Rumour: New Video Shows SimCity’s Debug Mode, Allegedly Has Near-Unlimited Offline Play

Rumour: New Video Shows SimCity’s Debug Mode, Allegedly Has Near-Unlimited Offline Play

Well, that didn’t take long. A video recently uploaded by Redditor AzzerUK shows what appears to be the game’s fully unlocked debug mode.

Here’s AzzerUK himself (emphasis mine):

So with a little bit of package editing within SimCity, and a little playing about in the code, it’s possible to enable debug mode. I linked the activation to the “Help Center” button in the main menu for ease. Most debug features are disabled without having an actual developer’s build (they have terraforming tools etc. available in the full developer build!), but a few things do still work – including editing the main highways.

Not only that – but you can edit the highways ANYWHERE – even outside of your city boundary… 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.

Other things I have modded out with a quick change: Unlimited time to remain disconnected (won’t get booted at 20 minutes, can now be disconnected “forever”). Population count now shows REAL figure, not the “artificially inflated” figure. My large cities have a population of about 15k now, not 100k πŸ˜›

On the original Reddit thread, he also added this (again, emphasis mine):

And yes I also modded out the disconnect timer (can now play “offline” indefinitely – but no saves/syncs or region related stuff, not yet anyway… but the simulation can carry on with no connection indefinitely).

Apparently, it’s possible to play offline for far more than just 19 minutes, even if that’s without saving. Surprising, considering that last week, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw said an offline mode would be only possible with “a significant amount of engineering work by [the Maxis team]” — although, one Maxis insider did tell Rock Paper Shotgun that a server was not necessary for actual gameplay.

We are reaching out to EA for any comments, and will update this post if they get back to us.


  • Ok, I’m pretty critical of EA… I actively boyott them… but to say that SimCity has “Near-Unlimited Offline Play” is absurd. There are massive limits in place – ie you can only play with a single city, that is no region interaction.

    They could very well have included an offline mode very easily, but as it is it would be for a single city, a very stripped back version of the full game.

      • Sorry Bangers that came out a bit rude. I just meant to say it sounded like you really just summed up exactly what the article said thats all.

        • I just have a problem with the articles title. It’s attention grabbing, it’s showing people the headline they want to see but there are pretty massive limits on the core game if you choose to run it offline right now. Limits like not being able to export any resources from your city to the global market or other cities so you’re going to have trouble making money. Or will at least be very limited in the ways you can make money. It’s not “Near-Unlimited”.

    • You know, you can work on the entire region alone. It’s exactly like Sim City 4 but with an always-online requirement, and totally gimped features. If they wanted to make a single player experience that would be mostly identical to Sim City 4 then they could do exactly what this guy has done. Then we would at least have the option to choose between single or multiplayer, and be able to play online OR offline.

      The fact that he has found that it is completely possible for Maxis to have implemented this system just makes everything EA/Maxis has said even worse. I don’t know why they continually respond in favour of their DRM system, telling complete lies.

      • One guy.. a few lines of code… offline mode.. not surprised.. obviously for a proper offline mode with all the features it would take a little more development.. but not the mountain they made out of this molehill.

        Also.. while it doesn’t prove that it would be a simple matter to create a fully realised Simcity 5 Offline mode (as I said, it’s more than just switching off the network code.. there are other considerations.. like saving and how to simulate regional stuff etc).. what it does prove is that they lied about the servers doing all the calculations, which was their number one trump card for the singleplayer (private server) mode being always-online.

        • If crackers and modders got spore working then getting this to work won’t be much of an issue, EA has just tried to deter everyone from offline gaming.

        • I never played Societies so I can’t say. It’s a more compact experience than 4, with focus more on improvement than expansion, but everyone I’m playing with is really enjoying it, and I really like it too.

          • Awesome. Societies shied away from actual city management, it was all about keeping the sims happy in the city, think of it as ‘meta-sims’, where more of this building meant more happy sims in this category, more of these parks meant their happy levels went up etc etc. It just didn’t work… there were no tax rates as per se from memory or actual REAL town management, just the most basic of basic stuff. Quite crappy.

  • From what I can tell, the only reason there is no offline mode is that pirates would be able to crack the game easily. It’s a lot harder for people to crack the game with it being online always and through servers.

  • So Lucy Bradshaw basically lied through her teeth – the simulation can effectively work off-line.

    What I don’t understand is why she continued to push the BS when she must have known the truth would eventually come out. Surely she’d know she would only end up making it worse for herself? You can’t ‘spin’ something like this, now that the gaming media have picked it up – it’s out for everyone to see. Was she just hoping it would all blow over?

    • If people weren’t continually telling stupid-ass lies that will eventually be discovered to their horrific embarrassment, we’d never have had a single episode of Seinfeld or Frasier. πŸ™‚

    • because either she was misinformed, or she knew but couldn’t say it since EA would’ve fired her ass the moment she said it publicly.

  • so, you can play offline. without any features…

    why would you want to. when you can play online with all the features

    • You can play offline with what is essentially the private server features.. and it’s only a matter of time (and not all that long) before they will work out the way to save the game state (memory dump etc) to be loaded at a later time and a method of creating a virtual server to run regional stuff. Less than a month away we will have a fully offline game… but of course it will only be available as a torrent etc.. EA will just keep patching the proper game to prevent the debug mode..

      • the game already sux coz the features arnt working properly…. im waiting till the game is at its full potential to play so as to not waste it….

        why do you want offline… maybe u want to pirate…. maybe u want to mod…. but this isnt the 80s or 90s most games (ALL) that i play are online… patched and premium….

        its like wanting to play world of warcraft on a private server…. the blizzard servers are sooooo much better and only cost minimum to get the maximum experience out the game

        you paid money to build your PC, you use your spare time, why not have the full experience which is more fun, instead of crippling your experience with piracy

        serious I dont like what the general public is doing to the games they love to play

        do you want to kill off AAA games

        • “its like wanting to play world of warcraft on a private server”

          No.. it’s like wanting to play the single player, private server mode of Simcity on a private, offline server.

          Let’s get one thing straight though. I buy ALL my games. 2 days ago I even bought a game that was released in 1992 (Ultima VII). EA is forcing the hand of people to pirate offline versions of the game by not catering to this audience, which based on the last 4 iterations of Simcity (not taking into account the current backlash at all), is the vast majority of the players. Having said that, I still won’t be pirating this game.. I’ll wait till they get all the bugs and crap sorted out and then in 6 to 9 months when the game is at a reasonable price point, I will buy it… *IF* I am still interested..

        • “its like wanting to play world of warcraft on a private server” It’s nothing like this. Multiplayer is cool, yes, but it’s still essentially passing assistance between cities that could quite easily be singleplayer. As for running your own region by yourself? That would be perfect for singleplayer!

          As for your piracy comments? Not everyone has a magical future-connection that is never ever ever ever off. Take me for example. I’m enjoying playing the game online, however my connection can be dodgy and if I can’t get a connection I still wanna play THE GAME I PAYED FOR. Or y’know, if the server with my city on it isn’t available I’m stuck thinking “I made a private region, if this had a singleplayer mode I’d be playing right now.” Or there’s travelling. Or the many many many many other reasons someone might not be able to get online. Saying the only reason someone would want singleplayer is so they can pirate is a pretty stupid strawman argument.

          “do you want to kill off AAA games”
          No, we just don’t want to be punished for handing over our actual money for the actual game. After all, once this is pirated and torrented the pirates will get the DRM free version and we’ll still be stuck with EA’s bullshit DRM.

          • I can understand both of your viewpoints…

            but half life 2 was released years ago, and that required an internet connection to unlock…
            i even had the crappest dial up of about 5KBPS and still got it working..

            The fact is if your a gamer and dont have a stable internet connection by now
            well your not really a serious gamer are you?

            offline games im not interested in, im an online gamer and have been for many years now

          • That’s fair enough.. but just because you are happy with the state of things and the way things are going doesn’t mean that the rest of us are. πŸ™‚ You say you understand both of our viewpoints but your original comment seemed to (and I could be wrong!) suggest that our “offline” viewpoints were invalid.. πŸ™‚

          • Half Life 2 didn’t require a CONSTANT connection though, that’s the big thing here. I’ve played PC games for a long time and some sort of anti-piracy measures are to be expected, but when they get in the way of the actual play experience something aint right there (ImO of course).

            Although interestingly enough I had a mate who went and bought Half Life 2 when it was new, couldn’t get the damn thing to authenticate over his dial-up connection, so he refunded it and got a pirated version that worked perfectly fine immediately :/

            Oh and…
            “The fact is if your a gamer and dont have a stable internet connection by now
            well your not really a serious gamer are you?”
            This statement is absurd. I have ADSL 2+, that still doesn’t mean shit can’t go wrong, and this is assuming people should only ever play games at home.

          • Yes I agree with Corteks, not everyone has “ALWAYS CONNECTED INTERNETS” Sometimes I like to play games on my 1hr commute to work on the train, do you expect me to tether my phone to my laptop in order to play with a connection that will drop out every 5 minutes?

            How about when the internet goes down due to maintenance or a fault.

            I hate the kids of today who tell others to get “BETTER INTERNETS LOLOL MY PARENTS PAY FOR IT!”

          • yeah bout once every 3 months i needed a port reset… and the internet was down for like 6 – 12 hours

            at my new house I have never had this problem, and my ADSL has had an uptime of 6 months so far

            and enough with the kids speak, im 30 have my own house by myself and pay for a $130 permanent internet connection, you guys can do it too

          • HL2 required a connection to unlock, but not to play. Steam does have a fully working offline mode you know. Sometimes I like to play games on my laptop while I’m on the train or during a blackout. Can’t do that with always online DRM.

          • Your own internet connection is irrelevant when it’s the other end that’s crapping out. And if Valve’s servers were screwing up and you couldn’t do that one-time unlock, then people would be justifiably upset.

            And the online only isn’t the only criticism of the game. It’s been somewhat of a smokescreen, yet in simcity 5 your city is 1/250th the size of simcity 4 city (about 2.5 sq km vs 625sq km), AI is incredibly stupid, and it’s been demonstrated you can have a thriving city with absolutely 0 industrial or commercian zoning. In fact a 100% residential city is the best way to get around the stupid AI because nobody goes anywhere so there’s no traffic!

          • yeah the games broke, might be 6 months b4 they fix all this shit….

            they never had a proper beta as well just a “demo” get ppl to but beta

          • “The fact is if your a gamer and dont have a stable internet connection by now
            well your not really a serious gamer are you?”

            What an insulting thing to say! In no way does having a stable internet connection determine how serious a gamer you are.

          • ONLINE gamer

            i rarely play offline games coz there not as fun as doing it with 10,000 other ppl
            I dunno ive just hit that bitch and never come back to offline it seems a bit different sort of gaming

            good luck connecting to games for 20min then

            you must be so proud of telstra too

            sometimes I feel you have to be an network engineer to get full stable net

            or id move house to get a permanent internet connection, its that simple

            but good luck pirating and downloading 10gig on your mobile roaming connection… it would cost way more than $100

    • Keeping in mind 5 years down the track you get a niggling temptation to play some SimCity only to find EA no longer supports it but that’s ok you can still play SimCity 2000.

      • yes this has been a problem with many online games shutting down

        hopefully it will be in like 4 years when theres “super online sim city”

  • Still dont get all the stress about an always on DRM.

    it would be like people complaining that they need a key to get into a car.

    • I have to admit I am getting sick of the zero tolerance to DRM that people have.. The “principle” of DRM is a fact of life in many things, not just in games.. always-online DRM for an online game is kind of a moot point..

      Having said that, in this particular situation the main complaint is that people wanted to play it offline, at least some of the time and have that “choice”. It’s one thing to make an entirely new IP that is an online game but to take an existing IP that was primarily an offline game and switch it into an always-online game where even the single player section requires and always-online connection is what makes this situation controversial. It’s not about the multiplayer segment of the game, it’s about the single player segment of the game being forced into an always-online mode and the lies that were told about the requirements of always being online.

      But the zero tolerance to all DRM, in all its forms.. including consumer-friendly DRM.. just confuses me.. much like racism and bigotry confuse me.

      • Kinda going off topic but…

        I’m the same when it comes to racism. Whether you believe the bible or science, we all started from the one place., I mean how do people know 100% that the race they hate isn’t in there family line somewhere. We all breath, we all eat, we all talk. Racism is just stupid.

        • Yeh.. I don’t really understand it.. I’ve tried to wrap my head around that topic on many occasions.. read books about it etc but yeh.. it’s like trying to understand what is like to be a whale (or whatever).. you just can’t do it..

      • Have you played the game? Being tied to online saves is a total PITA. I’ve had many many instances of losing lots of play time because the servers have buggered up. I couldn’t care less if the game has to verify online, but it’s a complete mess without local save files. It needs an offline single player mode for this alone.

        • Yup.. it’s like with X-Com.. it’s fine to say that you should have it running in Ironman mode… but all of the glitches/bugs (during the first month) forced me to always have a save game handy for when they popped up. It’s a similar thing.. when it’s outside our control, what the heck are we supposed to do? I don’t mind replaying stuff a couple of times here and there… but constantly? no thanks.. Especially when it involves, in some cases, HOURS of game play lost..

          • Also hardcore mode in Diablo 3, So frustrating to lose a character because of a fault on blizzards end.

        • Yes I have played the game. Yes things about the always on DRM annoy the crap out of me.

          However I am a realist. I understand that with hi speed broadband and P2P sharing so widespread , that DRM is needed to give developers a chance to get a return on investment for PC products. If they made the game offline available , hundreds of thousands of people would have just stolen the game from P2P sites on day 1.

          Yes unfortunately the good consumers have to pay the cost for the pirates ( online saves etc ) but that is no different to any other marketplace and theft. You don’t think the prices you pay at Kmart or Target on clothes etc aren’t higher due to the cost of security and stolen items. Of course they are. Security guards aren’t free , insurance isn’t free , CCTV camera aren’t fee , the end consumer pays in the long run. I don’t like being made to feel like a criminal getting my bags checked when I walk out of a shop , but I understand the reason behind it. DRM is no different.

          I cant believe people side with the pirates here and not the company trying to protect their IP. Be cranky at the people stealing intellectual property , not the ones who invest and create it.

    • The problem for me is lack of control. If i lose my car keys then its my own stupid fault and I’m walking everywhere, thats fair enough. By contrast, always on drm can be disrupted by things completely out of my control. To use an analogy, imagine that the only way to get your car keys is by ringing for your butler, its grand when it works but what happens when he’s in hospital getting treatment for the punctured lung he got when he was charged by that rhinoceros?

      • you don’t own the car… you only have a drivers licence, and have a rental account for the car…

        this agreement is in almost every EULA and has been so for a while now.

        you want to be a rebel and get banned for stealing propery (cars) then so be it criminal

        • he’s right, “buying” any software is actually buying a licence to use it, (note: for the youngins, this has ALWAYS been the case – even when DRM consisted of searching on page 64 line 20 of a manual.)

        • Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you gain access to the EULA -after- purchase?
          This is a little perplexing and from memory, is the same as putting a “Bags must be checked upon exiting the store” sign inside the store when for it to legally have any real effect, it must be shown before entering. (These signs are real life EULAs)

        • You’re very misinformed. If he owns the car, it doesn’t matter what shitty protection the car maker has installed, it’s his car. I’d go into legal principles like possession, ownership, etc, but I really can’t be bothered with such a short-sighted pro-DRM lover. The fact that we’ve allowed companies to licence software, separate from the physical good we bought, is frankly, a stupid idea and its pretty indicative of the general ignorance surrounding the law, especially in Australia.

          • and just like illegally modifying cars will get it banned from the roads

            games are like this too, its not allowed

  • To be honest the online part of this revisitation of the series is something that has had zero interest to me. So what i can buy services of other towns. I’m doing that in my own region anyway. And the global market for coal etc may as well just be a simulation of a market for all the social interaction i see on it. What would really anger me would be setting up all my cities and having someone come in to grief the region with a huge polluting craphole or providing enough services that everyone relies on them and then they turn them off.
    Small cities are not for me. I would love nothing better than taking the largest landmass available and making a city out of the whole thing in offline mode with rural areas, city areas, mass transits and everything else that comes with it

  • I’m just waiting for the skidrow version to come out, supposedly it will be fully offline as well,

    Tbh I really don’t care that it’s pirating. EA don’t deserve a dime, they have already tarnished so many well known titles all for money.

    Die EA, die.

    • This attitude makes no sense to me. You want to send EA a message that you don’t want their restrictive DRM by…pirating the game? All that’s going to achieve is having EA point at you and say ‘and that’s why the DRM exists, thank you for validating our actions’.

      If you want to send a message to them that you don’t approve of their actions, don’t get the game, period. Legal or otherwise.

      • Not saying pirating is right or wrong, but what EA should be seeing as a result is:
        Through using this method of DRM, not only did the pirates pirate the game anyway, but you also managed to piss all your legit costumers off.

        Was it worth all the effort?

      • What is the point of DRM if it doesn’t affect the pirates?

        They do this kind of thing to stop second hand sales which to them is just as bad as piracy if not worse as the person buying second hand was willing to hand over money.

        I also want to add that if you simply don’t buy a game the company will just assume people aren’t interested in city builders.

        If people pirate the hell out of a game it is clear the issue is ease of use rather than the quality of the game itself.

      • Anonymised pirating of game == not buying, with more perks.

        I haven’t pirated in a long time, but I made it a personal statement of mine to do so, and promote that to people who were going to buy it.

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