Thank Grog It’s Firday!
OK…I know a bunch of you think that I am just going to string this along again, because I can. But, I won’t, even though I could. But, you have all been very patient with my retelling of this tale. Much more patient than “Bob” was, when it came to flinging his displeasure about my constant haranguing of him, for what you are about to read.
And you will read it…if you do. Read it, that is. So many of you seem to be “reading challenged.” You want your “facts” in 144 character tweets or less. The real world doesn’t work that way. Unless you are in politics…but, I digress.
Let’s recap. “Bob” isn’t his real name. But we captured “Bob” at Greta’s (not her real name) apartment in San Francisco, with the help of Ali (my daughter) and Ryan (a very large, attractive former college rugby player). And trust me…beans were spilled!
And no…I’m not still talking about the Falafel that he was delivering with his “side hustle,” Door Dash. I’m talking like an old 1940s movie “copper” who tells the “con” that the “jig is up…so he might as well spill the beans.” I have no idea why there was dancing and beans in those movies…but the aphorism stuck.
Just like the beans.
“Why are you always writing about stuff like entropy and physics on a TSTO blog?’ I remember Bob screaming in defense of the first question I asked.
I found it both diversionary, as well as a bit flattering. It was clear that “Bob” really did read the posts I wrote, but he was also clearly not answering the question I had asked. It was a simple question. “Why don’t you increase the freakin’ Item Limits???” (Extra exclamation points added for emphasis…and it is entirely possible that I used word more colorful than “freakin’”).
Now. Many of you would have asked something more nuanced about the game. Like, “When are you going to bring back Stonecutters again? Because Stonecutters was the best!”
But, no. I went right for the jugular. Longtime players have stopped playing, because we can’t place the stuff we win, without decimating what we have already designed. And for many of us, it’s ALL about the design. But, “Bob” had flipped the table. I know it’s supposed to be turned the table…but, he actually flipped a coffee table when he slipped on the spilled falafel tray he dropped when he discovered that he was trapped, and was going to have to “pay the piper.” (Another weird aphorism that I won’t try to explain…)
I smirked, and replied, “Look, Entropy is exactly what the question about Item Limits is all about!”
“Oh, Dear God…” I heard Bob mutter.
Greta (still not her real name), just looked confused…as if we were speaking a foreign language with a mouthful of grapes.
“Entropy is exactly what this is about,” I continued calmly. “If something is not in a state of evolution, in a state of change, it ceases to exist. If you just keep the same programming, with minor changes, the game degrades and ceases to be relevant, and eventually stops. It just devolves into chaos. You haven’t changed the item limits in well over a year. How can we continue to build our towns, if we can’t add new stuff?”
”Do You Think I Haven’t TRIED??” he screamed back at me. “I don’t think you get it. I tried, but that part of the system, is on another server that I couldn’t access from my hideyhole, and besides, if I did try to get to that server, they might have figured out that the game was still alive, and I was still coming in, and that being cut back to half time was the only way the game survived! YOU JUST DON’T GET IT!”
This time, it was my turn to stare blankly ahead, with a confused smirk on my face (I smirk in almost every situation). What in the hell was he talking about?
And in that instant, seeing the pain and frustration in “Bob’s” face, I realized that first and foremost, “Bob” was not only a friend of the game, but may likely be more. Much, much, more.
The tumblers started clicking into place. I realized almost instantly that what he was saying was possible. I knew that EA built TSTO on a multi-server logic, that allowed most of the game actions to take place on one server, related to the “Origin server,” that kept track of the algorithms for each player, while recording their moves. But, it made sense that the basic game code, may in fact be on another server, along with the triggers that keep each level throttled. The basic game code, things like Item Limits, More Land, and the Randomizer for donut earning, would all be in basic code. Simple to change…if you had access to the server, which “Bob” clearly didn’t.
After a long pause…I asked Greta if she had any alcohol that could take the edge off of the tension in the room. This seemed to bring Greta back to life, and she instantly produced a tray full of “Lemon Drops” (a bit fruity for my tastes, but certainly a cordial, casual way to say, “Hey…you’re among friends…just relax.”
And “Bob” did relax. Finally. And beans were spilled.
And, no…I’m still not talking about the Falafel.
“Bob” started talking…and talking…and talking…and talking some more. And in between 5 rounds of Lemon Drops, the tale he spun was both astounding, and shocking. Astounding that any of it had transpired, and shocking that any EA employee would be so loyal to a “silly little game,” like TSTO, well after the “corporate weasels” had given up on it.
It was the kind of tale that could only happen in a company so large, with so many moving parts, that a couple of small parts could get lost in the shuffle…allowing someone like “Bob” to pull of some programming magic, that almost nobody would believe.
Oh…My…it looks like my word count has now crested over the 1,000 word peak again. I know that many of you just can’t believe that I could prattle on, and on, without getting to the point. But, maybe that IS the point. If we keep doing the things that we want to do, while doing the things we HAVE to do, all can remain in place and alive in this crazy world. (You know what I am talking about you Mask scofflaws!).
And that’s exactly what “Bob” told us he was doing. He does the stuff he wants to do (keeping the game alive), while doing the things he HAS to do (keeping the game alive, without anyone knowing he is keeping the game alive).
But, now, I am at almost 1100 words…waaaaaay over today’s attention span. And…I have important things to do. More trains…some creative drawing…and a whole lotta dancing. I’m introducing Jake to the “happy feet” created when you tell “Alexa” to play “Little Feat’s Fat Man in the Bathroom” at max volume, when they leave him alone with me while they work. So much better than more screen time.
Next time…I’ll spill the rest of the beans that Bob spilled. PROMISE!
And now…a little more of what’s really important.
When they leave the grandson behind for hours during “Boopah Daycare” time…they have to agree that “Boopah” may teach him a few new tricks… like “swappin’ flies” while dancing to “Fat Man in the Bathtub.” Jakey can shake his groove thang…