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.

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