Ok, so it's been a long time since I started my Farmville experiment. And to be honest, I gave up.
Today was the first time I've been on in about 3 weeks, and nothing's changed, or pulled me back in. I managed to reach Level 10, which I think should give me enough experience to draw valid conclusions on the game itself.
So what's wrong with it? Well, I just don't want to play it! There's no gameplay there, just point-and-click. But with no reward. I've played WoW before, and the idea of getting stuff and upgrading stuff isn't exactly a new mechanic. But there's little to encourage players to carry on. The item pacing is all wrong.
The start of the game should be festooning you with all kinds of shit, almost overwhelming, showing you stuff that's accessible, and achievable. Farmville doesn't do this. It trickles products at you, with no fun or differing aspects. The animals are exactly the same as crops, and the same goes for trees. With these 3 key aspects of the game being so, so similar, it provides hardly any variation, and no desire to get new stuff, or unlock new stuff. Ironically, it's a case of not even wanting the carrot on the end of the stick, even if you have grown it yourself.
So why are people playing it? Judging by the people playing it on my Facebook, I can only conclude that it's people who don't play games, and are unaware of how rich and exciting can be. Put off by a price tag, they're quite happy for gaming to be an add-on, a little extra dish in the banquet of social networking. And I understand it totally. These people don't want to spend money on buying some ugly anti-social box, locking themselves away in bedrooms and getting high scores. They want it whilst checking pictures from a night out, and telling people how much they love their boyfriend.
Which is what makes it a real shame. What if the game was incredible? What if it was as addictive as Harvest Moon, or had the community feel of Warcraft? What if a game that over 80 million people play was actually good, and actually contained fantastic gameplay? Wouldn't that be something really special? A game that could be enjoyed by both hardcore gamers and the casual crowd?
This doesn't sound like an impossible dream, it sounds like a game that would conquer the world. Hell, look at what Call of Duty has done for making Online Competitive Mainstream FPS. Maybe it's not such a crazy idea.