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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Creating Symphonies in Colour and Needy Neighbours

Screenshots of different Farms in Lovely Farm: A Small Farm with Red Pappers, another farm with Cucumbers and Watermelons growing together. Violets in the second stage of growth, before they bloom fully and on the same farm, Grapes and Blackberries growing together.

One of the reasons I enjoy Lovely Farm so much is the variations in the Crops at different stages of growth. The Seeds all have unique shapes and colours. In the first stage of growth, many vegetables actually produce flowers of a different colour from the final Crop.

As each Crop has a different growth speed, results can be planned carefully if you have the determination and mathematical agility to do so, or you can be surprised by the different results that 'Nature' creates as some of your Crops bloom while others mature fully on your Farm.

Creating patterns is easier than planning colour bursts but is equally rewarding. I have seen extraordinary patterns and colour combinations on the Farms of my Neighbours. I have developed an intense appreciation of colours that I never liked particularly in the past.

My own favourite colours are purple and pink. As I have been working hard on rather detailed Guides for Harvest Moon's Grand Bazaar for DS, I have had to give up any idea of growing Violets currently as they mature in only four hours. Instead, I have chosen the Purple Grapes as my regular Crop. The closest to purple with a slow growth period was the Blackberry. When it matures, its berries are almost black but are gorgeous in juxtaposition with the Grapes. What surprised and delighted me, however, were the blooms it produced halfway to maturity. Each is a trio of small pink flowers that blends beautifully into a landscape dominated by grapevines.

I never would have considered Watermelons to be extraordinarily beautiful until I saw them on a farm growing with Cucumbers. Both produce yellow blossoms and both require a full day to mature. When they mature, the combination of green on green is truly amazing.

The shapes of some of these Crops makes me think of Tiffany designs. Each is a little exquisite jewel, brilliant in colour, detailed in form.

There is a point in Lovely Farm when you cannot expand your Field any further, either because you have reached the limit or because you are unwilling or unable to invest 'real' money in the game.

Some of my Neighbours at high levels have been discouraged when they reached this point but I think that the new Crops that are unlocked at each level provide sufficient incentive to continue with the game. I personally long to reach the Level where I will be able to grow Orchids... and Roses...

This brings me to a very important consideration in Lovely Farm. Players at low levels obviously need Neighbours and Gifts from those Neighbours, but they often fail to realise how much the High-Level Neighbours need THEM. At low levels, there are fewer Crops and Items unlocked for use and Coins may be difficult to earn at first, but Levels increase rapidly, requiring fewer points. At high Levels, an enormous number of points must be attained before one can reach the next Level. If players stop sending Gifts to their Neighbours who are at high levels, they do those Neighbours a disservice.

What can you send the Neighbour who has everything? Obviously, the best Gift is the one with the highest XP Gain. Ordinarily, the Gift that you unlocked most recently in your own game will be the one with the highest XP value in terms of Free Gifts. Gifts that cost money tend to be even higher in XP value.

When in doubt, send your Neighbour a Message to ask what Gift he/she would prefer to receive from you. When a player has over 50 Neighbours, the ones that actually make the effort to communicate are the ones that are most likely to receive Milk Cows in return!

It is really too bad that one is limited to 15 Free Gifts per day for Neighbours. When you first start to play the game, you probably will find it difficult to find ten players to be your Neighbours, let alone 15 but later, especially if you have achieved high levels, new Players will beg for your Friendship as every one appears to know that the Milk Cow, the last Gift to be unlocked, is the one that is most useful for EVERY ONE.

One always is tempted to help the new players but at the same time, I wish to be loyal to the players who helped me and who continue to send Gifts faithfully. One way to do this is to send a Paid Gift such as a Rose Bush to Neighbours after one has exhausted the 15 Free Gifts. A Rose Bush costs 500 Coins and is worth 50 XP. Although a Peach Tree is worth 75 XP and a Milk Cow is worth 100 XP, they both are Free Gifts and therefore limited to a total of 15 per day. For players who have no space for any new items, the Rose Bush sells for more than either the Peach Tree or the Milk Cow, so in that sense is not an inferior choice.

Actually, the three types of Roses unlocked at Level 7 have an even higher XP value as well as Coin Value. Blooming White Roses, Blooming Pink Roses and Blooming Tea Roses each have an Experience value of 60 XP and can be sold for 60 Coins. I believe that most players are like me in that they would prefer to try to squeeze another display of Roses onto their Farms than sell it. The beauty of the Roses and Rose Bush is that each occupies only a single square, so even players who have little space usually can fit one onto the land somewhere.

By alternating between Rush Bushes and Milk Cows or Peach Trees, one can try to help as many Neighbours as possible on a regular basis.

Then there is the Peacock. The Peacock is my favourite Gift by far in Lovely Farm. Even though I have quite a few of them, I never cease to be thrilled by the sight of another in my Gift Box. Nor would I ever consider selling a Peacock. Each Peacock only occupies one space although its shimmering glory and dramatic tail display makes it appear larger. I try to send a Peacock periodically to Neighbours who have demonstrated their Friendship by sending Gifts regularly and who continue to play Lovely Farm themselves unless they tell me that they really do not wish for any more Peacocks...