SimCity dev: "We built this from the ground up to be a multiplayer game"
"We built this from the ground up to be a multiplayer game" says Jason Haber, producer on SimCity. He's been talking to us about the latest game in Maxis' series of city builders.
SimCity will require an internet connection each time you boot it up via Origin but, according to Jason, the restriction isn't about DRM. Not even a little bit.
In fact, Tom asked whether the online-only restriction was an anti-piracy measure last week. "That’s not why we put it in," said the producer. "It was really a developer decision. It was a design decision to do that from the ground up."
He's referring to SimCity's online component where each city is part of a wider region. Individual cities can help or hinder their neighbours' development. Even when playing alone, you'll get the option to control a landmass of metropolises.
"Cities don’t exist in bubbles in the real world. The choices that one city make affect other cities. The choices that other cities make influence your city," continued Jason.
It's a shift in priorities for the series; previous Sim City games have been mostly solo experiences. Tom asked why multiplayer is such a big deal this time around.
"It lets you play in a lot of different ways. You could bootstrap a city. If you've started new but have a bunch of people who have been playing it for a while, you could come in, share resources, and get started really quickly. It also allows you to specialise your city down a certain path. So if I wanted to become a casino city and wanted to focus on making it really fun, I could leave some of the specifics to other cities."
Fans of renewable energy won't be disappointed either. "I could set a challenge to myself: I want to power the whole region. All windmills," says Jason. "You could have a city that's powered by all windmills and play the game like that."
A windmill-focussed city does sound cool. No doubt about that. But does it counter the need for an internet connection each time you load it up?