Author Archives: Patric

Friday Filler – Why Do You Still Play the Game?

Thank Grog It’s Friday!

I have to admit, I was happy, and a little heart-broken when Alissa sent me a text message late Tuesday night. It read, “An update was released. You’ll have to let me know if they upped item limits.”

Oh ye of bliss-ninny faith…

I affectionately call Alissa a “Bliss Ninny” as she always wants to believe that EA is going to listen to us, and TSTO is going  to return to its former glory. I love her for that. We need bliss-ninnies in the world right now. It’s no wonder that Disneyland (either coast) is her favorite place to be.  I can see her teaching Riley and Sammy that if they “clap loud enough” they can save Tinkerbell and the rest of the fairies.

But, unfortunately, I had to be the bearer of bad news, with a simple reply of “Nope.”

It’s been almost a year and a half since the last time EA upped the Item Limits by even a handful.  And yes…it sucks.  And yes…it greatly impedes my “joy of designing.”

SO…WHY DO I STILL PLAY? (as  more than a few of you have asked, when I hold EA and “Bob’s” feet to the fire).

The answer is pretty simple.
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The Van Houtons Event Calendar and Math You Need to Get It All!

Ah! Surprise! The Old Game still has a bit of life in it!

This time, Milhouse and his extended family are getting their due. We get a rash of random stuff, some great “old country” decorations, and yes…Grandma is back (the nice one…not the one who beats Milhouse with a switch).

Click below for the Calendar, along with the math you need to GET IT ALL!

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Friday Filler – EA Confidential – Story of Bob- Final Reconning

Thank Grog It’s Firday!

OK…I KNOW that right off the top, many of you think that I misspelled reckoning.  But, I didn’t…because I chose to use a word that sounds like something, but can mean a whole lot of other things.

In this case, we are going to “recon” the “Tale of Bob,” to do our best to poke any holes in the logic, divulge any hints or tips about the future of the game, and otherwise, bring this tawdry (and Lemon Drop Soaked) tale to a conclusion. Mostly.

There’s that word again.  “Mostly.”  Like mostly dead…or mostly true. I have to admit, I love when a word says so much, without saying anything specific.  There are LOADS of words like that…which we’ll get to in a bit.  But, for now…let’s just concentrate on the word, “mostly.”  Let’s do so, with a little “recon.”
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Friday Filler – EA Confidential – From a Corporate Perspective

Thank Grog It’s Firday!

Well…I’m back home. It’s been three weeks of full Jake immersion…three glorious weeks of living the life of a 2-year-old with endless energy and endless appetites for “new.”  It feels like 3 months. We were actually that busy from morning til night.  We did the things that you can still do safely in public…which isn’t much…but, every day was filled with smiles, giggles, “wrasslin’,” more viewings of “Dinosaur Train,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and about a gazillion different audio and video versions of “Baby Shark.”  Every minute a treasure.

But more on that later…

Time to dive back into getting more answers about TSTO…this time continuing in “Bob’s Own Words,” but also using some of the EA’s own “Corporate Input,” regarding the nature of their decisions.  It’s dicey stuff, folks…but we do get closer to the truth.  Closer
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Friday Filler- EA Confidential – In Bob’s Own Words

Thank Grog It’s Firday!

I admit readily that I have not been remotely “normal” over the past couple of weeks.  We are in “Full Jake Immersion” mode, and there is nothing as wonderfully distracting than hanging out with your two-year-old-never-sits-still, grandson. Deb joined me after a week of dealing with her Dad’s hospice, and is the first to admit there is no better way to deal with the end of a life, than immersing oneself in the beginning stages of another.

And I also admit that my storytelling is easily taken off of the rails when writing during patches between laying rails, and running trains, and taking walks, and playing ball, and swimming (feet in a kiddie pool or backyard water slide), or endless snacks….well…you get it.

It occurred to me that most of the obfuscation in my tale, was simply me trying to tell you what “Bob” said, through my own filter.  And the the most efficient, and honest way to tell the rest of the story, is simply to use his own words (to the best of my recollection, through a haze of Lemon Drops consumed over hours of conversation).

So, that is what I am going to do.  Just let “Bob” take it from here...with a tad bit of my questions inserted to keep things on track…which reminds me…I need to find the other switch track so we can build that side spur on Jake’s layout…
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Friday Filler – EA Confidential – Bob Spills The Beans

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.
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Friday Filler – EA Confidential – Finding Bob Part II

Thank Grog It’s Firday,

So…let’s start by getting some of your concerns out of the way.

First- me flying back to NJ had nothing to do with a “family gathering for the holidays.”  I flew after the holidays…in a half-filled plane…with more layers of PPE than the average operating room staff wears in the critical care unit at a hospital. We have two nurses in our family. One is an ER nurse in the Covid unit at a VA hospital…and they made sure I was safe as I could be. And, I was.

Second- because I am being careful (very careful) not to expose or harm “Bob,” in this revelatory story, you don’t have to worry. EA won’t suddenly pull some shennanigans in regards to his employment, or altering the game.  It’s too late for that. The damage has been done. But, as you will see, the damage has also been corrected about as much as could possibly be done.  So, Chillax.

But, I had to know…and as it turns out…I’m glad to know, what I know now.

And, when I am done with telling the story, you’ll feel the same way. Or not.
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Friday Filler – EA Confidential – I Find Bob


Thank Grog It’s Firday…

This has been a week to remember. In between dealing with getting my wife’s Dad hospice care, shuffling flight tickets for our trip back East, forgetting my computer, which forced me to do the Filler on my phone, and finding Bob, it has been one of those weeks I’ll likely remember for some time.

The “forgetting my computer” explains why I had to recycle an old graphic from one of my old posts about another mystery…Chester Dupree.  But like I said, it has been one of those weeks. You make due…with what you have…and roll with the punches. Mysteries solved, often require adaptation.

As I prepare for another week of total unknowns, I know that adapting and altering plans is simply going to be the “new normal.” Right now, nothing is normal. In these times you just have to roll with the punches. Like Bob. He rolls with the punches. But, of course, I didn’t know that…until I found him.  Which I did.

As it turns out, things with Bob are the kind of “weird” that makes a word like “weird” seem normal.  And, what’s with that word anyway?? It’s supposed to be “I before E, except after C” in the English language.  Except, apparently, when it isn’t…like with weird.   Which is weird. But, I digress…

On to Bob.
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Friday Filler – Sometimes You Hafta Do the Hard Stuff- Even If It’s Easy


Thank Grog It’s Firday!

Holyfreakinshirt!  What day is it anyway?  I know I’ve complained about this before, during this “interesting new version of normal.”  But dammit…nothing is normal right now…except for TSTO.  It is sooooooo normal, that it is making me insane.

There is little doubt that we are stuck in a rut…and the people who are “coming back to the game,” after layoffs of  year, or even two (especially those who have been gone less than two years) have GOT to notice.  If you are paying attention, you will notice that almost nothing has changed in format in months, and months and months.  This isn’t a new observation…but, it really is like seeing an “Under Construction” sign on a new building…leaving for a year or two, and coming back to see that only the sign has been repainted.

And I’ve had enough. I’m going to get answers.  I’m going to call “EA Bob” and find out what the hell is going on, (besides very little.)

Here’s my list of things I’m going to ask, when I grab him between pizza runs on his side hustle, from his clearly part-time job at EA.
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Friday Filler – If You’re Still Reading This…

Thank Grog It’s Firday…

“If you’re still reading this, the world didn’t end…”

I have to crack up at the Mayans.  Really. I think the fact that they apparently were wrong, TWICE is hilarious. But then again, was it the Mayans who were wrong, or was it us?

Back in 2012, when the world was supposed to end (after it didn’t for Y2k or about twenty other times prognosticators of doom got it wrong), there was more than a passing obsession with the “End of the Mayan Calendar” which then proffered with great certainty, that when the Mayan Calendar ended…so would the world.  Of course, this logic is tainted with the reality of what actually happened to the Mayans, which had nothing to do with their calendar, and everything to do with hubris and overconfidence.

And weirdly, while it seems that we have lived through yet another expanded version of the REAL end of the world, via the altered prophesies of the Mayan Calendar, we might learn a thing or two from the authors.

Are we destined to repeat history? Was Homer right?  Should we be more afraid of the SIMPSONS PROPHESIES?????
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