Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 465: SimCity: All for the Money

SimCity is a game series where you build a city within specific boundaries and with a limited start-up budget. You basically create a city from the ground up, zoning residential, industrial and commercial buildings. You also need to provide your citizens and businesses with services like water, power, sewage treatment and so on. You earn money from taxes as well as eventually from trading, tourism, technological advancements, etc. This latest release of SimCity has the fans all feeling quite disappointed.

Firstly, you need to be constantly connected to the internet and logged on to the SimCity servers in order to play the game. When it was first released, the servers' capacity was so insufficient that practically no one could play the game at all.

Secondly, when the server problem was eventually resolved enough for people to start playing the game, all the weird glitches started coming out of the woodwork. Traffic was (and is) a major problem. The AI of the cars in-game was pathetic - cars would (and still do) sit at one traffic intersection for many game hours, not taking numerous opportunities to go through the intersection. Needless to say, when there are severe traffic problems then no one can get to where they need to go, such as delivery vehicles carrying goods you need to sell to be able to keep your city afloat, financially speaking; or school buses; or ambulances; or fire trucks - you get my meaning. This is one of the most prominent fundamental programming issues.

Thirdly, the space allotted to each city building area is tiny. There is no space for someone to be creative, you are absolutely confined to a square space and must be as efficient as possible, or else the city doesn't get/do what it needs to get/do.

Fourthly, another weird bug is that the numbers in the statistic board for your city don't add up. One minute your people complain that there are not enough commercial buildings but the next minute 4 commercial buildings close down due to insufficient shoppers. I am aware that there are various income brackets - so I did take that into consideration before coming to the conclusion that there is something off with the numbers. The numbers just don't add up.

Essentially, the game could have used another year (at least) in development before being released. It has received numerous patches, and this (large files needing to be downloaded), coupled with the still insufficient server power, leads to the game taking 2 and a half hours to install. A game should not be released if it's still got bugs that require fixes - it's like buying a shoe without the insole. Seriously.

Most people blame Electronic Arts for all the shenanigans. EA is notorious for it's profit-driven actions (like releasing games before they're ready). They are far more invested in the money they can make rather than creating good products that actually work.

Wouldn't it be great if every company actually had integrity and created good products worth having? Wouldn't it be great if companies like EA were focused on creating the best possible products instead of making the biggest possible profit? I know I am tired of being bitterly disappointed with half-finished games.

1 comment:

  1. this is not a topic that I would have expected in a JTL blog - thanks for showing that nothing is too insignificant to be addressed in common sense. I used to play simcity 2000 and 3000 but havent since then. I've wrote off video games as something stupid because of how they are abused and lost interest because before I only ever played to win but I can see that it can just be an activity and even supportive if done without winning/competition as a starting point