Saturday, 1 February 2014

Comparing Family Farm with FarmVille 2

I have been playing Family Farm on a daily basis for over a year.  I began to play FarmVille and FarmVille 2 almost from the start, but have become rather disenchanted with FarmVille and only recently began to play FarmVille 2 again, mainly because of a Lunar New Year celebration.

I see why I prefer Family Farm.  In FarmVille 2, you cannot make ANY progress without the help of Neighbours.  What this means is that you have to proposition them constantly both on your Wall and through Requests.  Requests do not appear to expire either.  When I returned to FarmVille 2 after months of absence, the requests had accumulated to the point where I was unable to begin the game for about a quarter of an hour while I waded through all the old Requests from my Neighbours.  Very unpleasant and unsatisfactory. 

Quests can be completed but when this occurs, usually another one follows immediately that is connected.  In other words, it does not lead to a significant Reward but simply to another Quest in most cases.  Animals are given as Rewards but feeding them transforms them into Prized Animals, and although the Prized Animals give special products, you usually need a specific number of ordinary Animals in every category for OTHER ongoing Quests.  What this means is that it is a never-ending cycle.  It is hectic and desperate to some extent unless the player wishes to spend a very substantial amount of real cash on the game.   I stopped playing because my Farm became too crowded and the cost of expansions was exorbitant.  Although two expansions have been given free of charge recently, the amount of land is insufficient to meet the demand for new buildings.  Once again, I am becoming exhausted and frustrated with the game.

Family Farm, on the other hand, encourages Neighbours but does not require interactions constantly.  You can send out requests on a daily basis but you can complete most of your own Quests without any intervention from other people.  It allows a more peaceful and less aggressive approach to farming.  Much more civilised in my view.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A new Four-Ingredient Machine in Family Farm

One reason Machines, aka Gear, are unlocked only at specific Levels in Family Farm is because of the Ingredients that they require to produce Items.  Machines can be as simple as using a single ingredient.  More sophisticated Machines use three Ingredients.  Now, there is a Machine that requires four different Ingredients.  It is the Stir-Fry Machine.  Required Ingredients are: Salt, Ginger and Bean Oil.  It is the fourth Ingredient that determines the Item that is produced.  In this case, when I studied the List of 'types' of Stir-Fry Dishes that the Machine can produce, I noticed that they basically were Vegetables that were not used in any other Machines or anywhere else  except possibly in the Kitchen.

This makes the Stir-Fry Machine of interest to the high-level Players who gather Achievements in every Crop and probably have hundreds of Winter Squash, Bell Pepper, Lentils, Green Beans and other high-level Crops in their Barn awaiting a potential use.  For the low level Player, it makes the Stir-Fry Machine a bit daunting.  The price tag attached to the unfinished Machine, in the form of 50,000 Coins, is a little daunting as well.

Recently, though, I have made a practice of purchasing every possible Animal or Machine in Family Farm.  I therefore purchased the Stir-Fry Machine, decimating my store of Coins, without any knowledge of the Ingredient List or number of Ingredients that would be needed.

It is an interesting Machine.  At my current Level, I have unlocked many of the Ingredients that serve to determine the type of Stir-Fry made, apart from Radicchio, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli.  This brings me to another aspect of Family Farm that I ignored at lower levels.

Whenever a new Crop is released, it is available ordinarily to ALL Players for a limited time, irrespective of their level.  It may be connected to a special Quest or Mission as well.  Even if a Player is not interested in completing the Mission, it is not a bad idea to grow a few of these Crops before the time period expires.  What occurs when the time period expires is that the Crop is given a Level Requirement that usually is quite high.  At that point, you no longer will be able to grow the Crop until you reach the Level of Experience required to unlock it.

A little note here about Machines or Gear in general:  I am a deeply conflicted person in a way, as my natural inclinations are to prefer an unmechanised society to one that is ruled by Machines.  Like Tolkien, I see the ugliness produced by Industrialisation but at the same time, I write strategy game guides for MACHINES.  Gaming systems and computers are Machines and they are a big part of my life as well as my own creative landscape. 

It is ironic though that my favourite game on Facebook is a game that features Machines.  In fact, I have a friend who no longer plays Family Farm because of the focus on Machines, although she would be pleasantly surprised by the nature of the Machines added to the game in the past year.  Originally fairly functional, new Machines now are incredibly attractive, whimsical or inventive.  Cases in point are the Marzipan Machine, the Machine that produces Hawaiian Leis and the Ornament Maker that features little Elves inside a Snow Globe dancing about while they make Christmas Ornaments from the lovely Tinsel Crop and one other Ingredient.  The Machines in Family Farm are fun and creative.  They could seduce any Luddite into abandoning his or her rejection of Machinery.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Why Perform Quests for Rewards One Does not Need... Answer is found in the Farm Club

By joining a Family Farm Group on Facebook, one can find guides to the various Quests that appear both on the left side of the screen and in the Quest Menu, accessed by clicking on Darryl's face on the right side of the screen.  One reason why these Quest guides are useful is that they allow players to grow or collect Items that are needed for the Quest in advance.  Another reason is that the Reward for completion of the Quest is given and a Player then can decide whether or not to pursue the Quest at all.

Often for mid-level or high-level Players, the final Reward for a Quest will be a Machine or Animal that produces the same Item as another Machine or Animal one has.  Thus, the Machine or Animal really is not needed.  Why then should one bother to perform the Quest?

There actually are a number of reasons why one should perform every Quest that is available even if the Reward is almost a duplicate of an Item one has.  First of all, Machines that are given as Quest Rewards tend to produce faster than the ordinary variety of the same Machine found in the Market.  Even if the Machine is identical to one that the Player has, he/she will earn valuable Experience Points by completing any Quest.  Finally... and this can be the most important reason of all...  the Quest Reward may be a requirement in the Farm Club.

The Farm Club is a fairly new optioni n Family Farm that can be accessed by clicking on the little buidling to the left of (and outside) the Player's Farm.  Here you will find Trees, Animals and Machines listed in groups of three.  If you have all three Items in any group, you will receive a little Reward.  Completion of any List will give a specific number of Points as well.  These count towards a more significant Reward.

For those of us who love the Mythical Animals such as the Unicorn or Pegasus, it is the Farm Club that gives us the opportunity to collect new Animals that cannot be obtained through any other method.   A number of the Point Rewards in the Farm Club have been Pegasi  or Unicorns.  I believe that the Crystal Pegasus and the Sapphire Pegasus both were Farm Club Collection Rewards. 

There ia another feature of the Farm Club that can be useful to Players who missed a Quest with a specific Limited Edition Tree, Animal or Machine as its final Reward.  If the Item appears in a List in any Collection Group and you were unable to obtain it previously,  you may have the option to purchase it for premium Cash (RC).  This is a method by which a Player can obtain an Item that is not available in the Market.

There are mini-games that allow Players a chance to win special Limited Edition Items.  Included among these are some of the Pegasi and Unicorns.  I never have won ANY Item through the mini-games but I am singularly unlucky.  I was able to obtain a couple of Pegasi and Unicorns that otherwise could be found only in the mini-games through the Farm Club Collection Lists.  In a game that rewards Players with premium Cash regularly, I am happy to spend that Cash on a special and rare Pegasus or Unicorn if I cannot obtain it through any other method.

I am writing this post in the middle of January in 2014.  in the past fortnight, there have been a few new Quests.  I was not that excited about the Rewards for some of them but suspected that I might need them for the Farm Club.  In fact, new Collection Groups were added to the Farm Club last night and because I had completed all the recent Quests, I was able to redeem the prizes for all three of the new Collection Lists instantly, obtaining a significant Reward afterwards in the form of a new Unicorn, the Pink Lace Unicorn.

The Pink Lace Unicorn is shown at the top of this post.  The Sugar Plum Fairy stands to her left and was a Reward for a Christmas Quest.  All Unicorns and Pegasi eat Vigourous Herb, a very attractive mythical Crop that is fitting for such rare creatures.  Each then produces a different, unique gem.  The Pink Lace Unicorn produces a Pink Heart Diamond.  When fed into the Jewelry Maker, it produces a Pink Heart Diamond Ring.  The two Items are shown below.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Daily Log-In Machine Rewards

Family Farm is wonderful in that faithful daily log-ins ALWAYS give Rewards.  Every few days, a Player who has logged into the game every day for weeks will receive 10 RC, the premium cash that is used in this game.  This is fairly unique among games that are found on Facebook.  This aspect of the game, as well as the fact that Crops NEVER wither or die, is one of the reasons I have been playing Family Farm loyally and regularly for over a year now.   The other very positive aspect of this game is that there are no Energy limits.  One can plant, harvest or produce and collect Products to one's heart content without ever being forced to quit because Energy has run out.  Other games attempt to force Players to purchase additional Energy using Premium Cash.  I find that strategy irritating and rather dishonourable, in all honesty.   Players who like a game will invest real money in it, but it is better to allow them to CHOOSE how they wish to invest it rather than cornering them by exhausting their Energy.

Occasionally, Family Farm will add another Reward for Players who log into the game daily for a month.  Each day that you log into the game, you will receive a small Reward in the form of an Item.  At the end of the Month, provided that you have received every daily Item, you will receive a special Reward that takes the form of a Machine or Animal.  If you did miss a day, you will be given the opportunity to purchase the missing Item for premium Cash.  In Family Farm, this usually costs 3 RC.

Is the final Reward worth it for Players who have missed Days and must purchase missing Items?  That is the question I wish to address in this Post.

For a Player who is mid-level or high-level, it definitely is worth the price, but for low-level Players, if the Reward is a Machine, it usually is a fairly sophisticated one that requires Ingredients that low-level Players may not be able to grow or produce.  Obviously, Players will advance in experience and as Levels are raised, more options become available.  Any Reward can be left in the Gift Box indefinitely.  The Reward Machines can be fun to use and they often are included in a requirement to obtain a Farm Club Reward, but they never will be required for a regular Quest or Mission.  They are 'optional' Machines rather than vital ones.

The Reward at the end of January 2014 will be a very attractive special Coffee Machine that will produce unique types of Holiday Coffees as follows:

 Candy Cane Coffee:
  Ingredients:  Sugar, Coffee Bean

Holiday Cheer Coffee:
  Ingredients:  Eggnog, Coffee Bean

Hawaiian Coffee:
  Ingredients:  Coconut Milk, Coffee Bean

Autumn Harvest Coffee:
  Ingredients:  Pumpkin, Coffee Bean

Cupid's Kiss Coffee:
  Ingredients:  Caramel, Coffee Bean

Merry Christmas Coffee:
  Ingredients:  Roast Chestnut, Coffee Bean

As you can see, there is only one type of Coffee that uses two raw Ingredients in the form of the Autumn Harvest Coffee that requires Pumpkin and Coffee Beans.  Pumpkin, however, is a Crop that is not available to low-level Players.   The rest of the Products require Ingredients made in other Machines.  Eggnog, however, is made in the Hot Drink Machine which is available to all Players.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Beauty Shop and Christmas Festivities

The Beauty Shop in Family Farm is one of my favourite recent additions to the game.  There are a number of crafting buildings in Family Farm now but it is the Workshop and the Beauty Shop that allow one to make items that actually can be placed as decorations on the farm.  The others basically offer the option solely to create items to be sold.  The values may be very good, but it is far more fun to make pretty decorations that can be enjoyed on the farm.

For Hallowe'en, both the Beauty Shop and the Workshop offers a number of decorations.  At Thanksgiving, there were a couple of gorgeous candles with an Autumn theme  that are suitable to be used throughout the year.    For Christmas, there are some fantastic candles, including a darling ring of angels and a very elegant silver deer.

You will need to collect a fair number of ingredients to make these candles.  In most cases, it is a two-stage process, requiring the creation of a basic candle first before you can make the elaborate decorated item.

The basic candle that is needed most often is the Ivory Candle.  To make this, you will need the following ingredients:

Ivory Candle:
  Ingredients: 5 Beeswax, 10 Vanilla, 10 Milk

The Ivory Candle is an Ingredient in many beautiful Decorations, including:

Beautiful Fall Candle:
  Ingredients: 10 Violets, 4 Ivory Candles, 10 Eucalyptus Leaves

The secondary Candle that is required most often to craft a Decoration is the Citrus Sensation Candle which requires the following:

Citrus Sensation Candle:
  Ingredients:  2 Ivory Candle, 5 Mandarins, 5 Oranges

With the Citrus Sensation Candle, you can craft:

Elf on the Shelf Candle:
  Ingredients: 2 Citrus Sensation Candles, 10 Cranberry Sauce, 10 Cantaloupe

Reindeer Candle Holder:
  Ingredients: 3 Citrus Sensation Candle, 10 Iron Sheets
  N.B.  The Iron Sheets are produced in the Workshop with Horseshoes

Other lovely Candle Decorations include:

Happy Harvest Candle:
  Ingredients:  10 Pumpkins, 2 Dazzling Daisy Candles, 10 White Grapes

There are many other Decorations that are not Candles but can be placed on the Farm to add to its beauty and charm.  One of my favourites is Rose Water.

Rose Water:
  Ingredients: 2 Black Roses, 5 Purple Roses

The only problem with this Recipe is that the Black Rose requires RC to purchase.   When unlocked, you will be able to grow it only for three days before it will become 'locked' again.  One therefore should grow as many Black Roses as possible within that time period and save them for crafting.

Two of the items that appear often as ingredients in the Crafting buildings are Beeswax, previously mentioned, and Mud.  Beeswax is produced in the Bee Box.  You can purchase an unfinished Bee Box for 7000 Coins.  You then must obtain materials to complete it before it will produce.  Mud is produced by the Pie Train Pig Coop.  You can purchase an unfinished Pie Train Pig Coop for 9000 Coins.

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Amazing, Wonderful Toy Machine

Family Farm is a game that makes me happy.  I love to plant and harvest Crops and Flower.  I love to watch my Trees mature to bear fruit or nuts.  Although, like Tolkien, there is a part of me that is Luddite in nature, I do enjoy some of the machines.  In particular, I love the machines that make pretty things.  I like the Weaver and the Hat Machine but one of my very favourite Macines is the Toy Maker.

The Toy Maker once was the Teddy Bear Machine and simply made Red Teddy Bears or Blue Teddy Bears using Alpaca Hair and Wool.  It then was revised to embrace a myriad of different yarns and feathers and became the Toy Maker.

It is a single ingredient machine which means that one needs only one Item to produce any product.  The list of items it will produce is quite amazing:

Red Teddy Bear: 77 Coins
  Uses Wool from Sheep
  Feed Sheep Wheat

Blue Teddy Bear: 105 Coins
  Uses Angora Hair
  Feed ordinary Rabbits Carrots to produce Angora Hair

Alpaca Toy: 214 Coins
  Uses Alpaca Hair
  Feed Alpaca Lettuce to produce Alpaca Hair

Rabbit Toy: 119 Coins
  Uses Fuzzy Rabbit Fur
  Feed Fuzzy Rabbit Carrot

Witch Bunny Toy: 180 Coins
  Uses Witch Bunny Fur
  Feed Witch Bunny Enchanted Carrot to produce the Fur

Parrot Toy: 40 Coins
  Uses Parrot Feathers
  Feed Parrot Walnut to produce Feathers

Stork Toy: 40 Coins
  Uses Stork Feather
  Feed Stork Shrimp to produce Feathers

Scarecrow Toy: 25 Coins
  Uses Rubber from the Rubber Tree

Swan Toy: 65 Coins
  Uses Swan Feather
  Feed Swan Daisy to produce Swan Feathers

Camel Toy: 213 Coins
  Uses Camel Hair
  Feed Camel Nitraria to produce Camel Hair

Silky Chicken Toy: 129 Coins
  Uses Silky Chicken Feather
  Feed Silky Chicken Corn to produce the Feathers

Glow Horse Toy: 120 Coins
  Uses Glow Horse Hair
  Feed Glow Horse Carrot

 Golden Boa Snake Toy: 114 Coins
  Uses Golden Boa Snake Skin
  Feed Golden Boa Snake Bird Eggs

Raccoon Toy: 34 Coins
  Uses Raccoon Fur
  Feed Raccoon Walnut

Penguin Toy: 44 Coins
  Uses Penguin Feather
  Feed Penguin Salmon
  N.B.  This is the Salmon caught in a Bear Habitat when Bears are fed with Honey

Owl Toy: 206 Coins
  Uses Owl Feather
  Feed Owls Mole Meat

Wolf Toy: 175 Coins
  Uses Wolf Fur
  Feed Wolf Rooster Meat

Beaver Toy: 165 Coins
  Uses Beaver Fur

White Raccoon Toy: 34 Coins
  Produced from White Raccoon Fur

Flamingo Toy: 22 Coins
  Uses Flamingo Feather
  Feed Flamingo Blue-Green Algae from Algae Pond

Shelduck Toy: 85 Coins
  Uses Shelduck Feather
  Feed Shelduck Wheat

Cheerleading Poodle Toy: 38 Coins
  Uses Pom Pom
  Feed Cheerleading Poodle Beef

Armadillo Toy: 140 Coins
  Uses Armadillo Armour
  Feed Armadillo Bird Egg

White Parrot Toy: 40 Coins
  Uses White Parrot Feather
  Feed White Parrot Walnut

Zebra Toy: 36 Coins
   Uses Zebra Print
  Feed Zebra Pasture

Puffin Toy: 40 Coins
  Uses Puffin Feather
  Feed Puffin Salmon

Heron Toy: 50 Coins
  Uses Heron Feather
  Feed Heron Firefly

I was prompted to access my Toy Maker and the list of Items it produced by the acquisition of the new Raccoon Habitat as the final Reward for 'Darryl's Pipe Dream'.  I had hoped to find Raccoon Fur had been added to the list to produce little Raccoon Toys.  In fact, as of January 2014, there are three new Toys, including a Raccoon Toy!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Marzipan Machine and traditions of Yuletide

I personally love the fact that Family Farm incorporates regional traditions in its Quests and Missions.  The most recent time-restricted Quest is that of 'Darryl's Pipe Dream'.  It involves Black Peter in the form of Zwarte Piet and the White Horse Amerigo.  This is not the first Quest to be centred on the White Horse that usually is the property of St. Nicholas himself and not his companion Black Peter.

A very close friend of mine from Germany, now deceased, remembered Black Peter from his childhood and sent me a copy of a book of poems about the character.  He had hunted down a reproduction of a very old, formerly out-of-print book in order to renew his own acquaintance with the tradition.  Both he and I were rather astounded by the actions of Black Peter towards the naughty boys and girls at Yuletide.  One poem involved the consumption of children's fingers!

Cannibalism is not a rare topic in folktales and fairytales.  Every one is familiar with the tale of Hansel and Gretel and the Witch who fattens them in a cage in order to make a feast of them.  Their ultimate revenge is to shut her inside her own oven.  The whole business of cannibalism is related to ancient rites of fertility, of making grand sacrifices in order to bring fertility to the soil.   'The Golden Bough' includes an entire chapter on human sacrifice.  It originally was more of a barter system that anything else.  Crops and Animals were considered to be as valuable as human beings and the sacrifice to the land of the latter was the price paid to gain a good harvest and have good hunting.

In any event, part of the new Quest is the placement, completion and use of a Marzipan Machine.  It is a delightful little machine with the figure of a toy duck upon it.  Almond Flour, added to the list of Flour types that the Mill can grind some months ago, is one of two ingredients that make Marzipan.  It is the second ingredient that determines the type of Marzipan that is produced.

The types of Marzipan are:

Marzipan Pig Candy: 89 Coins
  Made with Lychees
Marzipan Koala Candy: 128 Coins
  Made with Chocolate
Marzipan Cow Candy: 86 Coins
  Made with White Chocolate
Marzipan Frog Candy: 85 Coins
  Made with Lime
Marzipan Duck Candy: 78 Coins
  Made with Pears
Marzipan Hippo Candy: 150 Coins
  Made with Blueberries