Well…after weeks of speculation…we finally know.
What we know is mostly what we don’t know, or will never know. But, I am happy to reveal the final chapter of what I DO know…at least as far as I can, without breaking my NDA.
Jeanene got herself into this. We know that. Was she justified in her actions? Nobody likes to be disrespected. And certainly she was. But, when you go to the lengths for personal revenge, placing the best interests of TSTO and EA in second and third place behind our own emotions…bad things are bound to happen.
But, being penitent and becoming a true “team player,” can have their rewards.
As a simple matter of fact, Jeanene’s disappearance from regular day-to-day, and face-to-face meetings at EA headquarters had barely been noticed. So efficient and consistent had been the efforts of all involved, that looking back now, Jeanene chuckled at the experience, as frightful as it had been during the time.
It had been surprisingly easy. Daniel had gone to HR to file a formal “change of assignment” request, but had stopped short of filing a grievance. Equally unsurprising, HR was unphased by Jeanene’s request to work from home, as she “nursed a recurring bout with a personal medical issue.” While speculation about her “condition” was a hot topic for a day or two (most agreeing that it was likely mental, and not physical in nature), the topic, and for that matter Jeanene, were quickly forgotten. Add to this the fact that Management had been astounded at the output of work coming from Jeanene’s home computer, as well as the resounding positive support and feedback from players and bloggers alike.
Management was more than happy to get the “best of both worlds;” great work, without having to deal with “that raven-haired-ballbuster” on a personal basis. It had all worked perfectly, as planned…with the mild inconvenience of Jeanene’s care, and the unfortunate decision by corporate leadership, to re-assign Jeanene’s virtually untouched office, into the new office of the “Pricing/Planning/Strategic Liaison.”
Daniel K. Johnston was a team player, and loyal to a fault to his employers, the game he served, and especially to the man who had made his transition into this new position possible. More so, he was the kind of guy who could think on his feet, and had natural leadership skills, who got others do what he needed them to do, without a second thought. His ruggedly handsome good looks, athletic frame, piercing disarming smile, and seemingly sincere charm, were the perfect combination needed to mask the knowledge of what he, and the person still known only to him as “M,” had been doing for the past three weeks.
“The Operation” as “M” had called it, had worked so well, that the inconvenience of having to deal with Jeanene a few times a day, and once every night, had become routine, and just part of the success that had followed.
In the first big inter-team planning meeting after the Jeanene’s first week of “working from home,” the corporate brass had been duly impressed with her PA’s overall grasp of not just the game, but of Simpson’s lore and history, in surprising detail. Nobody expected the former college football player with a “general communications” degree to have such a firm grasp of the nuances between game culture, the challenges of programming, and the unique way in which Simpson’s Tapped Out players demanded actual canon characters and game play. They were so impressed, that within a couple of weeks, he had been made of the “Pricing/Planning/Strategic Liaison” and given Jeanene’s office space, her personal belongings moved into a supply closet (which coincidentally and ironically also held their owner).
In the following months, the chain of events seemed to fly by, with each new release bringing TSTO back its former glory, with seemingly effortless ease. After the first month of “the Operation,” Jeanene had stopped thinking about anything but the game, and the success of the game, and what she could do to help. “Just keep doing what you are doing,” had been “M’s” reply. Which of course, was nothing.
After a very long “education session,” with Daniel and “M,” (who was still never without his hooded robe under the cover of darkness in the closet), Jeanene had given her pledge of support for their plans, and promised to do whatever was best for the team.
And, what was to complain about? After finally being allowed to return to her apartment (which had been kept clean, her fish fed, and plants watered), to find that she had not only received full pay by way of online deposit, but also a substantial bonus for the “amazing job she had done to turn around TSTO,” she really had no complaints whatsoever. It was clearly to her best interest, and that of the game and company, to simply do her best to do nothing at all.
Within a short time period, and under the apparent tutelage of Daniel and his “mentor” Jeanene, who attended meetings by way of speakerphone, the change of direction of the company became evident almost immediately, with the release of the epic “Stonecutters” update, which many to this day still feel is the high-water mark of the game.
Over the ensuing months and years…the game ebbed and flowed. Growing in complexity, but staying alive with new ideas and new content. The working relationship between Jeanene, Daniel and “M” only grew more standardized, with Jeanene being able to simply play her role, along with Daniel, as both were fed information, idea and suggestions by earpieces worn by both at every team meeting.
After the first year, then the second, and into the third, hits and success just kept coming. Sideshow Bob and his clan of “Terwilligers” arrived, the introduction of Springfield Heights, followed closely by the release of the beloved Monorail…every release surpassing the last, with a combination of insider Simpson’s humor and amazing programming by EA.
The rouse carried on even after Jeanene finally felt comfortable enough to attend a Stockholder’s meeting, where she was awarded the “Outstanding Employee of the Year,” with Daniel standing at her side, stoic, unflinching, and looking every bit the part of a trusted associate and team player. It was shortly after this time that she moved to Barbados, while retaining her role with the company, and being allowed to “phone in,” the next great idea. After her weeks in pitch darkness during the early days of “The Operation,” the almost constant sunlight, and pervasive opportunities for liquid refreshment, did much to heal the moderate PTSD she had suffered.
Daniel excelled at his job, and after marrying his long-time, high school sweetheart, became a model parent to their two young daughters, Maggie and Lisa.
Through it all, both Daniel and Jeanene had stopped trying to figure out who “M” actually was. It didn’t matter anymore. The routine was the same, week in and week out.
At exactly 10:30am, Pacific Time…every Friday, the flip phone would ring, and the same, warm, electronically garbled voice would start the conversation with, “Thank Grog It’s Firday!” and they would all chuckle, as they stirred their rum drinks, and settled in for another long planning session, Daniel in San Francisco, Jeanene in Barbados, and “M” in Santa Monica.
Three cogs, in a whell that goes on, and on, and on, and on, and…