a social aspect nobody asked for, and took away our safety net that allowed us to play around in the game and not take it so seriously. And again, all of that is without mentioning all of the bugs, shoddy AI, and the horribly intrusive DRM. It really is a shame. I really wanted to like this game, was really excited about it a year ago when I saw it was being made. But I keep finding reason after reason to be disappointed.

    • http://www.sims3gamer.com/ Amy Tucker

      Holy hell, I love this comment. Like humping love it. You’re 100% right.

      It’s a huge pain in the ass to build multiple cities up in a region just so they can take over services for your main city and I don’t trust many people enough to entrust them with supplying me with power, sewage or water. The result of entrusting someone, who might screw you over, with that much power over your city could be disastrous.

      I think Ocean came out and said a larger map was coming and I hope I’m right since, while I’m by no means a “good” SimCity player, I have managed to get my population up over 120k but then it stagnates. A larger map would certainly be welcomed.

      I suppose my largest gripe is the lack of control over something I bought. Something I’m supposed to own. Something I should be able to play whenever I want with no questions asked.

      Hell, I’ll take glitches if the core gameplay is enjoyable. I LOVE the Fallout franchise and Oblivion and Skyrim. Glitch much? :D

      Random aside: if you want to write me a gaming piece for http://blog.Frontburnr.com, I’d totally dig that.

  • Pingback: SimCity, I Deserve Better Than What You’re Not Giving Me | Sims3Gamer | Project FrontBurnr

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