“Mate in two, grootvader,” the visitor taunted as she leaned back from the board.
“Oh, my,” Jacques Villareal said as he reviewed the sudden reversal of his fortunes. “You’ve certainly developed some interesting end-game strategies back in Skinnerville.”
“So, do you want to go three-for-five?” Peyton Skinner asked.
“No dear,” Jacques said, glancing away. “Have pity on a poor, old pensioner.”
“Old? You wanna complain about being old? Listen, Jacques: Back home, I’ve been dead for a generation-and-a-half!”
“Well, it is good to see the game is still drawing from existing Sims instead of generating extra Townies,” Vivek Wilkes said as has and Bryon Heck passed Peyton on their walking tour of Windenburg.
Bryon had set his group to Travel… to Windenburg when he realized the Formal outfit he had tried on was content from Get Together. Of the four men who had accompanied him to JF&S that afternoon, only his lifelong friend had joined him for this leg of the outing.
“And, of course, we saw Annette Thayer and Jamie Rose, and Nina Caliente, Liberty Lee and Evan Fletcher at the bakery,” Bryon said, pausing on the walkway.
“But that woman who tried to cut in front of us at the bakery, and the baker herself …
“And that gentleman we passed on the way here; I’ve never seen any of them before.”
“And the hairstyle and jacket the young lady behind him was sporting, I don’t think I’ve seen those either,” Vivek said. “She’s either a new Townie or … or a resident of Windenburg.”
“You don’t think Windenburg is a full-fledged, populated World do you?” he asked. “Even though EA/Mobile hasn’t seen fit to fix the problems with culling in the game, you wouldn’t think they’d actually dump another two dozen-some Sims in everyone’s character directories, do you?”
“That would be nothing short of madness!” Bryon said. “It would trigger a plague of culling on a global scale! I’m sure millions of loyal Players have Saved Games that are near the population limit! What game developer would do such a … oh, for Wright’s sake! Vivek! This means we’re infected!”
“Now, let’s not jump to conclusions, and don’t let yourself get Riled Up,” Vivek said. “We need to get to a computer. There must be a library somewhere nearby.”
There was, with wide, softly lit rooms with stained glass windows, appointed in a variety of rich woods.
Vivek felt at home, and he was not really surprised to see that Mortimer Goth had beaten them here.
“Come, sit down, Dr. Wilkes,” Mortimer said. “Sorry I had to ditch out of your little shopping trip.”
“So, are you here on assignment, or is this family business?” Vivek asked.
“A little of both, as always,” Mortimer said. “Geoff received word that Get Together had been installed, evidently not long before you and your colleague figured it out. So what bring you here?”
“Why, the pastries, of course,” Vivek said with renewed misgivings about sharing too much information with Mortimer. “But I must say, this is a lovely World. I could see wanting to settle here.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Mortimer said. “There certainly are several fine residential lots to choose from.”
“Yes,” Vivek said. “Yes, I’m afraid there are.”
Bryon had moved on to one of the open PCs while Vivek was engaged. Delaying the inevitable, he checked the Disappearing Townie Foundation’s inbox before opening the game.
There was a message from one of the Foundation’s off-World correspondents, advising of recent efforts by EA/Mobile to treat DTS.
“After months of sand-bagging on the issue, we’d lost faith they would do anything!” Bryon said.
Bryon soon found an old post on teh Forums that which highlighted a discussion of culling pulled from the bottom of the lengthy December Patch notes. He felt something like sympathy for the author, liked to think he was a well-intended Developer trying to communicate honestly with his customers, but through the usual filter of marketing department misdirection and prevarications.
He felt less sympathy for the SimGuru who who posted a little way down teh Forum thread, in response to a request that they tell us what the new population cap is. The SimGuru would only reassure their customers that the population cap had not simply been raised by one Sim.
Any further explanation would not be possible, the SimGuru explained, because it “is not a simple issue and is dependent on so many other vectors in the game.”
“Oh, please!” Bryon shouted at the monitor, to a chorus of Shhes from other library patrons.
“Well, if Stephen Hawking can explain quantum mechanics to the unwashed masses, surely they could find someone on staff who can explain a game algorithm to that game’s core fans,” Bryon grumbled back.
“Bryon, please; I’d like to come back here someday. Please don’t get us barred from the library.”
Bryon closed his eyes, silently counting backwards from ten.
“I take it the news is unfavorable,” Vivek said.
“Two … One,” Bryon said. “I haven’t even gotten to the news. I was reacting to something I read on teh Forums,” Bryon said.
“Teh Forums?” Vivek laughed. “Bryon, you know you shouldn’t go anywhere near teh Forums, not with your Hot-Headed Trait.”
“It’s related, Dr. Wilkes, or I would not have set my pointer anywhere near the link,” Bryon said.
Vivek settled into a chair behind Bryon as he powered up the game.
“So, what did you read?”
“Well, they say they’re aware of and working on the problems that Disappearing Townie Syndrome and the generation of surplus Townies have caused. They say they’ve made some tweaks that have had mixed results in reducing Townie generation. They say they may or may not have raised the population limit. They say if they did, they raised it by more than one Sim.”
“Well, that’s more than they’ve said in the past, but it is still all rather vague, don’t you think?” Vivek asked.
“Of course, but they say it has to be,” Bryon said. “They say we simply wouldn’t understand.”
“I see; I am just glad to know that someone is protecting me from too much information,” Vivek said. “I must forgive your outburst.”
“Not at all,” Bryon said. “I promise not to read any more inflammatory texts in the library.”
“I hope this doesn’t affect your and Allison’s plans,” Vivek said. “For your life together, for any family …”
“Family?” Bryon laughed while The Sims 4 load screen splashed advertisements on his monitor. “Dear fellow, Allison and I haven’t even discussed children and, if we ever do, I imagine it will be after we’ve had two or three runs through the Young Adult life stage.”
“Really?” Vivek asked.
“It’s like you said. The three of us have spent our whole time here working for Eric Lewis and the SIMposium, and what do we have to show for it?” Bryon asked. “No. It’s our turn to play. I’m going to pursue a career in music; Allison is going to … well, she can do anything she sets her mind to, and you … what sort of career did you have in mind, Vivek?”
“I have given it a lot of thought, since the Get to Work release notes came out last year,” Vivek said. “These hands-on careers are intriguing. I thought I might pursue a career in law enforcement, or one of the mad sciences.”
“Those are rather time-consuming careers,” Bryon said as he loaded a random household in their Saved Game. “You’d have to be active Sim in the household most of the time, except perhaps while you’re sleeping. But I imagine I’ll be working mostly nights as a musician, and Allison can take another rabbit-hole career. We can make this work, Vivek.”
“Actually, I’ve read up on this quite a bit, and I believe these active careers are best suited to Sims in single-Sim household,” Vivek said. “To do otherwise would be to literally rob my housemates of their rightful playing time.”
Bryon laughed nervously.
“What are you saying, Vivek?”
“What is it saying?” Vivek asked with a glance toward the monitor when the household loaded.
Bryon turned to the keyboard, opened the cheat console, keyed in “get_pop” and hit “Enter”.
“It … it says we need to speak with Karli Wheeler, right away.”