7 Days in Farmville
Farmville is wildly popular. How popular? Popular enough to be the most widely-played video game on the planet. Eighty million people popular. Farmville is part MMO, part Animal Crossing, part Monopoly. At first glance it is incredibly simple, but I’ve been assured that it can become quite deep. I’ve seen countless friends playing it, their updates flooding my Wall on an hourly basis.
I held strong for the entire time. I played Zynga’s other huge game, Mafia Wars, extensively early on. It became too complicated (and boring) to continue for more than a few weeks. I admit that I come back to it once in a while to see how much money I’ve stockpiled, but it just isn’t the same. I think the static text and graphic game genre had a nice revival, but its time has come and gone again.
Farmville, I was assured, was different. Yes, I was told that there is some specific daily timing for events to occur. Yes, there are a considerable amount of “pay to play” aspects. But the visuals are improved, there is plenty of animation, and it is designed for those sick of Mafia Wars. I still held tough.
But then something hit me the other day: Why not? Why not give it a whirl? It should be easy to turn off if I get sick of it (which I’m sure I will). It should be a synch to quit. If I’m already on Facebook, and all of my friends are playing it, it may be worth me checking out to kill some time in between Olympic hockey games.
So I decided today to do just that: Give Farmville a try. But the caveat is that I need to play it for 7 days straight. One full week. If at the end of that week I haven’t become so bored that I want to gauge my eyes out then I’ll have perhaps discovered what draws so many people to this meta-game.
What will follow is a daily journal of my experience in the virtual farm world. Beginning cold, beginning now.
DAY 1: Moving in
I need to clarify that I know virtually nothing about Farmville. I know there are plants, and I think a pig or two. That’s pretty much the extent of it. So, going in cold I had little to no expectations.
What first greeted me was the simple 2D visuals. Very “Flash” and very basic. This is the “Chevrolet” of game designs: don’t offend anyone’s tastes. What’s worse is the repeating theme song of Farmville, a musical clip-art that I’ve probably heard in a commercial for Viagra in the past.
Once the title screen passed and I selected my gender, I was almost at a loss as to what to do next. I realize I was in some sort of training session, but the lack of clear tasks left me plowing all over the place, and planting strawberries in each isometric square. You see, the playing field consists of isometric squares that can be plowed, filled with decorations or buildings, or left as grass. I plowed everything I could before realizing that the task took away from my gold stash. The initial 200 coins were good enough to plow and clean up a few sections of the yard, as well as purchase strawberries or soybeans. I think I over-killed on the soy beans. At least I know my farm will be healthy.
Once I logged in all of the plowing and seeding, I sat and waited. I was, frankly, out of things to do. Wait for my crops to grow, or invite friends to become my neighbors? I opted not to flood the walls of my friends, lest they call me for the annoyance.
And so I waited. At first, nothing. But after taking a break to play some Modern Warfare 2 I returned to find that my Strawberries had begun to sprout. Another couple of hours and I was able to harvest the berries and sell them. Suddenly, I had more money… which I promptly spent on more soy.
Then, all of a sudden, I was promoted to Level 2.
There are levels! Aha! Perhaps there is some sort of RPG element to the game!
… Nope, I was wrong. All that the leveling seems to do is reward me with slightly more things to buy. Regardless, I can hang my head high (or low?) as a Kinderfarmer.
Soon after being promoted I recieved a pop-up that one of my Facebook friends needed help raking leaves on their farm. “Sure, why not?” I was rewarded with a nice bounty of 20 coins, good enough to do nothing and be proud of it.
The more I examined my farm, the more I realized that I would need more space. More digging, plowing, fallowing, and seeding. Soon, my farm was as big as any town in Sim City.
And, now I wait. For what, I don’t know. I’ve planted a few more seeds, used up the majority of my money (I’m down to about 125 coins) and must sit tight for my plants to grow. There is an awful lot of waiting in this game. It’s annoying and I’m not in the mood to have to come back in 8 hours to check up on anything. Can’t I just… play?
It’s at this point that I gave up for the evening. The full 15 minutes off and on that I played the game didn’t do anything to appeal to me. At this point, 6 more days of Farmville seems like water-boarding instead of fun.
Join me tomorrow as I continue my week in Farmville!