SimCity modded so it can be played offline indefinitely

Edit freeway outside city boundaries.

The controversy around SimCity looks set to continue: a modder has tweaked the always-online game so it can be played offline indefinitely.

UKAzzer published a video to YouTube (via Reddit) that shows him playing around in the game's debug mode.

From there, he was able to edit the highways that connect cities together outside of the city boundaries. The game's city sizes have been criticised by some for being too small.

"You can edit the highways ANYWHERE - even outside of your city boundary," UKAzzer said, "and even if you quit the game and log back in later, it's all saved safely on the server.

"This shows that highway editing will be easily possible, AND that editing outside of the artificially small city boundaries should be very viable too."

Meanwhile, UKAzzer modded out the "fluffed population count" so the game shows the real population count - a disparity players have complained about since launch.

Most importantly, UKAzzer was able to disable SimCity's disconnection timer, thus setting it to unlimited. Tests have shown SimCity kicks you out after around 20 minutes of offline play.

There are restrictions when doing this, of course. Access to SimCity's region features isn't possible, as you'd expect, and if you want to save your city you have to reconnect to the servers. But the video is our clearest indication yet that some kind of offline mode might be possible for the controversial game.

EA will no doubt be keen to address this as quickly as possible. "EA does not comment on rumour and speculation," is all the publisher would say when contacted by Eurogamer this morning.

EA has come under fire for making SimCity require an internet connection to work. Developer Maxis maintains it was a design decision sparked by a desire to encourage connected play, and have insisted that the servers are required for performance issues.

"We offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud," Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw explained to Polygon. "It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."

But critics have claimed the always-online requirement is nothing more than DRM aimed at combating piracy and have called on Maxis to enable an offline mode after the game's disastrous launch.

A source close to the project told Rock Paper Shotgun earlier this week that the SimCity servers aren't integral to the game's performance.

"The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," the source explained. "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 of that. But for the game itself? No, they're not doing anything."

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