I've played my share of SimCity, including a lot in several betas before game launch. I was pretty active back then, and put a lot of effort into a forum because the official forum was too chaotic, not-moderated (but really needed to) and unstructured. Sounds familiar somehow.
I really liked the ideas behind the new SimCity, but the marketing was shit and the way the design was implemented was just too broken. Fixes were too late, so I lost interest. I still like the city design and love the flexibility of gridless, non-squared building, but the city spots are just too small.
However, I think I'll return to it now and then.
The "always online" never bothered me much, but the offline mode should help the modding hopefully.