SimCity lead designer Stone Librande acknowledged some of the problems his team's game has with roads and traffic today and promised that some tuning fixes are on the way.
From a new blog post on the game's website:
We understand that when cars always take the shortest route between point A and point B there will be unavoidable (and illogical) traffic jams, so we are retuning these values it to make the traffic flow more realistically. Guillaume Pierre (our lead scripter) talked a bit about the improvements that we are making to the traffic system in the game here. To dig a little deeper our roads will have a weighting system based on 25%, 50% and 75% capacity. As a road hits those marks it will become less and less appealing for other cars, increasing the likelihood of them taking an alternate path if one exists.
We are working on additional fixes with the pathing of our Agents and these changes will streamline the way that the simulation unfolds in your city. For instance, emergency vehicles will not get blocked in their garages and will move into empty lanes to get around traffic jams. We're also working on preventing service vehicles from clumping up (for instance, only one fire truck will respond to a fire instead of two) and improving the way that Public Transportation operates in the city. We are currently testing a patch internally and hope to have it out to you soon.
He also confirms that, yes, Sims in the game don't have persistent homes and jobs. They're simulated to an extent, but he says that that simplifying them—freeing them from keeping the same jobs and living in the same homes—enabled better performance with bigger city populations.
Expect more updates like these, and cross your fingers crossed that Librande and the rest of the team at Maxis can get this game in shape. A shaky launch is unfortunate, but if Maxis can recover and make a game that runs to players' satisfaction, that'll be a memorable and fascinating story, too.
SimCity Update 8 [SimCity blog]