Six and a half months of work for Maxis to make SimCity work offline, explains lead engineer.
By Tim Colwill on January 15, 2014 at 11:59 am
Maxis announced yesterday that they’d finally developed an offline mode for SimCity, to come soon in Update 10, but they’ve now posted a new entry on their official blog explaining just how difficult rewriting the code was to get it there in the first place.
“Lucy (Bradshaw) once said that Offline wouldn’t be possible ‘without a significant amount of engineering work’, and she’s right,” claims lead engineer Simon Fox. “By the time we’re finished we will have spent over 6 ½ months working to write and rewrite core parts of the game to get this to work. Even things that seem trivial, like the way that cities are saved and loaded, had to be completely reworked in order to make this feature function correctly.”
Fox goes on to explain that SimCity was “written to rely on the servers”.
“The game routinely pings the servers for critical pieces of data (region status, workers, trading etc.) and it relies on that information to keep the simulation moving. This meant rewriting the entire system, which previously existed in Java, and putting it into C++. We’ve had to knock out the internet pipe stuff. There’s lots of code that hits the servers looking for information. We’ve had to write a lot of code to produce that data locally, specifically for region information.”
“Our game routes pieces of data from one city to another as data flows through the regions. All of that code exists on the server, and now we’ve brought all of that down into the client. The client processes the region box, which is what all of the cities pushes their data into. We’ve brought that down into the client as well.”
“And now, all of the regional simulation needs to be done locally. The algorithms governing trading between cities needed to be retuned in order to make the behavior between cities more responsive for this type of play. This in itself required major optimizations in order to run the simulation locally.”
What do you think, sports fans?