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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Monday 4 March 2013

Do You Have A Receipt?

[Please note: this is an Andy's Imagination post, purely my own thoughts and will likely not appear in game]

Let's be honest, sometimes we get given things that are... just not us.

Argyll socks. A home knitted jumper with something on the front that could either be a rearing horse, a velociraptor or a cast member of Saw V. The Greatest Hits of Barry Manilow played on nose flute and bagpipe.

We smile, we nod and then we send a neutral family member on a mission to secretly find out where they bought it so we can trade it off in the morning.

Well, that's what were finding a lot in the game right now, up to date players who try to help neighbours who are struggling end up with items they don't need, Players who are struggling or trying to complete old missions find themselves getting gifts they can't use until some time in the future.

Here's some Lavender, batteries not included and the stores don't open for a week.

So, what can be done? Step up one of the most maligned characters on the homestead...

Yes, Jacques, dear Jacques. Trading post manager, priest and all round pain in the posterior.

So, my little French Canadian friend, I think it's time for you to work...

Here's the premise, we get a mission thread, could be to do with gifting and trading, might not be but it does involve Jacques.

At the end of that, just as recent mission threads have given us Hank, Ted and Doc having actions, this one will use and abuse Jacques and his trading post. Once the missions are complete, he gains a new menu item "Gift Exchange".

This takes you to his gift exchange screen where the magic happens. With the first option selected, every gift you receive and send back to neighbours works as normal. If a neighbour sends you Baby Carrots and you click to receive and send it back, you get Baby Carrots, and they get Baby Carrots.

But, what if you DON'T want them? Well, then you pick one of the other options on the gift exchange screen. Options that are picked by the game looking through your open missions and seeing what you need. So if you've got a muddy animal on your stead, it'll show Lavender  if you've got the recent Companions build stage open that requires a drop from Yellow Essence Labs, they'll be there too.

So, say you want that elusive Lavender  you simply tick that option and go collect your gifts from the envelope as usual, everything your neighbours have sent, you send back one of those, as normal.

BUT, then, when you close the envelope, up pops Jacques to tell you everything you accepted has now been exchanged for Lavender!

So your neighbours get what they want, you get what you want, Zynga get the same amount of social clicks on gifting, everyone goes home happy!

And because you can switch the system on and off at will as many times as you want if there's stuff in your envelope you DO want, you can set it to Off, and you can even change it during collecting so half your gifts could be Lavender and half could be something else.

Then finally, gifting might become 100% useful for everyone, and not a race to see who can request what they need first...

Saturday 2 March 2013

New Facebook Designs On Their Way

As you know we try to keep you updated on Facebook news as well as game news because... well, it affects us just as much! I've decided to post it here instead of the main news feed because it verges on the nerdy.

See, Facebook, Oh Facebook of the Many Changes, looks like it's changing again...

First up we're getting a new News Feed, the main homepage. There's a press event to show it off this coming Thursday so we'll hopefully get a bit more news and be able to show you what it's like after that (strangely we weren't on the press mailing list, I can only think an oversight...)

Image Credit: The Next Web
Current rumours are the feed will become a lot less text based and a lot more image based, so we'll see bigger pictures to try and... spice it up.

Whether that will help or hinder us, only Facebook knows, it's been quite totalitarian over trying to hide more games content lately, but I guess as long as they don't remove the Game specific feeds then it might even be a GOOD thing! (Look, be positive, statistically even Facebook can make good changes, if only by accident.)

Our own space

Second up is that they're testing new Timeline/Profile designs in New Zealand (their traditional guinea pig country) that are actually more of a step in the retro direction back to the older designs.

The first change will be at the top, instead of the old design that we see now...

We'll see things made a bit more minimalist, with our names and action buttons moved into the header image and a new set of smaller, image-less menus slotted in where it was, meaning the actual new stuff on our profiles like Statuses and game posts are closer to the top of the page when you load. The about section is moved entirely, more on that in a minute.

But, I hear you say, but how will the PAGE look, well, thanks to this image from ReadWrite we can see (click for bigger)

Image Credit: ReadWrite
As you can see, in a step back to the olden golden days all our statuses, posts, links etc are now in one single column down the centre of the page, no more zig-zagging from left to right.

Instead, the left hand side is now  topped off with the About section and then uses more social items, a bigger set of photos, our likes, our favourites... it basically becomes a billboard of us. That means we might hopefully find game posts easier because some of the more random boxes that clutter the Timeline will all be squeezed off into the left.

What we have to remember is that although Timeline got the rap for hiding game posts, it was never really to blame, Facebook were going to do it anyway, Timeline was just the convenient time. We've seen a much smaller precedence for Game posts over the last year or so, perhaps because Facebook are worried they're becoming a gaming platform more than a social network and spammy game could drive away people who simply want to keep in touch.

So whether this will suddenly take us back to the olden days of every post showing up is debatable  probably highly unlikely... but you never know, it certainly doesn't look like it's making anything worse.