Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Farming Simulator Review

So while I’m still working on playing my Steam Challenge game that folks voted on last week, my copy of Farming Simulator for the Nintendo Switch came in yesterday. Don’t look so surprised to see a review of this game here! What’s more surprising is that I’ve never played a Farming Simulator title before now.

So this is a port of Farming Simulator 17 (also known as Traffic Jam Simulator). I mean, anyone who lives in an area where farming is a thing will recognize moments like this…

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I have more fun than I should backing up local traffic.

Thankfully, this simulation isn’t uber-realistic when it comes to physics and damage. In fact, I don’t think you can do damage to anything at all. I mean, I wasn’t going out and out to test that when I front-ended this van, but…

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No harm, no foul.

So, for those who want a super realistic and interactive crash-course game, you won’t get that here. It’s a little sad since there are so many fun big machines that have so much destructive potential. Ah, well.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what exactly does Farming Simulator do? I’m going to put right up front, this is a very laid back game that focuses on the machines you use, the mechanics of how these machines work, and you tending fields for crops. I haven’t gotten into husbandry yet, but I’m sure that adds another layer of complexity on it.

This game is not for everyone. For some people, it could get repetitive as you’re constantly in a cycle of working fields and delivering goods. But that means repeating the plow/plant/harvest cycle over and over again. There aren’t really any solid goals, except for the ones you set for yourself. It’s a pretty pure form of sandbox.

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Props for having a gal farmer option, even if the only customization I can do is change her shirt color.

I’m not a big machinery nerd IRL or anything, but I found it neat to learn about the different vehicles and their roles in successfully working a field. You have one for plowing, one for planting, and one for harvesting in the beginning. These machines are all true to real life machines (or so I’ve read), and the developers take a lot of pride in working with actual name brands to make this as realistic as possible.

Speaking of vehicles, I especially love how you can tap a button to instantly switch between all of the machines you own. This makes it quick to switch tasks or check on progress, even if you’re in the middle of delivering something on the other side of town.

I also like how the settings are highly customizable — there’s three difficulty levels (I started on Easy) — and you can choose everything from how loud your radio plays (and thankfully how loud your motors run) to how fast time passes in the game.

Speaking of the radio… you can choose between four different stations. All I can say is the Euro idea of Country music is… interesting. Though I’ve never heard any of this music before, there are some good songs on the list… Give this one a listen (listed as Country).

The best part of the game is that you can hire workers to finish tasks for you. So, you start plowing/seeding/harvesting a field, and just a button press puts a worker in your place. Of course, you have to pay them, so this takes a chunk out of your profit. However, this allows you to jump to another task while the worker miraculously makes absolutely perfect rows in your fields.

The most challenging part of the game for me is making perfect rows in my fields. Turning that machine around when you reach the end of the field and lining things up is a lot harder than it looks! Think I’m joking?

Let’s see… so once you get crops harvested, it’s a matter of playing the local economics. You get a list of places that will buy your crops, some higher or lower than others. Obviously, you’d like to sell for the most you can. And if the price has tanked completely, you may want to store your harvest in a silo until the price rises again. I noticed that when I sold to the market, I would drive the price down due to supply/demand.

Aside from that, you can do odd jobs (missions) for other farmers in the area. Find a field that doesn’t belong to you and step in the marker next to it. A screen pops up that allows you to purchase the field or to do a task for pay.

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Don’t get too excited, though. Usually the task is something like plowing, sowing, fertilizing or harvesting. Which is… what you’d be doing on your farm. But it’s kinda nice to have your workers going at it on your field while you make extra money on the side. I also noticed that completing these jobs earns you positive reputation with that farmer. I’m not sure what that does (makes the cost of the fields go down should you actually buy it, maybe?).

Of course, doing all of this is working to pay back a loan you took out before the game began. I didn’t see if there was a specific time frame the loan needed to be repayed in, though. I am playing on Easy mode, so things could be different on a harder level.

Also, your vehicles begin to depreciate over time. As the machines get older, the cost of daily maintenance rises. So, you have to budget in vehicle upgrades when the old machine starts to cost more than its worth to hang on to.

I will note that the way time passes is a bit interesting. You control how fast the game time passes — somewhat like a Sims game. The default is super slow, though. In fact, you can choose to play the game real time — like 24 hours for a whole day’s worth of time if you want! I couldn’t image doing that because it seems like you get one harvest per field per day. I guess if you had a lot of fields that would make sense.

Realism goes out the door, though, because your farmer never seems to sleep. Day turns into night, and your farmer can’t interact with their house at all (which bugs me). You can just work right on through the night if you want, I guess. Or speed it up to have the next day come.

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If I had any feedback to give, it would be to offer an option to sleep through the night. And decorate my house — it’s just odd that I have a house but can’t do anything with it! But… I guess this isn’t Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. That’s not the kind of focus they want in their game.

So,  anyhow, for someone like me, relaxing and tending my crops was something I easily dropped 3 hours into without realizing the time had passed. I’m looking forward to getting into raising livestock and expanding my fields. But I’ll repeat, this is not a game for everyone.

I can’t compare the Switch version to the PC version, but I know the PC version allows mods and multiplayer… the Switch does not (yet). I’d probably never play this multiplayer (no one I know owns it), so that doesn’t effect me. But it looks like multiplay is the way to go if you have it on the PC. It certainly seems like it makes for a lot of fun.

And now, for what you probably came here to see…

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Nintendo Switch, Steam Gaming

November Gaming Goals

It’s hard to believe this year is almost coming to a close! November is here, and I’m trying to set a wider variety of gaming goals this month.

I know I’ll have a couple of snags in November — the Sims 4: Cats & Dogs expansion drops next week, and later in the month, the new Animal Crossing app releases. I know these will demand some of my time. But aside from that, here’s what I’d like to do this month!

FFXIV

  • Level Paladin (Beast Tribes/Quests/Hunts) ✓
  • Level Machinist (Alliance Raid Roulette) ✓
  • Level Crafters
  • Clean up Stormblood quests ✓

This month, rather than spread my attention across different characters, I want to focus on leveling a few different jobs on my main. I also want to mop up some of those unfinished Stormblood quests because they are seriously cramping the map with all those icons at this point!

Switch

  • Play Mario Odyssey ✓
  • Beat 3rd Divine Beast in BotW
  • Complete Octopath Traveller demo

I’m making these goals in order to remind myself to stick to my Switch games. I picked up Mario for a short time last week, but I don’t want it to fall by the wayside. I also want to start to progress in Zelda: BotW again. I lost momentum in this game back when I had to send my Switch dock for repairs, and haven’t played it a whole lot since. Finally, I downloaded the Octopath Traveller demo back when it first launched, but haven’t played it. Need to fix that!

Steam

  • Try 1 Steam game from my backlog each week ✓

A conversation that fell on Steam gaming and backlogs from the other night reminded me that I’m falling behind on backlog clearing yet again. I actually picked up a couple of bundles lately (mostly because I just wanted one game from them), but I haven’t entered any of the keys into my Steam account out of shame. XD

Interestingly, I’ve noticed a trend where I’ll hear of a game on my Steam wishlist releasing for the Switch, and I’ll drop it from Steam for the Switch version. But this means my Switch is starting to see a tiny backlog beginning to build up, too. Noooo!

 

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley: The Right Husband

This is going to be one of those silly, first-world-gaming-problem posts. Totally meant to be just for fun.

So, while I really wanted to start this week by busting out a post about the newly released Super Mario Odyssey, the truth is, Stardew Valley on Nintendo Switch continues to capture my attention. I put a few hours into Mario, but after that, it was back to the farm. Don’t worry, Mario. I’ll be back!

So, I have a little issue in that I can’t decide which bachelor I want my farmer to marry. I’m in the Spring of  the second year now, and I have 10 hearts with several villagers. I’m working on getting a solid financial base. I’m closing in on finishing the collections for the community center.

It’s time to think about who my farmer is going to pick as a spouse… Because this is serious business, darnit! 🙂

Warning: Spoilers for Stardew Valley ahead!

Continue reading “Stardew Valley: The Right Husband”

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Sims 4

Games I’m Looking Forward To

I’ve mostly been playing FFXIV lately, alternating with a few other MMOs on the side, and a healthy dose of Stardew Valley when I can. Though I have nothing really earthshaking to write about for these games, on the eve of the release of the newest Mario game, I decided to talk about a few of the games I’m really looking forward to.

It’s all kinda hard to beat the hype of Stardew Valley, but I’m excited about the following games, each in their own special way.

Mario Odyssey

I was a huge Nintendo kid growing up, and the Mario series was one of my favorites. I watched all the funky cartoons, collected everything I could on my meager allowance, and played through the games sooooo times. Well, up until Super Mario 64.

I think I beat Mario 64. But I don’t remember beating a Mario game since. While I’m still fond of Mario, in the way someone is fond of a favorite childhood character, RPGs, MMOs and computer games took my attention away from Nintendo for a solid chunk of time.

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However, Mario Odyssey might just be the game to rekindle that fun. I’ve heard people say that the game took them back to Mario 64 immediately. It looks like a game that fosters exploration — if Breath of the Wild is any indication of how Odyssey might evolve the Mario series, then I’m completely on board.

I preordered the game months ago, and it’s already in the mail on its way from Amazon. Hopefully I’ll get it tomorrow, in time to explore it some this weekend.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

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Even though the announcement for this came out just yesterday, and it’s a mobile game, I’m still pretty excited for this. One of the major reasons I’m hyped is because hopefully, this game will allow me to connect with friends, family and blogger friends in an Animal Crossing environment.

While Animal Crossing has always allowed you to invite friends in, I’ve never been big on throwing my Nintendo friend code out to the wild. So while it would have been fun inviting folks to my little town, aside from Syn and my sister (who totally just wanted to steal new types of fruit for her town), I didn’t multi-play a whole lot.

Doing it on an app basis seems safer, kinda like Miitomo. So, we’ll see what kind of mischief this game brings. This comes out late November.

Sims 4: Cats and Dogs

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The next Sims expansion is all about cats and dogs… so you know I had to have this one pre-ordered pretty much since I first started seeing information about it. Not only do we get pets in Sims 4, but we also get to open our own Vet clinic! And for a girl who once wanted to be a veterinarian when she was much younger, I know this is going to be good Sims fun.

My one disappointment with this expansion is they cut horses completely. Sims 3 Pets did horses so well! In fact, I rarely played with any of the other pets because the horses were the main highlight for me. I have a sinking feeling we’ll probably never see horses in this game… unless they shockingly decide to make a whole horse-themed game pack. I find that hard to imagine, though.

Despite all of that, I’m still excited for what Cats & Dogs will bring to Sims 4. It’s releasing November 10, so I don’t have too much longer to wait!

Do you have some games you’re waiting for right now? What’s got you hyped?

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley, Uncategorized

Stardew Valley on Switch – Fun, With Bugs

Stardew Valley for the Nintendo Switch was a highly anticipated release for a lot of folks in the Switch community. Even though I have a copy for the PC, I’m really loving my little Switch, and like the idea of a portable Stardew.

Stardew makes a great port to the Switch, and I’ve had a lot of fun re-learning the game after having put it down for a number of months. I’m trying out different relationships, a bit wiser about how to approach things, like collecting for the community center, and actually learning how to fish this time around.

But there are a few things that you should be aware of if you’re looking at picking up Stardew on the Switch, at least in comparison to the PC version.

Developed for PC

The PC version of Stardew came first, and is the much more flexible version of the game. Part of the appeal, and why it gained a lot of traction with the community, is that Stardew is very moddable.

For example, I modded my cat to be a Siamese, my horse to be grey, and my pigs to be cuter. I also found the fishing game impossible to play on the PC, so I modded fishing to be a lot easier. Obviously, this isn’t an option for the Switch version of Stardew…  so I’m actually having to learn how to fish.

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Some things, like fishing, do feel easier with the controller. But there are times, such as when moving through menus, and moments when you have to control a cursor with a Switch joystick, that you really feel the PC roots poking through. It’s not game breaking, but a little jarring. Looking at the bug list, seems like there might be a bug around this.

Finally, the longer loading and saving times. If you’ve played the PC version, then the longer save and load times on the Switch are much more apparent. Again, not game breaking, but paired with one of the bugs I’m going to talk about, it gets a bit frustrating.

Bugs to Contend With

I’ve played up until Fall of the first year, and ran into to major bugs pretty early on. One of them is just annoying, but the other is actually a game stopper. Note: the dev is aware of the bugs, has acknowledged them, and hopefully we’ll see a patch soon.

Crackling Sound Bug

From time to time, for no apparent reason, the game’s sound starts to crackle. It’s pretty bad. Sounds like this:

Now, I don’t know about you, but this puts a wrinkle my chill gaming session. Sound is a very important element in all games I play… and no one seems to know what causes it. It comes and goes at random.

The only way players have found to fix the sound bug is to completely exit and re-launch the game. This causes more frustration because:

  1. The long loading times I mentioned above… every time you launch the game, you have to wait for it to load through several screens and your save file
  2. You can’t just save the game at random — if you don’t want to lose that day’s progress, you have to listen to the crackling all Stardew day until you sleep and save that night

I’ve often had to restart the game two or three times in a play session to get rid of this issue. It keeps coming back.

Save Crash Bug

This leads to another, more  severe bug — the save crash bug. Sometimes, when you go to sleep on the Switch version, the game throws an error and closes on you. This means that you lost everything you did that whole day, and you have to go back and replay it.

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to corrupt the save file. But if you had a lot accomplished in a day and the game crashes before saving, it can get frustrating real fast.

I’ve had this happen to me twice. From what I’m reading, this is a complex inventory issue.

Again, the team is aware of the issues, and working on a patch. So, hang in there if you’re struggling with Stardew bugs like I am. Help is on the way!

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Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley

Is Stardew Valley Out on Nintendo Switch Yet? (Hype)

The answer is:

almostout

But if you really want to know, all you have to do is go to this website:

https://isstardewvalleyoutonnintendoswitchyet.com/

Here’s some background. Fans of Stardew Valley have eagerly awaited the game’s release on Nintendo Switch. I’m one of those.

However, the “summer” window has come and gone, and fans have gotten more and more antsy as the season passed. In fact, there’s hardly a week when we don’t see a post — fan or dev created — on the Nintendo Switch Reddit that is either asking “Is it out?” or “Is there an update yet?”

It’s to the point where the hype has become a game itself, something to help deal with the wait. Now, while I’m not in the same boat as some of the other fans, I can watch from the sidelines and appreciate the gentle humor that the Switch community is poking at itself.

In fact, this is what (I think) spawned the website:

https://isstardewvalleyoutonnintendoswitchyet.com/

Up until yesterday, the page was a #sad place to be. I wish I’d saved a screenshot of the previous version of the page!

You got the word “NO” with a counter underneath:

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The background image was this sad kid sitting in the rain:

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There were some pretty amazing raindrop javascript, which looked like this (but with heavier rain).

And to bring it all together, there was one of two random songs playing: Mad World or Everybody Hurts.

It was truly a sad place to be, but it was so masterful in a way that only the Internet can pull off!

Well, yesterday, the announcement came that Stardew Valley has been approved by Nintendo and is just awaiting a release window!

As you’d expect, this has drummed up a Reddit post with more than 1000 comments! This has also prompted the designer of https://isstardewvalleyoutonnintendoswitchyet.com/ to update his page (I checked immediately upon seeing the announcement). I was not disappointed.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the page is going to look like when the game releases! In fact, though I’m buying Stardew on day one, and itching to get my farm going on the Switch version, I’m going to be just a little sad to see the good natured hype die down. It’s been a lot of fun… and I just thought to capture and share this (rather pointless, but amusing) bit of gaming culture here.

Edit: Stardew Valley is out today (Oct 5), here’s what the site looks like now!

stardewvalley
He has a very good point about game save backups for the Switch are needed.
Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Kingdom: New Lands

Almost two years ago, I picked up the game Kingdom on Steam. I put almost 10 hours into the game, immersed for a solid weekend, which is quite a bit for me.

When Kingdom: New Lands was released a little less than a year later, those who bought the original Kingdom got New Lands as a free update. I was back to playing the game for a bit, but never got off the first island in the end. The game had changed in significant ways, and I appreciated getting the updated version for free.

Last week, Kingdom: New Lands was released on Switch (digital only). I went back and forth on whether to double dip and buy the game again. But I remembered how much I enjoyed Kingdom on Steam, and the team earned good-will with the free update, so I knew that I’d give into the temptation…

That’s what happened this past weekend.

I spent most my day Saturday lost in the retro graphics and simple-to-learn but difficult-to-beat game. First, I was impressed how well Kingdom transferred to using Switch controls.

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Kingdom is not mechanically complex, which was always a huge draw to me. You can grasp how to play the game very quickly, and be on your way.

However, it’s a game that’s deceptively simple and doesn’t hold your hand. It’s about managing your resources, understanding proper timing with the day/night cycle and planning ahead.

There’s a lot to discover in the game play, and nothing actually explains what anything does. Take for example, the merchant.

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This is an NPC that drops a load of gold each morning for you to collect. However, you have to pay him one gold per day for him to return the next. If you forget to do this, he simply will hang around and be useless.

Also, he has a hut in the forest, which is usually not very far from your kingdom’s borders. If you accidentally clear out the land near his hut, he disappears for the rest of the game. So, you have to weigh the cost of destroying his hut for the progress of  your borders — do you have a solid enough of an income to do without him? How early into the game should you build (I read most people say to keep him around for 7-8 days)?

On my play through of the first island, I simply never demolished his hut at all. This did put some strain on my defenses as time went on, but seeing that winter comes quickly on the first island, I made a beeline to crafting my ship and getting off that island.

When winter comes in this game, spring never returns. Your farmers (often a large source of income) stop producing, and things get really hard to maintain. So the idea is to find and build the ship (which is somewhere on the map) so that you and some of your men can sail on to the next island.

This is easier said than done, though. The ship takes a lot of gold to build and launch. And then, once it’s built, it can take days for your men to transport it to the dock. This weekend was the first time I cleared the first island.

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But then, the challenge of the second island was much harder. Not only did you have monster portals on both sides to contend with, but you have to destroy one of the portals in order to unlock the docks for your ship.

This was the first time I’d built up an army to take on a portal. We did successfully knock it down!

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But, then I discovered that I’d destroyed the portal on the wrong side. Oops. There was only another larger portal behind this one… not the docks I’d hoped for.

That was game over for me. I didn’t have the defenses or cash to build up an army on the other side to take out the second portal. And winter was coming… I knew it was time to call it when I started getting Greed beasts like this on my blood moon nights.

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My army did eventually defeat it (it spits out smaller monsters)… but it had destroyed so many of my walls, took out all my farmers, killed my builders… I just couldn’t recover from it.

I guess it’s time to give it another shot! Live (or die) and learn. 🙂

Next year, Kingdom is releasing yet another version called Two Crowns. This will be a significant change to the game, and allow for local co-op play for two people. That should be lots of fun!