Wednesday, 8 December 2010

My Free Farm Browser game allows you to farm (initially planting crops) and sell your produce to either other players (via a marketplace) or to NPCs, or to complete the NPC quests for extra cash/experience points.
The interface is really nice actually. You get 6 plots of land (although I think one of them is only available if you upgrade to premium). Initially only one is available to you, which is your field system. When you click on that field, you get a more in-depth view of what's going on.
You can only plant on clear squares, and a large chunk of the field is covered in weeds, stones and tree trunks which cost potato dollars (pDs) to clear. Some crops take more than one square to plant. The crops should be watered to decrease the time they take to mature, but it isn't necessary. There's no limit to how much watering you can do. The crops grow in 'real time' - so watered wheat takes around 20 minutes to mature, watered carrots about 15. There doesn't seem to be any sort of seasonality either - the plants you can grow reflect your experience level, not the weather conditions.

The other big area is the marketplace.
(This is currently covered in snow because it's December in real life, and has no effect on the game.) Different areas of this town give you access to different shops - a seed shop, a livestock shop etc. Also there's the marketplace, which is where you sell to other players and buy their wares. In order to sell you have to pay a percentage of your profit upfront, so cashflow can be an issue.

NPCs come to your farm at a rate of 6 in a 24 hour period, starting after you log in for that day. They will buy your stuff directly from you, which helps a little with some of the cashflow issues. You can advertise to increase the number of NPCs. Also NPCs in the market will sometimes have exclamation points over them, indicating that they have 'quests' to do for more points, coins and pDs.

Your second field becomes a chicken coop after the first tutorial level. The chickens in the coop eat the wheat you've grown which helps them to produce eggs faster. Which is a good thing, because an egg takes 4 hours. The maximum wheat you can feed them reduces that to 2 hours. I'm still waiting for my first egg as I'm writing this. The anticipation might kill me. There's a nice feature on the interface for showing how long you have to wait - next to the field is an egg box which is slowly filling up. If you mouse-over the egg box it tells you how many hours and minutes you have until the eggs are available.
There doesn't appear to be any direct player-to-player chat. You can send players messages in the post (and system messages are delivered that way) or you can use the town crier to post wanted ads (I think). These can lead to contracts being negotiated between players and by-passing the overhead of the market.
I'm finding the length of time to achieve anything a bit tedious - particularly the eggs. I can't complete my quest until the eggs are ready, and I don't have enough cash to sell anything worthwhile in the market so all I can do at the moment is keep planting crops and waiting for them to be ready. One online review suggested a chatroom might alleviate the boredom while you're waiting. It is a very different mechanism to the limited endurance one used in Free Farm Game though. Might not work with seasons etc.

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