SimCity’s need for an internet connection, at least every 20 minutes or so, frustrated many early players. The compulsory connection to servers that were massively under-supplied in the game’s first week, along with the problems caused by disconnects and a game save that’s stored in the cloud have been a massive issue since the game’s launch, with many that could get connected to a server to start playing finding disconnects or failure to save progress a recurring problem.
I’ll hold my hands up here and say that I don’t have the first clue about coding but that necessary connection has always felt like an early design choice that wasn’t fully thought out before it had made itself integral to the way SimCity works. I get the impression that city size was restricted in an attempt to hit a certain system requirement level and then the cooperative region of cities, all saving to the cloud and asynchronously assisting each other by providing different resources and services, was a way to cover for that restrictive city size. But I could be wrong.
Maxis sources have previously claimed that an internet connection was necessary because of the complex simulations being run on the server side. Multiple forum rantings have claimed that that’s a load of old rubbish and the offline mode is simply disabled to make way for draconian DRM measures. The truth will probably arrive as a point somewhere between these two polar positions.
Now a thread has gone up on Reddit in which, with an air of inevitability, users claim to have modded the game so that much of it works without ever needing to see an internet connection. Many are claiming that this proves the game is functional entirely offline but I’d urge caution on that front: much of what makes SimCity the game it is still doesn’t work in the offline modded version. You’re restricted to one city which, as previously mentioned, is a small area that can’t contain all that the game has to offer. There’s no regional play and your game save isn’t handled at all without going online, although it’s early days for these mods.
They’ve also managed to make the game allow manipulation of highways outside of city limits. That, and the appearance of references to “big maps” in the game’s code, indicate that the hard lines restricting city borders are perhaps not the final word on city size – that’s something I’d be much more keen to see rather than an offline mode. It’s postulated that “big maps” might be some form of planned future DLC, which would fit the Sims’ recent business style but be slightly annoying for veteran Sim City fans.
They also found remnants of a game feature that I miss from previous iterations of Sim City: terraforming. Apparently, there’s a UI there that’s just been disabled outside of developer builds so it might simply be a tool for future DLC building but there’s hope that it was just lacking in polish in time for release and could be patched in as a region editor later.