sim city will continue to mislead on transit

Ian Miles Cheong updates us on the struggles of Electronic Arts to get the new SimCity right.  But it sounds like EA is committed to the original SimCity idea that the user can place stations and pieces of track, but the program will decide the paths that the buses and trains follow.  And it doesn't decide very well.  Key quote from EA's designer Guillaume Pierre:

1. If there are 300 Sims waiting for the streetcar on the other side of the loop for example, they may have to wait a long time for the vehicles to make their way. To remedy this problem, we’re looking into make crowded stops “high priority pick-up” destinations that transit vehicles will go to first.

2. Another problem is that, well, all the vehicles that are in the same area and want to go to the same destination type will all follow the same path, resulting in clumping and general traffic problems. We’re looking into various ways to improve the situation so traffic will spread out better.

If this all sounds oddly like demand-responsive service, well, that's more or less the model of fixed route service — even subways — that EA is using.  

I criticized Sim City (original and version 4) long ago, but my understanding that EA's priority continues to be "immersiveness" for the gamer, not any relationship to reality.  (Yes, I'm aware this argument is like the argument about whether movies about science and history should be accurate or at least flag their biases — and given their influence I personally wish they did.)  I look forward to what the new Cities in Motion 2, expected soon, comes up with.

9 Responses to sim city will continue to mislead on transit

  1. Sophia Katt March 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Oh, Lord. There is so much more to dislike about the new Sim City than this. Always on internet connection, tiny city size, no terraforming or a number of features available in Sim City 4, all the obsession with multi-player capacities… and none of it adequately supported with the cloud EA promised Not to mention all the promised functionality that isn’t up to the mark?
    Can you tell I didn’t chunk out $60 plus for it? 🙂

  2. Kenny March 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    I’ve been playing Sim City 4 a bit in anticipation of when Sim City 5 will be released for the Mac, and I was struck by the fact that although traffic is a major concern for residents, parking never is. In fact, it doesn’t look like there’s *any* curbside parking – every building that is constructed comes with its own parking, though you can build parking structures next to transit stops to try to make them more effective.

  3. EN57 March 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    Ages ago I uninstalled Sim City 4 and now only play 3000, which is my favourite. Not looking for reality with this – just want a fun city building game where I can watch things grow. As Sim City is only loosely based on reality, the more money constraints and detail you have to deal with, the more tedious this game is (for me anyway…)

  4. Ben Smith March 23, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Sophia Katt, They should have called this game Sim Garden City.

  5. Nathanael March 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    The current Sim City has horrendous reviews in all ways.
    I’ve been playing Simutrans (experimental version) It’s not polished and it’s full of bugs, but it’s a pretty elegant transpo model.

  6. daniel howard March 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    With Cities XL you have to lay out the bus lines and stops, and the runs begin and terminate at the garage. Nice touch in that game. Also looking forward to see what CIM2 has to offer.
    Simcity 5 seems a backtrack. In the previous version you could see where Sims lived and worked and their routes. Now agents seem to wander the map entirely at random. It is so bad that EA has offered SC4 as. A consolation prize to use users who had trouble around launch.
    And of course, I always have to mention simutrans when around transit nerds. =)

  7. Elmo Allén March 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    New SimCity agent AI has much more serious problems, according to this blogging: http://kotaku.com/5990362/with-simple-ai-like-this-why-does-simcity-need-cloud-computing
    To summarize: Agent AI always chooses the closest vacant job or a house, no matter what. If the real world worked like that, we’d have no traffic problems.

  8. Jeffrey Jakucyk March 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    It’s sad that after 10 years they made absolutely no progress on the pathfinding of the game, and even regressed in many way. Seriously, we have multi-core processors and video cards with more computing horsepower than whole computers from a decade ago, yet they just went for multiplayer cloud BS and cartoony graphics. Never mind actual playability or realism (it IS supposed to be a simulation after all)!
    As a longtime fan and player of the franchise, it really saddens me that they took none of the lessons from SimCity 4 and the Network Addon Mod team to heart. I actually wish they’d just update SimCity 4 to bring it up to today’s standards. The game engine is solid and can be tweaked to fix many if not all of the problems mentioned, not to mention there’s an unimaginably huge library of 3rd party content. As it stands now, even ignoring all the DRM and online glitches, SimCity 5 is a major regression from SimCity 4 Rush Hour with the Network Addon Mod, so why bother with it?

  9. Kd5mdk March 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    How much would it cost to license all the content from NAM for commercial use? I suspect it would be very difficult.
    Seeing all the Sim coverage made me think back to my playing days, so I browsed around and started playing OpenTTP. Unfortunately I’m not smart enough to manage train routing without deadlocks yet.

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