Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Homestead Expansions, the Pro's and Con's.

One issue that comes up a LOT on the page is when Frontierville will open up the next set of homestead expansions. There are a number of Pros and Cons for this so lets have a look at a few.


Positive PR - The fact is everyone seems to be pulling for this to happen, it's fair to say Zynga would make themselves very popular by pulling it off, although I personally feel it's extremely silly to suggest you'd quit the game because you've got no room to put a sledging hill, some people seem to feel this way.

Space - This is really a player-only pro, we get more space for more stuff. Pretty simple. It also allows for more crops and animals so we can level up faster and do missions easier.


Neutral/Negative PR - The simple fact I think we can all agree on is that whatever the FTV devs do, someone will complain. A new mission thread likely means a new glitch or two. On top of that, which way do they go with the mission difficulty?

Arguably a Homestead Expansion mission for one as big as the next one will be would deserve difficult missions that weren't completed inside a day. But if they do this players complain about having to wait, they want their mission completed NOW! We saw with the Resolution Missions, which could easily be completed in a couple weeks, that people's biggest complaint was the waiting.

Strangely though, if they go the opposite way and make them too easy... they're also on a hiding to nothing. People complete them in a day, complain they were too easy and then, just days later, they'll be complaining they're bored and want new missions.

I wish I could remember who said this but I recall a quote from an American (I think) politician... "If I went out into Times Square and handed out money one third of people would say I was handing out too much, one third would say I was handing out too little and the final third would complain about the WAY I was handing it out".

Space - This is the real con and ironically is intrinsically linked to the biggest pro for the players. More space means more STUFF. We love it, the Zynga servers don't.

The simple fact is at least 50% of issues in Frontierville aren't caused by bad coding or temperamental Flash. It's caused by server issues, and a lot of those server issues are caused by us.

Well, that's a sweeping statement, some of us. It's fair to say the more decorations you have, especially animated ones, the worse the load on the server. However this would probably be fine and dandy but for another section of the playing fraternity, the Chicken Farmer.

I went into server issues and the perils of chicken farming HERE in a previous post so we'll just say it's a big problem for server load and leave it at that.

Totting up

So there we go, the main pros and cons of a land expansion and, to be honest, right now I can't see them happening. All the pros can be heavily outweighed by the cons, especially con two.

There's no point having a bigger homestead if we can't get onto it, and there's no point Zynga having positive PR if it's all flushed down the toilet by new batches of server errors and slowdowns.

We will see them at some point in the future, but I think more likely first will be better and bigger storage for us to keep stuff we don't want out on the homestead and some way of limiting chickens, both of which would then ease the server load and allow us to expand without the danger of breaking the game for everyone.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Server Issues, Why, God, WHY?!

If there's one thing you'll see again and again in the issues section is the phrase "server problems" and may wonder why this happens, and often why you might have it but someone else doesn't, even someone close by.

For starters, why does it happen at all... Well, the simple answer is the game is incredibly popular all around the world which means the servers are in something like gridlock 24/7. This is already putting strain on the servers that run the game and sometimes, at times of extreme use it'll slow it down, stop the game entirely or cause rollbacks etc.

Part of the problem can come from how people play the game, it's that simple. Take chicken farming for example.

When the Frontierville Devs created chickens and coops they couldn't have seen the exploit that many people have taken to using. Multiple coops and hundreds, sometimes thousands of chickens helps you level up quickly.

Never mind that level has minimal impact on the game, some people feel these higher numbers need to be reached and have found this quite dull, in my opinion, way of doing it.

Now for the problem... each chicken is an asset that the game needs to load. It needs to register its position on the homestead, its growth level, when it was last fed, all the info needed to make the chicken appear in the right place and be ready to be fed. If you have 300 chickens the game now needs to do this 300 times, slowing down your own loading procedure and putting extreme strain on the server as it tries to throw all this information around.

So that's what we mean by server issues, but what about the question "I have problems but *insert close relative, spouse, child or pet name* doesn't but they use the same computer, why?!"

It's simple, servers are randomly designated, the game doesn't see an ip address or location and fit you into the nearest server or one containing all your neighbours, it just pops you on whichever is running the best at that time.

This means even if your computer has accounts for you, your other half, all three of your children and both guinea pigs and they all signed onto Frontierville inside 5 minutes it's likely there will be a range of servers you've ended up on. Some will be good, some will be bad and often they'll swap around depending on time and load.

Unfortunately the only real answer is more and more servers, and as most of us don't buy Horseshoes this is something it's unlikely to happen on a grand enough scale any time soon.