When I was still somewhat new to Facebook and Facebook games were all the rage with news feeds inundated with automatically generated messages of gaming invites and achievements. Back then, I only played one Facebook game: Farmville. It reminded me of Harvest Moon, which is a series of farming games. But eventually I got to a point where my farm grew too large and became too time consuming to maintain, so I stopped playing.
That was many years ago now. Around a month ago, I found myself with a lot of free time to kill, so I decided to seek out another farming game to play. I didn’t want to go back to Farmville as that game gets more tedious as you progress, plus I can’t access Facebook on certain computers. Googling “farm browser games” shows that there are many farm-based browser games out there.
In the end, I picked “My Little Farmies” partially because I liked the way the graphics and layout looked, but primarily because it was created by a German developer whom later created the English version. Translating a game from one language to another takes a great deal of effort, so a game needs to be good enough to be worth that effort. Sure, I could’ve gone and read random reviews of different farming browser games to decide which one would be good, but having a company invest time and money into translating a game is a pretty convincing endorsement.
Anyway, I’ve been playing for a little over a month now. Being a “free-to-play” game, the developers need to make money somehow, and like many “free-to-play” games, this one allows you to use real money to purchase in-game currency to buy items that make things in the game easier or more convenient. For example, when clearing rubble from your farm, you can either clear it using “thalers” that you earn by playing the game and wait a certain period of time, or you can use “gold bars” which you generally purchase with real money and have the rubble cleared instantly. Or watering/harvesting crops requires you to click. Alot. When you farm expands, this means lots and lots of clicking. But there is an option in the game to water/harvest everything at one but it costs… you guesssed it… gold bars!
There are also certain crops/animals/items that can only be purchased using gold bars. Also, some later farm/warehouse upgrades cost gold bars, which effectively stifles your progress in the game unless you buy gold bars. Like most browser games I have played, initial game play gives you enough to do to grab your attention. But you will soon find that as you progress, a lot of time is simply spent waiting. Waiting for crops to grow, waiting for buildings to complete, waiting for upgrades to finish. Initially, the wait time is a matter of minutes. Then it becomes hours, then days… I did give in to temptation and purchased some gold bars to speed things up, but then making everything easy became boring. So I took up a new challenge: play through the game without buying gold bars.
Now, I had already purchased gold bars, so to undertake this challenge, I started a new account, a new farm. According to game rules, having more than one account is ok as long as the accounts do not benefit from one another via in-game trade. So the rules I have set for my challenge is:
1. No trading between my roxybudgy (gold bar) account and my sixfoureight (no gold bars) account.
2. No using real money to purchase of gold bars on the sixfoureight account.
3. Gold bars earned in-game can be spent on items that require gold bars.
Although I will try to prevent my sixfoureight account from benefiting directly from the roxybudgy account, there will be an indirect benefit of knowledge. Although my roxybudgy account was created 2 weeks before the sixfoureight, both are now the same level as I have applied what I learned from the roxybudgy account to optimise the progress on the sixfoureight.
So I am now roughly one month into the challenge. My farm is now size 7 and unable to expand further as upgrading to size 8 would cost 160 gold bars. Similarly, my warehouse capacity is stuck at 300 because it would cost 100 gold bars to upgrade it to 350. Therefore I need to carefully decide what crops/animals/buildings to use given my limited space. I have created an Excel spreadsheet comparing data and figures for the various items/aspects of the game and analysed that data to determine which crops/animals/buildings would give me the most amount of thalers/XP. And the result is this:
To generate enough thalers to pay for the buildings and upgrades, I primarily grew grapes as they yielded the highest net profit for my farm level. After upgrading my farm and warehouse as far as I could without using gold bars, I reorganised everything to focus on increasing my XP rather than thalers. That meant fulfilling as many customer requests as possible. On my roxybudgy account, I build every single building, crop and animal available so I could fulfil just about any customer request that came along, but having a lack of warehouse space causes much inconvenience. So for the sixfoureight account, I chose buildings that allowed you to purchased the 1st and 2nd upgrade with thalers, and grew crops that were required by those buildings.
My farm is now level 33. My initial goal was to expand my farm and warehouse as far as I could, which I recently achieved. My next goal is to unlock the cherry trees which can be obtained at level 41. Based on the game forums, it seems that at these levels, it requires a huge amount of XP to level up, but I’ll get there, and I’ll get there without spending a cent!
In addition to my silly little challenge, I have also been learning PHP and MySQL by turning my Excel spreadsheet into a real database. My quest to build my first PHP website and MySQL database can be found here: http://roxybudgy.com/mlfdb/