Friday Filler – Reality -vs- YOUR Reality In the XP and Real Worlds

Thank Grog It’s Firday!!

The entire debate about donut/vehicle farming comes at a really ironic point in my life. I am a little more than two months away from my 64th birthday. Yes. I am THAT old. Too young to get full Social Security, and still a year away from Medicare. But, one of my marketing clients, who is a financial planner, had me do a series of podcasts about “planning for retirement.” Man…did I learn a lot.

Mostly, I learned that I am NOWHERE NEAR being able to retire anytime soon. I won’t bore you with the multitude of reasons, but suffice it to say, that being self-employed for most of my life has been a roller coaster, and “pension” is a word that never really entered the equation. So…I will do everything I can now, to maximize my earning/saving potential (after I pay for two more weddings…), and hope that I live long enough to benefit from my work.

That’s kind of like the whole recent debate about XP Bonuses and Donut/Vehicle farming. The analogy is really a good one. The earlier you start, and the more disciplined you are, the better your “golden years” are going to be. Which of course is all relative, as none of us knows how long we will actually live, or how long TSTO will actually continue…rendering either argument or game plan completely moot!

That said…Here is my rough take on the best way to “Play Either Game.”

This whole thing started in the XP/TSTO world when I became agitated with those who keep bragging about being at XP levels in the thousands, and having hundreds, if not thousands (or tens of thousands) of donuts accumulated. It is not unlike the feeling I get when one of my friends at the country club starts talking about going on a two-month trip, because they have more retirement income than they know what to do with.

I get it. In BOTH cases, those who are sitting on a ton of wealth, made good decisions EARLY in life (unless they inherited their wealth or hit some jackpot later). The average person is going to need at LEAST $500K invested, and another estimated $300K-$600K for health care supplements, to live modestly in retirement.

Statistics say that less than 10% of those in the 50-65 year-old category have close to that number, with 20-30% not even having $20K invested. Yes…many were gutted by the recession in 2008-2009, but many others simply didn’t earn enough to put tens of thousands away.

The average TSTO player is sitting somewhere between a 200%-$400 Bonus Multiplier, and has between $5 Million and $20 Million in game cash. Not anywhere NEAR enough to just waltz into the 1,000% bracket of earning.

In either case, you are late to the game…and will have to work REALLY hard to make up for the deficiencies before you: A. Croak B. The Game Ends.

Croaking, or the end of TSTO (EA pulls the server plug) is almost completely out of our control.  Yes…we can do the things that could prolong our lives, but you can’t know when a piece of space junk, with your name on it, may find you walking down the street, while you’re checking your IRA fund statement.  You also can’t know when EA is simply going to say, “We aren’t making enough on this” and just pull the plug. They do this stuff all of the time.

So…where does that leave us in the “Best Method for Happy Tapping/Life?”

Here’s the rub… accumulating wealth, or XP Bonus/Donuts takes time. Lots and lots of time. To all of you “Farmers” out there who have reached quadruple digits,  good for you. But, you spent a TON of time getting there. The math is clear on this. You burned through loads of “Life Currency.” Unless you cheated.

And in either case, TIME and the VALUE OF TIME (Life Currency), is really at the bottom line of affixing worth to either equation.

Let’s look at both scenarios…
In life…the REAL risk, is that you didn’t spend enough time earning, saving, and investing to insure that your “golden years” (which are increasing in duration with each generation) will be free of financial worry. Maybe you spent too much time watching TV, or playing mobile games. Or blogging about them. This is why more and more people are working longer, even into their 70s, so that they don’t have to worry about being cash-strapped in their 80s. Great. If you live that long.

Is there value in living a life of “moderation” that is full of actions and experiences that give you pleasure and contentment? Heck yes…as long as you can afford it. Moderation in ALL things is good. Too much of anything is obsessive, and runs the risk of ruining the good stuff in life. As was joked about in a recent “Tracey Ullman’s Show,” nobody on their death bed really says, “I wish I would have played more Candy Crush!”

Insert TSTO into that last line.

So…when you are giving up hours, days, months and years, in order to “earn” inflated XP, donuts, and digital baubles, at the expense of doing something more worthwhile, productive and life-enhancing, you are really shortchanging what you could be receiving in the Real World. And this is all completely at the pleasure of a giant electronic game company, who will ultimately “kill” your town, and everything you have in it…rendering ALL of the time/money spent, a futile pursuit of nothingness.


At least those of us here, have a sense of community and fellowship gained by being part of a larger whole. We do get some pleasure in tapping (less and less recently), and there is some weird sense of fulfillment in building/designing your towns, that is better than spending your life doing crosswords or Sudoku games. We have something to show for it…until we don’t.

Look…I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. I don’t really KNOW most of you…outside of what we share here…which isn’t all that much. But, what I am trying to say, is that life is just best when it is full, and rich, and offers a variety of pleasures, entertainment and opportunities. It is enriched by doing things for others, and widening the horizons of experiences, to take advantage of all life has to give. That can easily be lost when we become obsessed with “one thing,” at the expense of other things.

So…while you are collecting your next 100 XP Bonus percentages (including all of the work/donuts/time it takes to get there), don’t forget to live life. And while you are planning for your future…don’t forget to enjoy the NOW.  Having a secure future is greatly enhanced by enjoying the road you travel to get to that goal. Right?

To me…the ones who REALLY win at the game of life, do so by using up all of their resources, at the exact time the “timer goes off” to end the game. You can’t take it with you…so make sure you spend it wisely. And if all else fails, one of your kids will let you build a “tiny house” in their back yard…and let you live there, as long as you mow the lawn and take out the trash.  Hey…it’s a fall-back…right?

What I do know…is that that EA is going to have to work hard to keep me interested in spending much more time than I do right now. Having a thousand donuts, with nothing of value to spend them on, is not “winning.” Having a million in real dollars in the bank, earned at the sacrifice of ENJOYING life, is also not “winning.”

Tap smart. Live wide. Find balance and moderation in everything you do.

That…is winning!

45 responses to “Friday Filler – Reality -vs- YOUR Reality In the XP and Real Worlds

  1. How can you tell what your bonus % is, can’t figure it out, to know how much more I should get.

  2. Tracy-1ltwoody920

    I will say this,
    TSTO saved my sanity.
    I got kicked to the curb,out of my job, onto SDI (State Disability Insurance) and then into retirement. Was EXTREMELY limited in what physical activity I could engage in (on SDI, don’t let anyone even think you are faking – now I simply ‘work smart’, work ‘around’ my limitations)
    Went from 100 miles per hour to Zero in a blink.
    Went through dozens of jigsaw puzzles.
    Then, came across this game – and wrapped my mind around ‘solving’ the obstacles. Fun stuff. Instead of solving the obstacles of maintaining income.
    All the while sparred, paried, delayed, used the Union Contract, Labor Law, ADA – 95% of my job wasn’t good enough, the 5% was performing other people’s duties – until I hit my target age and retired.
    With pension, health care, 457, IRA, Credit Union, savings account…

    Would love to golf, bowl, bike but can’t. I walk when i can, but when I can’t I TSTO (or play one of my light-weight ukuleles)

    When life gives you lemons, bake an apple pie and play the uke.
    (Who says you have to use those lemons!!)

  3. Bwahahahahahaha, retirement! I’m 51 & due to circumstances, my retirement savings are but a distant memory. And seeing as I am making close to nothing, if not negative income, I’ll be reserving my spot in a potter’s field where people can guess where I’ve been planted and say, “somewhere in this field lies the bones of an obscure cartoonist.”

  4. I play TSTO in between the moments of my day. I fill in and make use of those moments when I’m waking up, during my ‘morning constitutional’, in the first place ve minutes I’m in line at the store. Granted, i could be meditating, or planning my day, or some other mundane activity. But I’m a gamer. I like to play. I don’t obsess. If TSTO died tomorrow I would be sad and then move on.

  5. It’s rather sad you guys have to factor in so much for healthcare. I know that, if everything collapses in a heap and I have absolutely nothing when I reach retirement that I will have 1) a house to live in, either with extra rent assistance money or provided outright by the government; 2) an income to live on, although it’s not that great; 3) Free healthcare, for most medical conditions, although there are sometimes 6-12 month wait times for non-urgent things like hip replacements. Of course things are different in aged-care homes, which aren’t free and can be expensive. Hopefully I’ll never need to be in one! *touch wood*

    • Sorry, I’m more of a Libertarian. I want more personal responsibility and less government intervention.

      • Tippie(canoe and Tyler)two, I am not deriding your politics, but a rule of thumb I have always used for self-reflection is to ask myself if my beliefs benefit me directly, and, if so, if that is what makes them attractive to me. Just something to consider, from the standpoint of being responsible.

        • Tracy-1ltwoody920

          What is mine is mine benefits me
          What is ours is ours benefits me
          What is yours is ours benefits me

          ’tis a conundrum, indeed

          • That is a good point, Tracy. I was thinking about it a slight bit differently, though. I am pretty successful. It sounds like Tippie is very successful. It would be easy for us to therefore think, “Everyone should do what we did and they would be successful, too.” Stressing personal responsibility makes much more sense when things are stacked in your favor. And, goodness knows, I do not mean that I (or potentially Tippie) did not work extremely hard or make responsible choices or come from modest beginnings. But no one makes it in this world on his or her own. The successful have all caught breaks. So, while I lean heavily on the idea of personal responsibility, as well, I also realize how intensely lucky I am and want to give back.

            The other issue I have is that most people who espouse personal responsibility above all else do not want to take it to its logical end. If a murderer is trying to enter my house, I want to be able to call the police, not have to deal with it myself. When I want to get to work, I hope someone else has built the roads on which I’m going to drive, because I do not have time to build them. If I want to take my niece to a park, I do not want to have to buy and maintain my own plot of land, nor do I want my brother to have to homeschool her if she is to be educated.

            I work for the government, and I will be the first to tell you there is bloat and people who should have been fired 20-years-ago. But I have also worked in the private sector, and, guess what? It is the same there. Just like the idea of atheism is weird to me because it is a different form of faith in the unknown than religion, the idea of wholly supporting more of less government is weird to me, when we could be trying to focus government to be as efficient and beneficial as possible.

            Finally, I never lose sight of the fact that people who have the most in this world are actually the ones that get the greatest benefits from society/government. No one could accumulate wealth the way they can currently before society and governance existed. You don’t see impossibly rich animals. To become wealthy, you need a mechanism where the labor of others serves to benefit you in some part. You also need the maintenance of order to keep people from taking what is “yours.” As much as some wealthy people might hate the government, if the government didn’t exist, their wealth would not, either.

            • Very well-worded and thoughtful post. I tend come from an innate desire to simply help those who can be helped…because I can.

              How much do I need? How should I spend my time on earth? Those are all questions that we should all be asking ourselves…and then really looking at the answers that we have at our disposal. Every action with a good intention, no matter how small…is better than inaction. I’m not a fan of government, only because of the quagmire of bureaucracy in place that creates waste, and slows down the overall good it could be doing. But, you are correct. We all benefit in myriad ways from the basic system.

            • 👏👏👏👏👏

  6. Well said, Patric!

    I have friends who didn’t care about their ‘golden years’ for decades, being self-employed all their lives. Now, at the age of 50+, the grim, cold wind of age bites their bones. She is forcefully ignoring her ageing and started to play tennis (wonder where the money is from) while he has finally a job at his only client (so he was in fact fake-self-employed).

    In Germany, the official retirement age is 67 years now due to longer life span.
    Half of the costs for pension, unemployment insurance and health care will be paid by the employer. The other half by the employee, thus placing a wide gap between brutto 🙂 and netto 🙁 income.
    Being self-employed yields more money, bigger cars, bigger feasts and so on – tempting for a younger being to live really BIG and sneer onto the busy ants. As long as you are young AND healthy this seems to be a great choice.

    While the official pension fund is a bad investment these people had the REALLY BIG choice of spending 1/3 or 1/2 of their income in profitable investments for earlier and more platin than golden years. But they didn’t.

    So, in a TSTO way, I say

    HAIL ANTS! 👻

    After just finishing my 4h harvest (got the Nightmare Pile! AWESOME!) I will now work on the perfection of my chip-and-run and exercise my pro’s lesson about increasing my club speed. Maybe 9 holes afterwards, but the weather is hazy, cold and uncomfortable… we will see. ⛳️🏌️

    Just keep the balance: being an addict doesn’t mean you have to give up the joy of real life!

  7. Personal finance is a big interest of mine, as I just took early retirement after working 25 years at a financial TV network. I was able to leave “the grind” of my one hour (each way) commute, long hours, office politics, etc. behind at age 59 because I sacrificed in my early working years, and put the max in my 401ks. No new cars for me.. I drove my rusted out clunker for 17 years before buying my first ever new car for cash. Other than a mortgage (which I paid off) I have never been in debt. Was it worth it? You bet! Do you have any idea what it’s like to never have to set your alarm clock again? To literally be able to do nearly anything you want, where you want, and when you want? It is an amazing feeling. I’m young enough to enjoy traveling and going on new adventures. I look at our beloved game the same way. I’m a long time player, but only recently discovered KEM farming (thank you Safi!). I’m not buying everything I want, but reinvesting my donuts in mystery box items to raise my multiplyer. Once in a while, I’ll splurge on an item I really want, but am focused on “investing for the future.” My biggest obstacle is lack of game cash. I haven’t figured out how you guys are able to save up millions when I spend it all on land (still need much more!) and KEMs ( I buy 30 every four hours.) But, to quote Patric, I digress… The key to life, and this game is to sacrifice in the beginning, reward yourself along the way every once and a while, and then, enjoy the big payoff!

    • In the fable of the ant and the grasshopper…I am clearly the grasshopper. Just hoping that I can survive the winter! Lol!

      Good for you! I envy but celebrate those who played it smart!

  8. Hey Patric! I’ve read a wide range of opinion and advice articles by different authors for TSTO Addicts, and I must admit, at first, I realllllly didn’t like you. 😉

    But after reading this post, I am surprised to find that I ‘get you’ now, and I guess I want to say that I enjoyed this one a lot. 🙂 I like that you didn’t shy away from saying it like it is. I’ve also been pondering the time spent on TSTO lately, and always justify it with just taking time that I would’ve spent on something else for a leisure-time activity. Thing is, when you’re grinding, and finding little enjoyment from what you used to love, is when you’re more aware that you aren’t enjoying it, and that’s when you think about why you do it. You think about if your free time would be best spent elsewhere.

    I guess that’s where we are right now. That’s how life is, too. In a job too long, and it’s starting to feel less fun and more like tedious work? Time to look for something else. Hanging out with people that never grow or try new things? Maybe it’s time for new friends.

    If life can be described as being one thing consistently, it’s definitely consistently change. It’s never stays the same. So I guess the key in life is to adjust the meters of your time and effort to levels that you’re happy with – the maximum input for output – the optimal balance of all things that you have to do, with all things that you *want* to do.

    TSTO *is* addicting, (at least it was), and more and more I find myself just putting down the iPad and saying, “ugh, I just don’t want to play this anymore, it’s just not worth it.

  9. Thank You Patric! My 80yo Dad died recently from an aggressive stomach cancer. 5 weeks from feeling fine on his 61st Wedding Anniversary to gone in a most gruesome way. My Mum’s mental health went with him!

    • So very sorry for your loss. Cancer sucks. Period. I lost my Dad much the same way in 2012. Still hurts.

      • Thank You Patric for your kind condolence; Sorry to hear your Dad went the same way. I’m most especially grateful for you putting some perspective into life & its expectations, foibles, & retirement planning. I too am not getting any younger.

        Australian tax laws, pensions & superannuation are a minefield to navigate! (& one of my daughters is a qualified Accountant!)

        TSTO is a game I can play for very little real cash & pass a lot of spare time to do.

  10. Great post. I hope people take your advice to heart.

    You often write about “grinding,” the concept of which seems odd to me. TSTO never feels like a grind to me. I look forward to each four-hour passage, so I can interact again with my little world of Simpsons, and especially my last play once I turn in for the night, when I make time to send each character on his/her/its task. I could absolutely see myself on my death bed wishing I’d played TSTO more and worked less, and my family has standing instructions upon my death to screen capture and print out my Simpsons town at my memorial. Haha.

    I have doubtlessly spent thousands of dollars and even more hours, and I don’t regret either. I hope other TSTO players are more like me and don’t consider game play to be a grind, but, instead, a little ray of happiness in their respective worlds.

    • Addict analogy. TSTO provides the same stimulus that many slot machine
      players crave. It has the cash sounds. It has multiple stimuli per minute. It has a simple repeatable action with some variety (events). I have seen players sit for hours losing money. For me it would be a job to sit in front of slot machine even if I was net winner. That would be grinding.

      • Hi My neighbour Charles from Dex 1 & 2! I had a friend (she passed away 2013) who spent her days & a good sized inheritance on pokie machines! I don’t see the fascination myself!
        I’ve been to Crown Casino twice (I assume you are in Melbourne Australia?)
        Both times were for charity events & I mainly went for the buffet lunch. Each time I came home with a massive headache due to bright lights & loud sounds! Too much stimulus!
        I can’t fathom dropping money into slot machines like my friend did obcessively!
        Each time I went I had 20 dollars to spend; & in each case came out ahead by $50.

        • Good to see you won. But I am an American. I am not a slot player myself, but used to play pinball with some similar stimuli but no cash reward.

          • Well There you go Charles! I’d always thought you were an Australian! I guess my misconception might have come from that you always seem awake & have a clear town when I’m awake. (Thinking tapball & other interactive events long past) I just thought you were in the Southern Hemisphere of the world! (or maybe a night waker like myself?)

            I used to love pinball & early video games as a kid & teen. My parents owned a convenience shop that had them! The games were good money spinners; Not only from the cash spent on the games. but the drinks, chips, ice creams & such also purchased by the players. My favourite old video game was called Galaga.

            • I was a Galaga fan, too! Got to be pretty decent at it… I also loved this driving game called Turbo…it had beautiful graphics (and, at the time, I didn’t have a driver’s license yet (didn’t get one until I was 27), so it was the only kind of driving I could do, lol!). They had both of those games in the convenience store located at the bottom of the apartment building I lived in after I finished college. (I paid two weeks’ net pay to be able to have an apartment to myself…totally worth it.) I used to get stoned (on weed), then go downstairs to play the games. Interestingly, I was definitely better at them stoned than straight…I think it was because it helped me to be more focused.

              When I didn’t feel like going downstairs (or spending money), I would play games on my old Atari, instead. There was an Egyptian-themed one I was particularly fond of, but I don’t remember what it was called. I just remember playing it while hearing Dolly Parton singing “Islands in the Stream” ad nauseam on the radio. (It was a big pop hit at the time.)

    • I obviously like the game… but it can feel like a grind when the repetive tasks are not interesting. That is grinding to me.

      • Sorry, Patrick. I hoped the rest of my post would make it clear that I was not literally claiming misunderstanding of your use of “grinding.” I was being figurative to add emphasis to my point that while others consider TSTO repetitive and a grind, I (and apparently Safi – yay!) could not feel more to the opposite.

        I would also offer, though, that it is not at all “obvious” that you like the game. Your persona (and I hope it is only a persona) is seemingly to dislike almost everything. You often seem to be hate-participating, more so you can complain than anything resembling enjoyment. I think for both you and I (and other readers) it is worth considering that all we know about you is what you share about your thoughts and your feelings, and those might not be perfectly representative.

        If I had to list the things you genuinely enjoyed, the list would be your family, planes, and the Ducks. And I assume you will like the Ducks a little less after they get mauled by my Dawgs tonight ;-). Sorry, I couldn’t resist, and that 12-year winning steak still stings. Good luck.

  11. I don’t really understand your current mindset, sorry. You say that you don’t want to tell people how to live their lives, and then proceed to do so at length. It sounds like you are slamming players who enjoy spending some of their free time playing the game…as if they are wasting their time and could be doing soooooo much more. You noticed I said “some of their free time”…I get the feeling that you think players who are invested in the game do little else. What’s going on? Such a big leap to assume these players don’t have full and interesting lives.
    Playing a game is no more or less valuable than any other form of entertainment … perhaps it is the time spent on entertainment itself that bothers you…I don’t know. All I do know is that most people work pretty hard and enjoy their down time in a hundred different ways. It’s not my place (or yours) to “counsel” them on what is or isn’t a valuable use of their time. You have opinions, I have opinions…we all do. Personal beliefs are just that…personal…when you cross over the line and express them in a public forum as a form of counseling, your podium just became a pulpit.

    • E… chillax!!! Methinks thou Roth protest too much!

      Thus was not directed at anyone…just a reminder to enjoy the weekend. If living a wide, full, life also includes farming…so he it. No judgement. Your life.

      Read the piece again…without your auto-defenses up.

  12. This was a really well thought out post, glad you wrote it! I also like how take care not to judge donut farmers, but give self care advice. I thought you got the right balance, hope to see others here recognize that. I also really like how this game has a wide variety of players, like the show gets viewers from all age groups.

  13. Crosswords and Sudoku? Blimey.

    • Crosswords and Sudoku improve your attention, memory and reasoning. How interesting that it seems to be a negative….

    • One of my favorite things to do on Saturdays is the NYT crossword and other puzzles; it’s not a coincidence that I tend to tap less in TSTO on those days.

      Although today was an exception — I just spent 45 minutes redesigning my magic academy area. But thank you for reminding me of the unfinished puzzle in my bag!

  14. Those eternal numbers allowed for storage and main screen?
    Who needs multiple little toys in their inventory?<

  15. Great post Patric! I agree with you completely. I enjoy reading your posts. What’s the point of living if you don’t enjoy it or help spread some joy while you’re here?

  16. Interesting. Though I disagree with “the ones who REALLY win at the game of life, do so by using up all of their resources, at the exact time the “timer goes off” to end the game”. To me you win if you leave more than you received. Like the manors in British series, you want to leave more to your descendants than you inherited. But you have to enjoy your life while you can.

    In the game, you can spend all your time designing your game (consuming the resource of your time) or invest your time in a strategy to have more resources (pieces, cash, donuts) later on. Some don’t build farms because they don’t look good now, while others take the time to generate income that will be compounded in the future.

    IRL, I invested 15% of my income in a 401K. When you invest money right away you don’t “miss” it. For the younger ones out there, I would invest in a low cost mutual fund. When I started, it was $3000 ($10K now?) minimum if you invested a at least $50 a month, which I did. $50 a month isn’t too much to miss. Plus doing an automatic invest allows you to dollar-cost average, buying more shares when they are cheap and less when they are more expensive. One fund I invested was Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund Admiral Shares, which currently has a 10 year return of 8.2% per year.

    I agree one shouldn’t ignore real life to play the game, unless the game brings you real joy in your real life. But those you can delay satisfaction can achieve the most. Do you have to see all your movies at the theater for $10+, or can you wait six months to get some of them on DVD for free from the local library? Were you waiting in line today to get the new iPhone X, or are you going to wait to see if there is going to be a deal on Black Friday? Do you save for a rainy day or do you put something on the credit card you don’t need right away, knowing that you will be paying 16% interest on the amount? Are you the grasshopper or the ant?

    • 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍, etc.

    • Tracy-1ltwoody920

      Well said. Not having children affected our ability to save, however
      At one point, 30% went into various savings –
      pension, health pension, 457, Credit union, Savings Account.
      One car is 6 years old, the other 18
      Traded in my flip phone for a $100 iPhone through my pay-as-you-go carrier last year
      Replaced my 20 year old TV last year
      Early on defined Wants vs. Needs.

      Today, If I want it, I buy it. But usually, I really don’t want it. So I m usually purchasing needs. Because most of the rest is just ‘stuff’ that takes up space in my life and my home.

      Play the game the same way. Conservative approach, now I’m. ‘Comfortable ‘ and buy what I want.

      Good health and gaming to all.

  17. Hi Patric. As with everything in life, it’s all subjective. Everyone needs to find a balance between this and that. It doesn’t matter what the “this” is or the “that” is.

    The beauty of TSTO is that you can play it as much or as little as makes you happy. All of the other arguments are moot.

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