SimCity Modding Will Hardly Be Modding

After a “first draft” that put the brakes on most anything interesting, SimCity has published its policy on mods. It means they’ll allow some building re-skinning and creation. No changes to gameplay. As for an offline mode? “We are still exploring” that, which is what they said in October, too.

Modding and SimCity [SimCity]


  • and the award for “missing the point entirely” goes to: Electronic Arts for mod support with SimCity.

  • They must have deliberately hard coded the game against being able to switch to offline if they can’t add an artificial trade economy (something that games have had since the 1980s) and custom models and skins are this hard to add, while simultaneously not actually requiring offline for the games primary functions.

    So yeah, the “its not DRM, its for gameplay” line is well and truely a lie.

  • its not really modding is it? ” may not modify any .com, .exe, .dll, .so or other executable files.”

    • So by that logic, a high resolution texture pack isn’t a mod either since it only modifies data.

      While it would be nice to do more, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t class that as a mod.

      • well using minecraft as an example. Texture Packs change just that, textures. Mods modify gameplay such as adding new features or changing difficulty.

        • You’re right to question whether a system this restrictive should even be considered modding, but you’re definitions are a little off.

          Mods are traditionally considered as any after purchase third-party modification to the games files, big or small, usually done entirely outside the games built-in functionality. Most mods simply slip new and modified resources in with the existing resources. A texture pack and what you call a mod are essentially the same thing, injecting foreign code pretty much the same way you’d insert sounds, textures, maps and models. The only difference is that usually the code for sounds, textures, maps and models are much easier to visualise as their own separate entity (where a snippet of code is pretty much gibberish without the rest).
          Of course it all gets thrown around a bit when you talk about games that officially support modding. Then you end up with games like World of Warcraft that support mods via their built in ‘add on’ support but not external mods to the core game files vs stuff like Half-Life where they give you the source code to the engine and enough resource files to make your own game. When you restrict it as far as SimCity has it becomes less a case of supporting mods and more a case of supporting transferable, out of program editable, saved configuration files.

          So yeah, a mod can be anything from a simple operation like changing the image on the title/loading screens, to a feature set addition like Just Cause 2’s multiplayer, to a full conversion like turning Wolfenstein 3D into a whole new game.

    • I don’t know… Disappointment suggests some sort of expectation that wasn’t met. I think by now nobody is really expecting any better from this game.

      • Your right, disappointment is the wrong word, what I’m doing is remembering the hope I had when I heard about a new SimCity game and how it was slowly and utterly screwed up the more I learned.

        I keep hoping they’ll make the game they said it was.
        That Sims will remember their house, their job, that it will get an offline mode, that they will improve the size of it.

    • Apparently the power of the advanced computamutations and spline reticulation will melt even the most powerful computers.

      But then, they said that this kind of work was being handled by ‘the cloud’ or some shit, which is modern dev-speak for ‘a wizard did it’.

  • “Distribution of your Mod in any form constitutes a grant by you to EA of an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free, sub-licensable right to use, copy, modify and distribute that Mod (and derivatives of that Mod), and use your name if we choose to, for any purpose and through any means, and without obligation to pay you anything, obtain your approval, or give you credit. You also agree to promptly execute assignments confirming this license upon request from EA.”

    This doesn’t sound legal.

    • Those are pretty much the contract terms you need to distribute mods from a website.

      EA needs permission to copy, modify and distribute so they can actually host and distribute the content. It needs to be royalty-free, so they don’t have to pay for it. Irrevocable so they don’t have to attempt to purge the Internet of it if you decide to delete it. Perpetual, so they don’t need to basically keep track of when you submitted a mod, and “re-license” it so they can continue to host it. Sub-licensable, so they can host it from other providers, or off-load it to another company (ie, they sell Maxis, the mods can be sub-licensed out to the new owner), many other reason for the sub-licensing part though.

      The not giving you credit, and not seeking your approval parts are, again, so they can distribute it through a website or in-game, without having to include you name in every screen your mod appears.

      • Thats what everyone says. I havent played a SimCity since 2000 but i’m really enjoying SimCity 4. The new one looked amazing when it was previewed but all its problems and limitations are extremely worrying.

        • A lot of the noise was from people who are online all the time complaining that they have to be online.

  • Still prefer Sim City 4 and EA should be concerned there newer product is not a step foward.

  • “Hey dude, check out this awesome mod I made for Simcity! It changes a pixel on a building so the building looks pretty much the same from a distance but if you zoom up reeealllly close then it looks kinda a bit different!”
    “Whoooah, duuude!”

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