During the height of SimCity‘s server problems Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw plainly stated that “it wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline” due to the “significant amount” of calculations that had to be run on EA’s servers. That assertion was quickly shot down by an anonymous Maxis insider, then by a modder (going by the handle Azzer) who found a way to get everything but game saves and region features running offline.
Bradshaw’s next attempt to deflect/spin attention away from EA’s anti-consumer tactics was to provide a list of “straight answers”, stating the always-on connection was required to process calculations involving SimCity‘s core region features. This argument has now been challenged by the same modder who figured out how to run SimCity offline, as he believes the entire game could easily be changed to provide the full regional experience in an offline mode.
Speaking to RockPaperShotgun (one of the loudest media voices speaking out against the type of anti-consumer DRM used by EA), Azzer has fully detailed several small changes that could easily give fans the offline SimCity experience they are currently being denied.
“I’ve analyzed all of the data calls to and from EA servers – all of the APIs, every request for data, and all of the data that comes back,” Azzer explained. “The SimCity servers are not doing any calculations that could not be done on your PC, even for an entire region single player offline mode, let alone just the city you are in.”
“All the server sends to your client, is some very basic data about each city – how much power they have available, how much spare fire trucks, you know – that sort of stuff. It’s minor, and it’s sent as raw numbers. Your client then just goes ‘oh there’s XXX power spare from city Z.’ It’s that simple. The server side calculations are all, frankly, rubbish. Every bit of it,”
In Azzer’s view the only thing that EA’s servers are currently doing is providing a multiplayer region that is basically a way for one city to tell another in the region how much spare resources there are, and update that data every few minutes. In other words, the servers are nothing more than a “middleman”.
Going farther, Azzer claims that the SimCity servers main “processing work is probably [EA’s] attempts at anti-cheat stuff, checking a city doesn’t do… something… at an unrealistic speed.”
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