Offline SimCity easy, says developer
A SimCity developer - speaking on the condition of anonymity - has claimed that contrary to statements made by Maxis, engineering a singleplayer mode for the game would require minimal effort.
The source's comments stand in stark contrast to those made by Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw last week, who said that "with the way that the game works, 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."
Speaking with RPS, the source expressed confusion at Bradshaw's statements, and claimed that a server connection was not required for non-social aspects the game.
"The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," it began.
"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. I have no idea why they're claiming otherwise.
"It's possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I'm clueless."
The claims appear to have been verified elsewhere: Kotaku managed to play the game offline for 19 minutes today before receiving an error message, and Markus Persson has tweeted that his game continued even after SimCity servers went down.
RPS' source had an explanation: "Because of the way Glassbox was designed, simulation data had to go through a different pathway.
"The game would regularly pass updates to the server, and then the server would stick those messages in a huge queue along with the messages from everyone else playing.
"The server pulls messages off the queue, farms them out to other servers to be processed and then those servers send you a package of updates back.
"The amount of time it could take for you to get a server update responding to something you've just done in the game could be as long as a few minutes.
"This is why they disabled Cheetah mode, by the way, to reduce by half the number of updates coming into the queue.
"It wouldn't take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff."
There was a huge outcry when it was announced that SimCity would be online-only, and the game suffered through a launch week plagued by server problems that resulted in non-crucial features being disabled, marketing campaigns being pulled, EA offering a free game to all who purchased SimCity, and Maxis admitting that low review scores were "fair".
Maxis recently stated that the majority of the game's server problems had been solved.