Despite its many, many growing pains, Electronic Arts and Maxis’ new SimCity is by all accounts a very good game. It may not be perfect, and EA’s consumer unfriendly business practices may have irreparably damaged players’ relationship with the long-running simulation series, but SimCity is fun and well made according to a large number of players and critics, and some of the common criticisms leveled against the game are a matter of taste rather than poor design. The new SimCity has been knocked things like offering cities that are confined to smaller spaces than those of the decade-old SimCity 4, but the biggest complaint is that the game can’t be played offline as a purely single-player experience. Good news for players bummed by those aspects of the game: One modder has already found a way to work around the game’s restrictions.
Modder UKAzzer published a video of his would-be fixes for of SimCity on Wednesday, showing the game in its debug mode—a testing mode in most games used to experiment with various features—and demonstrated ways to work around the most contentious restrictions. What’s more, even if you break the game’s proper “rules” in the debug mode, EA’s servers will store your city as you made it.
“You can edit highways anywhere—even outside your city boundary,” said UKAzzer, “and even if you quit the game and log back in later, it’s all saved safely on the server. This shows that highway editing will be easily possible, and that editing outside of the artificially small city boundaries should be very viable too.”
With the city size issue addressed, UKAzzer moved on to discuss how the game could effectively be played as a wholly single-player experience offline. If a user is offline for more than twenty minutes, SimCity will automatically kick them out of the game. By going into the debug mode, he was able to set the game’s timer to give him an infinite amount of time, so he’d never be booted out. The game still can’t be saved in this would-be offline mode and there’s no access to any of the game’s new region features – leaving your city’s Sims landlocked – but it does work.
EA’s comment on these debug features? “EA does not comment on rumor and speculation.”