Maxis is looking into improving SimCity's widely-discussed traffic and pathfinding problems.
In a blog update discussing how public transport works under the hood in the city simulation game, lead gameplay scripter Guillaume Pierre said Maxis had identified a couple of issues with its approach to the public transportation system - one that has been widely criticised by players - and was working to address them.
Pierre's post attempts to explain how streetcars, used to transport your sims around your city and ease traffic congestion, decide where to go.
Players have complained about the game's pathfinding not just for streetcars but for all vehicles, including delivery trucks, standard cars and the sims themselves. Streetcars have been found to take too long to arrive at crowded stops - or ignore them completely.
Pierre said Maxis was looking into a way to make crowded stops "high priority pick-up" destinations that transit vehicles will go to first.
But the more important issue concerns the movement of all types of vehicles. Traffic congestion builds up because all vehicles that are in the same area and want to go to the same destination type will all follow the same path. "We're looking into various ways to improve the situation so traffic will spread out better," Pierre said.
Players have been experimenting with various layouts to test SimCity's pathfinding, with some hilarious, and worrying, results.
The video below shows how vehicles favour the shortest path to a given destination, and ignore better alternatives. In it an avenue continues with a dirt road - the poorest road type in the game - attaching to it so there's no main junction. An additional avenue path is located just above, with both roads leading to a Stadium where a Monster Truck event is running.
Vehicles attempt to take the dirt road because it is the shortest route to the Stadium, completely ignoring the avenue, thus causing congestion.
Other videos, below, show other results of pathfinding experimentation.
Maxis is able to update the game at will, so hopefully it will address these concerns soon.