Saturday, January 21, 2012

CityVille is Best for Lunar New Year Celebrations

Although CityVille has become increasingly annoying in many ways, probably due to Zynga's desperate need to increase the value of its stock, special items and Quests for the upcoming Lunar New Year are fantastic.

The start of this was the Red Envelope Shop that allows players to collect the traditional Chinese red envelopes that are used in the real world for gifts of money to family and friends.

Yesterday, CityVille gave players a wonderful decoration in the form of a Dragon Parade. It is a large stage with a very brightly coloured Dragon in the centre. In front of the platform, people play drums and wave flags. It really is spectacular and quite realistic in its way.

Many buildings have been released in honour of the New Year and, as always, most of them are premium items that require CityVille Cash. What is wonderful here, however, is that most of these buildings can be 'earned' by collecting red envelopes. The Red Envelope Shop can be raised to Level 3 where it will produce three envelopes at a time.

If you are an individual who loves the celebrations that surround the start of a Lunar New Year, I highly recommend that you play CityVille now.

On the downside, Zynga has removed expansion Permits from the Free Gifts menu and the number of ridiculous, almost impossible Quests has multiplied. Instead of being required only to complete a Building project, often one now is asked to increase its level to Level 7 within a specific time frame. Other time-limited Quests offer a reward only for 'Gold' and thus, if a player fails to complete the Quest in that specific time frame, his/her efforts are utterly wasted.

Too many Quests crowd the screen and make it difficult to find the actual Quests in which the player is participating currently. Expansions no longer are easy to obtain unless one is prepared to invest real money in their purchase. I believe this is a big error on the part of Zynga. Players who love the game often will invest real money in premium items that appeal to them but become resentful when they are pushed into the purchase of items that should be available as free gifts from neighbours. I hope Zynga will reconsider.

I wondered why Zynga released so many new Quests simultaneously both in FarmVille and in CityVille until I learned how the firm operates. The people who work on new Quests and options are divided into different teams, apparently. The team that obtains the best results often is given a bonus or pay rise. The team that 'loses' sometimes actually is demoted or fired. It is possible, therefore, that when new Quests are released simultaneously, they are the work of different teams and the ones that receive the greatest player response may very well determine the future of the team who created them. Another mistake on the part of Zynga. Their employees cannot benefit from this type of pressure and stress and players are confused and upset when inundated with too many new Quests. It would be far better to release new Quests gradually and give ALL teams bonuses when the game does well for Zynga.

In any event, the purpose of this post mainly is to alert players to the wonderful options for celebrating the Lunar New Year in CityVille. The upcoming year is Year of the Dragon incidentally.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Obtaining Materials and Items in CityVille

I have dealt with this topic before, but many players still are confused, so will post anew.

There are a number of different types of items that can be required for the completion of Quests in CityVille. These include the following:

Specific numbers of Crops that must be harvested and/or the Mastery of Specific Crops;
A specific Residence or Business that must be in place either in your City or in a Neighbour's City;
Collection Items;
Specific Decorations placed in your City;
Specific Number of Building Materials required to complete a Building or Construction Project that is the subject of a Quest.

Crops generally are unlocked by achieving a specific Level of Experience. Planting a Crop usually will not satisfy any requirements but harvesting Crops are requirements in many Quests. Mastery of a specific Crop can be a requirement in a Quest as well and this is achieved by harvesting a specific number of Crops.

Residences can be obtained in a number of ways. There are Residences that will appear in your Inventory as a reward for completion of a Quest or as a Prize for staying at a Hotel or earning the daily Energy Bonus. Other Residences are unlocked by achieving a specific level of Experience or by completing a Quest. Finally, there are Residences that can be purchased, either with Coins or with CV Cash. Some of these always are available in the Marketplace. Others are limited Editions that are time-restricted. Premium Residences usually allow far greater population increases than Residences that can be purchased with coins. Note that Residences, like Businesses, seldom will be complete when purchased. You need to use a specific amount of your Energy to complete them.

Businesses are similar to Residences in the manners in which they can be obtained. Like Residences, some are rewards for completing a Quest or prizes for having VIP status at a Neighbour's Hotel. Others are purchased in the Marketplace and, like Residences, some are premium purchases and some are time-restricted.

Note that there are items in 'Collections' that can be obtained solely by harvesting from a specific Residence or Business. The completion of Collections can result in the acquisition of a specific decoration, but usually is a reward in the form of Energy or XP. The CD Players required in the first Dance Request is an example of a Collection Item that can be obtained solely by harvesting from two specific Residences.

Decorations take many different forms from pavements to ornamental items and can be obtained in a number of ways. They can Rewards for completion of a Quest or Prizes for obtaining VIP status in a Hotel. They can be obtained from a Mystery Gift sent by a Neighbour. Finally, they can be purchased in the Marketplace in the Build Menu under Decorations and like, other items, can be available all the time or be time-limited special items. Placing a specific Decoration in your City can be a Quest requirement.

Of all the items in CityVille, it is the building materials that can be the most vexing as they often need to be obtained in large quantities in order to complete a Construction Project or Upgrade. It is the methods by which building materials are obtained that confuse some players.

First, it should be stated that most building materials CAN be purchased but the price given is for one item and not for the total number needed. The price always is in premium cash and this avenue can be prohibitively expensive. It is far better to obtain the items from Neighbours.

The methods by which Building Materials can be obtained from Neigbhours are:

First, by generating a request through the building construction project menu by clicking on 'Ask Friends'.

There are two separate methods by which a player can 'Ask Friends' for an item and the GAME determines which of these is to be utilised in any specific case. When one clicks on the option, one either will be given the option to Post to the Player's own Wall or to choose to send individual Requests to Neighbours displayed on a list.

When a Request is posted to a Player's Wall, the game determines how many Neighbours/Friends can click on the request to fill it. Usually, there is a limit to the number of players that can help and this number seldom equals the total number of items needed. For example, a Player may need 14 of a given Material for a building project. When the Request is posted to the Wall, it is possible that only 2 Players can click on it. What this means is that Players often must post the same Wall Request again and again.

An individual Request allows the Player who receives it to send one item to the Player who requested it. If a Player has many Neighbours, He/she often can complete a Material requirement faster for the items that can be requested individually.

There is a big difference between a Request posted on a Player's Wall and one sent individually in terms of its effect on the player who fills the request. Wall Requests usually come with a reward either in the form of the same item that was requested or in coins. The Item Reward is far better than the coin Reward, although once again, it is the game that determines which one will be applied to any building Material request.

Note that a Player who visits his/her Neighbours' Walls therefore can obtain many of the building Materials that will be needed to complete Quests simply by helping Neighbours. This is where the Wall Request is better than the individual request. On the other hand, it involves more labour on the part of the Player who wishes to help.

Other methods of obtaining Building Materials are the Wish List and the Mystery Gift.

Mystery Gifts can be sent to Neighbours and can contain a wide variety of items, including Building Materials, Coins, XP points and Crew Members for Community Buildings. They are found in the Free Gifts Menu and can be sent a couple of times each day to all Neighbours or Facebook Friends. If a Player is patient, he/she often can obtain most of the Building Materials needed for a project simply by accepting Mystery Gifts.

The other method by which Building Materials can be obtained is the Wish List. The Wish List is displayed above a Player's Inventory. He/she can place up to five different items in the Wish List, either by dragging an item from Inventory or by going to a Quest and clicking on the plus sign (+) next to any given Building Material.

Neighbours can find a Player's Wish List by accessing the Neighbour Tab when logged into CityVille. A Neighbour can send all five Items on a Wish List in a matter of seconds provided he/she possesses them. Note that any Item sent will be the Item from inventory and it therefore does not make sense to send Items that a Player will need for his/her own Quests! It is only extra items from completed Quests that should be sent to Neighbours via the Wish List option.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Building the City of your Dreams

CityVille may advertise itself as a place where you can 'build the city of your dreams' but in my own private vision, that definitely would NOT be a police state! Unfortunately, the more you upgrade your Police Station, the more forbidding and unfriendly it appears. At Level 1, it is the sort of place where you can imagine a local constable on duty who is helpful when a cat is lodged in a tree or a pocketbook is lost. After all, the police in CityVille are fueled entirely by doughnuts. Sweets does not equal Sweet disposition by any means, but somehow one does make the connection.

At Level 2, the Police Station becomes a little more dominant, but it still does not display a negative aspect to the ordinary law-abiding citizen who aspires to the position of Mayor. At Level 3, however, a huge rotating Searchlight appears on the roof of the Police Station. I for one found this rather appalling and wished I had kept the Police Station at a lower level.

I certainly have no intention of empowering the local Police any further. If necessary, I will attempt to demolish the structure and start over by purchasing a new Level 1 Police Station.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Different Paces for Different Games

Some of my friends, all veterans of Farmville, began to play CityVille recently. Almost immediately, we all committed the same error and this made us angry, frustrated and sometimes even (I suspect) a little resentful of our Neighbours.

In Cityville, the pace of the game appears to be set for the 'casual gamer', some one who logs into Facebook perhaps once each day and visits his/her City to see how things are progressing. It is not Harvest Moon, where one can play for 24 hours to move forward as far as humanly possible using every minute of the real day.

Thus, those gamers who entered into Cityville with Harvest Moon habits find that they quickly run out of energy and run out of Goods, the two fundamental aspects of the game. Furthermore, in attempting to complete and upgrade Building Projects immediately, they find themselves propositioning every one in sight for Materials, searching every Neighbour's Wall and then becoming rather frustrated when they discover that the ability to click on a Neighbour's Wall Post or to request Items individually from Neighbours is strictly circumscribed by the game itself.

There is an old tired adage to the effect that 'the watched Pot never boils' and I think of it often with respect to Cityville. Whenever I become impatient about any single aspect of the game, I try now to step away, to log out... and wait a few hours to see how matters progress in my absence. In many cases, when I return, the task that appeared impossible previously has been made ready for completion in my absence!

Yes, CityVille is a goal-driven game but the Goals have no time limits. Once they appear, they are available for completion at any time. You may be required to complete them before you can become Mayor of your own City, but when new Goals appear, the old Goals not yet completed will be filed away in your CityVille notebook. You can access them at any point in time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Biggest Problem with Cityville

The game is engaging and the graphics are wonderful. My biggest complaint with the game, confirmed by other Players as well, is the poor Server interface. The game, like Gourmet Ranch, loses the connection with its server again and again. I seldom have a single uninterrupted session.

Zynga really needs to address this issue or players will abandon this rather promising game.

On 30 July, I still find that the server for Cityville is utterly inferior compared to other games. It surprises me that Zynga still has not addressed this issue successfully. It is NOT my browser that is at fault. Furthermore, the load time for the game is appallingly slow. This causes many players to lose interest.

Cityville has a lot of potential but if Zynga fails to improve its server and its load time, the game, despite its charm and complexity, will not be able to compete successfully with other Facebook games.

As of 10 August, the server remains hopelessly inferior to the game itself. It is vexing, to say the least.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cityville Site

Due to the fact that a number of my friends play Cityville and persuaded me to do so, I have created a very preliminary guide for the game. You will find it on a page on this site.