SimCity Is Actually Fully Playable Offline
EA and Maxis’ mantra regarding their SimCity reboot has up to this point been centered around emphasizing the title’s intractable online functionality and services, while stressing that such contrivances have rendered playing offline all but impossible. Moreover, Maxis has gone on record saying that turning SimCity into an offline title would be a vast undertaking on their part. Would it then surprise anyone to discover that such claims were 100% poppycock?
Modders have this week been able to have SimCity up and running in offline mode [via a debug mode which still allows full communication with EA's servers] – with one crucial exception. The game is still unable to save progress locally, after EA/Maxis punitively quarantined this functionality to their servers, so as to prevent people from functionally playing the title offline. The fact that every single component of the experience functions offline gives absolute lie to the claim that such measures were undertaken to incorporate certain online features into the title – this measure was intended as DRM, plain and simple, and it has certainly come at a tremendous cost to early adopters of the game, who were unable to play their $60 software for the majority of last week.
An anonymous EA insider has this week claimed that:
“The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless.”
For her part, Maxis general manager, Lucy Bradshaw, responded to the past week’s revelations by blowing more smoke up butts:
“The game we launched is only the beginning for us — it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO. So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the ‘single city in isolation’ that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans — people who love the original SimCity — who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.”
So congratulations to Maxis on creating an “MMO” that is [with a little work] fully playable offline. And it is also heartening to hear that Maxis’ game is catching up with “ever-improving technology“, as, at this rate, it will be playable any day now.
Kickstarter Degrades Still Further
This week business as usual at Kickstarter has degraded still further, with the Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie [backed by Warner Brothers] being launched, and meeting its funding goal in record time [of course]. So what does this have to do with gaming? Well, everything as it turns out. This is not an isolated incident, but rather a further piece in a jigsaw which has been forming throughout 2013.
In February of this year Takedown: Red Sabre, a successfully funded Kickstarter, was picked up by commercial publisher, 505 Games. In the same month Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey took to Kickstarter with the promise of a continuation in a property wholly owned by Funcom, a commercial publisher. The game is being ostensibly developed by an independent studio – yet this studio is being headed by one of the main creative talents of Funcom, and they are working on a property that is wholly owned by Funcom, making the legitimacy of the project highly dubious.
Finally, at long last Warner Brothers, one of the big Hollywood publishing companies, has launched its own Kickstarter – signifying the first time that a multinational publisher has been willing to put its name to a project that is asking for consumer charity. Not only does Warner Brothers also publish video games [Lollipop Chainsaw], but more importantly their actions set a precedent that is sure to be keenly observed by video game publishers in general – and particularly the tone deaf ones such as EA. The way that these shameless villains operate is not by pulling off one audacious heist, but rather by chipping away at the ethical underpinnings of Kickstarter until their disgraceful racket is initially hardly remarkable, and subsequently common place. Step by step these slick criminals are making theft from imbeciles something that is held as common place, and thus acceptable.
God of Reconstructed Male Identity
This week feminism has once again reared its ugly and unshaven pits into the world of gaming, with the confected furor surrounding God of War: Ascension. The testosterone-charged game is [or was] host to a trophy titled ‘Bros before Hos‘, which is an exceedingly well-known term in the common parlance. It would seem that all this was too much for one game journalist, who was left with no other recourse but to scream out of his vagina the rallying cry of ‘misogyny‘!
The reviewer in question was the former host of Xplay, Adam Sessler, who described this banal sequence as “one of the most violent things I’ve ever seen in a video game“, and goes on to call it a “gut-punch of misogyny” which soured the rest of the experience for him. In essence the sequence entails the player being awarded the ‘Bros before Hos‘ trophy for evading an ambush which has been staged by one of the Furies. And thus a series which has been well known for its violence towards [and the expandability of] women, has now been issued a slap on the wrist for including an eminently common turn of phrase.
Rather than laughing off this rank foolishness, Sony Santa Monica has added their name to the list of publishers who have ceded ground to the insatiable tides of butt-hurt – yet they have done so in the most delightfully nonsensical way. The ‘Bros before Hos‘ trophy is being altered into the ‘Bros before Foes‘ trophy, which changes precisely nothing on account of players still needing to be familiar with the ‘bros before hoes‘ turn off phrase in order to have the trophy’s name make sense.
One of the most troubling things about white-knighting in game culture is that it tends to be carried out almost exclusively by narcissistic hypocrites, and as such is broached with no measure of perspective or even consistency. Faux feminists and their little morally superior pet issues are much like a dog with a bone, in that if they are thrown something to chew on, then they will ignore all else. Thus we have something which is no worse than anything else in the industry, yet here it is being discussed on account of some self-important fucktard having a problem with it.