SimCity debug mode allows for offline gameplay, and here's video proof
Despite EA's claims, SimCity can be enjoyed without the strict requirement of always having to be online. Redditor AzzerUK has uploaded a video of what appears to be SimCity's unlocked debug mode. With a little tweaking, the user managed to get the game up and running for longer than 20 minutes without being connected to the internet, as well as a few other neat surprises (like the ability to edit the highways anywhere and real population count).
Check out the video below and see what AzzerUK had to say about the modded debug mode and its capabilities.
So with a little bit of package editing within SimCity, and a little playing about in the code, it's possible to enable debug mode. I linked the activation to the "Help Center" button in the main menu for ease. Most debug features are disabled without having an actual developer's build (they have terraforming tools etc. available in the full developer build!), but a few things do still work - including editing the main highways.
Not only that - but you can edit the highways ANYWHERE - even outside of your city boundary... and even if you quit the game and log back in later, it's all saved safely on the server.
This shows that highway editing will be easily possible, AND that editing outside of the artificially small city boundaries should be very viable too.
Other things I have modded out with a quick change: Unlimited time to remain disconnected (won't get booted at 20 minutes, can now be disconnected "forever"). Population count now shows REAL figure, not the "artificially inflated" figure. My large cities have a population of about 15k now, not 100k :P
And yes I also modded out the disconnect timer (can now play "offline" indefinitely - but no saves/syncs or region related stuff, not yet anyway... but the simulation can carry on with no connection indefinitely). And I modded out the "fluffed population count", just shows the real population count now. Both very minor/easy tweaks.
This certainly comes as a surprise, especially since last week Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw said an offline mode for the game would only be possible with a "significant amount of engineering work by [the Maxis team]." Her comments were then called into question when one Maxis insider told Rock Paper Shotgun that a server was not necessary for actual gameplay.
One of them is lying. Judging by this video, I'd say it's the former of the two.