Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Wealth of Christmas Gifts in FarmVille

Zynga pulled out all the stops where Christmas was concerned this year. Christmas in FarmVille always is a magical experience and the holiday celebrations are reasons enough for me to remain a loyal player, despite the other annoyances and frustrations that accompany the game.

For Christmas this year, the first experience at the start of Advent was a new Winter Farm, in the form of the Winter Wonderland, with a magical Railway and frozen Treasures... A new Sweets Shop on the Winter Wonderland Farm allows Players to prepare wonderful traditional Christmas Recipes.

This release was followed by the Winter Hearth closer to Christmas, where a Player's stocking resided and grew whenever others sent Stocking Stuffers. A magical Sleigh yielded Holiday Gifts each day when harvested.

Then came the Twelve Days of Christmas, a little different from last year and at first, a bit confusing to some players who experienced it in the past. This year, the 12 Days Gifts are contingent on the number of players who click on the link and a Player receives only a single item for each day. In other words, for the 12th Day Gift, 12 Friends or Neighbours must click on the link and the Player never receives more than one 12th Day item.

There were Christmas Quests as well but these can be highly annoying as there are FAR too many of them and they require FAR too many Crop harvests of Crops that a player may have no desire or need to grow. I'd rather concentrate on the Crops that can be used in my favourite Recipes frankly. The rewards for completing the Quests can be good or they can be disappointing. Many players ignore the Quests now, and that is a pity. If Zynga had only a single Quest sequence at any given time, it would be much better.

On Christmas Eve, Players were allowed to open the Gifts under the Christmas Tree by moving their mouses over each wrapped Gift. After all Gifts were opened, a little film appeared. Santa and his reindeer were silhouetted against a full moon, then landed on Earth and delivered a huge Gift wrapped in gold paper. It contained one of the most gorgeous winged Unicorns created in FarmVille. What is particularly wonderful about this is that EVERY Player who had a Tree, whether the Tree were large or small, received this glorious Gift. In too many cases with Zynga and other FB game creators, Gifts follow reality in that the rich receive more than the poor...
In this case, however, every Player received the Winter Pegacorn, which sells for almost 40 FV Cash in the marketplace.

The Stockings are an ongoing game. This should have been explained better frankly because I and many other Players did not become involved with the Stocking game until Christmas. There is a sequence of possible Gifts under two headings: Naughty or Nice. Players must receive a specific number of Stocking Stuffers at each level to initiate a vote by their Friends and Neighbours: Naughty or Nice. This determines the actual chain of Gifts one can receive, but there is an opportunity at each level to purchase the OTHER Gift at a reduced price if one wishes.

For the actual Christmas celebrations, I would give my vote to FarmVille for the best Gifts and celebrations. CityVille as always offers wonderful animated items and buildings BUT there are far too many clicks required for almost everything. The concept of four expansions, each of which had its own magical gifts embedded in it, was good but the amount of work (and work on the part of Friends and Neighbours) required to complete any of them was outrageous. It becomes frustrating and actually unpleasant to view the unattainable Gifts each day. Completion of one set of requirements for the first expansion, moreover, initiated ANOTHER level of requirements. In all, there are four different sequences that must be completed in order to unlock the 'Giving Tree' on the FIRST holiday expansion. I still have not been able to complete that, and it makes me very sad. If any one at Zynga reads my posts, I hope they will unlock these holiday expansions for ALL Players before Twelfth Night! Otherwise, (not that my vote carries ANY weight in the Zynga universe), I will vote CityVille as one of the unsatisfying Christmas experiences.

CastleVille should have been wonderful, but alas, many low level players were unable to participate in the St. Nicolas Quests at all. Players were given a Tree only when they had completed Quests. To create the Catapult that sent Gifts to Friends and Neighbours, they had to complete MORE Quests. Gifts only contained a CHANCE of being a desired Item. Very disappointing... in its own way, as frustrating as CityVille.

Fantasy Kingdoms gave every Player one spectacular wrapped Gift in the form of a special Christmas Tower. It was a very beautiful Gift and frankly, I'd rather receive one REAL Gift than the chance to receive however many Items that never materialise. So Fantasy Kingdoms has my vote for being the most reliable and always magical game.

Unfortunately, there are many frustrations that accompany FarmVille still. Although the animated advertisements ALWAYS load and proliferate, the game itself sometimes does not load. Travel between farms is almost impossible. More often than not, the Player is forced to reload the game before he/she can perform any actions on another Farm. This ultimately discourages Players from playing more than one Farm, unfortunately. Zynga, please solve this problem! It is frustrating and time-consuming to be forced to reload.

At least with FarmVille, clicking on links to help other Players is not too time-consuming. In CityVille, on the other hand, it can take ages for a click to reach its goal and very often one receives the message of 'timed out', making the entire process a colossal waste of time. If my Neighbours wonder why they don't receive more clicks from me on their CityVille posts, THAT is why.

As in FarmVille, there are far too many Quests in CityVille, to the point where Players are overwhelemed and either ignore all of them or stop playing altogether. Instead of spending so much time and energy on Quests that should be staggered over the course of months rather than days, the developers should be set the task of working out the glitches and problems in the game! The same holds true for FarmVille.

Why are we asked to become Neighbours with Players with whom we have been Neighbours for months in CityVille? This is annoying not only to the Player who is urged to make the Request but to the Player who receives repeated Requests to become Neighbours to existing Neighbours? Work it out, Zynga!!! Why are we asked to send Requests constantly in FarmVille to Friends who either do not exist (because every one we know ALREADY plays FarmVille) or are people who definitely do NOT wish to play FarmVille??? The splash screen is extremely annoying and when it appears after what should be a simple act of travel to another Farm, almost intolerable.

Despite all of this, it is wonderful to be able to experience a little Christmas magic in virtual realities like FarmVille, Fantasy Kingdoms, CityVille and CastleVille.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Winter Wonderland Farm

For the Yule season, Zynga has released a new Farm in FarmVille. The Winter Wonderland is a frozen landscape ruled by a northern Winter Season, with special frozen Crops as well as Crops appropriate to Yuletide. With the Farm, Player will have a rather rudimentary Sweets Shop. The new Recipes that are available both at the Winter Wonderland Farm and at the Home Farm can be found in a little Guide on a new page at:

Winter Wonderland Recipes Guide

You can find links to all my Guides for FarmVille as Tabs above this post and every post.

The Winter Wonderland has some rather creative new options in the form of a railway that can be harvested each day and frozen mounds of various sizes that, when chipped away or melted, reveal Treasures. Treasures in the largest mounds can be uncovered only with pickaxes. Treasures of other sizes are melted by means of hair dryers!

Crops grown at the Winter Wonderland are:

Candied Yam:
Harvest in 4 Hours

Harvest in 12 Hours

Harvest in 8 Hours

Iced Rice
Harvest in 12 Hours

Red Iceberry
Harvest in 8 Hours

Harvest in 16 Hours

Iceberg Lettuce
Harvest in 20 Hours

Mint Candy
Harvest in 1 Day

Frozen Grapes
Harvest in 1 Day

Snow Tulip
Harvest in 1 Day

Gummi Bear
Harvest in 1 Day

Glacial Rose
Harvest in 2 Days

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Winter Wonderland Farm in Farmville

A new Winter Farm has been released in FarmVille. At present, it costs 55 FV Cash to buy a VIP ticket to travel immediately. As with the Lighthouse Cove's initial release, special Quests have been created for players who are willing to pay for the VIP Ticket. In a few days, travel to the WInter Wonderland should be free to all players.

To help those who opt for early travel as well as those who wait for the free tickets (to travel either by second class or 'cattle car'), I have made some notes of the initial requirements and Items:

When you arrive at the Winter Wonderland, you will have only the hoe by which to plough squares by hand. You actually can till up to 100 squares without expanding the Farm, making this new seasonal Farm superior to the Lighthouse Cove.

You will find the following on your farm:

1 partially completed Winter Animal Pen
1 partially completed Orchard
1 Train Station
Various new Winter Trees
Some frozen Treasure Mounds

A Winter Animal Pen requires the following:

10 Ice Posts (this requirement has been completed when you arrive)
10 Conifer Dust
10 Candy Cane Beams

Orchards are the same, thankfully, in every season and Farm, requiring:

10 Bricks (this requirement has been completed when you arrive)
10 Nails
10 Boards

The Train Station can be harvested (rather like the Cove) and can be upgraded. Upgrading materials required for the first upgrade are:

3 Rail Spikes
3 Rail Ties
3 Lumps of Coal

Treasure Mounds come in different sizes and must be unfrozen. Each size requires a different device to unfreeze it.

Each Small Treasure Mound requires:
15 Hair Dryers

There are two Small Treasure Mounds on your Farm.

Each Medium Treasure Mounds require:
25 Hair Dryers (15 of these have been applied before you arrive, apparently, to one of the two Medium Treasure Mounds on your Farm)

Each Large Treasure Mound requires:
45 Pickaxes

There is one Large Treasure Mound on your farm.

Each Extra Large Treasure Mound requires:
75 Pickaxes

There is one Extra Large Treasure Mound on your Farm.

Expansions of your Farm allow access to more Treasure Mounds of various sizes.

You have a storage Igloo and a Sweet Shop on your Winter Farm. The three Initial Recipes that can be made are as follows:

Ginger S'more:
3 Bushels of Gingerbread
3 Bushels of Iced Rice
2 Bushels of Sunflowers

Candied Yam Pie:
3 Bushels of Candied Yam
1 Bushel of Glacial Rose
2 Bushels of Cranberries

Candied Apples:
2 Bushels of Gummi Bears
3 Bushels of Candied Yams
3 Bushels of Wheat

As you can see, Recipes at the Sweet Shop include ingredients from Crops both from the Winter Farm and a player's Home Farm.

The two Trees on your Farm are a Frozen Spruce and a Winter Spruce.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lighthouse Cove, Where the Rich get Richer and the Poor Stay Poor

The new Lighthouse Cove option in FarmVille has a great deal to offer but unfortunately, it is very much slanted towards players who can afford to spend Premium Cash on the game.

Unlike the English Countryside (which appears to have disappeared as an option for new players), the Lighthouse Cove can be accesssed by players at low levels, where the English Countryside was unlocked previously only when players reached Level 20.

The Lighthouse Cove, advertised as a 'Fall Getaway', is a charming cove featuring New England landscapes and trees clad in autumn foliage. It is very limited initially in terms of farming, allowing players to plow a maximum of 35 plots.

It is here that the new Cove demonstrates its capitalist nature. The sole option to expand is through a payment in Premium Cash, aka FarmVille Cash. For 30 FV Cash, a player can expand the Cove to allow the tilling of a maximum of 45 squares. In other words, 30 FV Cash buys a player only an additional 10 squares of tillable soil.

On the other hand, the Quests that are initiated when the player arrives in Lighthouse Cove follow the traditional FarmVille pattern, in rewards of vital farming items including all three regular farming vehicles. If a player is patient and goes through the entire Quest sequence, he/she will receive a Tractor, a Seeder and Harvester by the end as well as a Restaurant where new Recipes can be made.

Lighthouse Cove is unique in offering players 'Bonus Quests' when he/she completes the regular Quests early. The Bonus Quests allow a week for completion and then are supplanted by a new series of Quests.

Another interesting aspect of Lighthouse Cove is that the Crops available there can be used in new Recipes both on the Home Farm and in the English Countryside. It therefore gives a player a wide variety of new Recipes to complete and master.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Open Letter to Zynga

For a number of years, I have written strategy guides for games, specialising in Harvest Moon and Rune Factory, series that were produced for consoles and handheld systems. At the prompting of some of my fans, I became involved with Farmville and have been playing it now for over a year. More recently, again at the prompting of friends and fans of my game guides, I began to play CityVille. Although these games share some of the characteristics that endeared Harvest Moon and Rune Factory to me, there are some essential differences that are both positive and negative.

Positive aspects of games that use Facebook as a platform include the fact that the games are free to all players and the ability to change and enlarge the scope of any game as well as the ability to introduce new items and options. The positive aspects of this are obvious. The negative aspects only become apparent over the course of time.

Although Facebook games generally advertise themselves as 'free', a player has the opportunity to purchase items that require a currency that for the most part must be bought using real money. Often these items either are Limited Editions that are time-restricted. In other words, a player will have a limited amount of time to purchase them before the items disappear from the Marketplace. There is nothing wrong with the general principle of offering players special items of this sort. What is unethical, in my view, is the way Zynga has increased the number of Limited Editions, linking them to new options that bombard the player with invitations to purchase. Special 'sales' both of FarmVille Cash/CityVille Cash and Limited Edition items likewise bombard the player almost every time he/she logs into the game.

It can be argued that a player has an opportunity to demonstrate his/her support of a 'free' game by investing a little real money in it. After all, a console or handheld game can cost between $25.00 to $50.00. The difference, of course, is that, once purchased, a handheld or console game is complete and all new options and items are included, even if they must be 'unlocked' by the player's progress and advances in the game.

When I began to play FarmVille, it resembled traditional console and handheld games insofar as many of the options required a certain degree of progress in the game rather than being options and items that had to be purchased using real cash within a limited time period. Unfortunately, this has changed in the course of the past year. There is a certain appearance of desperation and greed in the manner in which both FarmVille and CityVille operate now and it may lead ultimately to the downfall of Zynga as a successful competitor in the world of Facebook.

Many players, including myself, perceived Facebook games such as FarmVille as a haven and sanctuary of peace, a place where one could escape the pressures and problems of the real world. Unfortunately, when the game itself places pressure on the player to use real money to purchase items and options before they disappear, the game becomes far less attractive, even when the player could afford to invest the money in the game. When the player cannot afford to invest limitless sums of real money, the game becomes frustrating and the endless stream of offers become rather unpleasant.

Let me use the example of a player who has been using my Harvest Moon and Rune Factory guides for years and who is an avid fan of those series. After a year on Facebook, she recently began to play CityVille. Within a matter of weeks, I received an email from her to the effect that she no longer would be playing the game as it 'cost too much money'. Note that the game itself remains free and in fact, in the original vision of the game, Quests are the method by which most items are unlocked. It is only because of the constant, unending stream of special offers and sales that this player was induced to spend more real money than she ever envisioned or intended.

Zynga may argue that no one 'puts a gun to your head' to force players to invest real money in FarmVille or CityVille. On the other hand, players are extremely susceptible to pressure to purchase 'premium' items when those items are time-restricted. This may benefit Zynga significantly at the start, but ultimately many players will do what my friend did.

About a fortnight after the first email, during which period my friend continued to play CityVille, after avowing her intention to end her participation, I received the following email:

'Just thought I should let you know I have had to Block CityVille from my computer. I was addicted and it was costing me too much money for this economy. I'm going through withdrawal now.
I did love playing!!!'

This player is not the only one who either has blocked the game or simply refuses to log into the game after spending far more money than any Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game would cost. Investment in Facebook games is a very slippery slope with almost imperceptible descent at times. For example, FarmVille recently has begun to offer a 'free gift' of a Limited Edition item when one purchases ANY amount of FarmVille Cash, including the purchase of a dollar's worth of FV Cash. These items now consist primarily of rare Zoo Animals for the new Zoo option. I have no doubt that many players who previously resisted the temptation to purchase FV Cash have been drawn into the investment by these seemingly benign and small purchase options.

The problem here is that the offers continue to proliferate and, combined with the frequent sales that offer FV Cash at a discount, can lead to rather excessive spending on the part of players who never intended to allocate a significant part of their 'entertainment budget' on Facebook games.

One can justify a certain amount of spending by comparing it with the vices of others. When one does not smoke or drink and, if disabled, is unable to go out to dinner or to the cinema frequently, one could argue that an investment even of $20.00 in a Facebook game is not excessive. It may not be excessive, but can one afford it? The answer in many cases, is negative. Furthermore, I believe that Zynga has a moral duty not to engage its loyal fans in this sort of constant marketing pressure.

Players of Facebook games often fill the gaps in tneir real lives with the small pleasures found in landscaping their virtual lands or making progress in the game. These games, however, should be a blessing and not a curse. Few players have unlimited real resources to place at the disposal of Zynga. Ultimately they, like the player who solved her problem by blocking CityVille, will reject the games completely in favour of console or handheld games that hold equal pleasure and enjoyment without the constant pressure to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND.

The world is experiencing an economic recession of sorts and, while virtual purchases can act as a fulfilling substitute for real purchases, this is not true when the virtual items require significant investment of real money that is needed to LIVE in the real world.

I continue to play FarmVille and CityVille regularly. While I love the themes and Limited Editions, as well as welcoming sales of FV Cash and CityVille Cash, realistically I am not in a position to make any significant investments in these games. I do believe that I have exhibited my support of these games in the past.

Why do the themes have to be SO limited in terms of time? Why can't Zynga offer a new theme every two months rather than every week or fortnight? Why are Limited Editions in CityVille available only for 5 days? That sort of time limit is unconscionable, in my view.

I urge any players who agree with this 'open letter' to add their comments and urge Zynga to give serious consideration to these issues. Thank you.

Freyashawk de Conde

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Embarrassing Ignorance or Carelessness

Too often in popular Facebook games, there are embarrassing instances of misspellings. Granted that it is likely that English is not the native tongue of many of the developers, but surely the concept of EDITING is not entirely defunct. In this screenshot, a new fantasy Tree is shown with its name. 'Fleur de Les' is a meaningless name. In French, the words mean 'Flower of the'. Obviously, the intention was to give the traditional symbol of France its proper name, which can be spelled either 'Fleur-de-lis' or 'Fleur-de-lys' but NOT 'Fleur-de-les'. 'Fleur-de-lys' or 'Fleur-de-lys' means 'Flower of the Lily' or 'Lily Flower' in French. It is a very old heraldic device that became common in France during the Middle Ages.

How can such carelessness be tolerated by Zynga, a company that quickly is becoming quite famous for its online games? It could not be THAT difficult to make certain that some one fluent in the language read all text before its release. I understand that these games are available in a multitude of different languages but the amount of text is not significant and surely an appearance of basic literacy in EVERY language used should be important to the makers.

23 July: Zynga fixed the misspelling of the 'Fleur-de-Lys' Tree yesterday. I have no idea if some one from Zynga read this post or if the action were undertaken entirely by coincidence. Whatever the case, I am happy to see the correction. Each time I obtained a 'Fleur-de-les' Tree, I was rather uncomfortable with it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Impatience can cost you!

In Farmville, quite often, new items that are released in the Marketplace will be given as rewards upon completion of Quests later. Such is the case with the new Beach Ball Ram. It is an interesting pattern and one that most players who enjoy sheep breeding would like to acquire. There are ways of doing so apart from outright purchase, as lambs with a Beach Ball Ram parent who are adopted can 'carry' the pattern. The Beach Ball Ram, however, is an outright gift when a player completes one of the Quests in the sequence of the new Summer Quests. As the price of the Beach Ball Ram in the Marketplace is 30 FV Cash, the gift is a significant one in monetary terms.

Note that, with all the changes that Zynga recently made with respect to Breeding, only the Ram carries patterns in Farmville. Ewes and/or Sheep carry colours and tones.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Crafting Silo Recipes

Farmville has been expanding almost too quickly in the past few months, with new options to craft goods from Recipes in a number of different buildings and locations. The original choice between Home Farm Crafting Spa, Winery or Bakery still is the first crafting option, unlocked when a player attains Level 25. In the English Countryside, however, obtaining a Pub no longer requires any steps or quests. You simply will be given one and told to get on with it now.

A Craftshop recently was introduced which could be constructed both on the Home Farm and on the English Farm or on the farm of your choice. A variety of new Recipes using Bushels from existing Crops were introduced with it.

The most recent option, introduced a couple of days ago, is the Crafting Silo. This is not a Crafting Building per se but as its name suggests, simply a Storage Silo for new Items that can be harvested from existing Animals or Trees. Among the new Items are Bags of Manure and Baskets of Fruits, such as Cherry, Lemon and Orange. Wool Bundles can be harvested from Sheep and Apple Wood can be harvested from any type of Apple Tree, including Chrome Apple Trees.

Items that can be crafted vary wildly from simple construction materials to a Swiss Cottage. In time, the new Crafting option could be fun, but at the moment, Storage Space in the initial Crafting Silo is extremely limited and every Item I obtain fills it, making it impossible to organise any Recipes yet. I therefore am scrambling to expand the Silo.

Like the Craftshop, a player can opt to place one on each farm. This doubles storage space from 10 to 20, but space for 20 items is insufficient when one finds that one can obtain six or seven Wool Bundles from a single Sheep Pen harvest.

Once a Silo has been upgraded, it will store 50 Items. If a Silo is upgraded on BOTH Farms, a player will have a storage capacity of 100 Items. There are no further upgrades beyond the first one. It definitely is beneficial to upgrade both Silos as quickly as possible.

Recipes that can be made using Bushels harvested from existing Crops and items stored in the new Craft Silo include:

1 Rice Bushel
1 Rhubarb Bushel
2 Manure Bushels

Wooden Board
1 Cotton Bushel
1 Peanut Bushel
1 Apple Wood Basket

2 Morning Glory Bushels
1 Pattypan Bushel

Beach Ball
2 Tomato Bushels
2 Cranberry Bushels
1 Grape Bushels

English Postcard
1 Lilac Bushel
2 Leeks Bushels

Lucky Penny
2 Leeks Bushels
1 Pattypan Bushel

Fuel Can
2 Wheat Bushels
2 Soybean Bushels
2 Wool Bundles

3 Aloe Vera Bushels
2 Field Bean Bushels
2 Milk Jugs

Shovel Set
3 Jalapenos Bushels
3 Double Grain Bushels
1 Lemon Basket

Watering Can Set
1 Maple Sugar Basket
2 Lilac Bushels
2 Peanut Bushels

Vehicle Part
3 Tomato Bushels
3 Aloe Vera Bushels
1 Cherry Basket

1 Scythe
1 Wool Bundle
2 Rye Bushels
2 Spinach Bushels

Love Potion:
4 Strawberry Bushels
4 Tomato Bushels
2 Cherry Baskets

Fertilise All
2 Manure Bags
4 Carrot Bushels
3 Chickpea Bushels

4 Cotton Bushels
3 Soybean Bushels
1 Cherry Basket

3 Peanut Bushels
4 Morning Glory Bushels
2 Orange Baskets

Animal Feed
1 Walnut Basket
2 Sunflower Bushels
2 Barley Bushels

Pine Fence I
4 Cranberry Bushels
3 Cotton Bushels
2 Orange Baskets

Pine Fence II
4 Jalapenos Bushels
3 Spinach Bushels
2 Maple Syrup Baskets

Stone Wall
5 Wool Bundles
4 Manure Bags
3 Milk Jugs

Stone Archway
2 Walnut Baskets
3 Sunflower Bushels
4 Tomato Bushels

Lamp Post
2 Cherry Baskets
4 Coffee Bushels
3 Peanut Bushels

Milking Stool
1 Milk Jug
2 Cornflower Bushels
2 Rice Bushels

Modern Table
8 Lilac Bushels
5 Rhubarb Bushels
2 Lemon Baskets

Horse Sculpture
4 Jalapenos Bushels
2 Manure Bags
3 Pink Aster Bushels

Swiss Cabin
4 Apple Wood Baskets
10 Black Tea Bushels
6 Spring Squill Bushels

Unlike Recipes that are completed in the Spa, Winery, Bakery or Pub, each of the Craftshop Recipes has its own timeframe. For example, I believe that a Stone Arch takes six hours to complete, but a Stone Wall takes only 30 minutes. Unlike the other crafting options, however, you can work on only one Recipe at any given time in the Craftshop.

As with any Recipes List in Farmville, the order in which Recipes appear depends on the ingredients that a player currently possesses. A Recipe for which all ingredients are present will appear at the top of the list. Recipes for which no ingredients currently are held will be at the bottom. I have chosen to organise the list according to type, with construction materials at the top and complete items such as Swiss Cabin and Horse Sculpture last.

Note that there is an option to obtain 'Help' from other players in the new Craftshop. A player posts a request for Help on his/her Wall and the first four players that respond will be assumed to help with the next recipe. When a player has four helpers, he/she will obtain double the product. In other words, if crafting a Love Potion with four helpers, the player will obtain 2 Love Potions rather than 1. The helpers do not appear to gain any real benefit apart from the knowledge that they have acted as good neighbours.

A final note: Some of the Recipes given above are variations on Recipes that were released with the original Workshop. You no longer will be able to craft the item using the original Recipe now. A Love Potion formerly could be made using Strawberry, Tomato and Tulip Bushels. Now you must use Cherry Baskets instead of Tulip Bushels. (Actually, this is the 3rd variation on the Recipe for crafting Love Potions. The first was a Limited Edition Recipe in the English Countryside Pub!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Becoming King or Queen of your Castle in Farmville

The last destination on the Map in the English Countryside at present is a castle. With the final English Countryside Quest, you will receive a kingly gift in the form of an English Castle. More useful and empowering, you will obtain the right to share items between your two farms as well as that of growing any specific Crop on EITHER farm.

This solves many vexing problems as well as creating the need for new farming strategies.

The ability to access items from either farm and place them on either farm simply solves landscaping and breeding problems without creating the need for any new strategical consideration. It is with respect to farming itself that new strategies become useful.

On each farm, you have a limit of five Market Stalls, giving you the potential total of ten Market Stalls on both farms. Until you complete the English Countryside Quest, 'Home Farm' Crops can be grown only on the Home Farm and English Crops on the English Countryside Farm. Once you complete the final Quest, you can grow any Crop on either farm, as previously indicated.

Where Market Stalls are concerned, you benefit most if you do not duplicate Crops. In other words, there is no need to have a Market Stall on the English Countryside that sells Peppers if you have one on the Home Farm selling the same Crop. This may appear obvious, but there is so much multi-tasking now in FarmVille that a player needs to make certain he/she is farming in the most efficient fashion.

Incidentally, you no longer need to worry about taking Bushels for the Home Farm while on your English Farm or taking English Crops while on the Home Farm, even if you have not completed the English Quests. All Bushels now will be accessible irrespective of a player's current location. Furthermore, you need not be concerned as to the current location of neighbours. All Neighbour Crops will be accessible now irrespective of his/her current location.

Co-op Jobs remain the same at this point in time, but note that Crops planted and harvested on EITHER farm will count towards your required totals.

As far as Farm Aids are concerned, the Unwither Ring only can be placed and operated on the Home Farm. For the English Countryside, there is only the very unsatisfactory Unwither Clock that has to be activated every 30 days again with a fairly hefty payment in FV Cash.

My own advice is to steer clear of the Unwither Clock but to purchase the Unwither Ring if at all possible. Note that the Unwither Ring is available in the Marketplace only at certain points in time. It is available at the time of writing this post, on 29 June, but will vanish from the Market in two days.

The price of the Unwither Ring is 250 Farm Cash, which is a considerable sum in 'real money' but it lasts forever and its benefits are as considerable as the price. To be able to grow fast-growing Crops, in particular, without having to worry about harvesting them before they wither, is an enormous boon to a busy player.

The following tips are applicable solely to players who have an Unwither Ring and have unlocked the ability to share Crops and Items on both Farms.

If you have the Unwither Ring, it is wisest to grow all fast-growing Crops on the Home Farm and slow-growing Crops on the English Countryside. You lose nothing by doing so. After all, if you are the sort of player who harvests any Crop as soon as it ripens, you can do so even with the Unwither Ring in place. The advantage of this, of course, is to free you from any anxiety or need to watch the clock.

As previously indicated, Co-Op Jobs will recognise Crops planted and harvested on the English Countryside as well as those grown on the Home Farm now. If you are trying to obtain a Gold Medal, you may grow the same Crops on both Farms but if you do so, avoid duplication of Crops offered in the Market Stalls. There is no harm in offering the same Crop on both Farms, but no benefit to you either.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Self-Sufficiency and the Philosophy of Farmville

Lately, Farmville has been awash with Quests of all sorts, from the continuing saga of the English Countryside to new Craftshop Quests and the 2nd Anniversary Birthday Celebration of the game itself.

We often discover things about ourselves when playing games such as Harvest Moon and Farmville, the sort of games that are open-ended and allow individual choices on the part of the player. I did not really discover anything NEW about myself, but certain personality traits have been reinforced in playing Farmville, Fantasy Kingdoms and Rune Factory.

For a start, I definitely am a creature of habit who likes to return to a place that is familiar and a place that becomes increasingly invested with memories and pleasurable visual encounters. In other words, if I create a beautiful montage or corner in a Kingdom or on a farm, it pleases me to return to it to discover it anew each time I play the game. Memories, of course, are not merely memories of the actual game, but memories from real life of events that occurred during the period that I played the game. Certain Harvest Moon games have extremely poignant memories attached to them because of the fact that the game brought me consolation and necessary distraction at times of personal tragedy or great physical agony. It therefore would make no sense for me to destroy and then reconstruct a farm or kingdom completely unless I never was happy with it.

The second trait that is both good and bad is that of being of an inveterate packrat. I am as much a packrat in Harvest Moon and Farmville as I am in real life. It disturbs me greatly to lose items that are invested with significance. Other 'useful' items are saved for the chance that they may be needed in the future. The latter trait is one I could modify somewhat without too much damage to the psyche. After all, one can purchase a new box if one needs to send a parcel. One needn't save old boxes... (That habit was born when I sold dolls, and it actually made sense then, but I now am beginning to jettison boxes that are not being used.) In Farmville, I recently have begun to 'clean house' a little as well, because of lack of space and a packed inventory.

Farmville has changed immensely since the early days when I had one little farm instead of two large estates and very few neighbours to help me complete Quests or even construction projects. In the past year, I have become 'friends' with many of my Neighbours, people I met through Farmville, Lovely Farm and Fantasy Kingdoms. In that sense, Facebook as a social network can be very positive.

It is interesting to see how the characters of other people are displayed not only by their choice of games but by the way they behave when they play a game. Many individuals are quite happy to play both social games that involve assistance to Neighbours and combat games that require hostile actions towards their Neighbours. Others play only one type of game, either bored by the idea of sending gifts to Neighbours or put off by the idea of confronting them in combat.

I personally dislike online combat games. If I wish to take out my aggressions on some one, I would rather do it unilaterally against a computer-generated enemy. I loved the early Lord of the Rings games for handheld systems and consoles because my enemies there were devoid of any positive traits and could be slain without any hesitation or regret. I hated everything that Sauron represented and found his minions hideous for the most part. I therefore took pleasure in destroying them.

When enemies are attractive physically or are human beings or animals, it is more difficult for me to slay or destroy them. The games I really found I disliked were those that required the destruction of neighbouring civilisations, whether or not they were computer-generated or built by Neighbours. I do not like to leave smoking devastation behind me and I truly hate to return to my own civilisation to find it in ruins.

In any event, to return to the subject of Farmville, it was one of my first experiences of playing a game where success REQUIRED Neighbours and assistance to and from other people. When one is not playing the game actively, requests from Neighbours can be a trifle annoying, but one needs to remember that those same Neighbours gave assistance when one required it! When one is playing a game actively, Neighbours who respond to requests in a timely fashion are invaluable and it actually kind of restores faith in humanity to some extent. It is a sort of kindness, even if the items that are given are 'virtual' and have no real value.

In this context, it has horrified me to discover how greedy and thoughtless some players can be. There are wonderful players who share their valuable Trees and Animals by posting them on their Walls freely to every one. The greedy Neighbours who take every single Tree when some one posts more than one and who never post a 'thank you' in return are more common than one would like to think. Again and again, I have seen pleas from generous Farmers for their Neighbours to make a simple response of 'Like' when they take something so that other players are not disappointed when they click on the Item only to discover that it is gone.

I am going to write another article on Facebook gaming protocol soon because I do think some players are merely ignorant or thoughtless and have not considered the significance of their actions when they take three Items instead of one from a Neighbour's Wall and leave no comment to thank the giver.

Today, when I was harvesting my Crops on my Home Farm, I realised that the centre core of the Farm has not changed much in a year. In that central space, I grow all the Ingredients needed for my favourite Spa Recipe, which is 'Farmer's Frenzy Perfume'. Many player make their lives easier by concentrating on Recipes that require only two or three Ingredients. I, of course, make my life as complicated as possible, by making the Recipe that requires the largest number of Ingredients!

Actually, I have a passion for Flowers and Perfume, so Farmer's Frenzy Perfume was a natural choice. It is a Recipe that is unlocked only when the Spa is fully upgraded to Level 5. I therefore spent many months looking at it longingly, striving mightily to make enough money and create sufficient items to unlock it and to be able to purchase the last upgrade with Coins that I had earned through my own labours. It uses ingredients that require a fairly decent level of experience as well.

One can purchase Bushels from Neighbours, of course, and doing so is an important part of gameplay, but I like to be able to supply all the ingredients for my perfume myself if Neighbours do not provide them in their Market Stalls.

A favourite Flower of mine is the Iris and unlocking the Iris as a Crop represented another important milestone in my Farmville experience. I still reserve one plot on my Home Farm for Irises simply because they are so lovely. I remember the days when I had not unlocked the Iris but needed it as an Ingredient. I would wait impatiently for some one else to grow them so that I could obtain Bushels from another Player's Market Stall. In the early days, I had only one Neighbour who ever grew Irises and she did so only occasionally. Later, I had a Neighbour who grew the ingredients for the Petal Sachet Co-Op Job consistently.

There is a vintage British comedy about self-sufficiency and farming. In England, it was entitled, 'The Good Life'. When aired in the States, it was given the title, 'Good Neighbours'. When I first began to play Farmville, I thought it would be an exercise in self-sufficiency, an attempt to grow everything oneself that one might need. In fact, self-sufficiency is the antithesis of the Farmville philosophy. The entire focus of the game is sharing, whether it is Bushels, Animals or unique Items.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Multitasking in Farmville and Common Errors

'Multitasking' is a word that has become a part of our vocabulary since the advent of personal computers. It is a word that describes activities that span two worlds for the most part: a technical world through interaction with a computer or other device and interactions with the 'real world' or 'outside world'. Sometimes these two worlds overlap.

Many individuals profess themselves adept at multitasking but in fact, there are problems even when one attempts to interact simply with the 'real world' and a computer task or tasks simultaneously. I find that the most common errors, however, are part of computer multitasking and in particular, multitasking within the confines of a computer game.

As Farmville has become more detailed and sophisticated, multitasking beocmes vital, even when one simply is harvesting crops on one farm. For a start, there are TWO farms now: the Home Farm and the English Farm. One must maintain awareness of crop growth in both farms, unless one uses the 'Pause' option to halt the passage of time in one farm while visiting the other. I never use that option, nor do many of my friends. When both farms run simultaneously, Orchards continue to move torwards readiness as do Stables and other Animal buildings. With crop growth in both farms, one can make more Recipes in the Pub and the Home Farm Craft of Winery, Spa or Baksery.

Running two farms means that one constantly needs to refuel by purchasing Craft items from other players or making Craft items and using them. With only one Farm, I had 200 items to use at any given point in time and never ran out of fuel. With two farms, I have to be more aware.

This brings me to a very common failure in the multitasking process. If a player runs out of fuel in the middle of a harvest, he/she must FIND fuel somewhere. For me, it is a matter of going into my Pub or Spa to buy and/or use Items made by other players or myself...

As soon as I enter my Craft building, however, I am assaulted by new tasks. I am told that a Recipe has been upgraded through purchase of an item by other players. I then see the Items that are 'ready' to be completed and perform that task. Once that is done, I see the Recipes that can be made with the Bushels I have and ones I can obtain from Neighbours...

Sidetracked, I finish the items that are ready and obtain Bushels for the Recipes that can be made. I then complete as many Recipes as possible. By the time I have done this, I often have forgotten my original reason for accessing the Craft building!

Best case scenario:
I return to the field to find a half-harvested row of Crops. I then must return to the Craft menu to Buy Goods and Use Goods, trading them for fuel. If nothing else interrupts me, I then can return to the field to complete the harvest.

Worst case scenario:
I forget why I ever entered the Craft menu and log out of Farmville without ever completing the Harvest, remembering only that I had harvested my Crops initially. Often I do not return to my farm until those forgotten Crops have withered...

Multitasking in Farmville now involves so much more than planting and harvesting Crops. There are the Orchards filled with Trees from which Mystery Seedlings can be harvested and grown. There is Sheep Breeding and Pig Breeding. There are the regular English Countryside Quest sequences and special Quest sequences that are time-restricted, such as the current Lady Gaga daily Quests.

Remembering always that this is nothing more than a virtual farm and that, apart from farmville, one DOES have a real life, however impoverished it may be on occasion.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sheep Breeding Finally Realises its Potential

Many of us who had adopted or bred exotic Sheep on our farms were severely disappointed when they began to produce a multitude of White Rams and Ewes, losing every vestige of the unique qualities of the parents. As time passed, however, Farmville began to release Rams and Ewes that possessed some of the same qualities, such as colour-change or a face masque.

Today, Farmville added a breeding prediction window to the Pigpen and the Sheep Pen. Whenever you choose a Ram and Ewe for breeding purposes, a little window will open above them showing ALL the potential results. Arrows beneath the Ram and the Ewe both allow you to change the Breeding Couple to see how potential results will be affected. You therefore now are able to see not only what exotic types CAN be produced but the chances of producing a 'dud' or all-white Ram or Ewe.

This is extremely helpful as well as exciting. Players who lost interest in sheep breeding probably will have their passion for the sport rekindled now.

For me, the breeding result window finally answers a lot of questions. Although some qualities can skip a generation, others will be lost when breeding occurs. Colour is a quality that can skip a generation evidently. An orange and yellow Ram therefore may produce a Green and Yellow or Green lamb if one of HIS parents was Green. All-white or Dud Rams and Ewes sadly appear to lose all ancestral qualities and therefore do not add to the gene pool when bred.

It appears that some unique qualities are 'stronger' than others. The masque or coloured patch over one eye is a very weak or recessive gene and the chances of producing it are not great. Moreover, it does not appear to skip generations in the way that colour can. If, therefore, a Ram or Ewe with a patch produces a solid Ram or Ewe, the solid Ram/Ewe when bred will not produce a lamb with a patch under any circumstances. I am basing this solely on my own research, however, and would be delighted if some one can refute this!

Other special qualities include stars, dots, two-tone, colour-change and camouflage. Using two camouflage parents who each sport different colours can produce some amazing results. Remember, however, that the position of the pattern does make a difference. I produced some solid sheep from two camouflage parents simply because they had the same colour in the opposite position!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Lady Gaga Quests in Farmville

Whatever one may know or feel about Lady Gaga, the new Gagaville Quests in Farmville offer an opportunity to obtain Coins and some interesting Items. Furthermore, the Limited Edition Gaga Crops actually can be used to create Recipes in the Pub as well as the traditional Home Farm Crafts of Bakery, Spa and Winery.

The Gaga Crop Recipes are:


Crystalmist Wine


2 Bushels of Crystals
3 Bushels of Sugar Cane
2 Bushels of White Grapes

If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, you can obtain a preview of her new album by visiting Gagaville and performing her little Quests every day. Even if you are not a fan, you can perform the Quests and obtain the Items. I am a great lover of minerals and Crystals, so have been very pleased by the appearance of a Crystal Garden in the Marketplace. Gaga Items and Crops, incidentally, can be grown in either Farm.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding, English Co-ops and Increased Market Stall Capacity

Despite all the furor over the Royal Wedding and its virtual celebration on Facebook and in Farmville's English Countryside, the BIG news is the increased capacity of Market Stalls. Finally, Zynga has increased storage capacity from 100 Bushels to 200 Bushels, making it less likely that players will lose valuable Bushel Sets when they complete a Co-op Job, and allowing them to plant and harvest to their heart's content without too much anxiety about wasting Bushels. Often, Recipes call for ingredients that are not available immediately. When the storage capacity was 100 Bushels, players often had to sacrifice Bushels that could not be used immediately. Now they can save those Bushels until the other ingredients become available.

Today, which is the date of the Royal Wedding in England, Farmville announced a pending visit by the Royal Couple, requiring the placement of a Party Tent and a flurry of invitations to the party. Not to worry! The party deadline is 8 May and as usual in these circumstances, the Rewards a player receives will depend on the number of acceptances. A player can attend more than one Party, so do not hesitate to accept an Invitation from a Neighbour!

Meanwhile, new Quests have appeared in the English Countryside, heralding a new option to participate in English Co-op Jobs. The three Jobs that are available at present are as follows:

The Cornflower Contingency

Grow Cornflowers to make table decorations!
Reward: 575 Coins 575 XP
Requirements: Seed and harvest 1200 Cornflowers in 2 Days
Gold: 18 hours, 59 minutes, Reward: Cornflower Pot
Silvwer: 1 Day, 4 Hours
Bronze: 2 Days, 0 Hours

The Great Rabbit Caper
Grow Radishes and Turnips to feed the Rabbits
Could you seed and harvest the following?
700 Radishes, 700 Turnips
Gold: 1 day, 10 Hours, Reward: Brown Spot Rabbit, 950 Coins, 950 XP
Silver: 2 days 4 hours Reward: 825 Coins, 825 XP
Bronze: 3 Days, 15 Hours, Reward: 700 Coins, 700 XP

The Amazing Asters
Grow Asters to teach Henry
Could you seed and harvest the following?
1200 Pink Asters
Gold: 18 hours, 59 minutes: Reward: Love Potion, 575 Coins, 575 XP
Silver: 1 day, 4 Hours Reward: 500 Coins, 500 XP
Bronze: 2 days, Reward: 425 Coins, 425 XP

The Cornflower Contingency is one of the tasks in a new Quest for players.

Other news from Farmville includes the option to breed Pigs. When you complete a new Pigpen, whether on the Home Farm or in the English Countryside, you will receive a Green Boar to facilitate breeding. Piglets like Lambs now can be placed either on the English Farm or the Home Farm and both Sheep Breeding and Pig Breeding can occur at either or both locations. Once placed, however, an Animal cannot be transferred to a different farm.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Love Potion Crafting Option

After players suffered through a terrible day or two in Farmville, with such problems as incapacity to log in, incapacity to breed sheep, incapacity to STAY logged in, incapacity to share items or post on players' walls, new options have appeared, including the option to breed Pigs and to create the Love Potions required for breeding. The Love Potions Recipe is found in the Pub and is as follows:

Love Potion:


4 Bushels of Field Beans
3 Bushels of Pink Asters
5 Bushels of English Peas

Who would have guessed that so many Field Beans would be needed? One does recall, however, a correlation in ancient Rome between Beans and Fertility. Peas actually have the same significance in ancient cultures. Pink Asters? Well, any flower is linked to fertility in almost every culture and the other flowers in Farmville are used extensively in the Recipes in the Pub. Time for the Pink Asters to bloom...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clever Marketing and Double Mastery

There are new English Countryside Quests that are linked to a new Mastery Crop. Today, a temporary Neighbour in the form of Frito-Lay was added to the Neighbour bar of every Farmer. As is the case when any temporary special Neighbour is added, you are asked to visit the Farm to help. When you do, you will receive special Items.

In this case, the special Item with a farming effect is the Frito-Lay Stall. It can be placed on either the Home Farm or the English Farm and when placed, will give double mastery to the player for 2 days. As there are English Countryside Quests that require Crop Mastery, it is suggested that players wait until they reach one of these Quests before placing the Stall.

The first Mastery Quest requires 1 Star Mastery of Bluebells. The second requires 1 Star Mastery of Hops.

The clever marketing part is, of course, the way in which avid Farmville Farmers can be manipulated into placing an item on their farms that they may find repugnant initially when they discover its effect. I do not like brand advertising and I hated the thought of destroying the integrity of my English farm with an eyesore emblazoned with the logo of Frito-Lay. I capitulated when I discovered the effect of the stall...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Quests in Farmville

New Quests finally have appeared in the English Countryside in Farmville. These Quests are not unlocked by any particular accomplishment on the part of the player. They simply were released a couple of days ago and will be found now at the end of the first sequence of Quests in the English Countryside.

The new Quests begin as follows:

Next Quest:

Hello There. I'm Lily. Is this your farm now? I own the Dairy and I have a problem. We depend on this farm for goods, so if you can't revive it, I'll have to move. But if you can help me I'm willing to pay. Can you deliver the goods I need?

How Dairy You

Get a new Cow
Wouldn't be much of a dairy without cows, would it?

Harvest 100 Bluebells
Good milk starts with happy cows, and cows like pretty fowers. It's a fact.

When completed:

Lily: It's more efficient if you have your own Dairy Barn. Let me help with that. I admit I'm impressed so far.

Reward: 100 XP
1 Dairy Barn
2500 Coins

Next Quest:

Lily: You've got the basics covered, but I need to know I can count on you. Here's a challewnge! To make cheese, I need Cheese Culture and milk. Can you do it?


Say Cheese!
Cheese-making is both an art and a science.

Get 6 Cheese Culture
Ask Friends
Skip for 10 FV Cash

Cheese Culture is what makes milk into delicious cheese.

Harvest your Dairy Barn twice.
Skip for 20 FV Cash

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Option to play both Farms in Farmville now

After many players complained about the mandatory 'pause' in the game that would 'pause' one farm when a player traveled to the other, Zynga made the 'pause' system optional. Now, whenever a player travels from one farm to the other, he/she has the option to choose either to allow time to continue to run in both farms or to pause time in the farm that has been left behind. This is much more attractive to players who have Orchards as well as Crops and who were placed in the unappealing position of being forced to stay physically on one farm previously.

Flasher Sheep and Colouring Sheep for Easter

N.B. The Sheep Pen in the screenshots is not mine. I do not own any 'flasher sheep' yet. There is one Ewe in the centre of the bottom row that changes colour. Each screenshot shows it in a different instant as it changes colour rapidly from moment to moment!


In the past week, I have become involved in the English Countryside Sheep Breeding option but I was unaware of the extraordinary Rams and Ewes known as 'flashers' until a Neighbour was given one this morning. 'Flashers' in Farmville are not naughty men who display their privates to unsuspecting members of the general public by opening their coats or macs momentarily to reveal their nakedness. 'Flashers' in Farmville are very special Rams and Ewes who 'flash' different colours every instant. I have yet to uncover the secret of breeding flashers and indeed, have yet to own one myself unfortunately, but hope to do so in the future.

As with non-flashing Rams and Ewes, there are countless permutations in terms of colour. If a flashing Ram or Ewe has dots or stars, it appears that the colour of these is set but the base colour will change instant by instant. Although all flashing sheep, it appears, will display one hue within each primary colour and secondary colour, the actual tones will vary from animal to animal.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Neighbours in the English Countryside

There are some peculiarities in Farmville now with the advent of the English Countryside option. The fact that only the farm on which your Character physically is present is subject to the power of Father Time is one of those peculiarities. The farm where you are not present is 'paused' in every respect but, in addition to this, any Bushels sold at the Market Stalls there no longer will be available to your Friends and Neighbours until you return. Sad to say, time appears to run still for the Market Stalls and upon your return, you may find all of your Stalls empty if the time allotted to each Crop displayed has run out.

Farmers who need Bushels from your Market Stalls in one location therefore may follow your footsteps rather like a Royal entourage... There is an icon now at the bottom of the page in the Neighbours' bar to show where each Character currently is located. The icon of the Union Jack indicates England while the icon of a simple Monopoly-style house indicates the 'Home Farm'. I for one am pleased that Zynga did not become overly political by giving the Home Farm a flag owned by any nation on this earth... after all, 'Home' to each player may be different. 'Good show, Zynga!' as the nameless Duke would declare in his undoubtedly plummy voice. (When he is called 'Duke' in the game, it makes me feel that he is a dog rather than a member of the peerage... after all, no real Duke would be addressed as 'Duke'. He should have a Christian name attached to his Character like all the other residents of the Village. Still, that is a minor point. I think Zynga has done remarkably well in creating the English Countryside landscape.)

To address the actual point of this post, however, ways in which one can be a 'Good Neighbour' now include:

1. Visit both the English Countryside and the Home Farm each time you log into Farmville. Players obviously will spend more time on the Farm where time-ruled actions need to be conmpleted, such as growing Crops or bringing Orchards, Chicken Coops and Crafting Items to 'readiness', but for the benefit of ALL players, it would be a good idea to make certain that some Bushels are available for more than a moment or two at EACH of the Farms.

2. There are actions that only can be undertaken in the English Countryside and these take only a few seconds of a player's time but can benefit Neighbours enormously.

The first of these is a Request for Love Potions to breed Sheep. Although a Player can breed Sheep without the benefit of any Potions, chances of successful breeding are slim and with 5 Potions, any Player can breed two Sheep instantly. One can post a Request for Love Potions every 4 Hours, which would give every Player sufficient Potions to breed a new Lamb once each day at least.

Another way in which to help your Neighbours is by not using the option to feed 10 Bottles to any newborn Lamb instantly. The reason for this is that an announcement will be published at one point in the middle of the feeding process to tell Friends and Neighbours that a new Lamb is growing fast and offering to share Bottles in celebration. If you feed 10 Bottles instantly to your Lamb by choosing the 'Feed Bottles' option after clicking directly on the Lamb, only one notice will be published to the effect that an Adult Ram or Ewe has been bred with an offer to share bottles in celebration. I believe that, should a player hand-feed even one bottle to the Lamb initially and then only feed the Lamb 9 instantly, the notice that the Lamb is growing fast MAY appear before the final announcement that the Lamb has become an adult. This needs to be confirmed, however.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mystery Seedlings and Magical Trees

Although Orchards have been available in Farmville for some time now, it is only recently that I discovered how addictive the option can be. Unlike Fantasy Kingdoms, which is highly fanciful in terms of Crops and Trees, the Crops and Trees in Farmville are divided sharply into two very distinct categories. There are real Crops and Trees and fantasy Crops and Tree. Oddly enough, despite my love of fantasy, I initially was predisposed to shun the fantasy Crops and Trees in Farmville. I wanted to grow real Crops and create a landscape that was realistic...

There was another consideration here, which was the fact that all fantasy Trees require a Farm Cash investment unless you find one on the feed. This is where the Orchard becomes vital. By placing Trees in an Orchard, a player has a chance of creating a 'Mystery Seedling'. Eight Watering Cans are required to grow a Mystery Seedling after it is placed. You cannot be certain of the identity of the Seedling until you have used the eighth Watering Can. The grown Tree then can be shared with one other player. You either can publish to all friends, all friends of friends, Every one or publish the offer to specific players.

An Orchard can contain a total of twenty Trees. They can be mixed or can consist of Trees of a single variety. When harvested, an Orchard can yield either Watering Cans or a Mystery Seedling as well as coins in every case. Mystery Seedlings can be shared with other players but, unlike an adult Tree produced from a Seedling, can be shared with at least three other players.

Any player who does not own a Fantasy Tree therefore can obtain one either by taking a grown Tree from the Feed or by taking a Mystery Seedling shared by another player. Although an Orchard filled with Fantasy Trees has a better chance of creating Mystery Seedlings that will grow into a Fantasy Tree, it evidently is not guaranteed.

Mystery Seedlings moreover will stack in your Gift Box. If, therefore, you take a number of Mystery Seedlings instead of taking only one and growing it into maturity before you take another, it is almost impossible to judge what will occur when you plant a Mystery Seedling from your stack.

There is a certain rhythm to the process of harvesting and growing Trees. When you harvest an Orchard, you will receive coins and a Mystery Seedling or Coins and a Watering Can. You then have an option to share the Seedling/Watering Can with friends. This places either a Watering Can or a Mystery Seedling on the feed for others to use.

When you plant a Mystery Seedling, you will have the option to publish the fact. There really is no benefit to this, apart from alerting other players to the fact that you are beginning the process of growing one. After you use the fourth Watering Can, however, you will have the option of sharing Watering Cans. This places Watering Cans on the feed for other players. When you have used the eighth Watering Can, the adult Tree will materialise. You then have the option of sharing this Tree with one Friend.

In other words, for every Mystery Seedling you grow, you have an opportunity of sharing Watering Cans with four other players. If your Neighbours harvest their Orchards regularly, it is possible to maintain a fairly decent supply of Watering Cans as well as Mystery Seedlings from the Feed as well as your own Orchards.

Tree Mastery as well as Crop Mastery exists now in Farmville but unlike Crop Mastery, which gives a player additional Bushels, Tree Mastery evidently will not increase your chances of obtaining Mystery Seedlings.

An Orchard frame costs 1000 Coins and requires 10 Bricks, 10 Boards and 10 Nails to complete. A completed Orchard can be purchased for 30 Farm Cash. There is a limit to the number of Orchard frames a player can purchase. This appears to be six. There may be no limit to the number of completed Orchards a player can purchase.

Perhaps some one will correct me on this point, but it is my experience and the experience of other players with whom I have spoken on the topic. 'Mystery Seedlings' ARE mysterious!

The English Countryside

Please note that I have created a little preliminary Guide for the English Countryside which you can access via a tab above this post.

Last night, Farmville finally unveiled its new English Countryside with an initial Quest to take players to their new farms in the 'English Countryside'. Only players who have reached Level 20 can participate in this. It allows a player to have a second farm in a virtual England where special Crops and Animals can be grown and raised.

The initial Quest begins with a little Event.

Look Up in the sky!
Something is coming this way... FAST!
Check it out!

An old-fashioned airship descends towards your land, belching forth steam from a number of holes. You are told to place it somewhere on your farm. Once you have done so, you must buy three Crates in order to anchor it to the ground.

An aviator from the First World War cries out:

By Jove! I've found you at last! I've brought you the deed to...

A Second Farm in the English Countryside
Before we can go to your secod farm, we must fix my airship. Help me drag it to a safe place on your farm!
Place Airship!

The space required to moor the airship is minimal. You can place it almost anywhere. When completed:

Well done! My airship is safe. Tell every one that I've come to take you to the English countryside!

Drop Anchor!
We need something heavy to hold down my airship.
Buy 3 Crates
Place some heavy crates and I'll tie them to the airship!
Get Crate

The cost of the Crates:
150 coins x 3

Reward: 100 XP, 5 FV, 2500 Coins
Brilliant! My airship is securely anchored! I brought some of your local currency. Please accept it with my thanks!

My village is in desperate need of a great farmer. I hope you will accept my invitation!
Unfortunately, my airship was damaged in that rough landing. I'll need Cotton to make patches for it.

You now have a new Quest:

Cotton to It
Plant 50 Cotton
The sooner you plant it, the sooner we're off to England!

Reward: 100 XP, 1 Union Jack, 2500 Coins
Jolly Good! I brought this flag to remind me of home. Perhaps you'd be kind enough to plant it for me.

(The Union Jack will be in your Gift Box, to place or not as you wish. There is no Reward for using it.)

Good Show! We can collect supplies while that Cotton is growing. I'm eager to see you farming in English soil. Let me tell you about it!

The lush soil in the English countryside will help you master crops faster!

You have a new Quest:

A Nice Supplies*

*Odd that the old chap's mastery of English is so flawed here. 'A Nice Supplies' is a peculiar and incorrect usage of the language by any one's standards.

A daring adventure takes preparation! We need supplies!
Buy 1 Cow
We'll need milk for our tea. I'm sure you know where to find some.

Cost of Cow: 300 Coins
Reward: 250 XP, Aviator's Cap, 2500 Coins

Simply smashing! Our larder is well stocked for our journey ahead! You'll need this Aviator's Cap for the trip. To wear your new cap, click on your Farmer, go to the Accessories category, ans select the Aviator's Cap.

We're almost ready to lift off. Invite your Neighbours to wish you Bon Voyage!
When you write home to tell them about our amazing sheep, they will all want to visit!
In my village, you can learn to breed baby lambs and raise them into unique sheep!

You now are expected to organise a farewell party for yourself.

Bon Voyage Party
Getting Ready for Travel! Invite more guests!

Here you have two options. One is to pay for instant departure with 60 Farm Cash. The other is to invite your Neighbours to your Party. If four Neighbours agree to attend, you can leave in four days. If fifteen or more Neighbours agree to attend, you can leave in two days. If thirty-five Neighbours agree to attend or through payment of 60 Farm Cash, you will be able to travel to your second farm immediately.

This is a very clever ploy on the part of Zynga, while not being unfair in the least. Unlike some options in online games that require you to invest real currency, you are not required to do so here. It is only if you cannot withstand the temptation to see your new Farm at once that you will be required to invest. Unfortunately, I am not one of the players who can afford to invest 60 Farm Cash in the journey, so the next step in the Quest will occur in two days.
Travel Now: 35 Guests or Unlock for 60 FV
Travel in 2 Days 15 guests
Travel in 4 Days 4 Guests

Getting the party started.
When you have waited the required amount of time or fulfilled the requirements for leaving instantly, you will be able to travel to the English Countryside:

Duke: We're all ready to go! Finish the party and depart for your new farm!
Go to the English Countryside

Duke: We're all set! Are you ready to visit your second farm? I'll show you how to get there!

A perfect landing~ Welcome to the English Countryside!

Duke: The Village Farm is the heart of the community and every one depends on it. The local Pub, the Dairy and even the sheep pastures grew up around it.

My village is depending on you to make this farm great.
Rebuild it as you wish, master these new crops and don't be afraid to explore. This English Countryside farm is all yours!

When you explore your small farm, you will find that it contains a small stone cottage, Stone Walls, a broken Combine, a ruined Stable, a Pen for animals that is attached to the Stable, an Apple Tree, an Apricot Tree, a Dwarf Almond Tree and two white Sheep. The three Trees and two Sheep are ready for harvest.

The Quest sequences once you reach the English Countryside will be found in the little Guide. There are some general points about this, however, that deserve special mention here.

The English Countryside basically is a player's 2nd Farm, available only after he/she attains Level 20. The reason for this probably is the fact that many of the Quests require crafting. There is no cost for the 2nd Farm, but you will have to pay to upgrade it once you arrive. The first upgrade actually is part of one of the initial Quests.

If you can find surveyors for your Farm, you can pay for upgrades with coins rather than Farm Cash. 'Surveyors' are Neighbours who accept your Request to survey the farm, making the requirement similar to the Neighbour total requirement for upgrades on the Home Farm.

One peculiarity of the Farmville English Countryside is that time will not run at all on the farm you have left. In other words, when you are in the English Countryside, your Home Farm will be 'paused' and vice versa. Crops will not wither, but they will not grow either. Trees in Orchards will not become ready for Harvest, nor will any of your Animals.

There is another twist to this that is very inconvenient for your Neighbours. When your Character is on the Home Farm, Bushels that have been harvested there will be available at your Stalls but, when you travel to the English Countryside, only those Bushels currently displayed on your English Stalls will be available to your Neighbours. In other words, your physical presence is required if you wish to offer Bushels to your Neighbours from a specific farm. This is not really fair to your Neighbours as they cannot control your comings and goings.

A number of little tips have been included in my English Countryside Guide, but there is one general rule to follow: Do not buy buildings for Animals, Storage or any other purpose when you arrive. Most of these will be given to you upon completion of Quests.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Special Seasonal Crafting Recipes

During the Thanksgiving season, each of the three Crafts in Farmville offered options to create two special Seasonal Items. Now, with the St. Patrick's Day celebrations underway in Facebook games, one special Seasonal Item is available for each of the three Crafts once again.

All three use the special Limited Edition Green Roses Crop:

Green Roses:
Cost: 80 Coins
Harvest in 1 Day
XP Gain: 2
Sell for 170 Coins
Possibly no Level Requirement

Green Rose Water
3 Green Roses Bushels
3 White Grapes Bushels

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lucky Wishing Well and Leprechaun's Cottage

Quests and special festival Collections are some of the new options in Farmville. Each seasonal holiday has its own theme and its own method of giving special limited edition items to players.

For March, it is the St. Patrick's Day theme, with a Lucky Wishing Well, a Pot of Gold and a Leprechaun's Cottage that more resembles a treehouse than cottage. The Wishing Well is particularly entertaining as it is a gambling venture, wherein gold coins thrown into the Well are transformed into items in a Collection. There are four Irish 'collections' attached to the Wishing Well game, each with its own Reward.

The Leprechaun's Cottage is a construction project. When completed, it can be harvested daily for 'gold' in various forms. The Gold can be placed in a Pot to be redeeemed for prizes. For Valentine's Day, the project was Cupid's Castle, harvested for Valentines.

There are other Rewards that are based on daily access to the game. Fuel now is given each day to players for their 'loyalty'. During the Valentine's Day season, there were 12 sequential gifts given each day for 12 days, rather like the 12 Days of Christmas. If you managed to collect all 12 of the Gifts, you would receive a special Valentine Cow.

Quick Money-Making Option in Farmville

The new Greenhouse in Farmville makes it easier for low-level players to increase their income and experience. First of all, in a visit to any Neighbour, a player now has the option to harvest a random type of Crop from the landowner's Greenhouse. Any visitor who harvests in this manner can share the results on his/her Wall, giving another player the option to collect hybrid Seeds.

A year ago, there were few activities for a visitor to another Farm. Now, any visitor can perform the following actions:

1. A total of 5 actions to fertilise or unwither Crops or to harvest from Trees or Animals;

2. Feeding the Chickens in a Coop;

3. Accessing the Animal Trough for Feed;

4. Harvesting from any seasonal Building such as Cupid's Castle during the Valentine season or the Leprecaun's Treehouse during March;

5. Feeding the Pigs in the Pigpen.

Whenever a visitor feeds Animals in a building, he/she will earn Coins and sometimes will obtain another reward, such as a Mystery Egg from a Coop, Animal Feed from the Animal Trough or Slop from the Pigpen. From any seasonal Building, the Rewards are specific to that season and the total will depend on the size of the building. The largest upgrade usually yields a total of 3 items. The smallest will yield 1.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Quest Options in Farmville

With the advent of the Greenhouse, new Quests are available in Farmville, making this popular online game more attractive to fans of Harvest Moon and Rune Factory.

In Farmville, once a player has unlocked a specific Crop by achieving the required Level, the Level requirement no longer appears. I therefore was unaware of ANY Level Requirements for the new Hybrid Seeds that are grown in the Greenhouse until a new player contacted me, complaining that he was unable to grow them.

There may be a Level Requirement for the Greenhouse itself. I would love to have confirmation of this from a low-level player. As with the Crafting buildings, although the Buildings do appear in the Market with a price attached to them, as soon as you reach the Level required to unlock them, Farmville will GIVE you the Building for placement. The prices, therefore, are applicable solely to the acquisition of a SECOND crafting building or Greenhouse.

The first Greenhouse Quest in Farmville requires that you have attained Level 16 as you must grow 50 Fire Peppers, a hybrid Crop that you can create in the Greenhouse only when you have reached Level 16 as one of the Crops required for it is the Jalapeno Pepper which has a Level 16 Requirement. Although you can obtain ANY of the hybrid Crops at any Level when a Neighbour 'shares' them on his/her Wall, the Quest will not activate on YOUR screen until you have reached Level 16.

Incidentally, the Level Requirements for each of the Hybrid Crops are based on the Level required to unlock both of the Crops that are used to create them.

Note that the Hybrid Crops were Crops that formerly were unlocked only through Mastery of other simple Crops that were related to them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Greenhouse Option

Farmville recently took a page from the Harvest Moon universe to create a new Greenhouse option where hybrid Crops can be grown by combining two types of Seeds.

The Greenhouse costs 5 Coins, if you were not playing the game on the day of its release and is a construction project that requires 4 Nails, 4 Wooden Boards and 4 Bricks. As with most construction projects, once completed, it can be expanded.

The creation of any hybrid Seed takes three days but, with the help of Neighbours, you can speed the process.

Another new option is the Duck Pond. A construction project as well, once completed, it can house all types of Ducks and Swans. Harvests of the Duck Pond produce coins or Ducklings of various types. A Duckling can be grown either by help from Neighbours or by paying Farmville Cash.

If you choose the Neighbour Help option, you have a total of seven days to obtain the help of seven Neighbours. Initially, you can choose between seven different varieties of Ducks and/or Swans. With the passing of each day, one type of Duck/Swan no longer will be available as a choice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Snowman Option in Farmville

After a month or two when I lost interest for the most part in Farmville, my excitement was rekindled somewhat by the ability to craft items at Level 25. As my game progressed rather sporadically, my commitment increased when the Advent season brought many new festive buildings and options. The Holiday Workshop and Christmas Tree, for example, allowed one to collect Gifts. As with most of the holiday buildings, the Gifts generated then could be traded for limited edition Items.

Orchards came into existence during this period, allowing one to harvest from 20 trees at a time and providing the option to obtain 'Mystery Seedlings' that would grow into rare Tree types. A Holiday Tree that was offered as a Free Gift from the Farmville Site could produce Ornament Tree seedlings, although I have not been that fortunate yet with the Mystery Seedlings from my own Orchard.

Other rather gorgeous Trees released over Christmas and the New Year included a Confetti Tree and a Mistletoe Tree.

Zynga cleverly has increased the ways in which one can obtain such useful items as Fertiliser and Watering Cans. Beehives now can generate Fertiliser while a new Snowman building project, when completed will produce Watering Cans. The Fertiliser is a random result, but I do believe that a Snowman ALWAYS will produce Watering Cans.

The Snowman project allowed one to build a Snowman using piles of Snow either obtained in Snowball fights or through requests to Neighbours. Piles of snow were the basic building material, but green buttons, a red scarf and a Magic Hat provided the finishing touches. If the Snowman were completed at the highest level, he would begin to dance. This was rather delightful but I was even more thrilled to discover that I could harvest Watering Cans from him.

As with other holiday buildings, the Level of completion determines the number of items harvested. With the Winter Workshop, Level 1 yields a single Gift, while Level 3 yields 3. In like fashion, a basic Snowman gives a single Watering Can, but a Dancing Snowman with his Magic Hat firmly set upon his head yields 3.

10 Watering Cans are needed to grow Mystery Seedlings. Mystery Seedlings produce rare varieties of Trees that otherwise can be obtained only with Farmville Cash.