SimCity simulation AI broken?

SimCity traffic jam

SimCity AI complaints have been cropping up on numerous discussion forums, including MyGaming, Simtropolis, SimCityHall, NeoGaf, Reddit, and EA’s own community forum.

One only need look on the number of complaints appearing on Reddit to realise there is definitely a problem: Reddit SimCity AI search

There are also accusations doing the rounds that the population size is being padded with high density housing contributing thousands of more Sims to the overall population figures than are actually present in the city. 1,200 ‘physical’ Sims versus 5,200 added to total population size. This one is conjecture at this point as to if it’s a deliberate padding of population figures to make cities seem larger that they truly are, or some sort of atrocious bug. Please let us know your experiences.

SimCity developer Guillaume Pierre recently took to the SimCity blog to try and explain how the traffic AI works. In the post he also admitted to certain flaws in the traffic AI:

  1. If there are 300 Sims waiting for the streetcar on the other side of the loop for example, they may have to wait a long time for the vehicles to make their way. To remedy this problem, we’re looking into make crowded stops “high priority pick-up” destinations that transit vehicles will go to first.
  2. Another problem is that, well, all the vehicles that are in the same area and want to go to the same destination type will all follow the same path, resulting in clumping and general traffic problems. We’re looking into various ways to improve the situation so traffic will spread out better.

Below are some highlights of the various complaints doing the rounds. Please let us know your experiences in the comments below and on the MyGaming forum.

SimCity AI complaints:

  • Simulation AI elements using a single-minded approach to filling jobs, reacting to city needs (fire, crime, health, etc), and selecting their residence.
  • From leaving home, Sim AI units fill the nearest open job, and then stay at the nearest house – no matter where they worked or lived previously. This renders moot the supposed ability to follow a Sim through their day. It also means outlying jobs and residences will be filled last, with the knock on effect that critical infrastructure may not be staffed.
  • In a similar manner, city service personnel seem to use a first-in, first-out approach to their duties. This results in multiple police cars reacting to a single crime event, while other crimes in the city go unattended until the first crime is resolved. The AI doesnt’ seem to be able to spread out and address multiple instance at once. This permeates to the fire, health, and garbage services as well.
  • Mass transit is also effected, with contingents of buses roaming the city in search of the nearest passengers, all converging on the same stop and only moving to the next when that stop is empty. School buses seem to only make one trip each per day, even if there are still students to be picked up at stops.
  • Traffic always tries to take the shortest route to a destination, but this isn’t always the quickest or most sensible.
  • The overall effect of these above-mentioned problems is that traffic bottlenecks occur as all Sim AI elements try to converge on the nearest available destination to fit their requirements. The AI doesn’t spread out to maximise the design of the city.
  • Sims can’t seem to change transit type after leaving their home. If they left on foot, they will continue on foot passing by mass transit options.

Examples of traffic AI failings:

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

More SimCity news

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SimCity servers not needed to run game simulation: report

EA offers free game to angry SimCity players

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SimCity “multi-city” features detailed

SimCity 5′s always-on internet requirement is “totally worth it”, promises Maxis

Forum discussion

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  • Wyzak

    Ouch, pretty damning evidence building up against Simcity.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Yeah I have seen some idiotic AI when it comes to traffic, Police/Fire coverage… I am at the moment still watching walkthroughs and waiting before I buy the game! It looks like it will be awesome when it is all fixed up though…

  • FriedPet

    The traffic doesn’t bother me that much…it reminds me of my traffic in the mornings, nothing new…

  • Vorastra

    Problem with the simulation AI ? Well then good thing they are handled server side…oh wait.

  • upyourbum

    So they lied about city sizes, being able to follow a sim thoughout its day & about how the always on connection is needed for server-side simulation. Glad I didn’t buy this game, hope EA/Maxis gets hit by a class action suit for spitting on gamers like this.

  • Johann Botha

    Looks like the Sims need to buy TomTom GPS’s with Live Traffic!

  • CeeZedCee

    I said the game was fundamentally broken and it even had nothing to do with the always on DRM.

  • The Rich

    Same here – also sitting and waiting until it’s all fixed up before I buy it. I can see a lot of potential here, it’s just being let down by a lot of buggy stuff. Once that’s fixed, I’m sure it’s going to be epic.

  • Vorastra

    Read my post above, I added new info about plot sizes that will blow our mind.

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