Maxis’ SimCity is riding a wave of controversy and criticism at the moment, mostly because of its perpetual online requirement. Many see it as little more than obfuscated DRM, while EA maintains that its complex simulations require being connected to the cloud – and that an offline mode would require a lot of engineering. That appears to not quite be the case.
Youtube user UKAzzer published a video (Reddit, via Eurogamer) that shows him fiddling with the game after modding its package files, enabling him to do a number of interesting things – such as editing highways beyond the game’s tiny city boundaries.
"You can edit the highways ANYWHERE – even outside of your city boundary," UKAzzer said, "and even if you quit the game and log back in later, it’s all saved safely on the server.
"This shows that highway editing will be easily possible, AND that editing outside of the artificially small city boundaries should be very viable too."
He’s also, more importantly, managed to get the game working offline indefinitely, by setting the game’s built-in disconnection timer to unlimited. Usually, that disconnect timer allows players to keep playing for 20 minutes after losing a connection to EA’s servers, but then boots them out. That no longer happens.
EA hasn’t exactly been lying to you though; without a server connection, none of the game’s regional features work offline, and neither does saving or synching – which is to be expected. Still, the game, in isolation, works just fine offline – and that talk of the game being so complicated that they’d have to re-engineer the thing for offline play is a load of hogwash.
Creative director & Art director on the new SimCity, Ocean Quigley has said that modding package files likely won’t get you banned – and Maxis has previously said that the game was made with modding in mind.
Still, I think if EA wants to do something positive in the face of all the negativity, an offline mode patch for those who would like to do so would be more than welcome.