Category Archives: Design Guide

Build A Better Springfield: Welcome to the Neighborhood

Hey Howdy Hey Tappers!

These days TSTO seems to be all about the downtime.  That dreaded word so many long-time players hate to see.  Let’s face it, these days even when there’s an event (or mini-event) going on there’s still LOADS of downtime in TSTO.  It’s funny because we used to crave downtime because the events were so intense we wanted time to figure out what to do with the items.  With event tasks becoming more mundane with every update, it can leave some Tappers frustrated at the shell of what TSTO used to be.

This game used to spark ingenuity, creativity, and fun with players.  If we wanted a design, or particular “look”, in Springfield we had to think of creative ways to make it happen, as we weren’t just given the item.  Things like drive-ins, parking garages, skyscrapers, and more…now they’re a staple in the game, but “back in the day” we used to have to come up with creative 3D designs to make these ideas come to life in our town.

It’s time to go back and see if we can reignite that creative TSTO spark for many of us…and bring back the reasons many of us fell in love with this game in the first place.

Over the next few weeks (or months), as time allows I’m going to be going back into our archives and breathing new life into design posts from 5-6 years ago.  Ideas to get the “creative juices” flowing.  Or, as Patric might say, this is my own version of DID…

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DID- Over DOA?

In this chapter of DID (Designing in Downtime), I am going to address the reality that we have all been hinting at for a while. Working through apathy, brought on by repetitive update types, and the lack of compelling content.

So, in this case, DID could be called, Designing Over Apathy (DOA).

Not that I am implying the game is dead…or that I am encouraging us to “stop tapping” while EA/Gracie figure out the next direction for the game. What I AM going to do, is simply share my views on how/when to tap…and where things have ended up over the past few updates in my town.

DID or DOA?
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Let’s begin first, by admitting that I am somewhat surprised that I am even still writing about new content for TSTO. I truly thought that we were “done” after the huge lag-times in the early part of the year.  We seem to be back to at least semi-regular updates, which is a good thing by any measure.

Are the updates repetitive and lacking imagination and challenge on the programming side?  Yes.

But, to offset this, the writing for these updates has been hilarious. It has turned into more of a showcase for the writers…and it really shows.  Anyone who blasts past the dialogue without really reading it, is missing the BEST part of the game these days.

But, let’s face it…the content has been pretty random.

Let’s take a look at the last couple of event updates…and then I’ll share where stuff ended up in my town, when I took the time to design (if I took the time).

The Flanders Family Reunion was really funny, with the dialogue shining through what was a moderately Non-Canon use of some of Ned’s relatives. But, like many of the updates this year, the offerings were pretty random.  I get the “Leftorium,” aggrandized to the SuperStore version. But most of the rest of the buildings, unless they were labeled…really didn’t “wow!” me in regards to “must have this in my town!”   I ended up scattering this stuff all over the place.  Loads of people placed the Reunion Sign, and even the “herb tent” in Flander’s back yard.  I placed most of the random stuff near my homage to Woodstock III (which I covered in another post). I admit I am repeating myself here, but at least KNOWING that I am repeating myself is different than NOT knowing…which is what old people do…or people who have hit the “herb wagon” too much. But, I digress…

When the Flanders clan parties in my Springfield…they REALLY party!  It’s a hootendiddlyanny that gets everyone rocking…including a special tribute to Sky Finger, by Fem Fetalle!

Click on Images to enlarge.

 

As much as I was not a fan of the Simpsons Babies event we just went through (hate having so many versions of the same character, breaking the time space barrier), it gave us a LOAD of content. This really was Content Heavy, and “this event dialogue makes sense” Lite.  Some just felt like it was stuff they had sitting around in inventory, others things that were cobbled together to make a story line that felt cobbled together, work…kinda.


Ironically…the ONLY item here that made sense to me, and ended up becoming part of my “Multi-Cultural Heaven is For EVERYONE” section of my layout, was the Cloud version of Bleeding Gums Murphy…who now jams with the angels…or at least a reasonable facsimile of the angels.

The rest?  I admit to kind of plopping in a newly opened segment, that I may or may not develop.  Random…yes. But, also a real statement about the apathy I am feeling about designing, or tapping, or really engaging much between the events.

We’ll all just wait to see if we get anything else before Halloween…or if we will truly be in the “Tapping Dead Zone,” a state of horror that is worse than almost anything else in TSTO.

Where did YOU put all of your stuff?  Are you still playing regularly, or have you hit the DOA zone? Perhaps it should be,  “Designing to OVERCOME Apathy?”  Or not. So much to do…so little time…and tapping needs to have purpose.

We’ll see what happens next.

DID – Dealing with Stuff that Doesn’t Belong – Castles

In this issue of DID (Designing in Downtime) I am going to cover a widely debated topic, that divides the True Simpsons Fans from the TSTO Gamer types. I am going to write about Castles…and other things that are “Non-Canon.”

First…let’s define the term “Canon” as it pertains to this use. According to Wiki,In fiction, canon is the material accepted as officially part of the story in the fictional universe of that story. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction”  In other words…it is the factual basis of a fictional reality. (man…I loved writing that line…so ambiguous!).

In the case of TSTO…it pretty much just means, “Did it appear in an episode?”

But, for many, at least in TSTO, the Canon freaks (I may be one to a point) simply wanted to make sure that the buildings were actually IN SPRINGFIELD (appeared in the show).  This gets wiggly when The Simpsons does an homage to another show, or another era…other than the “now” of the regular Springfield.  But, let’s face it…”now” is pretty damn relative. Bart’s been 8 for 30 years.

Let’s take a look at the FIRST REALLY Non-Canon blast, that forced us to suspend Canon Law in TSTO…and believe that the game was coming to an end. 

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DID – Flipping the Switch for Quick Remodels

In this edition of DID (Designing in Downtime) I am going to go to the vault for part of it, and then do a quick turn on easy solutions to “change things up quickly.”   Yes…this is a bit of a cop out…but I am knee deep in a major remodel, and writing time is being wedged in…like so many two-by-fours in a newly framed wall.

While looking back at some of my earliest TSTO blogging, I came across an archived story about the Candy Striped Cooling Towers, which were part of “Community Prizes” back in the day. Remember Community Prizes?

What is evident in the story, is that there were a TON of problems with the game at the time, and people were freaking out. It kind of makes me laugh to think about the types of things people whine about now. We have become an entitled bunch. But, I digress…

There are loads of items that allow you to change them up, with the “flip of a slider,” giving you a whole new look. Let’s take a look.
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DID- We Got “The Stuff”…Now What Do We Do?

In this installment of “Designing in Downtime” (DID), I want to go over some of the “stuff” we won during the recent Flanders Family Reunion update.  Not so much the “stuff,” but where you put it.

I know…if any of you are older than 50, “where should I stash my stuff” takes on a whole other meaning.  And of course, ironically, some of the “stuff” from this update was actually related to “stuff” that used to be, or perhaps still is (depending on how you look at it) illegal.

But, that hasn’t stopped EA and the writers from offering it up…most of it almost free (gotta get ’em hooked with a freebie…then they’ll pay).

Let’s take a look on some design ideas that utilize some of the best stuff, as well as some stuff that has been in my game in Cletus’s domain for years and years.

Where did I put my stuff?
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DID – Designing Within the Limits of The New Normal

In this installment of DID (Designing In Downtime), we are going to address the options you have for designing with the “New Normal.”

What is the New Normal?
Many of you are facing the growing number of restrictions that have become “normal.” And as we have mentioned before, these are the hurdles you may need to jump if you are going to keep playing a game that seems to be sputtering to meet the demands of long-time users.

I’ll deal with a couple…
Lack of Land, and Item Limits That Seem Stuck
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Friday Filler – When In Doubt…Purloin!

In this week’s edition of DID (Designing In Downtime)  FRIDAY FILLER we are going to cover the age-old designing tool of “borrowing ideas” from others, to spark your own creativity.

OK. Why the cross-out and flip from a DID to a Filler? Because, this is timely and topical…and we GOT AN UPDATE. I truly didn’t have faith in EA (and apparently, the writers) to actually come through, even with the tease.  So…ironically…I am going to be writing about “Borrowing” while doing so from myself!

Borrowing is such a nice way of saying “stealing.”  But, I even like the word “purloined” better, because it is an amazingly obscure, and underutilized word in the English language (that mostly makes people run and look it up when used).

But, as my job here is to serve the community, I will look it up for you.

purloin
verb
pur·​loin | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈlȯin  , ˈpər-ˌlȯin\
purloined; purloining; purloins
Definition of purloin – transitive verb
: to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust

Synonyms for purloin
appropriate, boost [slang], filch, heist, hook, lift, misappropriate, nick [British slang], nip, pilfer, pinch, pocket, rip off, snitch, steal, swipe, thieve

I have to admit, that in the case of what I am going to write today, purloined may be the very best word possible to represent the content. While you have to love a good “filch” or even “filch’s” lesser cousin “pilfer”, purloin, and the whole “breach of trust” bit, just fits best.

A lot has transpired since the last DID post…and purloining seems to be the least of it.

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Designing In Downtime – DID Feature 1

The simple fact is, habits are very hard to break.  While psychologists make the point that changing lifestyle habits may take just 30 days to form, it may take just one relapse before you need another 30 days to make/break the habit again.

And so it goes with TSTO.

A daily habit of almost 7 years (it was originally released in March 2012…before being pulled in June, and then re-released in Sept 2012), is indeed a difficult one to break. Especially if it is something that brings you as much fun and pleasure as TSTO has over this time.

Unlike smoking, drinking, or illicit opioid use, which require more and more quantities, to maintain any semblance of relief (like the old saying, “smoking more, but enjoying it less”), TSTO is a habit that once your 4-hour grind is complete, almost always gives you something in return. And, with events, updates, and constant fluctuation in the game, the prospect for rewards only increases.

So…when EA all but cuts us off, cold turkey (frankly I like cold turkey sandwiches, even better than warm ones, but I digress), there is bound to be some adjustment to the regularity of our daily dose of fun.  And after a lull of this length, we are truly being forced to be creative, patient, and pragmatic about how/if we continue to play.

And so, to help alleviate the pain of Lulldome …I give you the first installment of Designing In Downtime!
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Addicts 5-Year Look Back: Wookiee’s 3-D Mega Prison

Following the same path of wanting to be different than other TSTO sites, we introduced design How-Tos to TSTO Addicts back in 2013.  Mostly based around 2D and 3D design work.  Really intricate design work done by some really talented people.

Wookiee, at least to me, was the King of 2D/3D designs.  It’s one of the major reasons I asked him to join Addicts when we first started.  Little did I know I’d be getting so much more than a 2D/3D designer!  Wook would break down some of his most intricate designs from his Springfield into simple steps anyone (and everyone) could follow.

While we’ve had loads of 2D/3D posts over the years, the one that always stands out the most to me (and was the most duplicated by you guys) is Wookiee’s Mega Prison!  So it’s time to turn it over to Wookiee and take a look back at the Mega Prison how-to…

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Friday Filler – Town Tours and To Jack or Not to Jack?

Thank Grog It’s Firday!

I don’t know about you, but I am flying through this Act, and am almost done with the prize track. Yes…I have several of the Premium Peeps (5) earning, and yes…I immediately maxed out the Bonus 20% on my Tower. So, that made it EAsier by a long shot.

But, that did open me up to a philosophical dilemma as it pertained to one, “Jack. The. Ripper.” in our towns.  From what Alissa says (and checking the comments), this may be one of the most divisive characters to come to our little burgs in the history.  Even more so than Nixon…or Dracula…or Herman, or…well a ton of others that seemed controversial at the time.  I pulled the rip cord on our Ripper, but mostly for selfish reasons.

I’ll get into my decision on Jack, along with a look at at another outstanding new neighbor’s town…and believe me, the “Gold Standard” may have shifted…or at least been expanded.
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