First of all, I realize that we are barely 1/3 into the huge THOH 2016 update in TSTO. However, while I realize that Alissa is resolute in her decision not to talk about items we haven’t seen in the game before they actually come out, I am going to break that rule and talk about some things we are going to see in Act II and Act III. I, like many of you, sneak off to some of the “spoiler sites” and can tell you that what I have seen is…
Hold on… I have a text coming through. It’s from Alissa.
Uhm. Ok. So I won’t be talking about a lot of items that are coming in Act II and Act III. Holyfreakinshirt...That girl is everywhere…and she has some really threatening emojis!!
Actually…I really don’t need to talk about what’s coming, because I have a pretty clear opinion about how THOH 2016 stacks up with previous offerings.
And you might jut be surprised at what I have to say…
This is my 5th THOH. I started playing TSTO just 2 days before the launch of the first THOH update in October 2o12.
The first THOH in TSTO (2012) was amaaaaaazing!!!! Kind of like the first time you have sex. And now, looking back, it was very much like the first time you have sex. It seemed amazing at the time, but the fact is…the whole update was kind of awkward, and not very well executed…and you mostly didn’t really know what was going on because you had nothing to compare it to. But the excitement of “something new” carried the day.
There were LOADS of technical breakdowns…with server outages that lasted for days. But, being new, we just kept rolling through with smiles on our faces…because we didn’t know any better. Wait. Are we still talking about TSTO or sex? Doesn’t matter.
And, because both parties (the players and TSTO programmers) were really just getting to know one another. the standards were actually pretty low. The writers and programmers REALLY missed a HUGE opportunity to “deliver the goods” in the first one. Because after all, it was a spoof on the “End of the World” as predicted by the Mayan Calendar. They set us up…with Homer and Marge in Mayan outfits…a Mayan calendar stone (that still sits behind my town hall) and a host of weird Gods we had to tap. But, on the ACTUAL DATE when the WORLD WAS SUPPOSED TO END (December 12th)…Nothing. A big fat Storius-Interuptus. No happy ending. In fact…no ending at all.
We got a load of things that still sit in my town today, 4 years later. Zombies…A Pet Cemetery…a Talking Krusty Doll…Marge the Witch…another Cemetery… the Bad Dream House…The Heck House Church Facade…Kang and Kodos…Dead Trees…Pumpkins…the Spooky Tree…and randomly…right in the middle of the update… Edna Krabappel and her appartment.
It was good. And at the time seemed really good. But as the game has evolved, and we have become far more experienced as TSTO players, we realize how naive and fresh-fingered we all were, now that we understand how really great a TSTO update can be. Experience…a wide variety of choices…and far flashier programming all add up to make the first THOH “sweet, and new, and our first…but not the best TSTO we have have had.”
THOH 2013 was like going back to date an old girl friend after not seeing her for a year. She is far more sophisticated, but the overall experience is kind of a let down, because so much of what you get is “old standby tricks” that are comfortably expected, but lack the “ZAZZ” to keep your attention.
Not sure you still have it? How about trotting out some Boooooobs in a low-cut black dress? That will do the trick! Right?
But, there were a LOT of retreads…after just one year. Yes, there was some fantastically funny animation, with a ton of characters animated as hilarious floating ghosts. And who can keep from laughing at Homer getting shot by Maude Flander’s ghost with a T-Shirt cannon? It was/is brilliant!
But this “date” was frantic…and scattered…and all over the place. THOH 2013 just tried to be too much…and missed the mark altogether. We were introduced to Community Prizes, and at the same time, got some items for Krustyland (remember Krustyland?). And we did get one of my favorite decorations ever, King Homer and the Skyscraper (which still makes my grandkids howl with laughter when he falls).
But, you got the feeling that EA was just trying to gouge you for donuts (like paying for the ghost zapper) and trying to annoy you with endless tapping, like an ex who texts you 35 times a day. In the end, it just didn’t have the “warm and fuzzy” of the “first time.”
THOH 2014...was nothing short of a “meh” on so many levels, that for me, was a signal that the “relationship” had lost all of its luster. It was the first time I really started wondering how they were going to keep us interested, because they clearly didn’t care about great storytelling, or prizes that were worth your time and effort. In short, an expensive date, with little reward for our efforts.
Yes. It had some quirky “Rigellian” decorations, and the Drive In is still one of my favorite decorations of all time. But, for the most part, we were just grinding and grinding and grinding for prize bags that offered little in the way of reward.
This update also came along with a couple of items that clearly were designed to see how many donuts a “completist” would put up with (The Pirate Ship for 250 donuts as an example). It left me feeling used and unsatisfied.
To this day, everything that came from this update sits in a small segment in my town that combines the store, the Rigellian Queen, and the Drive-In. It never made sense…and still doesn’t. But, I like the Drive In and weird “Human Test Subjects.” That pretty much tells the story. A “date” that fell flat.
THOH 2015...what can I say? It was a trendsetter. And, in my opinion, pulled the franchise out of the dumper. It proved that the “old girl still had some kick in her!”
It was the update that set the stage for almost every major update since. It combined Chapters (making us delay our gratification) and multi-level Crafting, along with regular update-questing, and neighbor interaction. It had hilarious, clever animation along with a whole range of really clever, funny, and worthwhile decorations.
Clockwork Bart (and the very weird Burns Eyes Wide Shut side story)…Brilliant.
The equally weird swinger side-story with Squirrel Luann and Acorn Kirk (while ignoring the resident swinger Dr. Hibbert), a tad bit alarming. The Reintroduction of Hugo (craftable) and awarding Kang and Kodos for free? Very cool, and generous.
Like most of the updates since then, this update unfortunately also set us up for tapping fatigue. By the time the update was over…we were WAAAAAAY past caring. Using our dating analogy (and who can give up a good sex metaphor?) THOH 2015 was like the girl you always dreamed of having, and then realizing that if you stayed together for very long, she was going to end up killing you. Sustained levels of tapping…no matter how good it seems at the time…just isn’t healthy. THOH 2015 proved that.
And, just to make sure that THOHs of the past weren’t forgotten, EA trotted out a HUGE list of retreads, at HUGE donut prices that really penalized those who misses them the first time around. Oh…sure…you could get a long list of stuff, but you were going to PAY BIG TIME for the pleasure.
Which Brings Us to THOH 2016….
I know this is going to shock you…but, I really think that EA has found the right balance. Yes…there is a lack of great storylines here (I am confused as to if Lisa is still directing a film, or the flying beasties are real), but I like the pacing of this update. It’s EAsy to get the Best Stuff….because most of the best stuff is front-loaded into the prize track, or is very EAsy to win.
That’s right. I’m going to say it (because I did look ahead a bit…don’t tell Alissa), EA has started making the BEST stuff fall somewhere in the middle of the ACT Prize Tracks. In fact…a lot of the “big prizes” at the end aren’t as good as many that come in the middle. If you are obsessed with “finishing” and forget about the “foreplay” of enjoying all aspects of the update…well, you may not be completely satisfied.
But, the fact is, this update really has a ton of clever devices (I love the fighting monsters along with trick or treating to win update currency), and it has a FAR more fair way of dealing out the retreads from the past. Yes…some of us longtime players paid more than some of the “newbies” are paying for the bundles…but I have had months, if not years, to enjoy the items I got (sometimes for free) in previous updates. So…no harm, no foul.
What I WOULD like…which I miss a lot from the old updates…is some GAP between the updates to catch your breath. Even the most ardent and virile TSTO Tapper needs a refractory period. Right?
OK. Enough innuendo and metaphor. What do YOU think about this update so far? How does it stack up to previous THOH experiences for you?
Let us know….we LOVE to hear your dish on past dates.