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Cities XL: Online Game Surviving In Offline World

Cities XL: Online Game Surviving In Offline WorldCities XL 2011 (my MonteCristo) is out and already selling on Steam Store, I’ve got myself a 50%-off copy and then i thought: wait there, this is an interesting example for my blog! The thing is, that Cities XL was released back in 2009 as the first online city building game. The easiest way ever to describe this game is to say “it’s like SimCity, just online” – which isn’t a very detailed description, indeed. Also, this is one of the first examples of how a game can combine offline gameplay with an MMO part (yes, i do remember about Conan – that’s why i said “ONE of the first examples”). The game’s success is somewhat doubtful, because it worked in online mode for only half a year, but they released 2011 version, which indicates that the game sold well enough to continue it. So, how did it worked?

First of all, i’m not going into any very detailed descriptions of both games (still have to play Cities XL 2011, had no time because of the advertising festival i took a part in), you can find a lot of reviews for the both games. Just a brief description – Cities XL is about city building, it had a nice graphics (you could zoom in to a person or off to see the whole map with a little skyscrapers cluttered on it), and i was beta-testing the online part of it for about 2 months or so.

Cities XL: the Planet ModeThe game had 2 modes: offline and online. In offline mode it was just another city building game, with its own pluses and minuses. The online mode was called “Planet mode” and it wasn’t just a multiplayer, it was more like MMO. There were several planets (i.e. servers) which hosted maps, each with its own downfalls and “goldmines” – some were rich with oil, some were good for tourists, etc. They were also of different complexity, some were easier to play on, some harder – you had to find a map to build a city, and then your city was available for anyone to interact with, even if you was online.

Cities XL's graphics was very niceThe trick was, that you couldn’t play without other players, you needed to sell and buy some resources, which was arranged in a manner of contracts. In an offline mode these other cities were managed by the computer, and it wasn’t so much fun like the planet mode, where we could chat all the time. Here i must note that when i took part in the beta testing, the developers always listened well to the testers. I myself had filed a lot of bug reports and they all were attended to – i was asked a lot of questions on how these issues happened, what i have done, etc.

Another sign on MMO was that to play you had to create a character in it. Another sign on MMO was that to play you had to create a character, which was your impersonation – you used it to interact with other players or to walk on the streets. Yes, you could load in a mode where the game allowed you to run around your city just like a character in any other mmo would run around their world. The difference was, that you could visit other player’s cities, and they could visit yours! It was quite fun, i must tell you.

 I wish some other online games had an offline mode to play too... Of course, not everything was all sunshine, the game had its downfalls (like, no trains or watering system a-la SimCity), but it was fun to play. I don’t know why MonteCristo had shut the servers – i wasn’t playing at that time, came back later when the planet mode was already gone – but it was a nice addition to SimCity-style gameplay. The online cities weren’t lost, everyone who played online had a way to save their games offline and keep playing in offline mode – so the game transferred from online to offline mode. I wish some other online games had an offline mode to play too…

I will look into Cities XL 2011 as soon as i have some spare time – until then i hold a dear hope that at least it won’t be worse than the first game in this franchise :)

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