Sunday, June 27, 2010

Introduction to Farmville on Facebook

Farmville is one of many farming simulation games on Facebook but possibly is the most popular. Celebrating its first year Anniversary, it probably has developed enormously since its inception.

In terms of actual farming, the options are very simple. You arrive in Farmville with 225 coins and 5 Farmville dollars with six tilled plots. One plot is filled with Eggplant that is ready to be harvested. Strawberry and Eggplant in two other plots are 50% grown. It costs 15 coins to till one square.

Your first objective obviously is to harvest the Eggplant. You then should till a few more plots and go to the Market to buy seeds.

In the lower right corner of your Farmville screen, you will see six boxes with icons. The first is an arrow and this represents a multi-tool. It is the one that you use to move items or harvest Crops ad other items, including Trees, Animals and Animal Barns that are 'ready'. The second icon is a hoe, and obviously this is the tool to use in order to till plots on your field. The third icon represents a delete tool. You can delete tilled ground if you wish to put it to a different use. Items on the other hand should be sold instead of deleted if possible. The fourth icon depicts a show ribbon and this is where your collections are listed and stored. More of that later. The fifth icon is the Market where you purchase items, including Seeds, Animmals, Buildings and Decorations. The sixth and final box is your Inventory Gift Box, where Gifts that have been sent to you are kept until you either use or sell them.

The goals of the game itself are to generate more players and to persuade them to spend real money on virtual items. The goals of a player are to obtain as many upgrades and items as possible and preferably to do so without being forced to spend real money. The creators of any of these online games try to strike a happy balance between the two conflicting goals by allowing you to send and receive free gifts as well as rewarding you for your accomplishments on your farm. If you are going to spend real money on the game, do so judiciously by buying items that you cannot gain through other methods.

Farming in Farmville and other Facebook farming simulation games is time-specific where Crops are concerned. Unlike Harvest Moon farming, Crops in Farmville are not season-specific, but there is a limited amount of time that they can be expected to survive once they are ready for harvest. There is a Limited Item in the form of the 'Unwither Ring' that when placed, will prevent your Crops from withering but the cost of this Limited Item is 250 Farm Cash, the equivalent of $40.00 and as a Limited Item, it is offered only a few days before it disappears from the Menu at the Market. Although you may lose quite a few 'valuable' Crops in Farmville without the Unwither Ring when you are unable to log into Facebook to play the game, the cost of the item is rather steep. I certainly could not afford one myself.

An explanation of currency in general in Farmville and the prices at the Market may be useful at this point. There are two kinds of currency in the form of Farm Cash and Coins. Both can be earned through your actions in the game itself, but it is easier to earn Coins than Farm Cash. There are items at the Market that can be purchased solely with Farm Cash, however. In some cases, the same item will be offered with a price in Farm Cash and a price in Coins but this is not often the case in Farmville.

In terms of Farm Cash, you begin the game with 5 FC and each time you increase your experience by one Level, you earn 1 Farm Cash.

Some farm buildings can be purchased in skeletal form for a specific number of coins or as finished buildings with Farm Cash. When purchased in skeletal form, you will be given a specific list of items that you must obtain in set quantities in order to construct the building.

For example, there are a number of buildings that can be used for storage of items as well as other buildings. A Limited Japanese collection at the Market that included a Japanese Barn provides an example of the way the option operates. You can buy the skeletal version of this Bar or the finished building. The prices are as follows:

Japanese Barn
Time Left: 9 days
Cost: 5000
XP Gain: 50
Sell for 250 coins

Japanese Barn
Time Left: 9 days
Cost: 50 Farm Cash
Capacity: 20 items
Sell for 6000 coins

In Farmville, unlike Farm Town, another Facebook farming simulation game, you can harvest Ranch Products from Animals without housing them. You therefore can place any number of Cows, Sheep and Chickens on your Farm without purchasing a Barn or Chicken Coop. There are advantages to the purchase of Ranch buildings, however.

As far as a Chicken Coop is concerned, each Farm is limited to a single Coop but the purchase is very straightforward. The price is:

Chicken Coop
Cost: 5000 Coins
Harvest in 1 Day
XP Gain: 50
Sell for 250 Coins

Chickens are one of the items that can be sent to Facebook Friends and Farmville Neighbours as a Free Gift. You are limited in the number of Gifts that you can send to a single individual in the course of one day. The game itself will inform you that you can send only one item to any person each day but it sometimes is possible to send a gift to an individual every three hours.

As soon as you can afford to do so, you should purchase a Chicken Coop. 20 Chickens can be housed in a Coop, but that is not the primary reason why you should have one. After all, you could allow your Chickens to roam freely throughout the Farm. The reason why you should invest in a Coop is linked to your Neighbours and their capacity to visit you to help you on your Farm.

Once each day, a Neighbour can visit and expect to obtain an option to fertilise your Field. Five bags of Fertiliser will appear on the left side of your screen. Click on a tilled square to fertilise it. When you have used all five of the bags, you may receive an option to feed your Neighbour's Chickens if he/she has a Chicken Coop. A bag of Chicken Feed will appear in the top left corner of your screen. When you click on it, the game will scroll to the location of the Chicken Coop.

Although you earn coins when you help neighbours and sometimes ribbons and awards as well, the best reward potentially is an item known as a Mystery Egg. If, while feeding a Neighbour's Chickens, you find a Mystery Egg, it will be sent to your Gift Box. When you find it there, choose the option to 'Use' it. You then will be able to place it on your field in the same manner as you place any item. Click on it then to 'Open it'. Mystery Eggs can hatch Chickens, XP or Coins. They can hatch unusual and valuable Chickens apart from the ordinary White Chicken that you can receive or send as a Gift.

Your farm may appear to be quite large when you first begin to play Farmville but in fact, once you begin to purchase buildings and decorations, you may wish to upgrade to a larger size of field. In this, you are best served if you are able to obtain some neighbours as many of the farm upgrades have two prices. The lower price usually has a specific requirement in terms of the total number of Neighbours that you have.

It is when you wish to purchase Animals, Buildings and Decorations that you most likely will discover there are additional requirements in terms of the total number of Neighbours you have acquired. Where Crops are concerned, unlocking a new Crop usually is simply a matter of your experience Levels.

A screenshot of a farm showing Cupcake Crops and a Llama:

Screenshots of two Buildings under construction,a Horse Stable and a Japanese Barn. The Menu for Materials for the Japanese Barn is shown here as well:

Crop Lists and other Menu Lists will be given in a separate post.

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