Maxis explains why SimCity offline is taking so long

"I wish it were as simple as flipping a switch."

When SimCity developer Maxis announced that it would be releasing an offline mode for the game fans rejoiced, but still had one not insignificant gripe: why's it taking so long?

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The online integration is the nerve center of SimCity. Kill the online and the city goes with it. Or maybe there's another way...

Lead engineer on the SimCity's single-player, Simon Fox, has finally addressed the matter in a blog post at the SimCity official site. His explanation is rather technical, but here's the gist: The game was originally envisioned so players' various cities would communicate with one another and removing this feature messed everything up.

"The original creative vision for SimCity was to make a game where every action had an effect on other cities in your region. As such, we engineered the game to meet this vision, setting up the player's PC (client) to communicate all of its information to the servers," Fox explained. "That means that our entire architecture was written to support this, from the way that the simulation works to the way that you communicate across a region of cities."

Fox further backed up Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw's statement that an offline mode wouldn't be possible "without a significant amount of engineering work."

"She's right, "Fox said. "By the time we're finished we will have spent over six and a half months working to write and rewrite core parts of the game to get this to work. Even things that seem trivial, like the way that cities are saved and loaded, had to be completely reworked in order to make this feature function correctly."

"I wish it were as simple as flipping a switch and telling the game to communicate with a dummy client rather than our server, but it's more than that. Entire calculations had to be rewritten in order to make the game function correctly."

Fox said that the project has been in development since August and is now in alpha. "Thank you for your patience on this one. We know you want Offline play in SimCity and we are really happy that we are finally getting ready to deliver it to you," he concluded.

For the nitty-gritty detailed explanation of rewriting code and altering algorithms, check out Fox's full report on the issue.

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