Every interaction between buildings, the city economies and trading all get run through GlassBox. It handles a "massive amount of computing" and so gets passed off to the EA Cloud.
"Creating a connected experience has always been a goal for SimCity, and this design decision has driven our development process for the game," Bradshaw.
"This is easily the most ambitious game in the franchise and we’ve taken great care to make sure that every line of code embodies the spirit of the series. To do this, we knew we had to make sure we put our heart and souls into the simulation and the team created the most powerful simulation engine in its history, the GlassBox Engine."
The new game engine is an evolution for the series as for the first time we get a 1:1 representation of what's going on in our cities. Every Sim we see walking the street or driving about town is an actual living, breathing Sim in the city and not some vague indication of urban hustle and bustle.
"GlassBox is the engine that drives the entire game -- the buildings, the economics, trading, and also the overall simulation that can track data for up to 100,000 individual Sims inside each city," she continued.
"There is a massive amount of computing that goes into all of this, and GlassBox works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers (the cloud) and some on the player's local computer."
Maxis are putting heavy emphasis on regional neighbours in SimCity, where helping one another out can become vital if you want to make the most of each city.
"GlassBox does more than just segregate computing tasks, it also allows us to make it so that you can create specialized cities that are visually unique and personalized, and that can be economically integrated into a larger region."
"You’re always connected to the neighbors in your region so while you play, data from your city interacts with our servers, and we run the simulation at a regional scale. For example, trades between cities, simulation effects that cause change across the region like pollution or crime, as well as depletion of resources, are all processed on the servers and then data is sent back to your city on your PC. Every city in the region is updated every three minutes, which keeps the overall region in sync and makes your decisions in your city relevant to any changes that have taken place in the region."
In SimCity 4 neighbouring cities also affected one another but not through crime, pollution or resources but as direct factors impacting the residential, commercial and industrial needs of the city. It was asynchronous and required the player to load each city in turn to let the changes since last time you visited take affect before moving to another.
Lucy Bradshaw also talks up the chances that SimCity as a "live service" grants Maxis. "We use the Sim data to update worldwide leaderboards, where you get to see your city or mayoral standings as compared to the other cities in your region and between all of the regions in the world," she said. "And since SimCity is a live service, we're also using the data to create weekly global and local challenges for our players that keep the gameplay fresh and surprising."
"We think this is the best SimCity ever and it wouldn’t be possible without the technology that powers our game. SimCity was designed to be connected from the ground up. We built the game around GlassBox, which takes the game to another level. And, we’ve given the player control over how to play."
While SimCityto EA servers, Bradshaw reminds us that we don't need to ever actually 'see' other players. We can set our regions to be private and keep our playtime strictly singleplayer.
SimCity releases on PC March 5th. Check out theby Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw.
Maxis: SimCity attributes "portions of the computing" to EA servers
21 December 2012 | By Simon Priest