Feature
18 Comments

How video games can change the world, one child at a time

Mention the name of the character John helped create and almost anyone who's held a video game controller will remember it: Spyro, the purple dragon that became a sensation when it launched on PlayStation. Now, 16 years later, Spyro is one of the Skylanders, and he's everywhere. Thank Michael John. John and a team of four other designers at game developer Insomniac created Spyro the Dragon in 1997, and it has since become a 13-game franchise. Insomniac, bolstered by the success of its purple dragon, went on to other blockbuster game projects. John moved on to start his own studio and worked for several others, including game design luminary Mark Cerny's Cerny Games. John did well for himself. Like most game developers, a lot of his work was behind the scenes, or never got released. He...

News
34 Comments

SimCity's offline mode now available (update)

SimCity's servers are currently down for maintenance because developer EA Maxis is patching the city-building title to add the long-awaited offline mode, according to a post on the game's forums. The developers took the server offline at 9 a.m. ET in order to publish Update 10. The patch, which Maxis announced in January, adds the ability to play SimCity offline and mod the game. In offline mode, game saves are stored locally on the player's computer; no internet connection is required at all. As of 10:20 a.m. ET, EA's quality assurance team is checking the implementation of Update 10 to make sure the servers and offline gameplay are working as intended. Maxis estimates the servers will be down for a total of "a few hours." Shortly after the release of SimCity a year ago β€” which was...

News
44 Comments

SimCity's offline mode required more than six months of rework, Maxis says

Rebuilding SimCity to work offline took more than six months of development, according to single player mode lead engineer Simon Fox and rewriting "core parts of the game" to make the always-online title function without an internet connection. According to Fox, the game was written to rely on online servers; SimCity would "routinely ping" severs to obtain necessary data, including regions status, workers and trading. "It relies on that information to keep the simulation moving," Fox wrote. "This meant rewriting the entire system, which previously existed in Java, and putting it into C++. We've had to knock out the internet pipe stuff. There's lots of code that hits the servers looking for information. We've had to write a lot of code to produce that data locally, specifically for...

Opinion
18 Comments

Friends List: Will offline mode save SimCity?

Today on Friends List Editor-at-Large Chris Plante asks Opinions Editor Ben Kuchera if offline mode will save SimCity. The episode will begin at 2 p.m. ET (or thereabouts!) and will be available via YouTube following the recording. While you wait you can watch the previous episode: Why haven't you heard of Anodyne? Enjoy Friends List anywhere, anytime: Bookmark the Friends List video page. Subscribe to the audio-only podcast: Friends List on iTunes. Download our theme song, "Hangout" by Tolecover.

News
104 Comments

EA adding offline mode to SimCity

SimCity will soon be playable in offline mode, developer EA Maxis announced this week, 10 months after saying it couldn't be done "without a significant amount of engineering work." The studio will add offline mode for all players with Update 10, a free upcoming patch. Once the single-player mode is added to the game, all previously downloaded content will be accessible without an internet connection, and SimCity will store single-player save games locally instead of in the cloud. Maxis is "in the late phases" of development on offline mode, and the studio plans to run extensive testing on it before launching it, said Patrick Buechner, general manager of Maxis Emeryville, in a post on the game's blog. "Our priority is to make sure that it’s as polished as possible before we release...

News
28 Comments

SimCity modding rules detailed by Maxis

SimCity modders cannot sell their content, affect multiplayer features or modify executable files when creating new content, Maxis announced via the game's website. According to the post, guidelines are in place to maintain the "safety and integrity" of the game while still being clear about modder rights. "EA reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to revoke permission to use, distribute or make mods at any time, to disable any mod within SimCity and to take disciplinary action against players who harm the experience of others," the post reads. Mods that "affect the simulation for multiplayer games or multiplayer features," infringe on other properties or break any rules listed on the website will be removed. "We encourage you to create, redistribute, and consume mods for S...

Video
5 Comments

SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow intro video dissects the city of the future

The intro trailer for SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow goes over some of the parts of a successful future city. On the one hand, the city of tomorrow must contain an Academy, which researches advanced technology and operates the city's ControlNet. Said ControlNet oversees things like the energy-generating Wave Generator and the trash-destroying Garbage Atomizer, as well as the city's Maglev train network. On the other hand, a successful city must be profitable, and mayors of the future may want to invest in OmegaCo's factories and drone technology. People of tomorrow need places to live, work and shop, all of which can be contained in a single Mega Tower. However, in addition to the standard natural disasters that modern-day cities must contend with, future cities must also worry about...

Video
3 Comments

SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow launch trailer duels philosophies

A launch trailer for SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow takes the form of twin in-universe commercials produced by rival powers. The premise of the trailer pits the scientific-minded Academy against the greed-is-good conglomerate OmegaCo. OmegaCo's commercial lampoons the Academy's focus on green technology, pointing out its expense and arguing that the trees shouldn't have been growing there in the first place. In return, the Academy alleges that OmegaCo's focus on robotic drones takes Sim commuters' jobs, and that renegade robots are a danger the city can ill afford. Plus, the Academy's clean technology produces floating trains, and you'd be a fool to pass that up, it argues. Cities of Tomorrow launches on Nov. 12.

News
3 Comments

SimCity heads to classrooms to teach kids about environment

A schoolroom version of SimCity will be released next month, that aims to teach kids about civic management and the environmental impact of modern life. SimCityEDU from GlassLab β€” releasing to schools on Nov. 7 β€” places students in charge of a town, with a mission to balance employment needs, citizen happiness and environmental concerns. The game has been integrated into curriculum plans and comes with teacher guidelines and student feedback programs. "They are taking the game and they are able to take the time and energy to focus it just for educational uses," said SimCity creative director Stone Librande. "They can go into our interfaces and tailor them to a certain age range for a certain classroom setting and lesson plan." "This is a game that is helping kids to think in a real...

Video
8 Comments

SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow trailer explores futuristic metropolises

A new gameplay demo for Cities of Tomorrow, the first expansion for this year's reboot of SimCity, explores how different cities in a region work together in a futuristic setting. The first city we're shown is the research hub city that houses the Academy, a building that engineers new technologies like clean fusion reactors and maglev trains. It works in conjunction with the second city, an industrial powerhouse that manufactures a valuable substance known as Omega. Omega can be shipped via drones to minimize traffic, and the Academy can research ways to clean up the pollution that results as a byproduct. The workers in these two cities largely come from the third city, designed as a residential zone. City planners can construct gigantic towers that contain residential areas, offices...

SimCity (2013) Releases
North America
  • Windows
    • Released 03/05/2013
    • Publisher Electronic Arts
    • Developer Maxis
    • Score 6.5
  • Mac
    • Released 08/29/2013
    • Publisher Electronic Arts
    • Developer Maxis
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