SimCity Update 8: Improved Traffic, Regional Achievements, Leaderboards

In a post on EA’s website, Stone Librande, the lead designer of SimCity, announced a variety of upcoming improvements to the game. The most significant of these was regarding an aspect of the game many fans have taken particular issue with: traffic. Since SimCity was released, fans have provided a lot of feedback relating to traffic and the AI that controls it. Since the AI is programmed to have vehicles take the most direct route possible, traffic often builds up in situations where alternate routes are available and underutilized. There have also been complaints about emergency and service vehicles all drivings towards the exact same building instead of spreading out for wider coverage. Both of these issues are being worked on, and improvements are being made to mass transit as well.

“We understand that when cars always take the shortest route between point A and point B there will be unavoidable (and illogical) traffic jams, so we are retuning these values to make the traffic flow more realistically. Guillaume Pierre (our lead scripter) talked a bit about the improvements that we are making to the traffic system in the game here. To dig a little deeper our roads will have a weighting system based on 25%, 50% and 75% capacity. As a road hits those marks it will become less and less appealing for other cars, increasing the likelihood of them taking an alternate path if one exists.”

In addition, some of the features that were disabled to deal with the launch issues are being brought back online in an upcoming patch that is currently being tested on the Test server. These include regional achievements and leaderboards. It’s good to see these features back in the game as they are an important part of the social experience that the game was designed to emphasize.

“I want to end on some good news. We are slowly re-enabling some of the non-essential features that we had turned off during the week of launch. Regional Achievements are live on a select number of servers and we’ve re-enabled Leaderboards on the Test server. We need your help testing the Leaderboards so I encourage you to go to the Test server so that we can expedite the timeframe in which this feature is brought back to the rest of our servers.”

It’s good to see EA and Maxis working hard to improve SimCity. It’s clear from this update and the previously announced apology and free game offer that they want to make up for the difficulties fans experienced when the game launched, and for any ongoing issues.

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