Anyone who uses Facebook regularly is familiar with the numerous browser games that can be played using Facebook as an interface. Among the various companies that make browser games for Facebook, Zynga is by far the best known and has produced the most popular games. After successes with games like FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Yoville, Zynga released a new Facebook game called FrontierVille in the spring of 2010. This new game has many similarities to Zynga’s older titles, but also has some features that make it unique. If you are just getting started playing FrontierVille or want to start playing, this guide will help you with the basics of the game.
Overview – The basic concept of FrontierVille is that you are a frontiersman who has decided to stake your claim in the wilderness. You start the game with nothing but a wagon, some pre-planted crops, and a plot of heavily overgrown land. From these humble beginnings, your goal is to build your homestead and fill it with crops, animals, buildings, and decorations as you see fit.
Resources – Like many of Zynga’s browser games, FrontierVille is a game where you manage various resources in order to gain wealth, goods, and levels. FrontierVille has four major resources: coins, wood, food, and energy. The first three are resources that you gain by performing specific actions and that you spend to perform other actions. Energy is different. Energy recovers slowly over time or when you gain a level. Just about every action you can take in the game requires energy, so energy is the major limiting factor on how many actions you can perform.
Levels – Besides receiving a full energy refill, gaining a level can potentially give you a higher maximum energy value and will occasionally unlock new items that you can buy from the store. Each level requires a specific experience point total and you gain experience points by performing actions or by buying decorations. Levels are important at first, but once you have unlocked all of the buyable items they lose impact.
First Steps – The start of the game can seem pretty daunting, but conveniently Zynga programmed a tutorial into FrontierVille. The tutorial will guide you how to clear land, harvest crops, cut down trees, and purchase things from the store. In addition, it will tell you how to tend your neighbor’s land and let you know what benefits you get from this. Most importantly, the tutorial will guide you through the first few quests. You should follow the tutorial to the letter and you will probably be level 3 or so in no time flat.
Quests – The sandbox nature of this game is refreshing, but can also be daunting. Without a little guidance, it can be hard to figure out how to continue to expand your homestead. The quests provide this guidance, without forcing you to follow a specific plan. By fulfilling the quests, each of which requires you to take a specific set of actions, you will gain experience and resources. Yet, nothing about the quests prevents you from taking other actions and many quests let you choose from variable options. Thus, even if you follow the path laid out by the quests, you are very unlikely to have exactly the same homestead as another player playing the game.
Activities – Once you get comfortable with the game, you will realize that there are three major activities you can take: farming, tending animals, and clearing your land. Farming involves planting crops and harvesting them. To plant crops, you simply spend coins. Planting crops is one of the few actions that require no energy. Each crop will grow for a specific amount of time and can then be harvested. Harvesting does take energy and gains you food, coins, and experience points. Once harvested, the crop is gone until you buy and plant a new one.
Tending animals requires buying a baby of the animal first. Just like planting crops, buying the animal takes no energy, only coins. At first the animal is a baby. You need to feed the animal enough times to make it an adult. Animals can only be fed when they are hungry and each animal takes a certain amount of time to become hungry after being fed, depending on the type of animal. Feeding an animal earns you coins and experience points. The animal provides better rewards when it is an adult. Once on your land, animals stay around forever.
Clearing your land is the simplest of activities. Grass, flowers, rocks, cactaii, trees, and skulls can all be cleared. With the exception of trees, clearing takes one energy and gets you experience only. Trees require multiple energy points, but each time you take an action to clear a tree you get experience points and wood. Land needs to be cleared before you can plant crops, place animals, or place decorations on it.
Neighbors – Neighbors are your Facebook friends that are playing FrontierVille . Having more high numbers of neighbors will unlock some items in the game. Also, you can tend the land of your neighbors, which gains you rewards and helps them improve their homestead more quickly. If a neighbor tries to tend your land in a way you don’t want, you can prevent the tending. If you allow a neighbor to tend, you get all the benefits of the actions performed.
Beyond the Basics – If you have reached this point, you should have a good grasp of the basics of the game. Once you understand clearing, farming, and tending animals, you are ready to deal with the advanced features of the game. In addition to what you have already done, you will need to deal with the occasional vicious animal, find collection pieces, plant trees, build buildings, and eventually get married. Each step can be reached by following the quests or you can experiment on your own. No matter how you choose to proceed, the sandbox nature of the game will give you lots of options so that you can enjoy the game the way you want to play it.