How EA keeps its Simpson game alive and kicking

Electronic Arts' latest tool to keep The Simpsons: Tapped Out iOS game from becoming a zombie app: actual zombies.

In anticipation of The Simpsons' annual Treehouse of Horror episode, EA updated its Farmville-like game to include Halloween-themed landscapes such as a cemetery, complete with zombies and zombie pets that can infect the characters in your game. The addition adds a new wrinkle to the game, and breathes new life in for players who were done buying buildings and likely on the verge of burning out.

With the upgrade, EA made good on its promise to continue supporting The Simpsons: Tapped … Read more

How Electronic Arts resurrected its DOA Simpsons game

Don't call it a comeback.

"The Simpsons: Tapped Out" made its quiet return late last week after suffering through one of the more embarrassing meltdowns in app history when Electronic Arts pulled the game from Apple's App Store just a few days after its first launch in March. Simpsons fans had overwhelmed the server, causing connection problems, while massive bugs made for a terrible playing experience.

The incident is a lesson for any developer looking to launch a game with any amount of anticipation: be sure you're ready for the demand. Also, don't rush … Read more

The 404 1,006: Where we have no names (podcast)

Apple announced the new iPad yesterday in San Francisco, and with the reactions ranging from disappointment up to stores already running out of stock, Ty Pendlebury joins us today to give his take on the amped-up display, the updated nomenclature, and a rundown of the new iOS 5.1 features.

We'll also talk about Netflix coming out of your cable box, a new Sim City announcement, and a quick review of The Simpsons: Tapped Out.… Read more

The Simpsons: Tapped Out brings SimCity-style awesomeness to Springfield

Omigod omigod omigod! There's a new "Simpsons" game, and it's better than anything that's been on the actual TV show in years. (That's right, I said it.)

The Simpsons: Tapped Out turns your iPhone or iPad into a Springfield-style SimCity. Or maybe that's a SimCity-style Springfield. Either way, it's a city-building and management game, which is a lot cooler than it sounds.

The plot unfolds (hilariously) with an animated clip showing Homer wreaking nuclear-plant destruction on Springfield. (Really, it was just a matter of time.) Fortunately, everyone survived, but the town needs rebuilding.

You start with the Simpsons' house, then add Evergreen Terrace, the Kwik-E-Mart, and so on. A lengthy tutorial guides you every step of the way, which is a good thing--Tapped Out is a complex game, especially if you've never played SimCity or anything else involving building, resource management, and the like.

The main goal here is to accrue money, experience points, and, especially, doughnuts, which can be used to accelerate certain aspects of the game. See, the tasks that earn you money and experience take time--in some cases several minutes or even hours of actual, real time. By "spending" some doughnuts, you can zip through those tasks in seconds.… Read more

How the Simpsons will spark EA's freemium push

The Simpsons are going mobile in a big way with a free iOS game created by Electronics Art.

EA plans to release The Simpsons: Tapped Out to iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad in the coming weeks, the video game giant told CNET. The game will be given away for free, but players will have the option to buy virtual currency, or in this case, "doughnuts," that can speed up the game's progress.

The game rides on the latest trend in mobile gaming: the freemium business model. As I've written in a previous column, EA … Read more

The 404 989: Where a rose can bloom in the desert (podcast)

Simpsons fans in Los Angeles are meeting up today to kick off the Ultimate Fan Marathon Challenge in an effort to beat the world record for consecutive TV watching currently set at 86 hours, 6 minutes, and 41 seconds. On today's show, we'll discuss the challenge and propose one of our own that may be a little more difficult to achieve.… Read more

Add 'Simpsons' voices to your TomTom GPS

If you own a TomTom GPS and you're a "Simpsons" fan, you're in for a treat.

For the past couples years, you had the option of putting the voice of Homer Simpson into your nav system. Now, TomTom has landed two more "Simpsons" cast members: Julie Kavner and Harry Shearer, who lend their considerable vocal talents to Marge Simpson and Mr. Burns, respectively.


These "Voice Skins," which sell for $12.95 apiece, take the place of the stock voices contained in your TomTom. (Actually, you can switch back and forth between … Read more

Jobs' sister eulogizes her brother as 'idealistic'

The sister of Steve Jobs says that growing up as an only child raised by a single mother, she would imagine her father as "an idealistic revolutionary" who resembled actor Omar Sharif.

"For decades, I'd thought that man would be my father," writes Mona Simpson, a noted writer. "When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother."

In a moving New York Times op-ed piece today, Simpson offers an intimate portrait of the late Apple co-founder, the brother she met in 1985--three decades after their parents put him up … Read more

The 404 890: Where we put a tornado in your hurricane (podcast)

Don't dump your Apple stock before you listen to today's episode, because Wilson's going to tell us why Apple will survive the resignation of Steve Jobs. Wilson lets go of a couple tears before we lighten up a bit with a slightly less upsetting fact: the Web is older than incoming college freshmen.

You mad yet? What about the fact that most incoming freshmen don't anything about the OJ Simpson trial, or that they'd rather be like LeBron than Mike? Oh, and Ferris Bueller could be their father.

After the break, we'll address your concerns about the podcast feed, tell you why we stopped Tang That Tune, and reiterate an important point to remember: all Asian people are not tech experts!

The 404 Digest for Episode 890

Steve Jobs resigns from Apple (CNET roundup). Aww man, the Web is older than incoming college freshmen. Future PlayStations could read you like a book. All Asian people are not tech experts!

Episode 890 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

D'oh! D'oh! Homer Simpson now on TomTom

"Doughnuts. Is there anything they can't do?" OK, that isn't one of the famous Homer Simpson quotes drivers will now find on the TomTom GPS app for the iPhone. But with Homer as a co-pilot, drivers need to get in the spirit of Homer-isms: "Make a U-turn. Ha ha, you've goofed. D'oh!"

TomTom today announced that the voice of Homer Simpson, (Dan Castellaneta) of the long-running TV series "The Simpsons," can be downloaded for $5.99. The Homer Simpson voice requires version 1.7 of the TomTom App (available for $49.99) installed.

"Homer's skills will help keep drivers and fans entertained in a light-hearted and familiar way. It's exciting to have him onboard!" said Alain Pakiry, senior vice president of marketing at TomTom.

The Homer Simpson voice for the TomTom App is available in the U.S., as well as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and Sweden. And, of course, Springfield.… Read more