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cynicaldriver
Posts: 353
XP: 422
Ideas: 1
Solutions: 12
Registered: ‎03-05-2013

Traffic "AI"... This is why services and traffic are broken!

[ Edited ]

One of the biggest problems people are having with the game is the massive traffic-jams that seem to clog the entire system up. Now, this is responsible for the ineffective coverage of ANY traffic-based services (Fire, Police, Garbage, Medical, Education, Mass-Transit.) There are also a number of smaller complaints that may also be directly related to how Glassbox handles traffic.

 

"Workers aren't commuting."

"There aren't enough workers, even though I have plenty of population."

"Tourism is broken."

"Emergency services are slow/unresponsive/broken."

 

The agent system that is used for utilities (power, water, sewage) seems to be identical to the system that handles traffic.

 

The problem is that, just as power can sometimes take a ridiculously long time to fill the entire map (because the "power agents" just randomly move about with no sense) traffic and workers can do the same thing. Workers leave their homes as "people agents." These agents go to the nearest open job, not caring at all where they worked yesterday. They fill the job, and the next worker goes to the next building and fills that job, and so it goes until all the jobs are "filled." So, when you have all your "worker" sims leaving their houses for work in the morning, they all cluster together like some kind of "tourist pack" until they have all been sucked into "jobs." They don't seem to care if the job is Commercial or Industrial, only that it's a job.

 

"Scholars" are handled exactly the same way. As are school busses and mass-transit agents. This is why you see the "trains" of busses roaming through your city, and why entire sections of town may never see a school bus, despite having plenty of stops... Once all the busses are full, they return to school and stay there until school is done for the day.

 

Now, here is where it gets really good... In the evening, when work and school lets out, they all leave and proceed to the absolute closest "open" house. They don't "own" their houses. The "people" you see are actually just mindless agents (much like the utilities agents, as I said earlier) making the whole idea of "being able to follow a 'Sim' through their entire day" utterly POINTLESS!!"

 

The reason traffic problems cause so many other side-effects, is because EVERYTHING relies on those "people" who are stuck in herds trying to go to whatever closest "slot" they can fill. Casinos go bust because "tourists" are just "shopper agents" from out of town. You MUST put casinos RIGHT next to the entrance to your city if you want them to succeed. Placing street-car stops by the casinos can actually cause more harm than good! Why? Because the "shoppers" will board the streetcar stop (because it's the closest open slot) and be shuttled to a shopping district instead.

 

Sharing resources and services gets to be a joke, because all the vehicles ("agents") get bound up with the busses at the entrances to cities.

 

TL;DR: Fixing the way the game handles traffic and "sims" will fix 90% of the problems plaguing players!

 

*edit (03-12-2013 @ 17:12 GMT)* Changed title to better attract attention to the issue.

 

http://twitter.com/cynicaldriver if you're interested.

 

Videos showing some of the problem... http://www.youtube.com/user/CynicalDriver

 

EA! We are drawing attention!! Please respond!!

Tero Kuittinen article on: Fox News Website and Yahoo! News

Article on RTS Guru

'Kotaku" Picked it up: here

 

*Note: It seems like the developers made a small improvement at some point. Traffic now does sometimes take an alternate path, but the majority still stay clogged up behind "stuck" agents.

 

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Update 1.7

Traffic Improvements: Tuned traffic congestion and fixed some intersection traffic issues.

 - We shall see how these "tunings" work out.


Traffic improvements: Emergency Vehicles will drive in empty lanes to get around traffic at intersections.

 - This should have been in from the start... Now, what if there aren't any empty lanes???


Traffic improvements: Emergency and Delivery vehicles get priority over regular traffic when leaving garage.

 - This also should have been in from the start... What if they are coming into a traffic-jam?


All units and buildings can now be demolished using the bulldoze tool.

 - They couldn't before? We need more detail on this one!!!!

 - Do we now have to delete individual units on our own?

 - Is that why our ambulances never return after bulldozing a clinic???

 - MORE INFO NEEDED!!!


Performance improvements for low spec systems.

 - This should not be a priority.


New Server: Asia 2 will be released Tuesday afternoon (PDT)!

 - I wasn't aware another server was needed, but ok... Not going to complain.

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03-14-2013 08:29 PM


supernarfa wrote:

You may not care what an individual sim does but for it to be semi-realistic the GAME should care. 

 

The fact is, if a sim goes to a different house and a different job randomly, nothing else matters.

 

Traffic flow doesn't matter because now they have no route to follow.  You've basically marginalize every single type of transportation, because none of them will be used correctly. 

 

If your job doesn't matter, your education doesn't matter. You have just marginalized the education system. 

 

If your job doesn't matter, the dfifferent types of zones don't matter. A sim can live anywhere despite their income level. You've just marginalized basically the entire foundation of the game: growth. 

 

Cities are based on patterns. People wake up in the same house, go to the same job, at roughly the same times. Mass transit follows a predetermined route. We use highways and interstates to move faster around low densitiy traffic areas, to go from our high paying (or low paying) job to our predetermined wealthy (or poor) neighborhood. Cities are designed around or constantly making the flow of traffic as efficient as possible. 

 

This one, horrible, incomprehensible design idea is the entire foundation of the game. It's fundamentally flawed from the ground up and this complete disaster of a release proves it. It was broken before they coded a single line.  I don't see how you ever fix this game with this singular issue in the game.

 

 


YES! This is what I care about when it comes to the sims' interactions with the "city." If the patterns are predictable (Sim A works for Company B, on Bus Route C) then I can account for how they will travel, and build services accordingly. If I KNOW my wealthy sims will STAY wealthy, then I will have a vested interest in making sure they have parks they like, AND assure an easy commute from the "Clean and Quiet" part of the city!

 

As it stand right now, my wealthy sims from the clean area just pool into thenearest park for work, then proceed out of the area to find other jobs. Once work lets out, the "park workers" have to then proceed to the poor side of town, because they are now "low wealth." It creates a massive crossing of traffic that shouldn't even be there... The low wealth sims should travel to the high welath parks WHILE the high wealth workers travel to high wealth jobs downtown. They should always be heading in opposite directions, which would make the demand on transit methods less drastic.

 

Right now, all I can do is plan for a mass cluster-rush every 12 hours

cynicaldriver
Posts: 353
XP: 422
Ideas: 1
Solutions: 12
Registered: ‎03-05-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

[ Edited ]

Ultimately, the problem is that the developers have decided to handle sims like they handle any "mindless" power-agent. This results in mindless sims, and mindless services. Mindless services reduce the actual quality of the simulation. Since no sim actually owns a house, they don't REALLY care what ammenities are built around it. THIS is why it is nearly impossible to have distinct districts of each wealth level... A low-wealth agent may very well end up in a high-wealth house at the end of the day. Why? Because it was the closest open house. The next morning, that agent sets out to find "high-wealth" work. Then after work, may end up in a medium-wealth home with 2 kids! There's no rhyme or reason for the way they behave, OTHER than just taking the shortest (not quickest) path to the nearest open space.

 

Police services suffer from this as well. They converge on the first crime committed, and ignore the second crime until one car rushes off to deposit the criminal-agent in jail. THEN the other cars can respond to the second crime. There's no zones, and there's no actual "prevention."

 

Fire services also send every unit to the first available fire. It's utterly pointless to try and "decentralize," because every truck from the city will still converge on one fire, ignoring the other three until it's out. Once the first fire is out, they all rush to the next fire. The only thing you get for having multiple fire-trucks is that they put the fires out slightly quicker. Really, you can have the exact same fire coverage quality with only one of each type of fire-unit. "Fire Marshalls" are COMPLETELY random, and just seem to roam around picking whichever building is "most at risk," ignoring the fact that an entire neighborhood is high risk, and the next "most at risk" is on the other side of the city... Which gets them stuck in traffic.

 

Interestingly enough, ambulances seem to act independantly of one another, but they still refuse to take "right of way" and are constantly bogged in traffic. Medical vans just act like all the rest of the service vehicles.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a clip from Alexander Harkness' SimCity Blog post about the traffic systems... And my summary of what is REALLY wrong! (added 03-26-2013 US date format)

 

Mass Transit

Spoiler

Traffic should generally be at an absolute minimum around an hour before the shift changes start at 6am and 6pm. When I start to see the congestion building up and lasting closer to this point I start to plan ahead and think about my mass transit options. Remember, when picking stops, the green overlays show you how far Sims are willing to walk to the bus stop, which can be a handy guide to helping space them out. This is important when strategically placing bus stops. Since busses don’t follow set routes, it’s a good idea to place them closely spaced in lines on the same side of the road to encourage the busses to go to the next stop in the line. This way, they won’t have to make a U-turn to reach the next stop. In addition to busses, you can also upgrade your avenues to allow for street cars. Street cars are always my preference as it can’t get stuck in traffic jams like the buses can, however don’t go crazy with lots of avenues as this can cause extra traffic itself as I mentioned before. Plan out a route that will cover your highest density population areas and places of work then place rail stops that will allow those Sims to get out of their car and walk to the nearest stop instead.

Thanks for listening everyone. I really hope these tips help you out in designing your perfect city and getting that traffic flowing. Just remember, avenues won’t solve all your traffic woes. And look out for those telltale signs your road network can no longer cope with current volume of vehicles.


Perhaps if the "shifts" didn't force ALL the game's agents into the streets at THE SAME TIME, most of this issue could have been avoided? Maybe? You think? I mean... Does everyone in America all go to work/school/shop at the exact same time? Every day? NO! Some businesses open at 9am and close at 5pm, some open at 7am and close at 10pm (with a shift change or two or THREE.) If you staggered the traffic, the problems would be far less. Have the shoppers only "shop" for 6 hours, between 10am and 4pm. This would give an extra hour on each side for traffic to clear a bit before workers go onto the roads. Also, having shoppers not come out at night would help with police, fire, AND health services! You can also make students go to school at 7am, and come home at 3pm (more litk the real world.)

 

The problem is the very core of your simulator, and the "shifts" that pump 20-50,000 agents out into the transit system at the same time...

ALL going to the SAME sinks!!!

Sentinel
Krimda
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎03-06-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

Wow, that actually explains a lot of what I've been seeing. I'm going to have go out of my way to pay attention to these things now. If this is the case the. There are some serious issues with the simulation. Unless they are suggesting that's how it works in the real world. Ill try going to the closest house after work today and let you know how that turns out.
cynicaldriver
Posts: 353
XP: 422
Ideas: 1
Solutions: 12
Registered: ‎03-05-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.


krimda wrote:
Wow, that actually explains a lot of what I've been seeing. I'm going to have go out of my way to pay attention to these things now. If this is the case the. There are some serious issues with the simulation. Unless they are suggesting that's how it works in the real world. Ill try going to the closest house after work today and let you know how that turns out.

Be sure to record the experience! Lord knows EA would want proof that we all go to the same "home" every day, lol.

Sentinel
pablo2008jedi
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎03-06-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

Great post Op ... explains everything really

Keeper
fissure
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎03-05-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

Gets worse by the day. Finally we are able to get past server issues just to get smacked in the face with a totally broken game engine.

This game makes me wanna quit playing games all together. Is this the future? Makes me really and truly sad. Sigh

Sentinel
acidsaint
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎03-08-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

[ Edited ]

Thanks for opening my eyes! I did not know that the game mechanics are that much flawed - it really hurts to realize what I thought would be a good game.

cynicaldriver
Posts: 353
XP: 422
Ideas: 1
Solutions: 12
Registered: ‎03-05-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.


pablo2008jedi wrote:

Great post Op ... explains everything really


Thanks. I thought so. I just sat around and watched how they all "move around." It's kind of sad really; so much focus put on the ability to "follow" sims around, and they make it pointless. They also broke nearly every system in the game with it functioning in such a "easy-going" way.

Keeper
nehelamite
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎03-04-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

Bump for a very well described problem I'm having as well.

Lookout
jlyonah
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎03-12-2013

Re: Traffic/Agent path-finding "AI"... Why so much of the game feels broken.

[ Edited ]

Would be great if you can stick this topic somewhere so it won't get lost. 

Explains a lot of dumbness in the game. 

 

I wonder how long will it take them to fix it. or may be it is not broken, just switched off. It is still hard for me to believe that such huge and well known companies did not test such fundamental feature of the game. 

 

Need to find another game to play while waiting for patches.