Simcity Patch 1.6.1 Restores Achievements; Plays Tutorial Once!

Simcity Neighborhood Screenshots

A new Simcity patch was released earlier today, which unfortunately has nothing to do with the highly anticipated traffic patch everyone is waiting for. One major complaint was how the tutorial would start up the first time you played on each server. In Patch 1.6.1, players will be able to start the game right away after viewing the tutorial once, even when they switch servers. But if you are faced with this situation, you can actually skip this tutorial by exiting to the main menu mid-way.  The patch also fixes a bug with airports where the game would report the adjacent runway was too steep to build. You can view the other list of changes below.


  • Turned regional Achievements back on!
  • We are now prioritizing games with available slots in the “Join Game” menu in the front end
  • Update so players will go through the Getting Started Scenario only once. They will see the Play menus when they switch servers
  • Fix for a gameplay crash
  • UI improvement: Increased time showing system alerts for readability
  • Graphics: shader change to improve look of walls and parking lots
  • It’s now easier to place airport runways
  • Budget transaction optimization to increase performance
  • Update of Buffers on buildings to save memory
  • Performance improvement for lower end machines


  • Database performance upgrades to increase response times

Simcity Traffic Simulation to Get a Patch

I must admit it’s very overwhelming to keep track of every bit of news come out of from Simcity and its detractors. But we can’t ignore the situation that has transpired from launch until now. Yes they — the detractors — have every right to be upset, and their discoveries have led the Simcity community to a deeper understanding of how the game works in its current state. Now there’s a race between both the development team and mod community to see who can restore Simcity back to its rightful state. To section the modders off seems down right unfair, and I believe that articles on Simcitizens should focus on both sides of the story.


Traffic Woes

In previous Simcity games, traffic was merely simulated through a combination of road types, intersections, and building density. To deal with traffic issues, we placed bus stops and public transportation options to alleviate the problem. As we head 10 years into the future, Simcity’s GlassBox engine is tasked with simulating traffic in real time. Whereas cars would disappear in Simcity 4, the GlassBox engine has to keep track and simulate every car from origin to destination. This changed a fundamental gameplay mechanic, since, the way we placed our zones, and the way we placed our public transportation options impacts the simulation in real time.

We initially discovered the GlassBox engine had routing issues since it prefers the shortest path to a destination. As this video demonstrates, cars would take the cramped dirt road instead of the expansive empty 6 lane avenue just because the dirt path was shorter.

In response to this, Guillaume Pierre (Lead Gameplay Scripter) is working on a patch that plans to make the traffic routing smarter. Cars will finally take the least congested route, even if it takes a longer time to reach there.

This is based off of a system where each road is graded at 25%, 50%, and 75% capacity. As the road reaches full capacity, it will become the less desirable road to travel.

Another important issue is the way emergency response vehicles handle traffic. Since they are currently unable to re-route traffic, they are often times blocked from entering the road. To fix this problem, Lead Designer Stone Librande mentions that emergency vehicles , “will move into empty lanes to get around traffic jams.” In addition, instead of two trucks, we’ll have one fire truck responding to an emergency prevent each truck from clogging the road.

Simcity Bus Conga Line

Now some have asked if any of the Dev beta participants actually noticed any of these problems. We certainly did. I personally requested that emergency service vehicles should be able to divert traffic and make immediate U-Turns if another vehicle is responding to an emergency. I even recall reporting how municipal buses from all over the region will swarm a single bus stop like flies. I suggested that the amount of municipal buses that spawn should be based on city population. I guesstimated 1 bus per 200 people — I felt that was the right amount at the time.

[picture by Lyleshnub]

Simcity v1.4 Patch Displays Which Servers Your Cities Are On

Simcity Server selection

Maxis has added extra servers to accommodate more players to connect to Simcity. This time they have added the Antarctica server bringing a total of 21 servers players can choose from. Each server is region-free, so players may choose to connect outside of their intended region. However, the cities you create in a particular server will stay locked to that server. If you intend to play with friends, you must both choose the same server in order to play together.

Simcity v1.4 Patch

  • Update to the “select a server” dialog in the game launcher. This will now indicate which servers you have active cities on
  • Fix issue where selection shard did not display when previously selected server is down
  • We’ve fixed a problem where some players were getting stuck when switching shards in the server select menu
  • Opened 1 new server, Antarctica

Maxis also intends to temporarily shut down Europe West 2 and Europe West 3 in order to further improve server stability and performance.

Maxis Takes Full Responsibility over Simcity’s Always-Online Requirement. (Lucy Bradshaw Twitter Recap)

Lucy Bradshaw took over the @Simcity twitter account to answer some burning questions on just what went wrong with Simcity’s launch.

One of the misconceptions behind the game was how EA forced Maxis into integrating the always-online requirement. As Lucy Bradshaw revealed:

Lucy Bradshaw Twitter Recap

‏@Slider6294: How is this debacle something you didn’t forecast? Can you explain the business rationale or justification for how this happened?

Lucy Bradshaw: Metrics/beta was fairly conservative and live ops stressed our game server DB’s in ways that we did not experience in Beta or Load Test


@ZachGoodman2: When do you expect between city transactions in multi-player will function correctly, such as sharing city hall upgrades?

Lucy Bradshaw: This is frustrating as it is core to the connected experience. This weekend we hope to crush this issue with more servers and optimizations


@JordanCharters: If I purchase PC version now, will Mac version be included when it’s released?

Lucy Bradshaw: We’re focused on the PC version right now, but we’ll have more info on Mac in early April, so stay tuned.


@skankingfool How could you not anticipate server load on launch when you all your ads said “50 most anticipated games lists of 2013

Lucy Bradshaw: Load experience in beta and load test is different than live. We’ve adapted and put out servers with changes, already seeing improvements.


@Oniichanaino: When SimCity servers are taken down in a few years, will an offline mode patch be distributed? Perhaps before then?

Lucy Bradshaw: We have no intention of offlining SimCity any time soon but we’ll look into that as part of our earning back your trust efforts.


@benmadsen: At some point will there be the ability to migrate games and regions between servers?

Lucy Bradshaw: We’re definitely looking into this as we know it would improve your experience.


@simify: Hi Lucy! 😀 I was just curious as to when players will have Cheetah Speed again?

Lucy Bradshaw: We’re really working on responsive of our servers. and once we have that nailed, and stable, cheetah is coming back!


@dchappell16: When is eu west 4 going to be back up? That’s a start.

Lucy Bradshaw: EU West 4 is actually up right now. Just tried it myself.


@jeremey86: Hey lucy! Will you be offering larger city maps in the future??

Lucy Bradshaw: Once we get stable, this is another one we’re absolutely looking at. Our intention is to continue to support SimCity and surprise you.


@booshtv: Any news/ updates about real content patches? Many issues with Tourism

Lucy Bradshaw: We put up a patch this morning that included some traffic fixes and other improvements. And we’ll be making more. We’ll check on Tourism.


@martianskygrid:  Can you be specific about which game is that that you are giving away? Can we choose?

Lucy Bradshaw: You’ll be getting more information on the March 18th. And you will have choices.


@azbiker72: So when are you going to give a real answer regarding offline modes?

Lucy Bradshaw: The game was designed for MP, we sim the entire region on the server so this is just not possible


@milesJ92: Would it not have been smarter to have been over prepared, and have too many servers, rather than what y’all did?

Lucy Bradshaw: Youre right. The combination of many players and server adjustments put us behind. New servers yesterday and more today


@17packersfan:  the game is wonderful, its just that its hard to get into it sometimes.

Lucy Bradshaw: Thanks and yep. We added 120% capacity yesterday, more today. Better game experience a priority. Hope you have better time


@Jdude666: Will regional play be fixed soon?

Lucy Bradshaw: yes, we optimized and region trading improved, still making enhancements and will keep it up


@videogameget:  Will the removed features like achievements, return?

Lucy Bradshaw: yes, features like achieves etc, will come back as we get to stability, soon.


@curtisparadis:  also it would be great if the game could keep track of what servers I do have cities on, and present that info to users.

Lucy Bradshaw: We are working on that right this minute. Hope to have a patch for it today, tonight latest

Simcity v1.3 Patch to Help Optimize Some Traffic

Simcity Devs have just released a new patch that should help relieve some of the traffic issues players are experiencing; but they still have quite a bit of ways to go.

Simcity V1.3 Patch

  • Fix for a crash related to the highway interchanges and vehicles.
  • Traffic was optimized for complex road sections.
  • Fix for a specific case of city processing that forced players to rollback their cities to a previous state.
  • Fix for a crash some players saw when exiting their city.
  • Rapidly clicking or accidentally double clicking the Claim city button will no longer create multiple regions.
  • We temporarily removed filtering by friends and maps on the Join Game screen to better support database performance. Players can still find friends’ regions by going to their friends’ profile pages.


  • Various database optimization to address issues with connecting to our servers
  • We added 8 new servers!

One of the many issues players have discovered with the traffic system is how the A.I will always choose the shortest path to a destination. This can lead to traffic jams on one-lane roads when there’s clearly enough space available at an avenue nearby. In other cases, the traffic may come to a complete halt due to cars refusing to turn at a clear intersection.

EA/Maxis Offers A Free PC Game As Compensation for Simcity Launch Issues

As you’re all well aware, the Simcity servers were unable to keep up with the massive influx of players all trying to connect at the same time. Thousands of players then voiced their complaints on the official Simcity forums and retail sites. Within that time frame, Amazon and other retail outlets were forced to remove Simcity from the shelves until server stability improved.

Lucy Bradshaw SVP of Maxis released a statement explaining the reason behind the server instability. “So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.” EA/Maxis claims they have increased server capacity by 120% which decreased server connectivity issues by 80%.

As compensation for this disaster, everyone who has activated Simcity will receive an email on March 18th with instructions on how to redeem a free PC game from EA’s library. They’re hoping this gift will help them return to good graces within the Simcity community.

EA Game Selection

  • Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Bejeweled 3
  • Dead Space 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Mass Effect 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Standard Edition)
  • Need For Speed Most Wanted (Standard Edition
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition

You have until March 30th, 2013 11:59 PDT to claim your free game.


Ocean Quigley talks Zombies and Nuclear Disaster in Simcitizens Interview

oq_portrait2While SimCitizens went to  San Francisco, we had the privilege of conducting an interview with Maxis Creative Director Ocean Quigley, who was happy to answer a few fan question sent in to our Twitter feed!

One of the questions I wanted to know about is the Limited Edition “Heroes and Villains” set. What comes along with that set, and what kind of modules can we expect out of it?

So, the major stuff that comes with the Heroes and Villains set is Maxis Man and Dr. Vu; these guys will actually change the simulation behavior of what the game does. If you order the Digital Deluxe set, there’s a bunch of European landmark stuff like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Brandenburg Gate. These landmarks affect the buildings around them, converting them into a European style. It also comes with a German high-speed rail, a French police station and police car set, and the double-decker bus! I may have missed a few things, but there’s Maxis Man, Dr. Vu, landmarks, more vehicles, and a bunch of different buildings.

When you place these landmarks, do they automatically generate the new buses, or do you have to place a specific bus station that comes with that set?

For that situation, you don’t even need to put the landmark down. You can just plop the bus station down and you’ll get the European double-decker buses. You can get the German high-speed train station, or the French police car set, whatever it might be, they’re independent of each other.

Another example, if you put down the Eiffel Tower in your city, well, then you’ll get Parisian-style buildings developing around it. However, you don’t need to put down the Eiffel Tower to get, say, the French police car or the British double decker buses.

What are some of the things that come with Dr. Vu’s set of modules? How can he affect other cities as well?

Simcity Heroes and Villains

So the main thing Dr. Vu does is… Dr. Vu is a sort of technological genius. So you put down the Vu headquarters and he supercharges all the high-tech industrial buildings around them; so you’ll wind up with a city that kind of rushes forward into high-tech. But Dr. Vu comes with some down-sides; he’s got these cultists that come to Vu Tower and start committing crimes. They’ll run around robbing people or buildings so they can get money to buy Dr. Vu’s products. You’ll wind up with this criminal population that fills your city, that have been essentially corrupted by Dr. Vu, and of course those criminals, well, they can go anywhere they want to.

You know, they can go down the highway to the neighboring city and commit crimes. Dr. Vu also has a Vu-Tank robot that can occasionally break loose and commit mayhem in your city.

Alright. Speaking of some of the disasters that were in the Beta, there was a specific “zombie attack”, and some players wanted to know how to handle such a situation.

I’m really pleased with the zombie disaster because it’s the first disaster that we did that really takes advantage of the agent system. A lot of that agent-simulation was originally developed in academia to model, say… the spread of diseases. So in a sense, the zombie-plague is modeled like a flu epidemic.

You’d have a “patient zero” somewhere who goes out into a population and infects the people around him. Then those people become zombies, get killed, or there’s some chance that they don’t get infected. The process sort of repeats itself and you wind up with this sort of snowballing epidemic. Since nobody’s all that interested in flu viruses in the game, I decided to make zombies instead since it was much more visible. Although, it’s really an epidemiological situation that’s kind of dressed up like a zombie simulation.

The way to deal with it—like the equivalent of the CDC that deals with a  flu disaster—is the police force. So if you’ve got enough police in your city, they’ll chase the zombies down.  When the zombies break into people’s homes to try and kill them or convert them into zombies, the police will fight back! If you have enough police in your city, they can save the day.  But if you don’t, then the zombie horde will grow and grow until it overwhelms your police. Thankfully, zombies burn up in daylight, because we didn’t want to make it so your whole city would completely turn into a wasteland. If you can just make it through the night without losing everybody, then you can clean up in the morning.

Let’s talk about the nuclear power plant, and how it spreads radioactivity if there are unskilled workers. We were wondering how you manage a situation when there’s a radioactive area?

Simcity Nuclear Power Plant

Firstly, if you have a nuclear power plant that you staffed with uneducated workers and it goes Kablooey, it’s gonna smear radiation all over the place and everyone will just run. It’s basically going to de-populate the residential areas in your whole city. Nobody wants to live in a Chernobyl zone! But, the radiation will slooowly decay on its own over the course of some game years.

You’ll still get some industrial activity so you can say “Well, I guess I’ll bulldoze all those abandoned houses and start zoning industrial,” because factories will still build in an radioactive wasteland. You can get people living in the other cities in the region to come by and work in your radioactive factories. That’s what I’d do if I had a radioactive city, I’d just make a radioactive factory, and then have poor people come in from outside of the region to work there.

And final question: What are some of your future plans for this series? And will this game have any kind of downloadable content or a store from which players can purchase extra buildings or anything of that nature?

So the glass-box simulation is a modular simulation; previous Simcity’s were more of a monolithic top-down simulation where everything was authored up front and it was really hard to edit or change or transform the simulation. However, the glass-box simulation is more like a bunch of lego blocks where anything can be added afterwards. It doesn’t just change the visuals, but actually change the full-on simulation behavior.

As to what we’re going to do next with it? Well, by way of analogy I can point out how we went from SimCity Classic to SimCity 4 over the course of 15 years of development or so. The game sort of got more and more rich and sophisticated and complex. With this new SimCity, we’re kind of back to where we were with SimCity Classic; you know we have the full arc of development still in front of us, all this stuff to discover. Exactly how we’re going to populate it and what kind of stuff we’re going to fill out with, well, that’s going to wait until after we’re done with getting the final shipping product out.  But, yeah, we’ll expand the game; there will be more stuff, and the game will get deeper and richer as time goes on.

Well that’s it for the interview, thanks everyone for submitting question on Twitter! We look forward to seeing you in the game!

Simcity: What it’s like to play in the 16 City Region “Viridian Woods”

Simcity Mountain Screenshot

In February, I was invited to play the near final version of Simcity. It was a blast getting to chat with the developers while learning the secrets behind the game.

Viridian Woods Region

I had the opportunity to play a 16 player region called Viridian Woods. The region itself is split up among four clusters of cities. Each city within a cluster can immediately share services with each other. The North and West cluster are connected by railway. The rest of the territories will have to be connected through a ferry (as long as the city itself is not land locked.)


No Road Connection Simcity

Even though my city resides in the Western cluster, I couldn’t volunteer my firemen to cities in the Northern cluster. This is because only four cities within a cluster share highway access with each other. (This does not apply to all regions.)

Similar to neighbor deals in Simcity 4 and 3000, you can opt to purchase a portion of your neighbor’s power, water, and sewage treatment.  These resources are available automatically once the game determines you have enough to share with the region. It takes around 60 seconds to 2 minutes for a city to sync up with the region, though this number is being worked on as we speak. Once you purchase a utility, your city will only pay for the amount they need and nothing more.

As your city grows, you’ll automatically pay more and more to accommodate the needs of your city. But be forewarned, a neighboring city might stop sending power and you’re stuck in a situation where your entire city might be left in the dark!


Send Fire Trucks Simcity

Aside from those utilities, you can volunteer emergency or garbage disposal services to other cities. These services include, garbage, recycling, fire, ambulance, and police. It will take some time for these vehicles to travel from one city to the next. It’s even possible for them to get stuck in traffic!


Viridian Woods Entire Region

You can also gift resources to other cities in the area, like money, oil, computers, and processors, among other things. During my playthrough, one of the Devs mentioned how an armored truck is dispatched when you transfer money to another city. This truck travels to the City Hall in the recipient’s city. If you’re strapped for cash, imagine how long it takes if the armored truck gets stuck in traffic.


Oil Specialization City

Each one of us decided upon a role our cities should take, this can be done through a feature known as City Specialization. City Specialization lets your city focus on Tourism, Oil, Electronics, Trade, or Mining. You don’t have to focus on just one specialization, and it’s a completely optional feature.

Specialization comes in handy when creating Great Works. Since Great Works require a large investment of money and resources to build; a city that focuses on a particular type will have an easier time donating resources for that project.


Ugly City

I started out with a high density main avenue with branching medium density side streets. The intent was to eventually have all traffic flow in one direction in and out of the city. I tried my hand at building some curved roads off to the side for a residential community. Well… the plan didn’t turn out as great as I though, so I decided to spruce it up by planting happy little trees all around the city.


Air Pollution Simcity

I realized quickly that a majority of my Sims were sick due to air pollution. Oops!  I forgot to take into account the wind direction when placing  industrial zones. I tried to amend the problem by moving the industrial zones closer to the entrance of the city. However, it appears pollution was drifting from another city, further impacting the health of my citizens.

The only thing you can do to remedy this situation is to build a health clinic and plant more trees. It was a little surprising in this installment to see trees cost 50 Simoleons to plant.  Their only major function other than beautifying your city is to remove pollution. Parks on the other hand help to increases land value. If you want medium and high-class Sims to move in, Parks are your best bet.


Department of Education

I decided to try my hands on Education and tourism. Once my city Hall was built, and more citizens moved in, I upgraded it and added a Department of Education.

When you add departments to your City Hall, they will unlock modules and buildings for other cities in the region. One of the benefits of multiplayer is to have everyone build a different department so you can quickly gain access to almost every ploppable building in the game.

Each department in brief:

  • The Department of Education unlocks High Schools, Community Colleges, and University.
  • The Department of Transportation unlocks Train Stations, Municipal Buses, and the like.
  • The Department of Finance allows you to tax different brackets of wealth individually.
  • The Department of Safety unlock the Hospital, Police Precinct, and Large Fire Station.
  • The Department of Tourism allows you to set Tourist locations within your city.
  • The Department of Utilities unlocks Recycling, and Water Pumping station.

The Department of Eduction is nice enough that you can build it separate from the City Hall! Now with that in place, someone in the region educated enough Sims that I was allowed to build my University without needing to place a grade school.


University Simcity 2013

The University is a great tool to unlock several of the high end modules for power plants and emergency services buildings. This is done through the completion of research projects. Each research project requires a certain “School” to be placed near the University. You’ll need to educate a certain amount of students before you can upgrade the university to build the rest of these modules.

University Research Projects

  • Concentrated Solar Array for Solar Power Plant (School of Science)
  • Solar Farm Great Works (School of Science)
  • Vertical Turbines for Wind Power (School of Engineering)
  • Gen II Thermal Reactor for Nuclear Power (School of Science)
  • Fast Neutron Reactor (Requires Gen II Thermal Reactor Research)
  • Clean Coal Generator for Coal Power Plants (School of Engineering)
  • Clean Oil Generator for Oil Power (School of Engineering)
  • Surgical Center for Hospitals (School of Medicine)
  • Detective Wing for Police Precinct (School of Law)
  • Space Center Great Work (School of Engineering)

Each of these research projects require a large sum of cash.


High Tech Industry Simcity

Since Sims travel across the region to attend the University, it will quickly generate a lot of traffic. With the added benefit of the University educating your sims, you’ll start to see High Tech industry spawn, and solar panels on rooftops.


Simcity Crime

If you happen to have a School of Law and complete the Detective Wing research project, your Police Precinct will allow you to have detectives patrolling the city. When you place this module next to your Police Precinct, detectives will park their surveillance cars outside homes to catch criminals at large! They’re much more useful compared to the Police, since Police can only arrest someone while a crime is taking place.


Maxis Manor

Speaking of Police, I was one of the first to try out Maxis Man; he fights crime and saves injured Sims. I wasn’t able to see all of his actions, but the first option lets you rescue the injured for 500 Simoleons. It seems Maxis Man is kind of shady, what kind of superhero charges us to save the day?


Fire Fire

One of the neighboring cities [Simcity Hall] unlocked Dr. Vu, generating tons of criminals. This can spell disaster when criminals travel across the region.

If an arsonist happens to spread fires around your city, you can try to take the proactive approach by building a large fire station. It has two very helpful modules, “Fire Marshall Office” which makes buildings immune to fire for several days; and “Fire Helipad” which spawns a helicopter dousing fires around the city. This helicopter requires water towers to be placed around your city. Now while the helipad may be useful, the expenses it incurs can really drive you into bankruptcy. I ran out of money in no time and had no choice but to close the fire station. (Tip: You can bulldoze expensive modules in the building’s edit view!)


Country City

Thanks for reading! Now that Simcity is coming out, I plan to post informative articles about every major feature! In the meantime, the next few posts will highlight my trip to Maxis studios with an exclusive interview with Ocean Quigley!


Simcity Closed Beta 2: February 16th

Street Cars

Simcity Closed Beta is coming back on February 16th at 6AM PST. If you signed up for the previous beta test, you do not have to re-register. Everyone else can register at Simcity Beta‘s page until February 11th, 6AM PST. If you are selected, you will receive a NEW product code on the 16th that you can redeem through Origin.

The purpose of this beta test is to see how well the servers handle excessive load. There have been hundreds of bug fixes and some minor changes since the last beta; especially with road construction and zoning tools. Unfortunately, like the last beta, some features will be inaccessible and you’ll only have 24 hours to play. You will only be allowed to play both the tutorial region, and a city you can build from scratch.

When does the Beta Test start?

SimCity Limited Edition Heroes & Villains Trailer

Maxis released a new trailer showcasing the limited edition’s Heroes & Villains city set. The city set includes Maxis Man’s Super Hero HQ and Dr. Vu’s Evil Lair.

Maxis Man will help aid your city in the battle against crime, and the evil forces of Dr. Vu. Maxis Man’s Super Hero HQ can be upgraded with a Turbo Machine garage and Reticulator launching pad. Dr. Vu’s Evil Lair can be upgraded with a laboratory and garage for the Evil VuMobile.

The Heroes and Villians set is available when you pre-order Simcity Limited Edition.