Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Open Letter to Fun-Plus about Family Farm Seaside

First of all, let me be absolutely clear about one thing: I consider Family Farm Seaside to be the best game that is available for mobile devices.  I have over 500 days of continuous log ins for this game.  I have completed every possible mission... until now.

The graphics are beautiful.  Gameplay is easy enough for the so-called 'casual gamer' but challenging enough for seasoned players.  Unfortunately, however, there are some new options that are almost impossible to achieve and this is the subject of this post.

Initially, Family Farm Seaside was a farming simulation game.  No more, no less.  Like the original Family Farm on Facebook, there were Crops, Animals, Trees and Machines that could be harvested. There were missions that were unlocked at specific levels and had no time constraints.  Then, missions became available with time limitations.  These usually were linked to specific festivals or holidays and gave rewards in the form of new Trees, new Machines or new Decorations.  All very well and good so far.

The game expanded to include a fishing option.  Fishing always was random, however, in the fish one actually caught.  This was not too much of a problem as long as Missions did not demand specific Fish or Seafood Items.

A Kitchen was released, then a Beauty Shop, where Items could be used to create Cooked Dishes or decorative pieces respectively.  Finally, quite recently, a Cooking Stand was released.  This in itself was not a problem, as long as the Dishes that were required to complete the Missions were not too difficult to make.  Unfortunately, two things occurred almost simultaneously:

The Cooking Stand 'Missions' are linked to rewards in the form of a sort of Bingo type card where each Round, requiring a specific number of specific Dishes, completes a square on the card.  Round 3 of the current Cooking Stand Mission required two Dishes, each of which required two specific Seafood Items.  One needs a total of 200 Dishes to be 'sold' in order to complete a round.  Four dishes, each of which has a maximum of 60 are available to be made.  Even if one completes 120 maximum of the non-seafood dishes, one needs another 80 of the other two dishes.  Fishing, remember, is random.  I spent a week fishing without ever catching the items required to make these dishes.  After using the items stored in my Barn, I still lacked the ingredients needed to complete the round.  One can use RC (premum cash) to buy the ingredients, but each dish required TWO, not ONE seafood item.  This meant that I would have had to spend a total of 40 RC to make 20 more dishes.

Perhaps I could have caught the ingredients needed but at the same time, a new Machine was released for the Hallowe'en season.  It was an unfinished machine that required a total of 500 ingredients, ALL of which had to be caught by using a special Hallowee'n Rod when fishing.  Again, results were entirely RANDOM.  After fishing almost constantly since the release of this Machine, I still lack 25 materials and I am fed up.  One cannot even PURCHASE the missing materials.

Fishing is restricted to a specific number of attempts.  These are replenished over the course of time, but if one wants more attempts, one must pay 2 RC for 5 additional tries.  The game ran a brief sale wherein one could purchase 5 extra tries for 1 RC.  Even taking advantage of this, I still lack 25 materials.

I am NOT the only player with this issue.  It is ruining the game for me quite frankly.  It is not fun to go fishing without catching a single material I need.  I continue to catch the materials I do not need, but many of the items caught have NO materials attached to them.  Every fishing try requires 'bait'.  The Halloween Hook requires 125 bait per attempt.  Slowly, I am exhausting all the items in my Barn, items I had saved for potential use as cooking ingredients.  I hope some one at Fun-Plus will address this problem and either make the Bat Wings more plentiful during fishing or give us an option either to trade the materials we have caught but no longer need for the ones we do need or give us an option to purchase the missing materials.

Yes, we were given 4 weeks to complete the Jack O'Lantern machine but it was released only a couple of days before Halloween and Halloween is OVER.  My enthusiasm for the whole affair has diminished with each unsuccessful fishing trip.  Moreover, I sacrificed the Cooking Stand round completion for this.

I have been playing this game for two years or more and have invested significant time, energy and even money in Seaside.  I am growing disillusioned, however.

There are two more issues I would like to address here:

First of all:  in the original Family Farm and Happy Farm, if you somehow do not log in one day, you lose only 7 days of log ins.  In Seaside, I believe you lose all your progress.  That was certainly the case when my device failed and I could not log in last year.  The developers kindly reset my log in history but even so... shouldn't it be a 7 day loss instead?

Second, the time-restricted Missions are becoming too difficult.  In the beginning, a Collections Mission required 150 materials in order to redeem the final Reward.  It was increased to 250 but in the last Mission, it was increased to 350 materials.  That is too many!  Collections always are random and to be forced to collect 350 materials in order to redeem the final Prize, a prize that is required about halfway through the traditional Quest sequence, is DISCOURAGING and counterproductive.  I know many players who simply gave up on  this Mission.  Is that the way the game should work???

I think developers are paying too much attention to the highest level players to make the game 'challenging' for them, not realising that those of us in the middle are being discouraged from continuing.  Please reconsider!  Better a mission that can be completed in a timely fashion by ALL players than one that is too difficult for most players apart from the power players at the very top of the iceberg.

Thank you for your attention.

Let me finish by declaring that Family Farm Seaside remains the only mobile game I play regularly.  I stopped playing Farmville 2 Country Escape and Castleville Legends because there were two many conflicting new options and too much stress.  I hope to God Fun-Plus will learn from Zynga's errors and not make Seaside a similar stress-filled activity.

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