OK. So…there are a couple of reasons we are posting this. First…as a reminder that long breaks between updates used to be far more the “norm” than the exception. And secondly, to remind people just how far a lull can push someone into doing something he may or may mot regret… like writing this very odd series about the inner workings at EA.
This was written back in April of 2014, (a the old graphic of CrankyOldGuy implies) and was meant entirely for the entertainment of readers who were starved for content from EA and TSTO. It was written around the time that the game saw HUGE upheaval, from a couple of really bone-headed moves by EA and pricing, as well as the introduction of the Family Guy game from Tiny Co.
WARNING… this gets a bit saucy, and would certainly be rated at LEAST PG-13, if not M for mature. So…be forewarned. Jeanene uses all of her talents to get her way in this chapter.
Jeanene Broadsmoore had worked as the personal assistant to the EPPP (Executive Premium Product Pricer) far longer than most people remembered that there was an EPPP. In all of her time sitting at the desk outside of the EPPP’s office, she had never seen the kind of mayhem, chaos, and emotional terror created by a single meeting.
It was originally thought that the meeting (also known by most as HFSD or HolyFreakinShirt Day) had been called merely to update all of the department heads on the next series of game content, and make sure that everyone had their “Stampy’s in a row.” However, as soon as the large glass doors to the board room closed, it was evident to everyone within a hundred feet or more, that this was no ordinary planning meeting.
There was yelling…chairs and tables overturned, and girlish shrieks emanating from middle-aged men in $2,000 suits. Through the tinted glass could be seen the silhouettes of others pressed up against the glass doors, trying to make their escape, then being mercilessly jerked away, or pummeled to floor.
Jeanene knew that something was coming. “The Voice” on the flip phone had told her to be ready.
Like Arnold, the current EPPP (the fourth in a long line over the past year), she had simply found the flip phone on her desk one morning as she came to work, and had picked it up when it rang.
“You are an important asset to the success of The Simpsons Tapped Out. We need you to work with us to make sure that no harm comes to the franchise,” a scrambled male voice spoke.
“I think you may have the wrong person…this isn’t my phone…and I am just a…” Jeanene started, before being cut off.
“Please don’t talk. We don’t have much time,” the voice had continued. “You are exactly who we think you are, and you are in the correct position to make sure that everyone who sits in that office behind you will make good decisions.”
“But…I only make the coffee…and answer the phones…and…” Jeanene stammered.
“I said, you need to listen! Please. You are a woman. You are an attractive woman with a gentle soul. And everyone who occupies the office behind you will eventually respond to both assets. You will get a call tomorrow morning at this time, with your first set of instructions,” the voice had continued.
And then, the line had gone dead.
When she checked the caller ID, the readout simply said “TSTOFan01,” with no return number. Jeanene didn’t get much sleep that night. In fact…it had been a very long time since Jeanene had slept well.
Over the course of the preceding months, EPPPs had come and gone, for a variety of reasons given by upper management. But, Jeanene knew that it was simply a matter of stress taking a toll on once-confident, graduate-degree-educated executives who had no clue what kind of day-to-day pressure the game of TSTO was capable of producing for “the guy who sets the prices.” She had watched them crack, one at a time, and be replaced by yet another confident, wide-eyed, “expert” who was like a lamb to the wolves of ever-increasing changes and expectations.
It was two EPPPs ago, back in December of 2013 when the initial wave of concern had been sent across the board room shoals. Fox had announced that they were releasing a Family Guy mobile app game, on the heels of the success of the “Best Quarter Ever” for TSTO. EA staff, leadership, and support worldwide felt condiment that this was going to be another stepping stone on their path to Mobile gaming domination.
Then the “WHell” had created the kind of press and trouble that no gaming company wants. The following Valentines update and the “Whale Incident,” had unleashed the kind of confusion and finger pointing that keeps linear thought derailed. And it wasn’t until Mid-February, that all of the department heads had been called into the board room on “HFSD,” to hear the news that Fox had pulled the Family Guy Game from EA, and had handed it to a small, dedicated company called TinyCo.
While there was plenty of blame to go around, the overall blame had not fallen deservedly on the programming team (where all of the SNAFUs and glitches had come from) but onto the hapless EPPP at the time, Bob Flimstead. It was Flimstead that had created the concept for the WHell. It was Flimstead who had priced the ridiculous whale at 300 donuts (eliciting scorn and ridicule from bloggers and players alike), and unknown to anyone except Flimstead himself and Jeanene, his stalwart supporter and confidant, it was Flimstead who had broken Jeanene’s heart, bringing about his own demise.
“The Voice” had warned her about getting “too involved.” But she found herself incapable of ignoring the confident strength of Bob’s manner. He had guided TSTO through some of the most treacherous times, through the rapid-fire period of PORU (Period of Regular Updates), into the amazing Halloween Update, and into the Christmas season, almost effortlessly. As effortlessly as he had swept her into his arms that late November night…ironically on Black Friday, when almost every other EA employee was celebrating an extended Thanksgiving Weekend with their families.
But, Jeanene and Bob had no families. They only had one another…and “the Voice,” who had kept both of them pointed in the right direction, and guiding TSTO toward gaming and financial success. It was this bond, and countless late nights of planning, with dinners ordered in, and one too many rum drinks, that they had consummated their love for one another…right there…on the huge glass desk that dominated the office of the EPPP.
But that was then…and this was now. Bob learned the hard way, that a combination of overconfidence, forgetting to buy your lover a Christmas present, and then introducing her to your friends as “a business associate,” had ramifications.
So when, against all reason, Jeanene had convinced Bob to price the Whale at a number that “Sent a message to management and the TSTO community!” he had followed her wishes…or perhaps had simply typed 300 instead of 30, with one hand on the keyboard, and his other hand embracing parts of Jeanene that burned with a fire he mistook for lust. Whatever the case, the entry went unchecked, and then went live to the TSTO community, with ramifications that rippled throughout the accounting department at EA.
In the aftermath, along with Bob’s failure and “deletion” as the EPPP, Jeanene convinced “The Voice” that he had “gone rogue,” and the ensuing weeks with the Arnold, the new EPPP, had gone relatively smoothly…until Apu’s apartment and Manjula.
Still smarting from getting “dissed” by Bob, Jeanene wanted to make it clear to Arnold that women had worth. Once the flip phone had made its appearance to the new EPPP, she immediately had made it clear to him that SHE was the only one trusted by “The Voice,” and without her, his job was as good as done. This was not far from the truth, as the whole concept of getting clandestine orders from a flip phone was a concept that had all but destroyed Arnold’s self-confidence from his first day.
It had been Jeanene that had assured him that she and “The Voice” had nothing but his best interests, along with the good fortunes and future of TSTO at heart. And, all he had to do. was what they told him to do, and all would be fine.
But, it was Manjula…and her saucy independent attitude that had caused Jeanene to ignore the pricing suggested by “The Voice,” and inflate both the price, and her own ego, in a moderate increase of price beyond the norm.
“What’s 10 more donuts?” Jeanene had cooed…as she had turned after closing the door, and unbuttoning three buttons of her silk blouse, worn smartly but coquettishly under her pressed, blue business blazer.
Unable to speak, or take his eyes from her fingers, Arnold had finally spit out, “I don’t know…I mean…the top selling premium character/building combinations have always been 150 donuts. I don’t think we should mess with that. ESPECIALLY since it has been so long since an update…”
“It has been a long time…a very long time…” Jeanene murmured breathlessly, while kicking off her stiletto heels. “I don’t think anyone is going to mind…after all…she means everything to Apu. That has to account for something…right?”
What Arnold didn’t know…is that shortly after taking over the position of EPPP, after his extended internship under the tutelage of Bob, he had made one critical mistake.
One morning, while hurriedly coming from a planning meeting, he had been asked for an appointment by someone in programming. “Set it up with my girl…” he had said, not making eye contact with either the programmer or Jeanene.
“His girl? Really? His GIRL??” the voice in Jeanene’s head had screamed. “Arnie boy doesn’t know who he is messing with…” the voice in her head seethed.
And, he didn’t.
Not twenty minutes after Jeanene’s shoes had come off, Arnie had punched “160” into the pricing grid for the Level 39 Update for Apu’s Apartment and Manjula. It was not the kind of thing that an EA official would question, but Jeanene knew that it was just enough of a slap in the face to the players…much like being disrespected by a fellow worker…that would cause loads of players to “PASS” on this much-needed stream of Donut Revenue for EA.
Jeanene had explained to “The Voice” that Arnold had ignored them both, and was flexing his muscles to let people know there was a new kid on the block.
By the second week after the Level 39 Update, and abysmal download/sales results for all of the Premium Items, there was indeed a “New Kid on the Block,” and it wasn’t Arnold.
“DANIEL! Bring me an Iced Espresso!” Jeanene barked into the intercom to her assistant as she propped her nylon-stocking-clad feet up onto the huge glass desk in the EPPP’s office. She laughed to herself…knowing that with the release of the Family Guy Mobile App Game tomorrow…her job had just become one of the most important in the entire EA mobile gaming division.
It was her job to save TSTO from the idiots in programming, the morons in accounting, and the stuffed suits from the executive branch. She and “The Voice” were ready…
As she watched Daniel turn away, after setting her Iced Espresso on the desk, she admired the way his young, athletic frame looked in tight, microfiber pants. She growled quietly to herself…and then picked up the flip phone from her desk drawer.
That night, she slept like a baby.
To be continued…
Writer’s note…April 2019…FIVE YEARS LATER.
OK. So yes…I laugh at how serious the pricing changes were at the time. But, this was a period when TSTO was riding the TOP of the wave of mobile gaming. Nothing came close in revenue or innovation. And then…Family Guy Quest for Stuff was released, and things got interesting. Very interesting.