Maxis has just released patch 1.7, which is supposed to improve the traffic. Lots of users had problems with serious gridlocks once your city became big enough. While everybody who lives in a major city (IRL) can confirm that traffic is a bitch during rush hour, the kind of traffic jams you saw in SimCity had nothing to do with real life – it was just plain stupid AI programming to begin with.
These are the full release notes for patch 1.7:
- Traffic Improvements: Tuned traffic congestion and fixed some intersection traffic issues.
- Traffic improvements: Emergency Vehicles will drive in empty lanes to get around traffic at intersections.
- Traffic improvements: Emergency and Delivery vehicles get priority over regular traffic when leaving garage.
- All units and buildings can now be demolished using the bulldoze tool.
- Performance improvements for low spec systems.
- New Server: Asia 2 will be released Tuesday afternoon (PDT)!
All other bugs remain, so recycling center is still broken, regional trade is a gamble at best, external visitors that come to your city may never leave again, casinos might stop working and no longer earn any money, still no cheetah speed, and so on.
Responses to SimCity patch 1.7 have been mixed. Some say it improves, some say it didn’t and I even saw a few saying it become worse (they could have been trolls, though). Personally, I’m not sure yet.
Here’s a developers video that shows the traffic improvements:
However, the main problem remains: SimCity traffic AI is fundamentally flawed. No amount of “traffic tuning” will ever going to fix that. Here’s what happens:
Sims don’t live the same place, or work in the same place. The find a new job, and a new home, every day. They also don’t call ahead to reserve a job opening or a home, they always drive to the nearest place, and if it’s available they take it – if it’s not, they continue to the next one and see if that has any openings.
Imagine this scenario (which is actually how it happens): Your Sims get off from work. 400 cars drive down the avenue to your residential area. The first side road they arrive at, you have 25 houses located (let’s say each house will accept 4 sims, so that’s 100 sims in total who can live on that side road). All 400 cars will aim at the first house on that side road, the first 4 cars will knock on the door and find out nobody is home and they decide to crash there for the night. Now the next 396 cars will also go to that same house, only to find out that they are not welcome, so they continue to the next house, where 4 cars will park and stay for the night, and so on.
This means, if you have room for 100 sims on that side road, you might end up with 200 sims (cars) on the road, looking for a home, but only half will be able to stay there – the rest will go down to the bottom of the road, make a u-turn and have to get back out on your heavy-traffic avenue.
This can be fixed in two ways:
1) By Sims living and working the same place, so whenever they have to go to work, they know where they are going. And when they leave work, they know where they live, so they don’t drive around looking for “nearest open house” and cause u-turns and unnecessary traffic jams. I doubt this option will ever be implemented, I have a feeling it would require too much computer processing power, but I have no idea. I once saw Maxis’s creative director, Ocean Quigley, tweet something like “we never said they would [live and work in the same place]”, so it would appear that it is currently working as intended. Unfortunately.
2) Have Sims “call ahead” and reserve room. Instead of driving out looking for an open house/job, they can just stay at work for a couple more minutes and phone around to find out where they can crash for the night – once they find an open house, they reserve that spot, and then drive there. That means when the next batch of sims will need to find a place to live, they will also call ahead and reserve room at another house, so that they don’t even bother driving to the other house which is already full.
Come on Maxis, improve your game already – it has a lot of potential, you just gotta make it happen!