Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Steps to Follow for any Co-Op Job

This list of 'things to do' is useful not only when you are part of an active Co-Op Job but whenever your Farm has the ability to trade Bushels at a Market Stall or more than one Market Stall.

First of all, it always is beneficial to have a Neighbour who is willing to work as an unofficial partner to grow Crops that you need for your chosen Craft. Unfortunately, you are limited to three Bushels from any specific Neighbour's Market Stalls, but you can choose Bushels from more than one Crop or all three from a single Crop. There is a little trick to this if you have a Neighbour with the same Craft that you have. When you have chosen three Bushels from any Neighbour's Market, you have the option to 'Share' a Bushel of the same type as the one chosen last. If you have taken more than one type of Bushel, always save the one that your Neighbour needs as the last to take, so that you will be able to Share one of those with him/her.

Before you begin to take Bushels from Neighbours or the Game Feed, look at your own inventory to make certain that you have sufficient space to store them. You are restricted to 100 Bushels irrespective of the number of Market Stalls that you own. You are limited to five Market Stalls, moreover. Whenever you find a Bushel for any Crop, it automatically will be displayed at one of your Market Stalls, unless all of them are displaying a different Crop. You therefore need to make certain that you have a Closed Market Stall or one that offers the same Crop BEFORE you begin to harvest any Crops, especially if the Crops you are going to harvest are a variety that you or your Neighbour needs. If necessary, shut a Market Stall in order to give yourself a venue for the Crop you are about to Harvest.

The next step to take BEFORE you harvest any Crop is to go to your Bushel inventory (accessed either through any of your Market Stalls or through your Crafting Building) to 'Use' a Bushel of the same Crop so that you will earn more Mastery points for that Crop.

The following appear to increase your chances of obtaining Bushels when you harvest your Crops:

1. Fertilisation
You can fertilise your own Crops using 'Fertilise All', a wonderful reward given randomly when you visit your Neighbours' farms or you can ask Friends and Neighbours to fertilise your Crops for you.

2. Crop Mastery
You earn Stars that represent the three Crop Mastery Levels for any Crop by harvesting specific totals of that Crop. There are three Levels and the higher your own Level, the better the chance of obtaining Bushels. With three Mastery Stars, for example, you are likely to obtain at least 4 Bushels when harvesting only 12 or 16 squares of the Crop. With no Crop Mastery, you may not obtain a single Bushel even when harvesting 100 squares. Crop Mastery is something you can begin to earn at Level 10. My post on preparing for Level 25 discusses the advantages of choosing a Craft before you actually are able to embark upon any crafting career. Go to your Inventory before you Harvest any Crop, therefore, to 'Use' a Bushel to increase the Crop Mastery Points gained from the Harvest of each square of that Crop.

3. Bees
Bees certainly are necessary for pollination of Crops, allowing you to unlock temporary pollinated Crops at the Marketplace. I believe that they improve the chances of obtaining Bushels as well, although I could be mistaken about this.

Although Co-Op Jobs do not require any Bushels or any specific Crop Mastery Level, it always is best to combine goals in Farmville and take a Job that will net you the Bushels you personally need for your chosen Craft.

There is a trick with respect to any Co-Op Job that can give you a good jump on the achievement of the requirement of total number of Bushels. This was taught to me by an old Harvest Moon friend of mine. What you do is plant almost your entire field with one or more of the Crops needed for the Co-Op Job you intend to Start/Join. Leave at least eight squares tilled but vacant!

When the Crops are fully mature, Start/Join the Co-op Job and then, BEFORE you harvest any of the ripened Crops, plant the squares that remain vacant with the same Crop. Once you have planted new seeds in the eight to twelve squares that you kept vacant, you can harvest the SAME NUMBER of ripened Crops. Do not harvest more Crops than you seeded, however, as they will not be counted towards the Co-Op total.

You see, you can trick the game into believing that the ripened Crops were planted during the course of the Job only if you seed an equivalent number of squares BEFORE you harvest the others. It is a little tedious perhaps, because you must alternate between Harvester, Tractor and Seeder again and again unless you have the new Combine machine but it can be worth the effort. After this initial cheat, you will be able to harvest the entire field the next time the Crops mature, obviously. It is only the initial harvest that has to be counted carefully.

Fertilisation Strategies:

'Fertilise All' will fertilise every tilled square on your field, whether or not Crops have been planted and even when Crops are fully mature. DO NOT WASTE YOUR FERTILISE ALL! Study your field before you use the item. If any of the Crops have been fertilised, harvest them and re-till the squares before you use the 'Fertilise All'. This is an important tip but easy to forget when one is involved in any harvest.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Preparing for Level 25

As soon as you reach Level 25 in Farmville, you will be offered your choice of Crafting Buildings, which either could be perceived as small factories or cottage industries. The three that are offered are: Spa, Winery and Bakery.

You will have been given a Market Stall long before you reach the point where you actually can USE the Bushels that you obtain when harvesting Crops. As you can store 100 Bushels, however, there is no reason why you cannot prepare for the moment when you launch your business at level 25 by deciding in advance which Craft to choose.

Note here that the Tractor will be unlocked at Level 12, the Harvester at Level 13 and the Seeder at Level 14. These vehicles will allow you to till the land, plant Seeds and harvest them much faster than before, as with any basic Farm Vehicle, you will be able to work four plots at a time.

To upgrade any Vehicle, you need to construct a Garage. Garages are unlocked only when you reach Level 22, but the basic Farming Vehicles should be sufficient until then.

It is at Level 20 that the Co-Op Jobs Option is unlocked, allowing you to join other Players to band together to produce specific totals of one or more Crops to satisfy a requirement for an imaginary customer.

Co-Op Jobs give you a number of rewards, including Coins and XP as well as adding to your Mastery of the Crops that you produce in the course of the job.

Gaining Mastery of Crops increases your chance of finding Bushels whenever you harvest those Crops. Bushels are what you need to complete Recipes when you reach Level 25 and choose your Craft.

With that in mind, knowing what Recipes will be available for each and the required ingredients may help immensely.

At each Craft, three Recipes will be available at Level 1. When you choose the Craft, the game will give you the necessary ingredients to prepare one item. At Level 1, you will have two 'tables' or slots where Items can be prepared.

Each time you increase the level of the Crafting Building, Slots or Tables will be added.

The three Recipes available for each of the Crafts at Level 1 are as follows:

Spa Cookbook, Level 1

Fresh Sachet
3 Bushels of Pumpkins
3 Bushels of Cranberries
1 Bushel of Sunflowers

Floral Perfume
4 Bushels of Blueberries
4 Bushels of Morning Glories

Relaxation Oil
4 Bushels of Blackberries
4 Bushels of Morning Glories

Spa Cookbook, Level 2

At Level 2, the following will be unlocked:

Petal Sachet

3 Bushels of Iris
2 Bushels of Sunflowers
1 Bushel of Peppers

Devotion Perfume
3 Bushels of Blueberrries
3 Bushels of Lilacs
2 Bushels of Basil

Energising Lotion
1 Bushel of Red Tulips
3 Bushels of Aloe Vera
3 Bushels of Blackberries

Spa Cookbook, Level 3

Restoring Candle
4 Bushels of Green Tea
2 Bushels of Ghost Chilis
1 Bushel of Sunflowers

Lily of the Valley Soap
1 Bushel of Lily
3 Bushels of Blueberries
3 Bushels of Morning Glories

Winery Cookbook, Level 1

Red Table Wine
2 Bushels of Grapes
5 Bushels of White Grapes

White Sangria
3 Bushels of White Grapes
2 Bushels of Sugar Cane
3 Bushels of Strawberries

Sweet Sake
5 Bushels of Rice
3 Bushels of Cranberries

Winery Cookbook, Level 2

Dry Sake
4 Bushels of Rice
2 Bushels of Green Tea
3 Bushels of Lilac

Fruit Wine
3 Bushels of Raspberries
3 Bushels of Blueberries
2 Bushels of Sugar Cane

Spicy Tomato Juice
3 Bushels of Tomatoes
1 Bushel of Pepper
3 Bushels of Carrots

Winery Cookbook, Level 3

Blackberry Wine
3 Bushels of Blackberries
3 Bushels of Grapes
3 Bushels of White Grapes

Raspberry Wine
3 Bushels of Raspberries
2 Bushels of Blackberries
2 Bushels of Grapes

Strawberry Cranberry Juice
3 Bushels of Strawberries
2 Bushels of Raspberries
3 Bushels of Cranberries

Bakery Cookbook, Level 1

Pumpkin Bread
4 Bushels of Pumpkins
4 Bushels of Wheat

Strawberry Shortcake
4 Bushels of Strawberries
4 Bushels of Wheat

Spicy Muffin
3 Bushels of Carrots
1 Bushel of Pepper
3 Bushels of Ghost Chilis

Bakery Cookbook, Level 2
Triple Berry Pie
3 Bushels of Blueberries
3 Bushels of Blackberries
3 Bushels of Cranberries

Peanut Butter Cookies
2 Bushels of Peanuts
3 Bushels of Rice
3 Bushels of Sugar Cane

Patty Pan Tart
3 Bushels of Pattypan Squash
2 Bushels of Red Onions
3 Bushels of Rice

Friday, October 15, 2010

Free Upgrades and new Options in Farmville

When I play a game for the first time, I often misconstrue critical details, not having anything with which to compare my own experience. For example, I was playing Farmville on the day that the Crafting Option was introduced and was given a choice of three Crafting buildings. I was able to choose a Spa without paying anything. After this, when I accessed the Marketplace, I saw the other two Crafting Buildings for sale for 100,000 Coins. I therefore assumed (wrongly) that the price for a Crafting Building was 100,000 Coins.

It was only when I created another account and replayed the game that I discovered that many options will be available without cost when first unlocked. When a player reaches Level 25, he/she will be allowed to choose one of three Crafting Buildings: Spa, Winery or Bakery. There will be no cost. It is only if you wish to purchase ANOTHER Crafting Building that you will be charged for it.

It is at Level 10 that Crop Mastery and Collections are unlocked but your first basic Vehicle in the form of a Tractor is not unlocked until you reach Level 12. As a traditional Harvest Moon farmer, the idea of mechanisation was abhorrent to me, and Tolkien would have agreed as he despised the farming industrial revolution that transformed his beloved English countryside and polluted the environment. In Harvest Moon, your Character usually comes from a large urban environment and turns his/her back upon it to pursue traditional virtues in a small community where you become well-acquainted with every neighbour and seek not to achieve personal success at the price of the success of others but to work WITH your entire community to better the lives of all.

That notwithstanding, I actually was persuaded by a fellow Harvest Moon veteran to purchase a tractor and to be perfectly honest, the ability to use Tractor, Seeder and Harvester in Farmville transforms the entire game in a positive way. The Harvester is unlocked at Level 13 and the Seeder at Level 14, giving you motivation to work hard to increase your Levels as quickly as possible. Without any environmental consequences and ultimately the ability to conceal the rather unappealing hulking machines in a compact Garage, there are no real negative consequeneces of using the vehicles. Furthermore, as your Character frequently finds fuel in the soil when ploughing, it is better to be able to use that fuel!

With the vehicles, one can grow far more on the farm and this becomes extremely useful when the Crafting Option is unlocked. The Crafting Option really makes the game far more interesting as well. You actually grow Crops in order to USE them in creating items that can be traded for fuel at an unspecified Zynga market.

I really began to interact with Neighbours more once I had the Spa as one needs constant raw material to create the items. Neighbours grow different Crops and one has the ability to take 3 Bushels of any Crop or a combination of three Crops from any Neighbour's Market Stalls daily.

There are a number of strategies that one learns to employ once one reaches Level 25 and the Crafting Option is unlocked. I will discuss these in a separate post.

Similarly, when my Farmer reached Level 15 in my other game and obtained her first Bushel, she was given a Market Stall to place on her farm. At the Marketplace, the Market Stalls remained locked where the coin option was concerned, with a message that she had only 8 of the 10 Neighbours required to unlock one.

Here it is useful to note that Market Stalls do not increase storage capacity for Bushels. You can have only 100 Bushels at any point in time, irrespective of the number of Market Stalls you own. In my first game, I purchased a second Market Stall in the belief that it would increase storage capacity. All it does is allow you to 'sell' a second Crop if and when you obtain a Bushel.

Crop Mastery and Collections are unlocked at Level 10, but these have no Buildings linked to them.

The Co-Op Option is unlocked at Level 20, giving you the opportunity to earn Rewards in the form of extra coins and XP if you complete a Job successfully with or without any Neighbours. Co-Op Jobs essentially involve an imaginary customer who asks farmers to provide specific quantities of Crops for him/her. There is a time limit for success. If you complete the Job very quickly, you can earn a Gold Medal or a Silver one. Bronze is the default Medal earned if you simply complete the Job successfully.

Using the Co-Op option actually gives players a bit of structure in their farming as they are compelled to grow specific Crops once a Job is accepted. There is no taint connected with failure particularly, although you are given the option to publish these unhappy results to the world if you choose to do so. If you fail, you can retry the job or choose a different job or throw up your virtual hands and forswear Co-Op Jobs forever. As individualistic as I am by nature, I still tend to participate in the Co-Op Jobs for the Rewards. As there are Jobs that now are linked to the three Crafts, I moreover can increase my stores of Bushels for my Spa by accepting one of the Spa-related Co-Op Jobs.

It probably would be useful to mention the Beehive and the advantages of having a populated Hive on your farm. There appear to be no Level requirements to the Beehive. As with most new options, Beehives were given freely to active players but now must be purchased at the Marketplace for a fairly nominal sum.

A Beehive must be constructed unfortunately, which means that you must go through the usual process of begging for materials from Neighbours and other Farmers. In my innocence, I thought that the completion of the Beehive would allow me to house all the Honeybees collected over time in my Gift Box, but in fact, you must have a Queen Bee before any Honeybee will be allowed to enter the Hive.

Although the game will instruct you to find Queen Bees among the Flowers, they can be found when you are tending to Crops of any kind either on your own farm or on that of a Neighbour. Any Player who finds a Queen Bee can 'share' with other Players by posting the result. It therefore is not impossible to obtain a Queen Bee. My advice, however, to any new Player would be to find a notice of a Queen Bee that is being shared long before your Beehive is completed and stash her in your Gift Box for future use.

The actual effect of a flourishing Beehive, apart from the ability to harvest Honey, is the change of pollination. When pollination occurs, you will be able to find special pollinated Seeds in the Marketplace. Again, in my ignorance, I assumed that these Seeds once offered would be available always. In fact, it appears that they are available only for a day or so and then the Seeds offered will revert to the ordinary variety.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tips for playing Farmville

I have a love/hate relationship with Farmville although, after seeing 'The Social Network' at the cinema, I now understand that Farmville exemplifies ALL of the basic principles on which Facebook was founded. It is the ultimate social networking game, constantly chivvying the player to send Gifts to Neighbours and invitations to non-playing Friends.

It really wouldn't be a bad game were it not for the overload of prompts. Players (including me) often become annoyed by the nonsense Gifts that arrive in bulk for some limited 'collection' of items that can be found when ploughing your Field. There is far too much of THAT for any one, I believe.

In any case, I recently became enticed back to Farmville when a lost Himalayan Cat began to appear. As an owner of Himalayans, I could not resist. Art imitating Life in a big way!

Having immersed myself in the game again, I discovered the following: Farmville really isn't much fun until you reach Level 20. At Level 20, you can begin to craft items and sell them. You can join co-op jobs to deliver a specified total of Crops to an imaginary buyer.

Furthermore, unless you have at least 10 Neighbours, Farmville is rather lonely and difficult. Many purchases are unlocked only if the Player has 10 Neighbours. It may not sound like a hard goal to achieve, but the Neighbour aspect of Farmville is very glitchy. I tried to help a couple of new players obtain Neighbours in vain. The friends I solicited for help actually accepted the players as Neighbours but their names never were added! This occurred despite the fact that BOTH players accepted the Neighbour invitations.

In any case, here are a couple of tips from my own experience:

Although the game will tell you that you can send only one Gift per day to any Neighbour, the total actually is three. You have to wait a few hours, of course, before you will be able to send another Gift. The tip here involves the acceptance of Gifts from a single Friend. A prompt will appear with the gift advising you to send a 'Thank you Gift' in return. DO THIS ONLY WITH THE BEST ITEM THAT THE PLAYER HAS SENT IN THE CASE OF MULTIPLE GIFTS! Once you have sent a Thank-You Gift, you either have to wait eight hours before accepting the next one from the player or give up the opportunity to keep the Gift 'live'.

I will explain this further. As you only can send one 'Thank you Gift' in an eight hour period, if there are multiple Gifts from a single Player, accepting all of them will end the Gift process except for the one for which you chose to send a Thank you Gift'.

In other words, a Player sends you the following:

A Train Whistle
A Special Delivery
A Cow

The best of these Gifts is the Special Delivery as it will contain construction materials for your Current Building projects. Moreover, Special Deliveries ARE Special. The game issues an invitation to send them rarely. They do not appear on the regular Gift Page. If, however, you accept the Train Whistle first AND click on the invitation to send a Thank You Gift for that, then proceed to accept the Special Delivery and the Cow, the latter Gifts will be 'dead' in terms of being able to return them to the original sender.

Why is this important? If your Friend sends you a Thank You Gift in return, the Gift will remain 'live' and you can send it back and forth indefinitely. If you are trying to complete a number of construction projects, this can be invaluable. A host of Train Whistles is not as useful. A host of Cows can be useful, but there is nothing special about them. They will appear on the Gifts Page regularly.

That is the first little Tip. The second involves Mystery Gifts. The game will urge you to send Mystery Gifts as 'they can contain fuel' but in fact, they can contain items that are far more valuable to a player. Although they may contain weird items such as Old Bikes or Owl Statues, they can contain Seeders and Harvesters as well! These items cost 30,000 Coins each.

In the early days of my involvement, I told one of my Harvest Moon friends that I wouldn't use machines in farming. I was a purist. Now, however, beyond Level 20 and involved in the crafting of goods, the machines are a godsend. If, therefore, you would like to have the farming machinery and don't have sufficient income for them, send Mystery Gifts to your Friends, so that they will return them to you.