Wednesday, March 6, 2013


When you've played every iteration of a game, like I have with Zelda, Assassins Creed, or Bioshock you see features come and go as the developers try to make the perfect game.  I've played SimCity since Simcity 2000 on Chris Pearson's old 450Z MHz Pentium II in high school.  I've seen the complexity get ramped up, and the size of the cities explode.  When I played the demo on Des' laptop for the latest SimCity, I was floored at how fun this game looked.  Sure the city was small, but services were simpler and the notification system was great.  We decided to buy two copies so we could play together and eagerly awaited its release.  Perhaps its just release day bugs, but I want my money back.

Stop making the web required

On the Meyer Briggs test I sit just barely over the line towards extrovert.  It's because in certain situations I'm a social butterfly; walking, talking, eating, etc.  However, in some situations I'm not; ie gaming. When I buy a game, I don't rush out to the multiplayer system.  I play single player all the way through and then if some of my friends are playing I'll try out the multiplayer.   I don't want to link to everyone all the time.  I shouldn't have to wait on a server to play my game.  

Many games are requiring online connections as a method of DRM.  If that's the way you want to play it, fine, require my connection at the first log in, verify my information, store my log in locally, and link me when I'm online.  If I have a laptop and want to play a game on the road or in a coffee shop, why am I getting denied because I don't have an active connection.  I can play the new StarCraft without a connection, as long as I had a connection when I installed it.  I won't earn rewards, but that's OK if all I'm looking for is a little fun.  

AutoSave does not replace Save

I don't know how many times I heard at the HelpDesk, "But I had autosave on!"  "Yes", I'd state, "lets check your settings, oh you had it saving every 8 hours, sorry you've lost your paper."  Now, nothing was more annoying in Final Fantasy than getting too into the game and forgetting to save.  Inevitably it was always when you had forgotten for an hour or two that suddenly the game froze or you were horribly killed.  However, you learned an important lesson every time, "save early and often".  

Desiree has exclaimed several times since SimCity has come out, "Crap it crashed" only to return and find her city 10 years younger than when she last saw it.  Just this past evening she was telling me about an arson problem in her SimCity and that she had finally gotten a police station to deal with it just before the crash.  Sure enough when the system let her sign in again, no police station.  

Let people save for themselves.  Let us manage our saves locally.  Its great that we can pick up wherever we left off on another computer, but don't take away the basics to give us this feature.  Simply warn us, "System saves do not transfer from computer to computer."

It's called a cluster

If the servers named North America East 1-3, West 1-2, Eastern Europe 1-2, Western Europe 1-2, etc are clustered servers, then I feel you need to send your engineers back to school.  Why in 2013 am I picking a server node.  I haven't picked a game server in years. Perhaps that's because I play on Xbox more often than anything else.  However, my last PC gaming experiences were League of Legends and StarCraft 2; both online games and I didn't pick the servers with either of them.  

Give me one huge node to hit and spread me and my friends traffic across the nodes with load balancing and clustering.  If you do it right you can simply add more nodes as traffic picks up ala Amazon. I guess that's the biggest problem.  OpenStack, Amazon EC2, and tools like Juju have shown us that clustering servers and spinning up new nodes can be trivial, if implemented correctly.

Tutorial, do I look like I ask for directions?

It's great that games come with tutorials.  If I ever have a problem, I often play through them.  However, if I've played the demo, or previous versions of the game I like to dive right in.  I'm currently stuck (one of the many reasons I'm writing and not playing) because the game says I need to play the tutorial, again (already played it once since it was released) and the tutorial keeps crashing.  

My favorite tutorials are in Call of Duty, go through door A for the tutorial or B to get into the action.  "Do you want the red pill or the blue pill?" Super easy to just jump right in or get a little help first.  

Tutorials are great.  
Good for you making one.  
Can I just play my game now?


It still looks like a fun game, and despite Desiree's frustrations she appears to be having fun.  However for me the game has been out for roughly 48 hours and I've played exactly 1 hour and attempted to play 2 additional hours.  That's the biggest flaw in this game.  If this was my first experience with SimCity, I'd never pick it up again.

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