1. What’s Up Glitches!

    LIKE YOU, I got sucked into this stupid, stupid non-game game “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” (“It’s life-ruiningly fun!” says Homer). Unlike you, I do not own a smartphone, and play it on my little iPod dealie, which is technically a mobile device, I guess, usually for ten minutes as I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, if I’ve already worked through that months’ stack of Archie Comics digests and Harriet Carter catalogs.


    As you well know, what you do in “Tapped Out,” see, is you tap on stuff and build things and send Simpsons characters on little tasks, and are occasionally mocked by these same characters for doing just this through word balloons, Level Up screens, and occasionally – very occasionally – short clips of exclusive animation. And brother, we all of us deserve to be mocked. Because there’s absolutely no point to any of this! It’s a complete waste of time!  


    Speaking of complete wastes of time, you’ve been thinking of starting a Tumblr account, but every single idea has been taken. Almost. The truth is, every single idea has been taken but two. And here’s one of them:


    And it’s all yours!

    Yes! Go ahead! Steal it! Hell, I don’t care! Technically, yes, it is my idea and you might want to send a couple hundred dollars my way as a token of your appreciation, but between this blog, my regular job, my court-mandated community service picking condoms off the beach in Santa Monica and the cardio bootcamp I run for overfed feral cats (We meet twice a week in the alley behind Vallarta Supermercado in Winnetka, 6 pm sharp!), I don’t have the time. I can’t take on any more projects!

    So look, pal, The Simpsons: Tapped Out Glitches is all yours if you want it! Just clear it with Gracie Films,  Fox Digital Entertainment and EA Mobile.


    And just to get you started, I’ve compiled a bunch way too many of screen shots of some of the more delightful glitches – “texture glitches” as they’re officially known – that I’ve come across. Yours for the taking, there, buddy!

    [By the way I learned they’re called “texture glitches” from the Tapped Out player’s best friend – the only website you’ll ever need to answer all your Tapped Out questions (or some of them at least), Tapped Out Tips.]

    Anyway, on with the images!


    It seems that almost every unique, one-of-a-kind building in Springfield is subject to being temporarily multiplied and appearing in place of the houses you can build.

    Above, in place of a row of White Houses, is the Try-N-Save, backwards – as all these glitches seem to be – with the coin-operated kiddy rides, normally in front, splayed out above each store.


    Classic! A row of pink houses is replaced with multiple Moe’s Taverns, here with what seems to be a plague of rats. It’s actually just the entire animated sequence of the one rat that runs along the roof when anyone is inside on a task.


    The Mapple Store stands in for a cluster of Blue Houses. A row of computers for sale can be seen in the little squares by each store. You can’t usually see them very well because they’re obscured behind the glass of the front doors.


    Overlapping Gilded Truffles.


    Here’s the House of Evil, your one stop evil shop, which was only available during the Halloween update. The items seemingly raining down to the left of the stores is the merchandise in the store window. I can’t tell what these things are but it’s a good bet one is a monkey’s paw and another is a cup of cursed frogurt.


    Eleven separate post offices right next to one another. No wonder the USPS is in trouble, right? Ha! Ha ha ha!

    What causes these texture glitches? No one knows. They’re like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest. Or a Mystery Box within a Mystery Box within a Mystery Box and so on, infinitely. Which hasn’t happened to me yet, but I keep hoping.


    Also, by “no one knows,” I mean some programmer or coder or game designer could probably explain it to you, but it likely involves the terms “dongle” and “fork” and no one’s allowed to use those words anymore.


    A row of Java Server coffeee houses taking over for the Pink Houses. Insert late 1990s ubiquity-of-Starbucks joke here.


    Six Howard’s Flowers shops stand in for a clutch of Blue Houses here…


    …And even more Blue Houses here. What episode was “Howard’s Flowers” from?  I don’t know either.

    Perhaps these glitches stand out because they’re multiples of the buildings you only get one of, standing in for a group of houses in a “house farm.” It’s entirely possible that single regular houses may also appear as glitches, but I wouldn’t notice because the coloring of, say, the purple and pink houses are kind of close. And also, I’ve got houses strewn willy-nilly all throughout Springfield, and if one orange house is suddenly a brown house for two minutes, it’s not even going to register up here. (I’m pointing to my head.)


    The area above – normally a cluster of Blue Houses – seems to be one of a couple places in my Springfield particularly prone to glitches. Here we see that Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub, from way across town, has mysteriously appeared here.


    Skip’s Diner. I don’t recognize this from the show, unless it’s the place where John and the Simpsons went to eat in “Homer’s Phobia.”


    A big wad of Cool Brown Houses – available only for a short time to promote the current season’s episode “The Day the Earth Stood Cool.” Overlapping as they do, they look like hideous condos from the late 1970s.


    This is the other place in my Springfield where my game usually tends to get all glitched out – a smaller section of Blue Houses. Could it be that the Blue Houses are the problem? Here we see they’ve disappeared and in their place, four Police Departments seem to be sinking into the ground.


    The Try-N-Save appeared here, too.

    These glitches don’t affect game play, by the way. They’re like digital mirages. If you tap on, say, any of those, eh, Evas-N-Yrts above, it’ll tell you it’s a Blue House. Sometimes if I scroll away until it’s no longer in the screen and then come back, it’ll have returned to normal. Other times it’ll be something else completely. And sometimes if I just stay there without moving around, the glitch will eventually cycle through a number of different structures.

    And it’s not just buildings that suffer from texture glitches:


    Here’s a bunch of floating blue Dumpsters with the left side of the lid – the side that Cletus lifts up, behind each unit, showing the three different positions used in animating it.


    Six weather stations! Neato!


    Channel 6 news vans with their various elements strewn alongside each one.

    While I’m way too old to understand computer programming, and don’t have a definite explanation for these glitches that are mainly isolated to two specific areas, I have narrowed things down to a couple of possibilities: I either made the mistake of building on the hallowed ground of an Indian graveyard, or – and I think this is much more likely – there’s a particularly strong electromagnetic force below Springfield resulting in occurrences we just don’t understand. This also might tie into Hans Moleman’s disappearance underground every 108 minutes and the mysterious polar bear in Mr. Burns’ office.


    Bridges are another element that seems particularly prone to appear randomly. Above, in a glitch worthy of Escher, sort of, Fat Tony can be seen “taking care of a problem.”  Or half of him, anyway.


    A few fountains have been disassembled on the lawns of some Purple Houses.

    My experience has been that the longer I play the game, the more likely it becomes to see these aberrations. If I just spend a few minutes in it, there’s no problems.  But if my Springfield session is longer than about eight minutes, all hell begins to delightfully break loose.

    And as for visiting friends’ Springfields, I’ve only noticed one glitch, but it was magnificent:


    The Santa’s Little Helper balloon (from the Thanksgiving update) has been multiplied five times and exploded into each of the individual elements that make it up. I don’t remember who’s Springfield this was, but I envy you, friend, if you experience this sort of thing on a regular basis.

    Occasionally it’s the characters themselves that get all glitched out. My favorite – and by Godfrey, I know I took a screen shot of it, but I can’t find it – was when Santa’s Little Helper (the actual dog, not the balloon) briefly replaced each of the lamp posts I had placed around the town hall. He was in a begging pose, and each of the posts looked like statues. It was, yes, a delight.

    This was one of those instances where it kept, changing, too. Shortly after that, the posts turned to Dr. Nick…


    …and then Grandpa:


    …where they’re doppelgangers of the real Abe Simpson sitting on a bench feeding pigeons.


    Above, two still images of Krusty in a walk cycle from the “Inflate His Own Self Importance” task are enlarged and mysterious have replaced two pine trees behind the Muntz house.


    Again, a slightly-larger than normal version of a character – Groundskeeper Willie – has appeared. There’s normally a trash can where he is. Creepy!


    This one makes no sense at all. Larger-than-life-Luigi is either standing in a Valentine’s Day  heart tree while tossing a pizza, or ascending to heaven. Or climbing the tree trying to grab the pizza dough as it ascends to Heaven.

    Other glitches are similarly absurd.


    This one looks like an elaborate sliding tile puzzle that someone gave up on because it was just too damn difficult.

    And my very favorite:


    It’s like Kandinsky and Warhol collaborated on a Simpsons: Tapped Out texture glitch.

    Now most of my, what, six regular readers are probably saying, “God almighty, that was a long post! I don’t come here for this crap! I don’t even play this stupid game and I’ll tell you one thing, Ted – I sure as hell won’t now! In fact, you might have to start writing ‘my, what, five regular readers’ after you wasted my time with this!”

    And I understand your frustration.

    But know this: A year and a half ago I wrote some nonsense about these ridiculous “Koo Koo Birds” stuffed animals which inexplicably gave me by far the most hits I’ve ever gotten. “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” being among the top-grossing games in Apple’s App Store, there’s a good chance that this near-endless parade of images and long-winded conjecture about something I have no business trying to explain just might push my blog’s average number of daily hits toward that golden “Baker’s Dozen” range of  about 13 or so again!

    Posted by on March 30, 2013, 10:56 PM.

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