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Author Topic: SimCity beta opens soon  (Read 1606 times)
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Knightshade Dragon
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« on: January 18, 2013, 09:13:50 PM »

http://www.simcity.com/en_US

Off their front page (and ugh...via Origin) you can sign up for a crack at the Beta.   I can't currently get past the Origin stuff (some exception web error) but I'm super-stoked about this game.  March is just around the corner (along with about a bajillion other games)
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 09:27:36 PM »

keep refreshing.  I got in after refreshing once.  And Origin isn't bad, it's no different than Steam.  I think people don't like it because it's EA.
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 09:55:35 PM »

I don't like it as it took 4 password resets to get one to actually stick and work.  :/  I finally got my name in the hat, but that hat runneth over at this point methinks.   Oh well.  Guess I'll watch my email even closer than I normally do for a bit.  smile
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 10:56:37 PM »

Got a beta invite last night and got some play time in today.  So far, so good. A friend of mine got his last night as well.  It's probably from having met the Community rep for the game at PAX.  We had given him our emails and we both got in at the same time, so I am assuming.
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 11:16:20 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on January 18, 2013, 10:56:37 PM

Got a beta invite last night and got some play time in today.  So far, so good. A friend of mine got his last night as well.  It's probably from having met the Community rep for the game at PAX.  We had given him our emails and we both got in at the same time, so I am assuming.

*sniffle*  Nothing for my inbox.   D'oh!  I reached out to my EA rep, but I'm sure his inbox has asploded.
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 11:22:07 PM »

Just signed up for it. Can't wait to get my hands on Sim City in March. Been playing Sim City Social for months in anticipation.  icon_smile
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2013, 11:40:16 PM »

Quote from: PR_GMR on January 18, 2013, 11:22:07 PM

Just signed up for it. Can't wait to get my hands on Sim City in March. Been playing Sim City Social for months in anticipation.  icon_smile

As long as you don't mean SimCity Societies we can still be friends.  slywink
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 12:05:52 AM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on January 18, 2013, 11:16:20 PM

Quote from: The Grue on January 18, 2013, 10:56:37 PM

Got a beta invite last night and got some play time in today.  So far, so good. A friend of mine got his last night as well.  It's probably from having met the Community rep for the game at PAX.  We had given him our emails and we both got in at the same time, so I am assuming.

*sniffle*  Nothing for my inbox.   D'oh!  I reached out to my EA rep, but I'm sure his inbox has asploded.

The official closed beta starts January 25th. Hope I can get in.
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 02:53:33 AM »

Quote from: naednek on January 18, 2013, 09:27:36 PM

I think people don't like it because it's EA.

That's exactly why people don't like/trust Origin.
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2013, 05:24:45 AM »

Quote from: Destructor on January 19, 2013, 02:53:33 AM

Quote from: naednek on January 18, 2013, 09:27:36 PM

I think people don't like it because it's EA.

That's exactly why people don't like/trust Origin.

Yep. That and it just isn't as intuitive/easy as Steam. All my friends are also on Steam.
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 04:17:20 AM »

So, find a bug and don't report it? EA has every right (in the EULA which nobody ever reads) to ban you out of every EA product you might own (and Origin as well no doubt):

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/01/sim-city-beta-eula-includes-company-wide-ban-for-unreported-bugs/

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"If you know about a Bug or have heard about a Bug and fail to report the Bug to EA, we reserve the right to treat you no differently from someone who abuses the Bug. You acknowledge that EA reserve the right to lock anyone caught abusing a Bug out of all EA products."

This is why EA and/or Origin can fuck the hell off and stay the fuck away from my PC FOREVER.
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2013, 09:18:08 PM »

 ninja
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2013, 01:28:18 PM »

Goddamn it.  After getting to play for an hour last night I got up and decided to pop in for another run at SimCity and was greeted with this bullshit:



The Beta doesn't even let you play multiplayer in any way I can see, so what exactly am I waiting for?  The game is amazing (preview incoming!) but this could tank it before it even gets started.
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 02:04:02 PM »

Heh. And they wonder why people don't like games which require an Internet connection.
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2013, 06:53:31 PM »

Ok, once you actually get in, the game is absolutely phenomenal.  I've got my multi-hour preview all but written - expect it tomorrow.  smile
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2013, 07:22:23 PM »

How do you feel about the available map sizes?  Screenshots make the city limits look pretty constrictive, like they're really enforcing the need to develop and connect residential, industrial, and commerical burroughs rather than developing one big contiguous city.

-Autistic Angel
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2013, 07:55:16 PM »

Cross posted from OO:

OK, played the beta (once through the tutorial and a full single hour of freeform play; I may try another hour later this weekend, time permitting). Thoughts:

First, I'm satisfied that they haven't mucked up the basics. The core gameplay and city services seem to all be there: police, fire, education, health, power, water, sewage, garbage disposal, mass transit, and parks. Not sure if I missed any there. Services like police, fire and health still work on the effective radius system (it might even be taking road size / layout into consideration, rather than a simple radius, although I wasn't sure about that).

One nice improvement is that, because most buildings are now somewhat upgradeable (i.e., more ambulance bays for your clinic or more classrooms for your grade school), there seems to be a choice between whether to build lots of unimproved buildings or focus on maximizing fewer of them. I haven't done the math on whether the game is well balanced between those two strategies, however.

I also didn't mind the simplification of managing power / water / sewage (i.e., you still need buildings to generate or eliminate the stuff but it all runs along your roads now, without the need to build separate power lines or sewage pipes). There still appear to be tradeoffs and considerations around pollution and property values in terms of where to place sewage outlets or garbage dumps, etc.

Another thing they've simplified is that you no longer zone density: you simply zone residential, commercial, or industrial and then what sort of structures are built is determined by the area. A zone is rated on two criteria: property value and density. I was able to increase property value very easily by providing service buildings: schools, police stations, etc. nearby, and had no difficulty getting medium-wealth buildings even within my sixty minute time limit. I didn't really figure out how to increase density. I'm not sure if that's just supposed to happen later, once a city has more than just a few thousand residents, or if I was missing something.

I didn't play with the aesthetics of urban planning due to the time constraints. I did notice that there seem to be useful road tools for different types of city layouts: you can build straight-line roads at any angle, or have curved roads, or use "perfect square" and "perfect circle" tools to quickly create pretty geometry. There is also quite a range of road types: small single-lane streets to high-volume avenues. Given that I was already starting to see some rush-hour congestion on my grid-based streets, it seems like traffic management may be a reasonably sophisticated part of the game, especially if you get mass transit involved as well as road scale. I don't think I even opened the parks menu to explore those options, so no comments about that yet.

All of the above contributed to my general impression that I think the game has a reasonable amount of depth. There are different types of pollution (ground, air, etc.) and wind direction can affect its spread; fire risk is affecting by things like uncollected garbage and the education level of your Sims; and there are graphs and overlays galore. One other simple indication that the game isn't too dumbed down is that it appears to be possible to maintain nine distinct tax rates at a time: one each for the low, middle and upper class segments of your residential, commercial and industrial zones. I would think that if "keep it simple, stupid" had snuck its way into the design philosophy, they would have pared those down a bit.

One thing that is definitely taking some adjustment (although I think I'm coming around to it) is their idea about cities existing within a region. An individual city zone is smaller than in previous games but each region will have multiple city zones. I have no doubt that the (stupid) impetus for this was primarily "multiplayer!" but it isn't unworkable in single player, either, since nothing stops you from controlling all of the zones in your region yourself.

The game thus encourages you to specialize each city to make the region work as a cohesive whole (I'm starting to think the game might have been better called SimRegion than SimCity), with one zone being maybe a sleepy commuter town, sending most of its residents to work in your heavy industrial zone or your commercial / high tech district. The integration within a region is much more extensive than in previous games: for example, in addition to buying or selling your power or garbage disposal and workers commuting between zones, emergency services such as fire and police can respond to calls in other zones, so the potential for interdependency is much greater. There is also a "global market" now. I haven't played with it, but my understanding is that, for example, even if your entire region doesn't have any coal, you can still build a coal power plant by purchasing coal from the market, with the price determined by how many other SimCity players are selling surplus coal versus how many are purchasing it.

And I suppose that the idea of an entirely self-sufficient city is somewhat fanciful these days, anyway: large power plants do serve entire regions, large cities ship their garbage off to other places, tourist hubs like Vegas thrive by profiting off visitors rather than locals, and so on.

Another reason they may have decided to prevent gigantic single cities and spread them across a "region" is that there's a lot more granular detail to the game: the game takes an extensive cue from the popularity of The Sims, in that every home has a named family in it, every (employed) Sim has a particular place that he works and therefore drives to and from every day (thus forming the basis for the traffic congestion model) and, if you click on them, each Sim will tell you in Simlish what's on their mind at the moment. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. It's technically impressive, I suppose, and probably somewhat immersive. It was quite neat seeing an injury icon appear over one house and then watching the ambulance leave my clinic, go to that house, pick up the SimCitizen and bring him back for treatment.

The moronic elephant in the room is still the always-online deal, however. There's never going to be a game where I actually like that requirement. Especially since, these days, the majority of problems are usually server- rather than client-side: it's bad enough if I can't play because my internet connection is out (although I still should be able to, even if you want to lock me out of multiplayer or the global market at that point) but it's infinitely worse if I can't play a game I purchased because the publisher can't keep their servers up. And SimCity requires you to log in with EA every time you play and will not launch if it can't contact EA's servers. After finishing the tutorial part of this beta, I tried to start the freeform sixty-minute section and couldn't initially because they were having server issues. It only lasted a few minutes (and, granted, "beta") but, still: frustrating. I don't know if the online checks are only during log in, however, or whether it continues to check periodically / constantly as you play.

My other reservation after playing the beta is simply from the way it was restricted: by only allowing me to play small, start-up communities, I had no opportunity to explore how well the graphics engine or the interface or the simulation systems work on a fully developed, large-scale city / region. I don't know if the economics are well balanced, if traffic is an impossible-to-manage nightmare, or so forth. This close to a game's release, I'm...suspicious when a developer only wants to show off such a carefully controlled segment of their game. Are they hiding something about the rest of the game? If they're proud of it, why not show it off? This is an entirely hypothetical concern and not one that is going to keep me from buying the game but, especially with EA's track record, it's not something I can completely ignore.

Bottom line: the beta hasn't scared me away from the game and I'm probably even a little more optimistic than I was before playing it, since I feel reasonably confident that they haven't opted for a totally "streamlined" experience and since I have become more comfortable with the idea of somewhat smaller individual cities interacting within a region.

- Ash
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2013, 08:18:11 PM »

Wow, those are some seriously fantastic impressions!  I sincerely hope you follow up once you've spent more time with the game -- one of the things I'm worried about is the Sid Meier's Railroads! effect where a game seems really charming and approachable, but you dig a little deeper and discover it's also childishly simplistic.

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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2013, 09:52:29 PM »

Aaaaand the servers are down. Of course when I actually have time to jump on and play.
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2013, 01:31:31 AM »

Quote from: Autistic Angel on January 26, 2013, 07:22:23 PM

How do you feel about the available map sizes?  Screenshots make the city limits look pretty constrictive, like they're really enforcing the need to develop and connect residential, industrial, and commerical burroughs rather than developing one big contiguous city.

-Autistic Angel

The map sizes are indeed a little small (2k by 2k) but as I'm putting in my preview for the site, I think I see the point - they really want you to build multiple cities with different purposes and then make them work together. 
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« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2013, 01:19:13 AM »

Quote from: Autistic Angel on January 26, 2013, 08:18:11 PM

I sincerely hope you follow up once you've spent more time with the game -- one of the things I'm worried about is the Sid Meier's Railroads! effect where a game seems really charming and approachable, but you dig a little deeper and discover it's also childishly simplistic.

Follow up impressions, as requested. I played two more hours. For the first of these, I played very slowly (i.e., with the game on pause a lot) as I explored some of the menus and played with curved roads and such. The second time, I went back to my simple and comfortable grid approach to city design and left the game on Cheetah speed as much as possible to see how far I could get (answer: just over 12K people in my city at the end of the hour).

I should mention that I'm even less impressed with EA's demo / "beta"-making skills at this point. First, there was a significant portion of Saturday afternoon where I couldn't log in at all. And second, it turns out that the demo has you play on the exact same map no matter how many times you play. I thought I just got unlucky with a particularly boring patch of ground the first time (totally flat, no rivers, just a little corner of water way away from the highway) but, no, that's apparently the map everyone is playing on this weekend.

The extra time with the game did reinforce my impression that there's plenty of basic SimCity gameplay here, in that there seems to be lots of variety in terms of things like parks (well over a dozen), mass transit options, etc. Educating your Sims involves grade schools, high schools, universities and libraries -- and in the case of the former (the only one unlocked in the beta), at least, there's plenty of nitty-gritty detail in terms of purchasing extra school buses and placing bus stops for it. I can't really comment on whether all those options affect the gameplay in significant or interesting ways, though, since the hour time limit prevented me from wanting to stop and poke at things too much and, obviously, from seeing how anything I did played out over the long term. I also had my impression of this really being SimRegion reinforced, as I noticed several advanced buildings that had prerequisites like "other building X already built in region".

As for whether the apparent depth masks an underlying simplicity or easily exploitable game...it's still a possibility. Running at Cheetah in my last game, I did find myself making more money than I could spend. I ended my hour with almost $150K in the bank. This isn't necessarily a problem, of course: SimCity has always been a game where, if your city is well designed, you can just "let it run" and you will continue making money indefinitely. The fact that I could make that much money so soon, however, and on only my third time trying the game, might indicate that the game is more forgiving than it could be.

On the other hand, my girlfriend had a city basically wither and die, as all her Sims just up and left on her. The most concerning part about that was that she couldn't really figure out why it happened, which either indicates a UI that isn't informative enough about problems or that, when a new player is forced to rush through an hour of play, you tend to neglect things like what your advisers are saying or drilling down into the details of SimHappiness to find out why your Sims are behaving the way they are. Interestingly, I noticed what seemed like the start of a similar dip in my third game and was able to determine that a lot of my low-wealth Sims were unhappy about the number of deaths in my city...and so I expanded my clinic and ambulance capacity and the problem went away. So I take the fact that one person, at least, had a city fail as as sign that it is possible to lose.

I did start to feel a little constrained by the small individual zones by the end of my last game. Granted, I still hadn't filled the map and, granted, I'd only just started getting medium-density residential buildings, so I think there was still a lot of play left on that map. Building out is really only the first and easier part of a SimCity game; building up is the second and harder part: managing traffic and mass transit, educating your Sims and replacing your dirty, low-tech industries with better ones, etc. So while I'm not scared off by the small zones, I do wish the game had bigger ones.

I think that's about all I can really tell you based on approximately four hours with the game. I still think I'll buy it. I think I will avoid trying to play it, however, in the first week or so post-release, since I don't trust EA to manage their servers well enough to make that a pleasant experience. I clearly don't think it will be an unqualified success -- the always-online DRM and small zones seem like two significant marks against it that aren't going to go away -- but, for the most part, I was happy with what I saw this weekend.

- Ash
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« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2013, 02:40:06 PM »

After playing the beta, I think I'm going to cancel my preorder for now.    The area sizes are really killing it for me, and that limitation is going to smother the chance to build out high density areas surrounded by sprawling suburbs.   I also noticed that we didn't have disabled options for professional football or baseball stadiums, or basketball arenas.    There are lots of other things I noticed were not there in terms of visible but disabled build options.   I would bet my shoe that they held these out so they can charge us extra for them later following the model they use with The Sims.

No thanks.  Too many fantastic games coming out in February and March for me to use precious game capital for this one at this time.
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« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2013, 02:46:25 PM »

Quote from: msduncan on January 28, 2013, 02:40:06 PM

I also noticed that we didn't have disabled options for professional football or baseball stadiums, or basketball arenas.

I think I saw these under the park construction options.  There was an easy-to-miss row of secondary buttons in that menu to choose a park sub-type and get more construction options.


The small map size turns me off, too, but the multi-region thing seems more fleshed out than it was in SC4.  I'm guessing the idea is for your metro downtown and sprawling suburbs to be one city for the giganto downtown and a connected city as the dedicated suburbs.  I'm at least willing to give it a chance.

I do agree that the Sims-like expansion pack bonanza is an almost certain future for the title, though, and that's more worrisome than the small map size to me.
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« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2013, 03:27:40 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on January 28, 2013, 02:46:25 PM

Quote from: msduncan on January 28, 2013, 02:40:06 PM

I also noticed that we didn't have disabled options for professional football or baseball stadiums, or basketball arenas.

I think I saw these under the park construction options.  There was an easy-to-miss row of secondary buttons in that menu to choose a park sub-type and get more construction options.


The small map size turns me off, too, but the multi-region thing seems more fleshed out than it was in SC4.  I'm guessing the idea is for your metro downtown and sprawling suburbs to be one city for the giganto downtown and a connected city as the dedicated suburbs.  I'm at least willing to give it a chance.

I do agree that the Sims-like expansion pack bonanza is an almost certain future for the title, though, and that's more worrisome than the small map size to me.

I guess my problem is that I don't want a city sim game to force me into a bunch of small unnatural looking cities connected in the region.   Every city on earth sprawls well beyond the city centers.    I'd say my usual city CENTER in the old games would take up most of the area they've given us.    I don't know if it's a limitation they placed to get around performance issues on some machines or if they are trying to bottle neck us into playing with friends....  ?

Either way, I'm going to amazon this morning and bowing out.
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« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2013, 05:46:33 PM »

yeah, the small regions really don't feel right, but other than that it felt like SimCity to me.  of course it's been awhile since I really dived into any previous versions of the game.

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« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2013, 09:25:27 PM »

I posted my long-form preview of the game based on more hours than I'd care to admit playing the beta. 

http://gamingtrend.com/2013/01/27/hands-on-preview-of-the-new-simcity/

smile
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« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2013, 10:33:24 PM »

Thank you, Asharak, for posting such insightful, even-heeled impressions! I can't wait to get my mucky hands on this. I will read KD's impressions too later today. Just one month away.. Oh, I'm getting excited to be building my city!  icon_smile
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« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2013, 05:43:59 AM »

I don't know about you guys but one of the fun aspects for me in a SimCity is the transportation. Being able to create a city where my Sims can get around with out major bottlenecks on every block.
As I watch this game near its final development almost every Video, pic and promotion shows a major city in a small space with Major Gridlock on every corner.
How is this practical if emergency units will need to get from point a to b in a set time to fight crime, out fire, save lives.
when there is noting but cars from light to light not going any where?
Not to mention cities have outside Sims pouring into the already cramped city. There is no way a city will function if what your showing us is practical game play city.
In the beta I tried to avoid building city blocks as much as possible to avoid this and focused on long roads with as little intersections as possible to avoid this mas buildup of cars. Which I must add is not my idea of an actual city planed.
I trust Maxis will fix this issue, maybe limit the traffic pouring into the city and\or add a micro management for stop light to move a stretch of road at a time to get the city moving.
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« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2013, 05:57:37 AM »

Quote from: JuniorDan on February 05, 2013, 05:43:59 AM

I don't know about you guys but one of the fun aspects for me in a SimCity is the transportation. Being able to create a city where my Sims can get around with out major bottlenecks on every block.
As I watch this game near its final development almost every Video, pic and promotion shows a major city in a small space with Major Gridlock on every corner.
How is this practical if emergency units will need to get from point a to b in a set time to fight crime, out fire, save lives.
when there is noting but cars from light to light not going any where?
Not to mention cities have outside Sims pouring into the already cramped city. There is no way a city will function if what your showing us is practical game play city.
In the beta I tried to avoid building city blocks as much as possible to avoid this and focused on long roads with as little intersections as possible to avoid this mas buildup of cars. Which I must add is not my idea of an actual city planed.
I trust Maxis will fix this issue, maybe limit the traffic pouring into the city and\or add a micro management for stop light to move a stretch of road at a time to get the city moving.

I suspect it's going to be a lot of retrenching in your city - pulling up mid-sized roads and putting in the huge 4 lane bastards.  I hope you are right though - I'm not looking to build a freeway in every city street, I'd rather..you know....build a city.
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« Reply #29 on: February 12, 2013, 02:27:52 AM »

Second Beta this weekend 1 day only 17th - 18th.
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« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2013, 03:58:33 AM »

First beta was very disappointing to me, felt like you could only make small villages rather than big cities like you used to. Of course a lot was also unlocked and the one hour limit was bullshit, but I just didn't "feel it".
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« Reply #31 on: February 27, 2013, 03:28:14 PM »

Lead designer Stone Librande talks to Will Wright about his 'SimCity' experience.

Includes some breathtaking footage of cities in-game. I want this game on release next week!!!
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« Reply #32 on: February 27, 2013, 04:37:30 PM »

Quote from: PR_GMR on February 27, 2013, 03:28:14 PM

Lead designer Stone Librande talks to Will Wright about his 'SimCity' experience.

Includes some breathtaking footage of cities in-game. I want this game on release next week!!!

there's another beta test Wednesday....
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« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2013, 04:59:54 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on February 27, 2013, 04:37:30 PM

Quote from: PR_GMR on February 27, 2013, 03:28:14 PM

Lead designer Stone Librande talks to Will Wright about his 'SimCity' experience.

Includes some breathtaking footage of cities in-game. I want this game on release next week!!!

there's another beta test Wednesday....

Yep. And I was at work. Couldn't play. Again.  EA.... finger
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« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2013, 09:54:27 PM »

Quote from: PR_GMR on February 28, 2013, 04:59:54 AM

Quote from: CeeKay on February 27, 2013, 04:37:30 PM

Quote from: PR_GMR on February 27, 2013, 03:28:14 PM

Lead designer Stone Librande talks to Will Wright about his 'SimCity' experience.

Includes some breathtaking footage of cities in-game. I want this game on release next week!!!

there's another beta test Wednesday....

Yep. And I was at work. Couldn't play. Again.  EA.... finger

I never got the invite I was supposed to get.  I figure it'll show up tomorrow  icon_lol
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« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2013, 05:41:01 PM »

Overview of the Available Regions
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« Reply #36 on: March 05, 2013, 03:21:11 AM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on January 27, 2013, 01:31:31 AM

Quote from: Autistic Angel on January 26, 2013, 07:22:23 PM

How do you feel about the available map sizes?  Screenshots make the city limits look pretty constrictive, like they're really enforcing the need to develop and connect residential, industrial, and commerical burroughs rather than developing one big contiguous city.

-Autistic Angel

The map sizes are indeed a little small (2k by 2k) but as I'm putting in my preview for the site, I think I see the point - they really want you to build multiple cities with different purposes and then make them work together. 

they're also going to expand the size limit..... eventually.
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