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Facebook games: Farm Town and Farmville

Farm Town and Farmville are a phenomenon in the world of Facebook, garnering millions of virtual farmers to a world many would never have a chance to inhabit. Is it because of the yearning for open spaces; a Walter Mittyish desire to live off of the land? Whatever the reason, Farm Town and Farmville are two of the hottest applications in the well-stocked arsenal of Facebook.

Facebook games: Farm Town and Farmville

Although there is another, older farming game on Facebook, (‘Lil) Green Patch, Farm Town and Farmville have become the premier farmers past time. ‘Lil Green Patch comes with an agenda – fight global warming – and the graphics are cute and cartoonish, as are the other two applications. But more farmers are signing on to Facebook for Farm Town and Farmville.

A little about Facebook

Facebook has grown at an astounding rate, outpacing rival MySpace by over 100 million worldwide members in 2008. A large portion of that growth can be attributed to the wider age range of users of Facebook. Whereas MySpace seems to appeal to a younger group of members discussing media stars, music, and fashion, Facebook users encompass that group as well as older users, intent on political discussions, children, and current events.

That is not to say that those weighty subjects are the only thoughts of the Facebook crowd. Fun is also a goal here, and virtual farms are pulling in users faster than Farmer John can sell his pig at the market.

Just how does the virtual farm work?

The path to becoming a farmer is not difficult.A few steps to get started:

§ A Facebook farmer buys a small piece of land with dollars given at the onset of the game.

§ The land must be plowed then planted with seeds purchased from the Market. Beginner farmers may purchase grapes, asparagus, or tomatoes, which ripen between 4 hours and 4 days.

§ When the crop is ready, the Farm Town farmer has the choice of harvesting the crop with their own virtual hands, or going to the Marketplace and hiring a harvester.

§ Hiring someone else to do the job is the better choice, since the farmer receives a premium on his crop.

Facebook games: Farm Town

Once the farmer returns home, he has a choice to buy more land, plow and replant, or purchase animals, decorations, buildings or a myriad of other items with his new found fortune. The best bet is to hire someone to plow the land, which pays a premium over plowing yourself, then replant and start the cycle again, until the nest egg is sizable.

The only phase of the development of the farm that can not be “farmed” out is the planting of the seeds. Farmers must virtually dirty their hands and put their virtual backs at risk to get the seeds in the ground and ready for market.

Where does the farmer go from here?

Farmers go up levels of competence, earning merit achievements as they climb the ladder of success from the lowly one acre plot to expansive estates. A Farmville farmer must harvest, plow, and plant all by himself, which is about the only real difference between the applications.

Simplicity is the joy of these applications. Anyone can be a farmer from a young child to an octogenarian. For many, the satisfaction comes from milking the cows, collecting the chicken eggs, tending the other animals, or the planting and harvesting on the farm. For them, Farmville is the ultimate.

Others prefer the planting and harvesting, selling and cavorting at the Marketplace of Farm Town. They see Farm Town as the ultimate virtual farm. Many have both a Farm Town and a Farmville farm and love them equally.

Whatever the preference, these two applications appear to be a good reason for millions of members to join Facebook. Virtual farming has found its niche, and larger, more expansive farms loom on the horizon.

Comparing Farm Town to Farmville on Facebook

Facebook has two similar games called Farm Town and Farmville. Both games make the player a farmer who must plow, seed and harvest his land to make money. The more that is sold increases levels so more things can be bought to spruce up the farm.

Which is better? Well, that depends upon who is asked. Many people prefer one to the other, but the following is one reviewer’s opinion after using both.

Which Game is More Interactive?

Farm Town is very interactive. When the seeds have grown and need to be harvested, the farmer has the option of doing it himself or hiring another member of the community to do it for him. If he hires someone else, he can then sell the harvested crops for more coins, and he is also helping another farmer make money.

Farmville has no such option. Each player must harvest his own farm and the proceeds are much lower. It is hard to make much money on Farmville, which can lead to frustration and giving up. Neighbors are needed on both games to advance in certain areas, but that is as interactive as Farmville gets.

Both games ask neighbors to help tend farms when the owner is away, which usually requires watering or raking leaves for a few experience points for advancement.

Graphics are Important in Online Games

Comparing Farm Town to Farmville on Facebook

How are the graphics? Both games are vastly different in this regard. Farmville is more cartoony. The plowed plots look a bit like chocolate graham crackers sitting on a green table, and it’s hard to tell if the seeds have even been planted on them. The trees look like colored bushes on sticks, but the animals are bigger and actually produce products to sell. It is a bit charming though, and the farmers themselves are easier on the eye.

Farm Town on the other hand looks more real. The developers obviously spent a lot of time trying to make their graphics match the actual items. A few things are out of scale, but for the most part, everything matches. The plowed plots are easy to distinguish from the harvested, and each stage of colorful growth is enjoyable to witness. Screen shots have been provided as a comparison of each game.

Disadvantages of Losing Money

The biggest drawback that has been witnessed is Farmville gives a much shorter grace period before the matured crops wither away. On both games fruit can be purchased that mature in 4 hours, which means that it will take about 4 more hours for them to die.

Farm Town seems to use that as a guide and not a rule so the farmer has more time, whereas Farmville’s crops are likely to wither on time. That means money is wasted if you’re a few minutes late visiting your farm, and this is a big deal in a game where it’s harder to earn it. Note: Farm Town had its wither clock off, but they have it turned on now. So both games are now equal in their wither time.

It seems that Farmville is geared more to needing to pay actual money for their FV cash, whereas Farm Town is set up to earn the farmer more without having to shell out real cash. This is another big disadvantage of Farmville.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Variety is another big difference. Though both stores offers things like houses and extra land, Farm Town has a much bigger selection, where more decorations can be bought from flowers to pathways. Farmville’s choices are limited and they have two different hierarchies of payment: regular coins and FV cash.

It is unclear how to earn the FV cash other than advancing levels and helping neighbors on their farms, but they buy much more than the coins do. Farmville’s help section is very sparse, so any help needed would have to be asked in their forums or general support. Farm Town is much easier to figure out without needing to search through help, but a detailed help section is available if needed.

In conclusion both games are fun to play, but it is easier and faster to advance through the levels in Farm Town. That is also a better game to meet other people and socialize and is a great way to wile away a few hours (or more). Once seeds are planted and money has been spent on Farmville, nothing else can be done on that game until at least two hours have passed. So a better option would be to fill that time at Farm Town. Both games are in beta, so improvements can be expected in the near future. For further comparisons with another farming game, visit Farming Games Abound on Facebook.com. Changes have also been made to this highly addictive farming game.

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