SimCity (2013) was announced by Electronic Arts (EA) on March 6, 2012, with the unveiling of a new website and release of a trailer for the upcoming game. While rumors had circulated for years about new developments in the SimCity series, early 2012 saw the release of concept art and information about a new game that appeared official, and was eventually confirmed.
The new game, titled SimCity, is officially billed as a reboot of the SimCity series, hence the name taking that of the original title from 1989, instead of incrementing the series. The new game features a radically different simulation engine from that used in previous titles, known as GlassBox. SC2013 is also drastically different from previous titles in the series in that it officially requires the player to be continuously online to play, and features a dominant multiplayer aspect.
The development team also took part in a Q&A session known as an IAmA on Reddit on March 8, 2012, located here, where they answered many questions from the community about the upcoming game. Continuing information about the new game can be found at SC4D here, and at Simtropolis here, as well as on the official site.
The first public information about the GlassBox engine was released at the 2012 Game Developer's Conference (GDC) during a presentation on March 7, 2012, titled Inside the GlassBox. The GlassBox simulation engine is a radical departure from earlier SimCity titles. Whereas earlier titles used increasingly sophisticated simulation behind the scenes, the graphics actually presented to the user were only ever a representation of what was happening. GlassBox takes a much more direct approach where the graphics displayed on screen are an exact replication of the simulation. Take traffic on a road as a common example. In earlier games, such as SC4, the traffic simulator determined the paths taken by commuters, and calculated the resulting congestion on the transportation network. The cars then seen on the street in the game were a graphic meant to give a visual approximation of how congested the street was. In SC2013, the cars seen on the road are the actual vehicles as they travel through the traffic simulator along their paths, and each one can be traced from a unique origin to a unique destination along the full length of its journey by the player. This approach is used throughout the entire simulation engine, and players are able to watch each of the various simulated units in action as it travels through the game.
Development and Release
While SimCity was developed and released by EA, it is the first game in several years to be released under the Maxis brand, which had been involved with the older games in the series. The development team for SimCity includes such notable figures from previous titles as Ocean Quigley and others.
The game was released on March 5, 2013, initially in North America, and then worldwide. The initial launch was plagued with technical problems, most of them due to server failures and an inability of the game servers to keep up with demand. As SC2013 requires the player to always be online to play, the unavailability of servers severely hampered the game launch, and resulted in a backlash from disappointed customers and reviewers. EA acknowledged that they had underestimated the requirements for the game launch, and took emergency measures such as adding additional servers and trimming game features in an attempt to resolve the situation. Some retailers temporarily pulled the game, and/or offered refunds while the problems were being resolved.
While the initial release already contains some official expansion packs, EA has so far refused requests to make the game available offline, truly single-player, or made available material for players to create custom content. However, attempts at modding the game began during (if not prior to) game release, and significant breakthroughs have been made, including access to offline play and debugging tools.
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