SimCity

SimCity Reddit AMA goes over modding, always-on DRM

Omri Petitte at

SimCity

Last Friday, Maxis opened a Q&A discussion on Reddit surrounding the development of upcoming city-sim SimCity. (Say that ten times fast.) Among other team members, Senior Producer Kip Katsarelis and Creative Director Ocean Quigley responded to questions about modding support, who Maxis considers the ideal SimCity player, building density, and other topics. Read on for excerpts of the best answers.

On the existence of splines needing reticulating:
"Always. Seriously though, being the first 3D SimCity (and the first with curvy roads) means there's some serious spline tech under the hood. We've got a few old, grizzled engineers (including some from the SimCity 4 days) making sure your splines are reticulated to perfection."

On the targeted player type:
"This is definitely a game for the hardcore fans. When we started this project, we looked at previous SimCity games and evaluated what made them great. We looked at fan sites, spoke with fans, looked at reviews, and looked at what the SimCity 4 community was up to. We wanted to make sure that we delivered on the core values of SimCity.

On filling gaps between buildings with city-appropriate stuff (alleyways, garbage piles, etc.):
"Buildings come in at different densities. Low density buildings (like standalone houses) have space between them. By the time you get to middle density, buildings are packed much more tightly. High density buildings are mixed. Some have plazas or other spaces around them, some are tightly packed."

SimCity industrialscape

On modding:
"It's going to be tricky! Buildings in SimCity 4 were sprites projected onto low-poly cards, so it was easy to make new ones. Our new buildings are pretty complicated—they're rigged, animated, and LOD'd Maya models with complex material assignments. They're more like animated characters than like SC4 buildings. Remember, modding didn't get off the ground on SC4 until a year or so after the Rush Hour expansion—this stuff is hard, and can take a while."

On what happens after losing an Internet connection:
"We will allow you to play for as long as we can preserve your game state. This will most likely be minutes."

As you might expect, commenters' reception of this statement wasn't exactly positive. Many thread participants decried the requirement of maintaining a constant Internet connection to save games and store data. "I'm really sorry, but I cannot support an online-only game," one poster wrote. "When I'm paying $50+ for a game, I want the decision for how and when I play it to be mine. It's not the developer or the publisher's place to choose how and when I play my games. I want to play your game. I will pay extra money for a DRM-free version."

We checked in with the status of the project ourselves by interviewing Lead Designer Stone Librande on building a better town-builder.