SimCity 4 Articles & Analysis

Plop Cheat and Patch Number Two

Written By: Paul Pedriana
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Regarding a building plop cheat for SimCity 4, it turns out we've always had one internally. What better way to test the game than to have testers and production people plop anything? However, it has been deemed by the design team that this cheat disturbs the game dynamics and the game is not balanced to deal with it. By the way, technically speaking, it is a "lot plop" cheat and not a "building plop" cheat. SC4 very much thinks in terms of lots instead of buildings in most cases, though the buildings on the lots are the unit of simulation. As for this internal cheat, there is a plugin for the game called "Extra Cheats Plugin.dll" that one can drop into the plugins folder to unlock the plop cheat and a number of other powerful cheats, including the moolah cheat. The question is if anybody outside Maxis can find a copy of "Extra Cheats Plugin.dll". :)

Also, there is question about whether or not the upcoming patch #2 has anything in it related to performance. In fact it does. Amongst a couple other performance fixes, the biggest performance drain of all (the traffic simulator bug) has been more or less fixed as of this afternoon. It had the effect of sucking down quite a few CPU cycles when the city got large and certain additional conditions were met. Zoom/Rotation change performance issues have been dealt with as well, though additional work is being considered on this as we near the end of the patch cycle. Also, I just checked in a fix for the annoying
"go-to-underground-view-when-you-last-layed-pipe-but-now- want-to-place-a-water-tower" problem. And there is a new command line parameter that disables all automatic zoom or rotation changes that the game does for you (but not the centering), such as when a fire starts.

A number of people out there are under the impression that SC4 problems are due to the graphics engine, simply because their frame rates are low. Well, it turns out that the graphics share time with the simulation and either can slow the frame rate. The graphics engine itself is actually in most cases very fast, equal in efficiency to many of the best games out there. The problem is that even when the simulation is paused the game still has a very large number of real-time simulation calculations to do, particularly related to automata and background simulation updates. This of course gets worse as the simulation speed is increased. SimCity 4 is a very complex game, and getting it just right is a rather tough job.

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