Besides the relative peace-of-mind at afforded, another benefit of not gunning down the proprietor of the Drumlin Diner was financial. It gave Enkeli Starwing a valuable trading partner just southeast of her home settlement, along the road to the ruins of Boston.
And it was a good place to plan her next move.
Behind the diner, across a rubble-strewn lot, she saw the back of a drive-in movie screen.
“That would be a good place for a supply line hub as I extend my network of settlements closer to Diamond City,” she thought.
Enkeli wasn’t spending as much time smashing stuff in Fallout 4 as she had originally hoped. The wind-powered settlement beacon she raised on the roof of her home base was drawing more settlers.
She had employed two of them to maintain supply routes with two nearby farms, and that gave her a sufficient supply of radiation-free food to start a fourth, residential settlement.
Toward that end, she donned her most Charisma-buffing apparel and negotiated with Preston Garvey, leader of a group of settlers she had found trapped in a museum in Lexington.
This meant resisting Preston’s appeals for her to lead the Minutemen. Though that would be advantageous later, for now –
“I need everyone to meet me on the front porch!” Karli Wheeler called through the house.
“This can’t wait?” Enkeli shouted back. “I’m kinda busy.”
“Are you in the Steam account again?” Karli shouted.
“Um … “
“Then, no, this can’t wait! Get your plum down here!”
“Alright! Alright!” Enkeli shouted back. “Give me a minute to get these settlers to Sanctuary Hills and –“
“Fine! You win!” Enkeli said. “Just give me a second to save my progress, what little there is!”
Enkeli was waiting on the porch, letting her eyes adjust to the richer hues and deeper saturation of the graphics, when Karli herself emerged through the front door.
“Well, that’s one way to get me out of my PJs, hosting a house party.” Enkeli said. “What’s the occasion?”
Karli ignored the question.
“What are you doing playing Fallout? You were supposed to be fixing our mod!”
“Mods, and that took, like, two minutes, Karli,” Enkeli said, “and I think I know what went wrong, and what went right.”
“Something went right?”
“And you’ll never guess what,” Enkeli said. “Anyway, whoever installed Get Together yesterday – “
“Wait!”Karli said. “If it was installed yesterday, wouldn’t eight Sims have been deleted already?” Karli asked. “Did we already have culling turned off?”
“Actually, the MC Command Center settings file did have culling turned off when I check it, but it wouldn’t have helped,” Enkeli said.
“Because whoever installed Get Together did a half-plummed job,” Enkeli said. “They installed the latest update of MC Command Center, but they failed to replace the settings file after the EP was installed and the updates ran, so it wasn’t working. Plus, they failed to install the latest update of Fewer Townies on Community Lots.”
“So none of our mods have been working since yesterday,” Karli said.
“Right, but even if they had been, that would not have stopped the residents of Windenburg from downloading and some new Townies may still have been generated,” Enkeli said.
“But we had 188 Sims when I checked this morning,” Karli said. “So why weren’t eight Townies deleted overnight?”
“My guess is EA actually has raised the population limit,” Enkeli said.
“That’s great news!” Karli said. “It means EA is finally taking DTS seriously!”
“To be fair, I think they made some improvements at least one other time, before the release of Get to Work,” Enkeli said. “And they have been fiddling with the Townie-generating algorithms, but I suspect the main thing they’ve done this time is raise the population limit by about 30 Sims.”
“But that still buys us time, right?” Karli said. “I mean, I thought this House Party was going to be a wake for a dozen Townies who were about to be deleted at random. Instead, we actually have something to celebrate.”
“What are we celebrating?” Thalia Osborne asked as she mounted the porch.
“Good question,” Karli said. “That the game now makes full use of our 64-bit system?”
Karli thought for a second.
“OK, how ‘bout that the game is no longer generating excessive numbers of disguised aliens?”
Thalia thought for a second.
“No,” she finally said. “I mean, that is good news, but it also implies that there are disguised aliens among us, and that’s kinda scary. I wouldn’t want to celebrate that.”
“OK, well how ‘bout celebrating that EA has raised the population limit?” Karli suggested.
“That is worth celebrating!” Thalia agreed. “So, what’s the new population limit?”
“Oh, they won’t say.”
“What!?! That’s stupid,” Thalia said. “What good is a new population limit if you don’t know what it is? How can you prevent culling if you have no idea when it starts?”
“Riiight,” Karli realized. “You know what? They didn’t raise the population cap to help anybody; they raised it to cover their own plums!”
“Think about it!” Karli said. “If they didn’t raise the population cap, Get Together would not have been greeted with a chorus of justified praise for the new content and functionality, but a chorus of complaints when millions of Saved Games the world over contracted Disappearing Townie Syndrome.”
“That would certainly hurt sales,” Thalia said. “In a way, the higher population cap really only helps those who don’t install Get Together. Everyone else is no better off than when they started.”
“But I still don’t get why they don’t just come out and say what the new population limit is.”
“Well, think of the position they’re in,” Enkeli said as she returned to the porch.
“If they just come out and say they raised the population limit, it’s sort of an admission that the 180-Sim limit was arbitrarily low,” Enkeli said.
“Either that or they’re consigning Players running the game on minimum-spec computers to, uh, much longer load times,” Karli said.
“Yeah? Well, what do they expect?” Thalia asked. “It’s called minimum specs for a reason.”
“These aren’t people who listen to reason,” Debbie Van High said.
“For the same reason, they can’t just come out and say they will never add a Toddler Life Stage in The Sims 4,” Enkeli said. “If they added Toddlers, most of the people screaming for them would no longer be able to run the game.”
“Whoever said the customer is always right probably wasn’t a game developer,” Debbie said.
“I’m guessing it was a customer.”
“Well, I say this still is a night to celebrate,” Debbie said. “The population-limit has been lifted. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, but at least no one is getting deleted tonight.”
Thalia belatedly spun into her Party 1 outfit, but when it was done she felt as though she was still spinning.
“Whoa! That’s wrong.”
“What’s wrong?” Karli asked.
“I need to sit down.”
“Are you going to be OK?”
Thalia grinned weakly.
“I … the porch kept spinning and now I feel like I’ve been doing sit-ups all day,” Thalia said.
“Weird,” Karli said. “Too bad no one’s a doctor here yet.”
“I don’t need a doctor, Karli. I just need to sit.”
“Well, let me just sit with you,” Karli said.
“No,” Evan Fletcher insisted. “You have a party to host. I will sit with Miss Osborne.
“Me too,” Debbie said. “You need to go mingle.”
“Well, listen: If you notice any –“
“Karli! We can take care of this! We are big Sims!” Evan said. “You must mingle!”
“I might as well go for a Gold-metal party,” Karli said. “There’s a free stereo in it for us if we make it. Thanks guys.”
“So,” Evan said, turning his attention to Thalia. “Is it true what I hear, that you were born in this World?”
“Ah, but you were a Townie Child, I believe,” Evan said. “Maybe ‘born’ is not the right word; maybe the right word is ‘spawned’.”
Thalia knew Evan was still talking, but he seemed far away. She wasn’t really from here, but from another instance of Willow Brook on this hard drive. She had been visiting for weeks, but it never felt like home.
“Ms. Osborne? I hope the words of me do not make bad feelings in you. Many of the best friends of me were spawned.”
Her whole time here, she never felt anything but grateful her parents had taken her away from this slow-moving, crazy, backwater World, to a World where she could grow, up, meet her true love and be on the threshold of starting — .
But now she felt as though some part of her was still here.
“Still” wasn’t the right word.