So SimCity is a bit of a mess. Reviews have been unkind (or have been marked down since launch to be unkind), servers have been packed and players are finding more and more bugs and inconsistencies with the game. But Maxis is determined to make things right.
Lead designer Stone Librande addressed a number of concerns in a recent blog post
. Among these, he discussed how the studio did not discover bugs such as the traffic system (where vehicles will always take the shortest route to a destination, regardless of congestion, causing huge tailbacks), a problem that is said to be a rather obvious flaw, before launch or during beta.
"During development we tested many cities in a variety of scenarios, but there are almost limitless permutations. Now that the game is in your hands we are seeing the emergence of many cities that test our systems in unique ways," Librande wrote. "It's great to watch this happen because at its core SimCity
is a game about experimentation and exploration (Of course, it's not so great when these experiments reveal bugs).
"Our main focus right now is updating the pathing system that the Agents [Sims] use to get to their Sinks [Destinations]. Running a successful city means keeping the traffic flowing and we are actively working to make this system better."
Librande also covered a common complaint from SimCity
players - that Sims don't appear to have any kind of persistence in the world. Sims will travel to different workplaces every day (seemingly whichever building is closest to them) and return to different homes (and, hilariously, different families we assume). He said that this was an intentional design decision in order to maintain performance.
"The Sims in the game are persistent in many respects. They go from a home to a workplace or to a shop and back each day. Their happiness, money, sickness, education level, etc. are also persistent and are carried around the city with each Sim as the simulation unfolds. But many aspects of the Sims are not persistent. They don't own a particular house or have permanent employment. We also don't track their names, their clothing, gender, or skin color.
"We did this as in attempt to increase performance so that we could have more Sims in the city. Ultimately we didn't feel that the cost of adding in that extra layer of micro detail made the macro game play richer. Game design is filled with tradeoffs and compromises like this and we are constantly evaluating these (and many other) decisions."