Friday, February 29, 2008

TSO Gets its Second Wind

We’re all used to our old, deteriorating, production cities; they were always slow, lacking people, places to visit, and fun a lot of the time. Now, we’re overwhelmed! The population seems to be exploding in this five-year-old game and not from returning players but from new ones. It’s a blessing and a curse. A younger and more robust user base brings more activity and innovation but also server overloads and the dreaded rude newbies. New players require education and tolerance from older sims. Our TSO community has always been known for its reception of newbies. For the most part we’re kind, friendly, and extremely helpful, but we have never needed to be this way so often!

With many news sites such as Kotaku and Gamespot reporting the recent change from paying subscription only TSO to free play EA Land, new users are signing up left and right. The learning curve for the game isn’t all that steep even if you have been on Mars, in a cave, under a rock, with your fingers in your ears missing the best selling PC game ever, The Sims. Regardless, newbies still have plenty of questions they want answered and some sims are feeling the pressure. It seems every lot has turned into a welcome one with new comers wanting to learn the ropes and many aren’t happy about it.

Putting up with goofy behavior and the repetitiveness of their questions is not worth it, especially in the absence of visitor bonus. Many contend it should be Maxis’ job to provide a 24 hour welcome house that could provide tutorials for most game play aspects. However, some people enjoy helping newbs. They say it’s very similar to real life. There are people who are only concerned with themselves and their money and those that enjoy public service and volunteering.

In either case, after the buzz dies down from all this change, the amount of new players joining should drop into a more manageable region. But for the time being, we are experiencing exponential growth.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Founder & The Lamp

If you don't already know, TSO-e (Dev team) started a mini-game for founders. It's called the Groovy Lava Game.

It's very simple to play: Your oldest EAL Founder will receive two puzzle pieces in their inventory, you have to buy/trade/barter for an identical pair, and you wait til maintenance on the day that that round is over with for the next puzzle pieces.

<- Identical Puzzle Pieces. More Here.

Each week the contest will get harder and harder. But your prize will be a lava lamp that will forever display the color of the puzzle you solved.

Now for a quick Q&A:

Will all my sims get the puzzle pieces?
No. Only your oldest sim in EAL will get the pieces.

Can I play the game even though I'm not a subscriber?
Yes. Everyone is allowed to play, even sims that don't receive the puzzle pieces from EA.

Is it possible to win each color of the Lava Lamp?
Yes. You can win all the colors ranging from white to rainbow!

I live in Interhogan, can I still play?
Absolutely. Remember, IH and all other "legacy cities" are now known as EA Land. TC3 is the only city not in EAL.

I'm a EAL Founder but I'm homeless, can I still play?
Yes. You don't have to have a lot to play the game. You can simply have your identical pieces in your inventory at the time of maintenance.

Tip: Go to a store and see if they're doing free match trading.

If you have anymore Q's just comment. Good Luck!

We're Back!

Relax the...EAL Herald has been on a short hiatus as we settle in new writers, reorganize, and plan up for new stories. We've missed alot of new things that happened in EAL in the last few days but we'll be catching up. Look forward to stories about the huge surge of newbies & oldies and the new merges. We'll also have a new Insider story posted by this Friday. I'm currently working on the Special Report for March.

We would also like to introduce our newest Staff Writer, Myth! She has a story coming up soon about a hot lot in EAL. Stay tuned for more news!

Also! We're still looking for Staff Writers and Freeland Writers for the newspaper and the SimsWeekly Magazine! Staff Writers get a weekly salary plus benefits while Freelance Writers get higher pay per story. Simsweekly magazine will be launching some time in March, stay tuned in to the EAL Herald for more news about that.

The Insider - EA Town Hall Meeting 2/14

This time around MaxisGreg hosted the EA Town Hall meeting and we received alot of great information that'll clear up the cloudy future of TSO, EAL, and 'The Merge'. He gave up some information about the 4th and 5th anniversary gifts that'll get you all giddy! He also coughed up information about the next bullet train and how the merge tests are going. And we say goodbye to Betaville.

- Sims will continue to age and gain skill locks when productions cities close. Many of you know that the production cities (all cities except TC3 & EAL) will be closing next Wednesday. He said that they need to shut down west coast servers. What that means exactly, I dont know.

- Skill locks will soon be based on account age and not sim age. Good news for all the oldies who quit but are now returning for EAL and the merge.

-The Graphics team has already started on the Sims 2 characters. For more information about the new graphics skim down this page to the story called "Planning for the Future: Graphics".

- Referral program almost ready to launch.

- Neighborhood search coming, with a search/filter overhaul. This should improve our searches and property filters. I suggested that they also add a "Bio Search". My suggestion was then gobbled up by nonsense and chatter.

- Merge test are "looking good". Greg reassured many sims that he's 100% we will be merging. It's finally good to see some positive news about the merge.

- "No one working on roof bug yet". A quote that contradicts what Parizad told us at the 1/28 EA Town Hall Meeting. I'll take Greg's word.

- Fourth and Fifth anniversary gifts are done! He then added "Not 100% sure". Parizad already told us that the fourth anniversary gift will be a plaque commemorating the 4 years we've been on TSO and colored canons for our 5th year anniversary gift.

- They will be extending founder period "a couple months". This was an unexpected surprise. I always felt that the beta tester weren't the only "founders". What about the people who bought the game the first day and went on to be more successful then the founders and actually made the game what it is today. Kudos TSO-e team!

- Next bullet train Mon (2/18) or Tues (2/19) Now we know...kinda.

- Crafting prices to become 'Dynamic' EAL, New and Dynamic! It seems like everything is starting to go 'dynamic'. It may turn out to be a good thing. It'll create challenges and bring strategies to the game.

- Skilling speed and money payouts will continue to fluctuate up and down. At the time of the meeting the max skilling speed was 99%. Yikes! I predict that skilling houses' hours will go down and we'll start to see more diverse lots. Oh, and alot less AFK sims.

- Betaville closed for good. Greg told us that Betaville is not going to reopen to prepare for merge. Goodbye BV, I never liked ye. (didnt try to rhyme)

- Working on 8 sim slots for EAL. Alot of people angry because they already deleted their sims to make sure that their production city sims will make it into the 6 sim slots. EA changed it to 8 slots and players cant get their deleted sims back.

Greg gave alot more information than I thought he would. Some of it useful, and the rest not so much. It's good to know that there is some kind of work being done at the TSO-e Headquarters. Here's to hoping that we merge by Christmas!

The Insider - EA Town Hall Meeting 2/7

Parizad answered the same questions today that she has been answering for almost two months now. You know, the "when is the merge?", "when is the move?", "why didn't my CC get approved?", "when will male bears get creme color fur?". Between the pointless and mindless blabber we recieved a few good hints and answers at what TSO-e has in store for EAL.

- We'll be able to play more than one sim on the same account at once time. Great news for those who own more than one account, now you can save those 10 bucks and buy simoleans or something useful in real life. :D

- You wont get money from Maxis when you sell back property/lot. They will be underlining the importance of the real estate market in the new economy. The lots, like the items, also fall under the new 'Object Economy' where lot values will increase as more people buy lots and vice versa.

- We'll be able to make our own CC clothes. This was an obvious "duh", but Parizad finally confirmed it. She said how it's difficult for them to make clothes for sims and how they'll let us make them instead. Who's going to make me some MC Hammer pants? You'll have to give them to me through trade because you can't touch this!

Anyway, another informative meeting for those who couldn't or didn't want to attend. Remember we'll always be there getting the news you want and the commentary that you couldn't care less about!

The Insider - EA Town Hall Meeting 1/30

This was probably the worst Town Hall meeting in a while. Throughout the whole session there were people complaining about the whole window mode and full screen mode. But we were able to get a few good answers from Parizad.

- We can expect to see Cash-Out in EA-Land withing the next month

- Bullet Train arrives 2/1 ("In theory")

- Active Sims stats: AV-110, BF-93, EAL-571,TC3-90, DC-0, FF-7, EJ-0


Also there was a TSO-e guy there named MinkzN or something. I was surpised he's even on the TSO-e team, he barely talked about TSO and didn't even know how to operate the Chat History window.

The Insider - EA Town Hall Meeting 1/28

Parizad gave a lot of good hints and clues of what to expect to see in the future on TSO. She commented on the merge saying it'll come "soon". She also liked a few suggestions that sims told and said she would like to see them in the game. Not only did she receive praise, but she also received some flack about the abundance of bugs and errors in EA-Land. All answers to the questions are below.

- They were able to fit over 130 sims into the EA Town Hall but only 70 actually showed in the lot. Because they'll be raising the sim limit they're also working on ways to raise the object limit to accommodate more sims.

-When asked about letting stores sell wallpapers, flooring, and build items she said "Awesome idea! I hope we can do it by the end of 2008". Hey, atleast she didn't blow the idea off.

- She confirmed that the EA-Land team will be bringing objects from ALL seven of 'The Sims' expansion packs to the game soon.

- The team is currently working on fixing the roof bug. It will go through internal testing, then TC3, and then EA-Land

- When asked about bringing aspirations with the TS2 graphics she was unsure if they would.

- Free green will be gone forever with the merges. She commented that Free Greening was an economy drain.

At the time of the meeting she gave us two interesting stats on the active population in EA-Land. She said that there were 657 sims logged into EA-Land and 14 in EJ.

The Insider - Planning for the Future: Graphics

(1/24/08) EAL- Today in the EA Town Hall we got a very special visit from a TSO-e newcomer, Vishwa. Vishwa is currently on the TSO-e team working on visual appearance and new graphics slated to come to TSO. Vishwa (accompanied by Parizad) answered a good selection of questions that may be important to some of you. relax the blog was there to ask a few questions and record the answers.

The current plan is to have a mix of both TS1 graphics and TS2 graphics in TSO. There will be a TS2 specific client for those who choose to run the TS2 graphics. They also plan on having separate lots containing different graphics and specs. For example one lot can have TS1 graphics while another can have TS2 graphics. Vishwa explained that TS2 sims may be able to land and interact on TS1 lots, but doubts TS1 sims can land and interact on TS2 lots. All of these plans are being tested and no decision has been made final.

Concerning graphics, Vishwa told us that they're currently working on fixing bugs and creating an option for players to choose whether or not to upgrade their TSO visuals according to their PC specs.

Parizad mentioned that they're working to "upgrade to Direct X9 in the next month or so." An upgrade that will leave many people out in the cold because of their PCs not being powerful enough or not being up to date on hardware specs. We hope that they atleast give us the option to upgrade, if not there will be many veterans and oldies leaving the game for a short period. Atleast until they gather 50$ to upgrade their PC.

Contact Us

Powered by Wufoo