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

Friday 27 April 2012

Yogic FTV Enlightenment with the Dalai Alpaca

Good morning and welcome, children of the wide world of Frontierville.

I am the Dalai Alpaca (it's like a llama but bigger and hairier) and am here to guide you through the zen-like path of Frontier Enlightenment.

Many travel on a pilgrimage to my bungalow monastary atop Avalanche Pass where I spend my days contemplating Beaver Valley and meditating upon the world in front of us. They ask many questions of me.

"How can we better approach Frontierville?" They ask.

"I find myself frustrated, how can I stop this?" They ask.

"What's your qualifications again?" They ask. (I can sit in the lotus position, have a resonant and tuneful Ommm and look like Buddha after a series of hair restoring treatments, frankly I consider myself overqualified.)

I therefore devised my Path Of Frontier Enlightenment, Zen Edition. This was written to aid those lost souls in better connecting with the world around them, and I share it here.

1) The moment of enlightenment.

There is many a story in this world of a moment of enlightenment that eases and educates. The sudden realisation of a fact that alters your outlook on life or brings to meaning to it.

Well, my children, open your minds to mine.

We WILL get missions each week barring special occasions.

When you have to deal with something you may not wish to, or that is distasteful to you, the first step is acceptance.

We will receive two mission threads a week for the foreseeable future, that has become the norm. Take a moment, allow yourself some time to soak that up and come to an understanding with it. That fact does not have to break you, it can serve as a first step on the road to enlightenment.

This realisation will open your mind to new possibilities.

2) You control the game, the game does not control you.

Close your eyes... NOT YET! OK fine... *waits*... opened them yet? ... *gets a cup of tea* ... right, close your eyes in a minute, I'll sound a beep or something.

Close your eyes, breathe in and out in a steady rhythm and think to yourself this mantra.

"The game is not my master, I am ITS Master. It shall not lead me into the darkness I do not wish to enter. It shall not lead me into building something I do not want. It shall not lead me into clobbering that snake if I do not want to."

Repeat that to yourself five times. OK, you can close your eyes... now. *BEEP*

We do not have to do anything we do not want to do. This is, after all, enjoyment. Look upon the tasks life gives you and understand you can choose to, well, choose.

Think of picking missions like you're dating. Survey the options in front of you. Is that one going to be too much work? Is that one fun and enjoyable to be with? Does that one look attractive? Does that one seem tricky but, according to what you've read on the internet (and grafitti in the bathroom), gives a great reward at the end of the day?

Do you want one that finishes quickly, that needs you to do it over and over or one that demands you reach the end within a set timeframe?

OK, we may be meandering slightly... but still, allow your mind a moment to defeat the notion that you must complete everything. You can be selective, you won't be judged for that and, in being thus, you can clear your mind of many a cloud caused by overwork.

3) Break the universe into bite size pieces, is an icon worth all that trouble?

It's a 64x64 pixel icon on the left side of your screen. Is is REALLY worth worrying about?

Consider yourself a politician and the icons are your constituents. You might APPEAR to be there to do what they want you to do, but we both know it's best to ignore the little things until you want to pay attention to them for XP, coins or if an election is coming up.

4) Enjoy the journey, not the destination.

The game is not a road with a beginning and end. It's a road trip that never ends.

You don't need to hunker over the steering wheel like an 87 year old spinster in a Nissan Micra. For once, the world wants you to take your eyes from the road and enjoy the scenery. Look around, take stuff in, enjoy the trip.

There is no final destination (which is good, never did like those movies) so you have freedom. Do you skip over some roadside attractions and come back to them later if you have time or do you take in everything you can, from the worlds biggest ball of yarn to the magical oak tree that drops a different type of wood with every chop?

When you're missioning don't feed 30 sheep thinking "this will get me *insert reward*" (please be careful when inserting rewards, some are spiky) and instead think "yay, I'm feeding 30 sheep, look at all those doobers!"

The reward is not the reason we should play the game, in the same way as we don't live our lives doing certain tasks planning a method of death. The game is not about achievements but how much fun we have along the way.

5) Reach out to your fellow man.

Remember, the world is full of people, don't think of those people as strangers, just do what I do and think of those people as friends you haven't managed to alienate with your annoying habits yet.

Reach out, click, help. Sometimes you'll get something in return, sometimes you'll get nothing but the warmth of helping, sometimes you'll get a restraining order (send a woman leather straps through Facebook and it's "helpful"... find where she lives and try to deliver them by hand and that's apparently "creepy").

Once you've had your 50 clicks don't stop, keep giving as much as you can click. If everyone clicks everything they spot, then the world will be full of people getting what they need. You don't have to click everything, just let it come naturally and do what you can, you will be karmically rewarded in the end.

6) A reward unearned is a reward worth nothing.

The road to completion is a long one, a tough one, but a rewarding one. Do not be tempted to take shortcuts or rise upon the back of others. You could not truly celebrate winning the London Marathon if you took a bus. You could not truly celebrate beating your niece at chess if she was 6 months old. You could not truly enjoy the compliments of others if your date for the school reunion was being paid by the hour and considers kissing a billable extra.

A brag post sent thanks to the medium of cheating is a brag post of deceit, a brag post that will turn to ash in the eyes of it's onlookers.

As the aforementioned date of negotiable affection endures the hard things in life as a duty, so should we. But not in the same way obviously, it would be distracting while trying to harvest wheat.


My Children, do not get angry, or frustrated, or homicidal... If I can paraphrase the Bard, all the world's a screen and all the men and women merely players. They have their clicks and their request posts and one man in his time clicks many posts.

Take the Dalai Alpaca way, be the controller of your own gaming destiny and, in doing so, your own blood pressure.

The world is full of things we don't want to do. Repeating, Sprouts, Long Division... when we have the chance to pick and choose, grab it with both hands... actually no, grab it with one hand and use the other to wave goodbye to the notion that you need to follow the orders of a game... but for decency's sake, try to use the whole hand, not just one or two fingers.

The Dalai Alpaca has written three books "Alpaca-Happy: All You Need To Know For A Good Life", "Alpaca-Happy II, OK, I Lied The First Time, There's More." and "Alpaca-Happy III, The Gratuitous Cash-in".

He also produced and starred in the bestselling fitness video "Alpaca-size! Yoga Yourself Cuddly".

Friday 13 April 2012

Why, Zynga, Whhhhhhhy!?

Zynga... Oh Zynga, you just couldn't do it could you?

You build me up, you let me get a taste of wonderfulness, then you just ruin the moment, like a 20 stone old guy in speedos in the background of a family holiday picture.

And thus, did I gaze upon the wonders of your latest mission thread, The small and understated wafers of crafting, adding texture but not enough to become stodgy and stale. The fruity pieces of requesting, just enough to give us the spice of social interaction, but not enough to turn to the bitterness of overuse.

The sumptuous and colourful ice cream layers of requirements that need us to work on our own homesteads... bringing us memories of the golden days of FTV and giving us exactly what we had begged for, the chance to work, the chance to be self sufficient, the chance to grow and nurture the givers of dropped items for ourselves.

You finally gave us something great, a Knickerbocker Glory of mission thread delights, combining just the right amount of ingredients to make it a treat to savour.

And then, and then... as if solely done to make me weep... you ruined it all by topping the sweet guilty pleasure of a great mission thread with the Boiled Sprout of Repetition, half hidden in the cream to boobytrap us into tasting the sweet, sweet missions and GAH!

Why? Why torture us so?

What is so painfully funny is that I feel it's probably done because of the sweepstakes, to make it hard for the prizes... but *whispering* folks don't care about the sweepstakes.

If given a choice between a 1 in a few million chance of some cash or a few weeks of actual fun in the game, I'll pick the latter.

So, when taken to it's logical conclusion, it can be summed up as: "And Zynga then paid $2'500 to annoy players."

Let's be honest, if you want to pay $2'500 to make us unhappy there's better ways.

Acquire the licence for a series of missions based on Piers Morgan.

Sign up Justin Beiber to record a new theme song that we HAVE to listen to.

Hire me for a couple months to bring my unique brand of sarcasm to the forums.

All of these things will annoy a large percentage of your membership for the same money, but here's the kicker... Probably LESS people than a new set of repeatable missions... People REALLY hate them... like, Yankees/Red Sox or Sane People/Rush Limbaugh type hatred...

In fact, let me sell you an idea, actually you can have it for free, like a gift... just, you know, let the marketing department roll this over in their brains.

Campaign Identity: Not doing Repeatable Missions.

Planned Audience Response: Pleasure.

Overall cost: A SAVING of $2'500 all in with no cost outlay.

Level of Risk: 0%.

I know I'm not going to be on the Apprentice any time soon... but I think gaining yourself a net $2'500 and public support for doing nothing... that's a pretty good business strategy in anyone's mind.

And the next time we gaze upon a naughty but oh so nice treat from you, we're not in any danger of a vegetable-based boobytrap.