I don’t want to get the reputation at MakeUseOf as the Facebook Guy, but I’ve realized that a lot of my articles have been about Facebook. I’ve written about the Top Five Idle Time Facebook Games and more recently about How to Buy Used Stuff For Cheap on Facebook. I have to write about what I know, and I do use Facebook a lot, but I tend to get hooked on the games.
FarmVille is a game by Zynga Games that you can play via Facebook’s application feature. Recently, Zynga launched a stand-alone FarmVille website so Facebook is not required to access FarmVille (ha! so much for the Facebook reputation!).
The FarmVille Facebook game concept is simple. You start out as a lowly farmer with a small plot of ground and a few coins. You have to plow your land, plant crops and wait for them to grow. When they mature, you harvest them and earn coins. You use the coins to plow more land and buy more seeds, and the cycle continues.
You can also spend coins on trees, flowers, and various farm animals. All of these can be “harvested” as well, earning you more coins.
You can use coins to buy decorations for your farm such as bird baths, mailboxes, hay bales and so on. Plus, no farm is complete without a barn and a farm house, so these items are available as well.
In addition, you can buy a chicken coop to put your chickens in or a dairy farm to put your cows in. Once you have a bunch of chickens or cows in these buildings, it’s one click harvesting of the whole group. All purchases are made through the market.
Along the way you earn experience points for plowing and planting. Experience points, commonly referred to as “XP”, are how you move up in levels within the game. As you progress in levels you can buy crops that provide higher returns, nicer buildings and nicer decorations.
Currently, there are at least 40 known levels in the Farmville game. Progressing through the early levels is easy but as you move up, it exponentially takes more and more XP to reach the next level. Furthermore, as you plant and harvest, you gain “mastery” points for each different type of crop. It takes approximately 400 plots of an individual crop to be harvested to earn a mastery “star”. Once you earn three stars, you are awarded a sign to post on your farm.
Some items within the Farmville game, including the ability to expand your farm to a larger size, require you to have “neighbors”. Neighbors are nothing more than your Facebook friends who are playing Farmville and accepted your request to be added as their neighbor. You can make visits to their farms to check on their progress and to “help” them out.
This amounts to fertilizing some crops, chasing racoons away and other menial tasks that only require the click of a button. You earn a few coins and XP each time you help a neighbor, and you can only help each neighbor out about once in a six to eight hour time frame.
You can also pass gifts back and forth between neighbors. You can send each neighbor a gift once a day. The gifts are basically decorations, animals or items that they could otherwise purchase with the coins they earn. If someone sends you a gift you don’t need or want, you can sell the gift for a few coins. As different levels in the game are attained by you and your neighbors, you may be able to give them a gift of something they may not currently be able to purchase.
Beyond the coins you earn through your farming “work”, you can also earn FarmVille cash. FarmVille cash takes a lot of time to earn; you only earn a few dollars each time you level up, and it is used to buy premium items or shortcut the system of waiting on levels or specific numbers of neighbors to unlock items. FarmVille is free to play, but you can purchase coins and cash using real money.
Ribbons, Adoption & Sharing The Wealth
As you progress through the game you also have the ability to collect ribbons for your efforts. There are eighteen activities for which you can earn a series of ribbons, progressing from yellow, white, red and blue. Each time you earn a ribbon you are given the option to post a notification as your Facebook status. Usually this allows your friends to “share the wealth”, meaning if they are one of the first few to view your update and click a link, they get bonus coins.
Once in a while a stray animal will wander onto your farm and you can rescue it. This amounts to another status update and your friends can click a link to adopt the animal for their farm.
Why all the fuss? What is all the buzz about? Well, it’s addictive. The FarmVille game currently claims 70 million monthly Facebook users. The game, like the others I reviewed previously, is an idle time game, which means it inherently provides break time where you don’t have to play it continuously. The crops mature in differing amounts of time, ranging from one hour to four days, so you can schedule your game play to fit your lifestyle and play only when you choose to. If a crop matures in one day, you also have about the same amount of time to harvest it before it goes bad and you lose your investment. This adds a little flexibility to the game play as well. Trees and animals do not spoil, so you don’t have to worry about them as much.
With the wide variety of buildings and decorations available, farm customization is easy and fun. You can choose from several colors of hay bales and buildings, so you can use your farm to reflect the spirit of your favorite sports team. You can use the hay bales, flowers, fences and even arrange crops to spell out messages or make decorative designs. Creativity abounds if you are so inclined.
Zynga continuously updates the game, adding new features. Seasonal and promotional items are available from time to time to purchase and add to your farm. Differing crops, new buildings and decorations are added from time to time. One recent modification was the ability to use your barns to store items from your farm. If you purchased some Halloween decorations and they look out of season close to Christmas time, you can store them in a barn and pull them out next year instead of having to sell them.
There are several unofficial FarmVille game “guide” websites out there on the internet which provide information, tips and tricks. If you play but very few of your friends do, you can join forums or sign up on some of these sites and recruit neighbors. Here are just a few of the many FarmVille guide sites available:
Farmville: The Unofficial Strategy Guide
Ultimate FarmVille Guide
Do you know of any other guide sites? Or perhaps you have some games tips you would like to share? If so, the comments area below is open and ready for your contributions.