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Cities: Skylines 2’s troubled launch, and why simulation video games are freaking exhausting

Cities: Skylines 2’s troubled launch, and why simulation games are freaking hard

Paradox Interactive

The worst factor about Cities: Skylines 2 is that it was just lately launched.

If this massively bold metropolis builder simulation would have been launched a while in the past, patched time and again, and up to date with some gap-filling DLC, it might be much better off. It may very well be on its slow-burn second act, like No Man’s Sky, Cyberpunk 2077, or Ultimate Fantasy XIV. It might have settled right into a disgruntled-but-still-invested participant base, like Future 2 or Overwatch 2. Or its technical money owed might have been slowly paid off to let its underlying strengths come by way of, as with Disco Elysium or The Witcher 3.

However Cities: Skylines 2 (C:S2) is regrettably accessible now in its present state. It has severe efficiency issues, each acknowledged by its 30-odd-employee developer Colossal Order and studied in-depth by others (which we’ll get into). It has a rough-draft look when in comparison with its predecessor, which has accrued eight years of fixes, DLC, and mods to cowl a dizzying array of concepts. Worst of all, it was extremely anticipated by followers, a few of whom have high-end programs that also cannot correctly run the sluggish sport.

“My coronary heart goes out to the devs,” mentioned Robert Zubek, a sport designer, developer, and cofounder of simulation-focused indie sport studio SomaSim. “You’re on the mercy of two huge competing pressures there.” One in every of them is testing—countless, every-edge-case-covered testing. “No simulation sport is ever completed, it simply will get shipped sooner or later… You may get your mannequin nearer and nearer to some excellent actuality, however finally, it’s a must to put it in entrance of individuals and see, ‘How does this truly play out?’”

Paradox Interactive

Why ship the sport, then? Oh, proper, This autumn.

The opposite huge competing strain is the fourth quarter, with which Zubek is intimately acquainted. Earlier than growing Metropolis of Gangsters, Mission Highrise, and gold-rush city-sim 1849, Zubek labored on CityVille, FarmVille 2, and different on-line video games at Zynga and Digital Arts/Maxis, the house of the SimCity franchise that Cities: Skylines very a lot supplanted.

At any sport writer, however particularly a publicly traded one, the strategy of the all-important vacation season (and fourth monetary quarter) places huge strain on any sport launched on this window. Despite the fact that video games are now not shipped on gold grasp discs to publishing crops and placed on cabinets for the season, it’s nonetheless when extra folks purchase video games for one another—and themselves. And the fourth quarter is when many firms shore up their monetary yr, which they report back to traders and shareholders. Avid gamers might not appear beholden to the calendar yr any longer, however firms, and the builders they make use of, actually do.

When he was at EA, Zubek noticed how a sport slipping from one yr to the subsequent might imply a whole division falls wanting expectations. All of the personnel hours for that sport are bills, and now there’s no revenue to offset them for that yr. Slipping could make it tougher to persuade a writer to rent or reassign the folks you really want to complete a sport. Monetary points make it harder to rent builders in any respect. “I need to say that I want I might give the Cities staff one other half-year,” Zubek mentioned, “however I’m not truly certain if that may’ve been a superb factor.”


Paradox Interactive



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