You know that a publisher has faith in its game when it starts offering special editions with silly bonuses. You may think of the Tropico games as a niche PC series, but this recently announced Tropico 5 Limited Special Edition argues otherwise. It’s not quite as silly as, for example, Wolfenstein: The New Order Panzerhund Edition that includes everything but the actual game, but it tries.
city building sim
Haemimont Games, the fun-to-spell developer of Tropico 5, have released a new trailer offering a first look at their upcoming city-builder series. Note that, while it's written Tropico, it's actually pronounced Trropicooooooo. In the world of El Presidente, the root of power comes from your ability to overly-extend vowels. Also from the ruthlessness to fix elections, imprison your enemies, and enact a program of state surveillance.
It's been seven months since the launch of SimCity, which means it's been slightly under seven months since players of SimCity could consistently connect to the always-online city building sim's servers. In an address to the community, Patrick Buechner, the general manager of the Maxis Emeryville studio, wrote about this and other controversial elements that have followed the game since launch. He reveals that the team are "exploring the possibility" of an offline mode for the game, touches upon potential mod support, and admits that, despite their efforts, SimCities won't be getting any bigger.
I know. I know. City builders aren't renowned for their CPU-straining graphics. Perhaps unfairly. While the Tropico series didn't dazzle you with its depictions of dictatorial splendour, they had a warm and vibrant beauty to their tenements, shanty towns and decadent tourist traps. And these first 'pre-alpha' screenshots of Tropico 5 show the series' first major upgrade since El Presidente's third outing.
It's time for mayors of SimCities the world over to start thinking green. Last week, update 7 was announced as an effort to get motorists to stop driving so haphazardly, minimizing the deaths of hapless students. Now the well-meaning municipal government representative manning the SimCity Twitter account is revealing further changes coming later this month: we'll get to place trees on our streets, and we can finally bury those traffic-clogged eyesore-roads beneath ground.
Kalypso have announced Tropico 5, the next game in the light-hearted banana republic dictatorship simulation series. Where Tropico 4 drew slight criticism for being a marginal improvement over its predecessor, the sequel's plans are more wide-ranging. The game will feature multiple eras, with players taking El Presidente from the colonial 19th century, through to the future. Not that you'd know it from the announcement trailer, which is more concerned with showing the great dictator's creepy fascination with globes.
The residents of SimCity have been in a traffic jam several months long, making our real-world cities' rush-hour gridlocks seem breezy. After that last traffic update—which sought to minimize the number of tragic disappearances of students journeying bravely across streets—we saw some improvement, but Maxis acknowledges it's still got a way to go. So what's next on its plan?
Mystery, survival, and action titles feature in the latest batch of games to find approval through Steam's Greenlight program. Thanks to community support and Valve's judgment, the following games should see release on Steam as development finishes and they are brought into agreement with the Steamworks apparatus...
Following a leaked internal memo that said much the same thing, Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw has released a statement addressing the Titanic-esque launch of their latest city-building title, SimError. The blog post stops just short of apologising for the whole mess, but Bradshaw does own up to the game's connection problems, stating that "we're not going to rest until we've fixed the remaining server issues." To try and mollify the outraged, Maxis are also offering SimCity players a free game. A free, um, EA game of course - but one you'll (probably) be able to actually play.
A message sent to Maxis team members by General Manager Lucy Bradshaw shows the developer is well-aware of the continued connectivity and performance problems plaguing SimCity's players since the city-manager launched earlier this week. As Polygon reports, Bradshaw commends staff for a "software achievement" but also acknowledges the critical need for increased server stability.
SimCity opened its doors at midnight to eager US mayors anticipating the city-management reboot, but like most other major online-based game launch windows, response and connectivity issues rapidly reared their ugly heads. The Origin servers shuddered beneath excess load as piles of players queued full downloads of the game's digital edition, as they inexplicably weren't given the option to pre-load files. Forum threads filled with complaints popped up like a line of apartment blocks, and in one such thread, Origin Global Community Manager Marcel Hatam says refund requests are available for those affected by launch problems.
The newest video for SimCity features franchise creator Will Wright sitting down with Designer Ocean Quigley to discuss how citizens react to player's benevolent and malicious actions. Quigley tells the sim legend that he wants the player's emotional investment with a populace to stay high throughout his or her mayoral career.
SimCity's second closed beta will go live next Saturday February 16 at 2PM GMT, offering an "enhanced version" of the one hour trial we got a couple of weeks ago. You can sign up for a chance to participate now on the SimCity beta page, though you'll have to do that before Monday to have a chance.
Planning on buying SimCity? How would you like to pay more for the same game? Well, the limited edition will give you that opportunity, but Maxis have thrown in the Heroes and Villains set to make it a bit more tempting. That'll let you introduce superheroes and super villains into your towns, though when I played it I polluted my town to the extent that most of my citizens deduced that I was a super-villain so I CRUSHED THEM. None shall defy the might of the Mayorinator.
Maxis has provided details on SimCity's sandbox mode, a "gentler version" for mayors wishing to construct their budding burgs without the added stress of putting out a careless library fire or squeezing their citizenry for every stinkin' Simoleon. In a blog post, Lead Gameplay Scripter Guillaume Pierre described the effects of switching on sandbox mode, including access to all buildings and disaster toggles via keyboard shortcuts.
The city shown above demonstrates the grid-induced OCD that a detailed city building sim can inspire in even the messiest soul. If I put down a cup of coffee I'm much more likely to hit some crumpled piece of desk detritus than a empty, tidy, bit of space. And yet, exposed to an empty patch of grass and a means to plant buildings down and a certain ruthlessness emerges. A fence I find accidentally askew triggers a strange anger. That is NOT RIGHT. Time to BURN IT DOWN and do it again.
Fortunately, we'll have natural disasters to do that for us when the new SimCity arrives next February. The new trailer shows a few different disasters doing there thing, including a meteor shower and an old fashioned earthquake. But which is your favourite?
The cheery response to the announcement of a new SimCity game was quickly tempered back in March by the announcement that it'll require a permanent online connection to work. Videogamer caught up with Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw to ask why SimCity won't end up mirroring Diablo 3's launch. Bradshaw says that EA are "investing quite a bit in making sure we're locked and loaded."
Speaking to Joystiq, SimCity Lead designer Stone Librande has revealed that the new SimCity will be an "internet-dependent experience." You'll need to stay connected to the net through Origin if you want to keep playing. He cited SimCity's multiplayer features, like the global economy that will let players sell excess resources on a massive connected market, as the reason for the always-online requirement.
Though SimCity will maintain its connection through Origin, we won't have to buy it through EA's digital store. SimCity will be available to buy through other digital distributors, and at retail, but that's small comfort for those with unreliable internet connections. As we've seen with Ubisoft, you can have the most stable connection in the world and still be at the whim to server switches and meltdowns at the developer/publisher end.
EA Maxis have been talking more about next year's SimCity reboot, and the new GlassBox engine that's powering it. Just earlier we went inside the GlassBox engine to talk a bit about how the new tech will work differently to SimCity games of old, but there's even more good news. Shacknews sat in on a GDC panel in which Maxis confirmed that the new engine has been designed with modders in mind.