Andy's Workshop

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

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Thursday 27 October 2011

A Tale Of Two Villes

This will be something of a confusing post for me to write because when it comes to the subject matter, I'm a little schizophrenic.

Today, children, we'll be talking about Farmville, Frontierville and common influences.

Let's get this bit out the way first... I used to play Farmville, I don't any longer. I quit because I was bored with no missions to do and also I disliked the fact we suddenly had to ask neighbours for items to build things.

Looking back the second reason seems a bit strange as I'm now playing Frontierville, a game who's spamming and marketing techniques are second only to Viagra emails in their invasiveness and, yes, annoyance but back then it was a simpler time, a few requests here and there and the devs hadn't got the daft idea everything needs a building.

Anyway, I'm meandering off the point.

The simple and unavoidable fact is that we will get ideas from Farmville hit us in Frontierville, in the same way as Frontierville was the first game to really be mission based, now they ALL do it. It does work both ways.

What we shouldn't do though is automatically assume that it's going to be a bad thing when we appropriate ideas from Zynga's biggest game and trot out the old favourite...

"It's becoming just like Farmville" (For shorthand purposes this will now be written as JLF)

...without actually trying the feature first.

Copied things aren't necessarily a BAD things... I can cook a mean risotto from a recipe card and I reckon a lot of folks reading this will have enjoyed tasting Nigella's pie or Ken Hom's chow mien.

For me, the defining thing is whether it FITS with the game, and whether it makes the game better.

Recently the old JLF was rattled out for the addition of Mastery. It's had it's problems (we didn't need two buildings doing the job of one and the popups might be a little on the large side) but on the whole I LIKE mastery, once the missions were done it was just something that sat in the background. If you wanted to do the repeatables to gain mastery, you could, if you didn't, it STILL rewards you every time you feed or harvest but at no cost to yourself.

I'd also say the rewards, and the reasoning, are right for the time. The more pioneers worked with certain crops or animals the better it would be, the better they'd get the more they'd be able to deal with better animals. Arguably the badgers are daft and anachronistic but the rest of the animals were all well designed and true to some semblance of life.

Mastery was really a case of JLF being used pretty much for the single reason Farmville had it first. Even though mastery itself was fairly passive, it was just an instant dislike because Frontierville weren't first.

On the other hand we had the survey the other day for animal breeding, something I was vehement in my dislike of, on the page, on the survey and in conversation with Zynga.

It was wrong in so many ways. For starters I don't think Pioneer folks took all that much trouble to breed pigs with stars on, cows with fleece or goats that could do algebra. Secondly it didn't really seem to ADD anything to the game, apart from yet another chance to fill our Facebook walls with spam (have you got a Frontierville only friends list to set posts to be private to? If not, you should.)

So there we go, two ideas, both from Farmville, one good, one terribly, terribly bad. The genesis of an idea can't be the defining factor of whether it's good or not.

And so on to crafting, the latest item to spawn a chorus of JLF. My view, if you're interested, is it looks intriguing. For me it fulfils a number of the important criteria:

1) The building looks good and looks like something from Frontier times (there's a reason I don't have an Inn L'Amour and I'll be deleting and rebuilding my bank)

2) The feature itself is right for the time, probably even more than the Farmville version. Pioneers made their own stuff, there wasn't a nearby Ikea to help out.

3) The items to craft are nice, right for the time (I'm ignoring the Robo Chicken, I will in game too) and actually in one case something people ASKED for.

In the past when decorations have been talked about White Fences were mentioned, and here they are. I also think the stony paths look so much nicer than the dull and dreary yellow lines that are our current paths.

Ultimately though, I might change my mind when I actually TRY it. But there's the nub of this whole post, trying it. My positive thoughts are so far based on the feature itself, any negative thoughts will be the same. I'll judge the feature on it's own merits, not simply because another development team used it first.

Farmville will have good ideas, and bad ideas, so let's not be gameist and trot out the JLF too often, eh?


  1. ummmm, well that is all I have to say about it. No, I am surprised we are being asked to not express how we feel. This sounds like it is directly from Zynga, I am wondering if this is really a zynga site under a hidden pretense.

  2. Strange conspiracy theories aside if you read the article you'll see I'm not saying not to express an opinion, merely to make it an educated one.

    The JLF excuse is thrown out whenever a new feature is brought out that is also in Farmville, but it's done BEFORE people actually try the feature out.

    The point of the post, if you read, is to say TRY things before automatically dismissing it as "just like Farmville" and note that it's origins don't actually define whether it's a good thing in Frontierville or not.

    We've had some good things and some bad things from Farmville, and there's no way to tell which it is until we actually use it.

  3. Fabulous :) I'm willing to try anything and don't whine when they give us new things. Love the missions, the more the better. Not too fond of the constant begging, but what can you do? Not like I'm gonna quit the game! So here's a question, and I'm sure the answer is on here somewhere.. how do I make a list of just my game friends? And will they still be able to see my other stuff? Pictures and status updates? If you could just point me in the right direction...

  4. Here you go Sianna :)

  5. Thanks a bunch! Can't believe I didn't do this before... now I won't have to be embarrassed by the number of game posts on my wall. lol

  6. i hate how the missions are always coming at us and how some of the buildings have nothing to do with a frontier I.E a detective agency, pet shop...and while im on the subject of the pet shop, how can they call it a pet shop if they just sell dogs? they should sell cats and lizards and stuff too! otherwise they should just call it a dog shop.

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