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EA completes SimCity server upgrades after frustrating launch, releases new patch to improve "trade intermittency issues"
EA and Maxis have just announced that they have completed a series of server upgrades that is expected to solve the on-going connection issues with SimCity. EA has also released a patch that is said to improve some issues with "trade intermittency".
In a blog post, Maxis said that all the original servers were migrated to "faster/higher capacity server architecture." Server status can now be checked by visiting a dedicated page that was launched yesterday. It is still up in the air at this moment whether or not all the connection issues have been corrected or not, the real test comes this afternoon during peak hours when everyone tries to log in at once.
EA says that the new servers have been in the works since shortly after launch when a large number of players were unable to connect due to high server traffic. There is still no word yet on when EA will address the street and population issues within the game, but if you are unwilling to wait on an official patch, UKAzzer has a solution for you.
At this point, SimCity is slowly becoming playable again for some users, and while EA is still fixing things, a modder has stepped up and created his own workaround that effectively removes the always on DRM.
UKAzzer's mod fixes pesky connection issue by removing the game's disconnect timer. Where you were once able to only get about 20 minutes of offline play, you will now be able to play indefinitely. You must reconnect however, if you want to save your game. In addition to disabling the disconnect timer, UKAzzer made it possible to tweak highways outside of your city, and changed the population count to more accurately reflect how many people are living in your city.
In the video above you can see UKAzzer tweaking freeways outside your city and we assume the disconnect timer disable working. The whole gaming world is waiting to see how EA responds to this mod. We are hoping that they embrace it, give UKAzzer recognition, and maybe even add it to the game core. However, it is more likely that EA will patch the game to block this mod and opt to keep their unneeded DRM. Let's wait and see what happens.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has quite the exclusive today, reporting from a SimCity developer who reached out to them that Maxis don't actually offload a large portion of their game's calculations to their servers. The Maxis insider has said that the server isn't actually handling these calculations for non-social aspects of the game, and that engineering a single-player mode would not require that much effort.
RPS have verified that the Maxis insider works on the game, and has first-hand knowledge of how SimCity works. This insider has also made is clear that his repeated claims of server-side calculations is at odds with the reality of the project he worked on, where he explains:
The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they're doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they're not doing anything. I have no idea why they're claiming otherwise. It's possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I'm clueless.
Activision has finally jumped on the microtransactions train by way of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Call of Duty games have traditionally earned money after launch by selling DLC content packs, normally consisting of new multiplayer and new Zombie maps. Black Ops 2 broke away from this by offering the Peacekeeper SMG in the first DLC pack.
Starting Wednesday, Black Ops 2 players on the Xbox 360 console will be able to change cosmetic features of their gaming experience. By purchasing "Personalization Paks" for 160 Microsoft Points, players will be able to change the look of their guns and gain access to new "Calling Cards."
Also available are World Calling Card Packs, $1, and Extra Slot Packs, $2. For the time being, Activision will likely stay with cosmetic microtransactions only. If they were to introduce microtransactions that changed the way multiplayer worked, Digital Trends notes that they would likely have player riots.
After two and a half years the next installment in the PlayStation game series God of War has finally arrived. God of War: Ascension was released this morning in North America and is expected to be a major hit for developer Santa Monica Studio.
In a statement the developers said:
"We wanted to create the best looking, best playing, most compelling entry in the series to date, a game that took every aspect of the experience to a new level, that sought to show long-time fans a different side of the iconic Kratos character, and that added something entirely new yet addictively deep to the franchise: multiplayer, which many of you joined us in playing and improving during our Beta weeks ago.
God of War: Ascension includes all new multiplayer modes, co-op "Trial of the Gods" mode and much more. The developers also officially announced a "substantial" DLC plan that will bring forth new weapons, armor, as well as stages to battle in. Owners of God of War: Ascension Collector's Edition will receive all of the DLC for free.
Ben Heck of Xbox 360 Laptop, 3D Printing, and other Maker fame has just released the latest installment of his popular web show. Normally I would not consider this news, but the topic of this week's Ben Heck Show was just too cool to not cover.
This week's episode is part 1 of a 3 part series in which Ben manages to stuff a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and a Wii U into a beautiful yet small laser cut enclosure. He is calling the creation the "Ultimate Combo Gaming System". In this first installment, we see a mild mannered Ben Heck tear everything apart in preparation for the build.
The mashup of gaming consoles should give everyone some ideas on what to do with their current consoles to make room for the next-gen devices coming out later this year.
Xi3 has beaten everyone else to the punch by releasing the Piston for pre-order. This pint-sized gaming PC doesn't have the highest of performance parts; it features a quad-core AMD R464 processor and integrated graphics coupled with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Larger SSDs are available for a price.
Upgrading to a 512GB SSD brings the price of the machine up by $750, a bit steep when you consider what SSDs are available for on Newegg. It's possible that Steam and Xi3 are pulling a Google in that they are releasing the very high-end systems before showing off more value-based propositions.
If you're interested in buying the Piston, Xi3 is offering a $100 discount for pre-orders that are placed before March 17. One of the few things this Steam Box has going for it is its small size and upgradability. But, are those enough to set this apart from the next generation PlayStation or Xbox? We'll have to wait and see.
When your daughter approaches you and asks to play Donkey Kong as a female, what do you do? If you're Mike Mika, you hack the ROM so that your wonderful daughter can play as a princess and save Mario for a change.
"Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline," Mika writes. "I'm using the 2010 NES Donkey Kong ROM. I've redrawn Mario's frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM. I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline."
Mika has even gone so far as to release the ROM to the public so that all the little girls in the world are able to play as Mario's girlfriend Pauline. You can download the ROM from CodeMystics' website.
Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of Maxis, posted on EA's website saying that the problems with the SimCity servers are almost resolved. However, she added that she couldn't give the all-clear signal quite yet. "I'm happy to report that the core problem with getting in and having a great SimCity experience is almost behind us."
I had hoped to issue an "All-Clear" tonight, but there are still some elements coming together. Tonight and tomorrow we'll be monitoring each server and gameplay metrics to ensure that the service remains strong and game is playing great. We need a few more days of data before we can assure you that the problem is completely solved and the game is running at 100 percent.
The blog post details that players have already been able to log nearly 8 million hours of gameplay time. This has been the result of optimizing server architecture and response times on new and existing servers. Game crashes have reportedly been decreased by 92 percent since the launch last Tuesday.
We'll be sure to bring you news when EA announces that all problems are resolved. In the meantime, you can check out all of our coverage of SimCity by clicking here.
Steam posted an announcement that Tomb Raider has been updated. While the update should be automatically applied when the game is next started, you may have to restart the Steam client. This update brings with it fixes for some of the problems that were discovered shortly before launch and immediately after.
This means that users with NVIDIA cards should have fewer issues relating to the game. NVIDIA was forced to make a statement last week after many users experienced less-than-optimal gameplay. The update includes the following fixes:
- Addressed some stability and startup issues on machines that have both Intel and NVIDIA graphics hardware.
- Fix for players being unable to progress related to the boat in the beach area.
- Some fixes for crashes on startup and when selecting Options.
- Some small improvements to TressFX hair rendering.
- Fixes for various graphics glitches, including certain effects not being visible in fullscreen mode.
- Fixed a problem that caused some users to not be able to use exclusive fullscreen.
- Added support for separate mouse/gamepad inversion for aiming, as well as support for x-axis inversion.
- Fixes related to the benchmark scene and benchmark mode.
- Various other small fixes.
In interesting move, a "beta" version has been released on steam that carries the build number 716.5.