As someone who grew up watching The Simpsons on TV with my father, getting a chance to work on Tapped Out was a fairly surreal experience. The show has been on TV for over 30 years and has an extremely rich narrative universe and a passionate fan base. Creating content for a brand that is this established and beloved is both an honor and a responsibility. I believe that when you take on working with a brand you owe it to the fans to do everything in your power to understand what it is that they love about brand and how you can authentically channel that into the work you produce that is an extension of that brand.
When I came onto the project it had already been in live service for about 6 years. The first event I contributed to was the Itchy and Scratchy Land event of 2018. I wrote some of the script for this event in collaboration with the licensor. I was also responsible for balancing the economy of the event. I set the reward cadence for the event and assigned event currency amounts to unlock all of our prizes. I then did copious amounts of playtesting to insure that the prizes were unlocking according to the timeline I’d set.
Here’s a link that shows some of the balancing work that I did for the economy during that event: Itchy and Scratchy Land Event
My next contribution to the project was owning the development of the Poochie’s Dog Dayz content update. This was a very fun mini-event that we ran that featured a fairly infamous character from the show. When I was given this assignment I decided to use it as an opportunity to dig into the trope of 90’s cartoon characters that were inexplicably given rap numbers and pulled on a lot of that humor in the writing. I wrote the script for the event in collaboration with the licensor. I also collaborated with the artists on selecting all the prizes for the event and determining how they would animate. Finally, I balanced the game economy for the event.
Here is a link showing a playthrough of some of that update: Poochie’s Dog Dayz
I then was responsible for the 2018 Christmas event – A Simpson’s Christmas Special. I worked on this event from start to finish and was responsible for every aspect of its design. I wrote the entire script for the event in collaboration with the licensor. I also chose all of the characters and prizes that would unlock for the event and worked in close collaboration with the artists and animators to bring all of them to the game. And again, I balanced the economy for the event.
This event in particular was my love letter to the Simpsons. I based the concept of the event off of the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, which was the pilot episode of the show. I wanted this event to feel like a real throwback to the origins of the show and pull on all of the nostalgia and charm of those origins. Because that pilot episode features a children’s Christmas play I decided to have the event take place in four acts and have each act represent a traditional type of Christmas storytelling told from the perspective of a specific family member.
Act One of the event was a story told from the perspective of Lisa about a Christmas Pageant – much like the children’s Christmas play in “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”. Act Two then dramatically shifted in tone to be a story told from Bart’s perspective that was very much in the style of “Die Hard” (yes, it is a Christmas film). Act Three was then a parody of Hallmark Channel Christmas films told from Marge’s perspective. Act Four was an homage to the old Claymation children’s Christmas movies like “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” and was “narrated” by Maggie via her drawings.
I created a new event type for this event which we called the “Multi-Event” that used this four act structure. The Multi-Event has since gone on to be used as the event type for 18 game events and is still making use of the template that I set in creating A Simpsons Christmas Special.
Here is a link to a playthrough of that event: A Simpsons Christmas Special
Other than the script for this event, the two things I am most proud of were getting an animation in the game of Crazy Cat Lady riding in a sleigh pulled by cats, and an animation of a character knitting. I love both cats and knitting and it was exciting to bring those things to the world of Tapped Out.