SimCity Creative Director Justifies The Game’s Always-Online Requirement
Maxis’s upcoming SimCity is a game we all want to play, but the one element that holds it back from being at the top of everyone’s list is its always-online requirement. The requirement that players remain online for the purpose of interacting with other players and their cities puts a damper on those who would otherwise prefer to go it alone.
Speaking to Polygon, the game’s creative director Ocean Quigley justified the always-online requirement. He said that the decision was influenced by the way cities in the real world interact, which is quite unlike the solitary experience offered by the previous games in the series.
“If you look back at previous SimCities, they were almost all self-contained,” Quigley said. “Every city wound up doing pretty much everything. That drove all the cities to a certain level of homogeneity, and all the cities sort of converged onto the same sort of thing over the arc of play. That struck me as being a little sad. If you look at real cities, they all clearly do distinct things and have identities based around those things. I wanted to let cities differentiate themselves and let them find some way that wouldn’t automatically make them converge and allow them take on unique identities.”
While it would’ve been nice for Maxis to offer players the opportunity to play alone, it doesn’t look like that the design is in the cards, given the studio’s push towards embracing social media.
“SimCity is always kind of a lonely experience; you’re planning your cities all by yourself,” continued Quigley. “One of the ways that things you do take on significance is how they affect other people. The things that you do for other people give meaning to your own life and your own existence. I wanted to make cities more resonant and meaningful, and thought they would have more presence if they were doing things for other cities as well. The cities matter to the people around you, not just to you.”
I doubt that the justifications Quigley provides will do much to placate fans already angered by the decision, who criticized the developers—to their face—when they were conducting an AMA interview on Reddit.