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postheadericon Simcity And Electronic Arts Cover Up Lies With More Lies

Can EA upset more customers? Can they ruin more franchises? Can they use the cash made from their sports annuals and Battlefield to destroy even more fondly remembered IPs? Is their any depth to which this company will not stoop?

Electronic arts making the claim that Simcity required – absolutely REQUIRED always online connection to be functional.

 

The initial lie came from one Lucy Bradshaw:

“With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud. It wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team.”

 

Then people noticed that you could just unplug the internet connection, and at least as far as a single city went, the game would carry on for 20, 40 sometimes 60 minutes. No function of single city play seemed to be

effected at all.

Simcity with internet lead yanked out

 

Bad?

Oh yes.

Also it was noticed that on re-plugging the internet lead it would take less than 3 seconds for the game to start working again, and the internet lead could be unplugged again for 20, 40 or even 60 minutes.

Notice a pattern in the times as well?

Blocks of 20 minutes

Suggesting (but not proving) that the intervals had nothing to do with the game actually requiring an internet connection, but more that a check was made every 20 minutes for a connection to the EA servers and that certain in game activities could prevent that check being required for another block of 20 minutes. Maybe if you were actually placing a building and had it on your mouse pointer when the 20 minute check game it would postpone this requirement for another block of 20 minutes. Just a guess here.

Anyway – about the same time a hacker called Azzer managed to get into the Simcity console and just turn off the requirement for internet connectivity altogether! He also managed to crack most of the games code that limited the city size (Simcity has tiny cities – barely hamlet sized)

Oh dear. Simcity console reveals that Bradshaw is either mis-informed by her techs…or lying through her teeth

 

Here’s where the story turns to farce. Faced with countless people now unplugging their internet connections and proving the single city aspect of the game definitely does not require an internet connection. Faced with video proof of the console features which lay lie to the claims of massive server side computation support requirements. Bradshaw does not back down. She gets out her bullsh!t shovel and keeps digging.

“From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind – using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world… We also made innovative use of servers to move aspects of the simulation into the cloud to support region play and social features.”

Hmm

Your SimCity Saves Are Not “In The Cloud” They Are Saved On Individual Servers And Are NOT Transferable Between Them. Does Bradshaw Even Know What A Cloud Service Is?

It Seems Not!

Azzer responded by saying:

 

FROM ROCKPAPERSHOTGUN.COM

“All the server sends to your client, is some very basic data about each city – how much power they have available, how much spare fire trucks, you know – that sort of stuff. It’s minor, and it’s sent as raw numbers. Your client then just goes ‘oh there’s XXX power spare from city Z.’ It’s that simple.”

But this seems to contradict the claims from Maxis that the servers are, “using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in.” How does Azzer respond to that? “The server side calculations are all, frankly, rubbish.” Ah. In his opinion, clearly. “Every bit of it,” he continues. “The only ‘good’ they do at the moment is for a multiplayer region – they are just a way for my city to tell your city how much power I have spare, and update that data every few minutes while I play. A middleman of sorts.”

In fact, Azzer thinks that even despite this, the tech isn’t nearly as good as it should be. “The servers are terrible, the MySQL set-up sloppy, and they are trying to handle all of the saving server side (“the cloud”) which is bogging them down constantly – they aren’t optimized for how many simultaneous cities are connected at once. Hell, this “cloud” saving isn’t even very clever is it – if you change servers, all your saves are gone. They don’t even “cloud” your saves between their own servers.”

Azzer explains that the only other role served by the servers – beyond the obvious “fluff and guff” as he calls it of invites, chat, leaderboards, etc. – is to prevent cheating. “Most of the processing work is probably their attempts at anti-cheat stuff, checking a city doesn’t do… something… at an unrealistic speed.”

As we’ve repeatedly pointed out, while not offering an offline version of SimCity is entirely Maxis’s call, our issue this week has been withtheir claiming it would be near impossible, rather than their simply believing it undesirable.

So how simple does Azzer think getting an offline version going might be? “They could make an entire region single player offline with absolute ease. It would be as simple as coding in a switch saying, ‘Is this person playing single player? Take the power values of each city from local memory instead of ask for it from the server instead.’ The only thing missing is saving to local hard drive – but let’s be real, the code for saving your city already exists, I can’t imagine even that would take more than an hour to put into the client (and it probably already exists in the client for development builds), plus a little bit of time for the UI elements for Save/Load.”

“For an offline mode,” he continues, “instead of asking EA servers how much power is available from a fellow city in the region, it will simply have it in memory, as a small handful of values from another city. No live calculations done on them. Just raw values, all the EA servers send anyway. And as you’ll only be playing/simulating one city at a time in offline mode (cities you don’t play are “frozen in time”) – those values of how much spare power, resources, etc. other cities have won’t even need updating, until you change cities.”

But how exactly would that work? If those cities are frozen, resources won’t be renewed, nor depleted? “Let’s say you and I play in a region together,” says Azzer, talking about the regular online game. “You build a town that has lots of power and water (water is a consumable just like coal) and spare fire trucks. I build a big casino city with lots of criminals. You go offline and don’t play for a whole week, but I keep playing for an entire week.” Okay, with you. “During that week, my client will keep telling me stories about fire trucks coming to help me from your city, I’ll keep getting water from you, I’ll keep getting power from you – of a ‘set amount’ dictated by how much you had spare when you last logged off. This is all processed by my client, not by the server. All the server did was tell me ‘X fire trucks available, Y water available, Z power available, from city with the name ABC,’ as a raw list of values. When you log back on, your water levels will be exactly as they were when you last logged off, because EA’s servers were NOT doing any processing, and my client only affects the city I am simulating.”

The question is why are Maxis and EA continuing to talk nonsense. Provable and repeatable evidence exists that lay lie to all these assertions of server requirements – yet they plough on defiance of all evidence, all logic and demonstrable proof that what they are saying is untrue. Why?

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