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I guess I just like liking things

We’ve talked previously about tasks/rewards in The Simpsons: Tapped Out. The more I look into it, the more it seems that’s par for the “tapping on stuff games” course: the less time it takes, the more you can do it, the more you’ll be rewarded for it. The goal is to keep your eyes on the game, and I think the more ultimate goal is that the more your eyes are on the game, the more you want the coolest stuff, and the more likely it is you’ll spend actual dollars to get it. If you just put your characters on 24-hour tasks all the time, it’ll take you a lot longer to level up.

I took my accountant friend’s formulas and plugged in the numbers for The Sims Freeplay and it turns out I’ve been doing everything all wrong, but I’m still unlikely to change. To earn money in TSF, there are a few options:

  • Grow something
  • Bake something
  • Get a job
  • Engage in a hobby

Sidenote: If you’re playing and you want the best job, take the Athlete one. The last level of it is only an hour and it pays better than any other job. Hobbies, baking, and gardening, well… that’s where it gets complicated.

When I’m able, I’ve been having my Sims plant watermelons. It’s an hour-long task that costs 22 Simoleans to plant, but pays 160 and 120 XP.  And my Sims have planted a lot of watermelons. Like, thousands. There are 17 different crops you can choose, ranging in time from 30 seconds to 24 hours. The best possible crop, of course, is the 30-second bell pepper choice, but it’s only the best if you’re going to harvest and replant every 30 seconds, which nobody is going to do. On top of that, there are four options that run the risk of not rewarding you at all, but instead bring out a Sim-eating plant that you then have to subdue. You do earn 63 Simoleans from subduing it, but no XP and you lose all the time invested.

There's no singing here - this ain't Audrey II

There’s no singing here – this ain’t Audrey II

Watermelons have no risk, a decent reward, and the hour-long task means you won’t miss a Sim’s chance to go to work. Unlike Tapped Out, Sims can only go to their jobs when they’re scheduled to. If their job starts at 9:00, they can leave any time between 8:00 and 10:00, but that’s it. Plus. the hour-long tasks in Tapped Out are the best ones, reward-wise.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that Watermelons are only the 7th-best option, both money- and XP-wise. It’s not that big a deal, I know, it’s just surprising. However, the crops above watermelon all have time or risk factors, and my spreadsheet doesn’t know how to account for those things. I talked to my accountant friend about it and he did say there’d be a way to take those things into consideration, but I don’t have enough info, like how often you’re likely to get a Sim-eating plant. I know that the game creators must have extensive spreadsheets for balancing games (can you even imagine the spreadsheets for StarCraft?), but I’m not smart enough to reverse-engineer them.

More and more I find myself fascinated by the theories and rules that form the foundations for games, particularly these free-to-play tapathons. Maybe some day I’ll design one of my own, even though I have no idea who would make it. There’s gotta be a market for a Q*bert RPG-tapathon game though, right? And, yes, I am amused by The Sims making the “farming” play mechanic (that of grinding certain tasks in order to level up) an actual farming thing. Very funny, EA.


Oh, and in case you don’t get today’s title, you might want to watch this. There’s allusions to naughty words, but not the actual one.


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