Everyone has probably heard enough about the woes of EA/Maxis and the SimCity debacle, but there’s a new twist to the story to tell.
A couple of days ago the fine folks at Rock Paper Shotgun were contacted by an EA Insider (wasn’t there one of those a while back?) who informed them that the statements made by Lucy Bradshaw the head of the Maxis studio wasn’t exactly telling the truth about the SimCity servers doing a significant amount of the simulation work for the game.
That was bad enough, but it did generate some discussion regarding the legitimacy of this anonymous source.
Well, that source it appears was legitimate.
Since then there have been a few reports that players have been experimenting with disconnecting the game from the internet and continuing play for up to 20 minutes before the game chokes up. It appears that the EA/Maxis whistle-blower was telling the truth about the servers not doing all that much; at least in single player mode.
RPS is now reporting that a hacker has managed to mod the game so that it doesn’t need to connect to the servers at all and continues indefinitely. The caveat is that the mod/hack doesn’t actually save the game, so at the end of the session the city is lost.
For your edification here is the link to the Redit discussion where the SimCity ‘mod’ is discussed.
And yes I also modded out the disconnect timer (can now play “offline” indefinitely – but no saves/syncs or region related stuff, not yet anyway… but the simulation can carry on with no connection indefinitely). And I modded out the “fluffed population count”, just shows the real population count now. Both very minor/easy tweaks.
The thing that stands out to me is the speed at which this happened. I guess the fact that there wasn’t actually that much going on in the servers in the first place made this somewhat trivial for the right person.
I also suspect that there are a few hackers out there tuning up their packet sniffers and working on a ‘mod’ to save their games locally. I wonder how soon we’ll be seeing the first savemod.
Finally, Rock Paper Shotgun notes that EA/Maxis are refusing to comment on the claims of the whistle-blower. Now that they have something else to answer for, I wonder how much longer it will be before they stand up and tell the truth. I guess it’s pretty embarrassing for them, eh?