Your virtual farm, now on your iPad
Facebook (FB) games are all the rage, none more so than Farmville, which was created by those capitalistic overlords of social gaming at Zynga.
If you’ve used FB even a little (and who hasn’t?) the chances are good that your News Feed is filled with FarmVille updates from your friends. Millions of people play the game everyday, planting and tending to their virtual crops, swapping gifts with others, and even chatting through the service.
And hovering above your sun drenched virtual fields, barns, and other do-dads are the Zynga developers, who this week launched an updated FarmVille FB app for your iPad.
The app itself may be perfectly free, but playing the game costs real money. And that means micro transactions to the tune of $4.99 to $49.99 to purchase in-game cash. This virtual green allows you to buy seeds, items, and gifts, and is generally a requirement to get the most out of FarmVille. And it goes without saying that your iPad must be connected to the Net at all times to play the game. (No offline farming for you!)
Add to this the central requirement of having an active FB profile just to open the game, and all but the FB faithful need not apply.
In fact, your first step once the app opens is to login to Facebook, and then watch as your iPad replicates your farm (or starts a new one) right on your multi-touch screen.
And that’s when things get interesting. Scrolling around your farm stutters at times, but is generally smooth and natural. The status update windows, which pop up when you harvest or plant items, seem crudely drawn. Pinching and zooming is also fairly clean, with some stuttering depending upon the size of your plots.
Clicking on your plots of land and other controls opens a series of menus that are far superior to their FB equivalents. Even receiving and sending gifts is a snap on the iPad, without forcing users to endure the multi-screened FB messaging system. A few finger presses and you’re done.
Push notifications help keep you in-the-know about your crops and other activities that need tending to every few minutes or hours. And, of course, the app makes it easy to post things to you and your friend’s FB pages to update everyone (who doesn’t know how to click Hide to stop the insanity) about your latest exploits.
After installing the app, I spent a fair amount of time visiting my FB friend’s farms, some so large the app crashed once or twice while I watched dozens (hundreds?) of individual, white “Loading” circles turn into grass, animals, barns, trees, corn stalks, and other assorted do-dads. (Really Mom, a dozen rainbow-colored cows? Acres and acres of corn that would make any ethanol producer blush? Plus a Farmer’s Insurance blimp floating above it all? It’s a crazy virtual mess in your world!)
This weeks updated version of the app offers graphical tweaks, a revised menu system to make it easier to get to certain tools and other resources, better support for all iDevices, and code enhancements to speed load times and reduce crashes.
These are welcome updates that will go a long way in keeping us addicted to FarmVille no matter where we may roam.
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