Instead of returning to their own homes, individual Sims would drive into the nearest home available.

Instead of driving on empty roads, Sims would take the shortest path available, even if that led straight into congestion.


As one EA forum member points out, SimCity's sim-people use the same sort of AI-handling "agent system" that traffic and sewage and power uses. The results are not pretty.

The problem is that, just as power can sometimes take a ridiculously long time to fill the entire map (because the "power agents" just randomly move about with no sense) traffic and workers can do the same thing. Workers leave their homes as "people agents." These agents go to the nearest open job, not caring at all where they worked yesterday. They fill the job, and the next worker goes to the next building and fills that job, and so it goes until all the jobs are "filled." So, when you have all your "worker" sims leaving their houses for work in the morning, they all cluster together like some kind of "tourist pack" until they have all been sucked into "jobs." They don't seem to care if the job is Commercial or Industrial, only that it's a job.

"Scholars" are handled exactly the same way. As are school busses and mass-transit agents. This is why you see the "trains" of busses roaming through your city, and why entire sections of town may never see a school bus, despite having plenty of stops... Once all the busses are full, they return to school and stay there until school is done for the day.

Now, here is where it gets really good... In the evening, when work and school lets out, they all leave and proceed to the absolute closest "open" house. They don't "own" their houses. The "people" you see are actually just mindless agents (much like the utilities agents, as I said earlier) making the whole idea of "being able to follow a 'Sim' through their entire day" utterly POINTLESS!!"



"Wow" is right.

Has EA addressed any of this stuff?

Sort of. They're aware of all that AI wackiness, and they say they're working on it.


But it's really the publisher's insistence upon keeping the game online-only that continues to rub fans and observers the wrong way. While admitting that SimCity could very well have an optional offline mode, Maxis's Bradshaw shot down any notions that we might be seeing one in the future:

So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn't fit with our vision. We did not focus on the "single city in isolation" that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we're also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.


Translation: "Online-only is here to stay. Also we sold like a million copies. Deal with it."

But is there anything good about the game?

Sure. It's a beautiful-looking piece of work. It's got a lot of interesting simulation ideas. The music is great. The sound design is incredible. It's really fun and feels really good to play, at least for the first few hours before you realize how limiting it is to build on such a small plot of land.


It's just too bad about all that other stuff.

What a disaster. So what's next?

If you bought SimCity, you're getting a free game! Well, a free PC game. Published by EA. That's one of these eight choices.


And if this whole debacle has left a sour taste in your mouth—and not pleasant sour like a lemon candy, but gross sour like expired milk—rest assured you're not alone. Hopefully, we'll all come away with this experience learning to be far more skeptical of online-only games in the future.