Thursday, November 12, 2009

FarmVille... don't pay real money for "beta" games...

Its a week since I've been able to access my farm on FarmVille. Zynga's support has been very unhelpful - only suggesting that I turn everything on and off again. When the problem I have is rather more universal than that.

Firstly, Jim, who has been farming alongside me can easily load his farm on my computer, using my software.

Secondly, none of my neighbours are able to access my farm either. Jim is fed up with the way FarmVille sends him off to "help" on my farm but won't load it. None of my other neighbours have been able to get in either. The nearest anyone has got was this:

She left a note on the empty space that used to be my farm but when she returned the note had gone too.

What most people see is this:

Some of them have complained that it then hangs and they have to leave farmville and come back in again, others haven't had that problem.

What I see is this:

There are other people in the same situation. And we have something in common.

We had all thoroughly overstuffed our dairies.

There a was a bug that made it possible to put in more than the notional limit of 20. I thought it hilarious to put in lots of alien cows as well as a full compliment of the normal ones:

Jim had been more restrained, he'd only put in one or two more and the day that I was unable to load my farm his slightly over-filled dairy was showing just the 20 it ought to have, not the 21 or 22 he'd had the evening before.

Zynga had clearly "fixed the dairy bug" but in doing so had made some people's farms unloadable. Mine included.

One of the replies I got was:
"Please be informed that we do not ban any players for gaming bugs. All the issues you specified may just happen because of the loading problems so kindly follow the steps below"

And then they proceeded to tell me, yet again, to disconnect from farmville completely, log out of facebook, clear my browser's cache, quit the browser, restart the computer, etc.

They also suggested downloading the latest flash player - I looked I already had the most up-to-date version - but for the sake of completeness I did it any way.

At no point had it occurred to me, before they said this, that I might be banned... as a programmer I'm aware that fixing bugs often has side-effects that are in effect new bugs... I still think its more a technical issue than a political one.

But there was one strange thing.

One of the other people with an over-full dairy had put a post up much like this one on the Zynga forums. I'd replied and said I had the same problem. Several others did too. I was watching the thread so when I got an email saying there was an update I went looking for it. The whole thread had been removed. This does not seem like a technical issue, but more like a political one... I've been unable to find any official reference to this being a "known problem".

I'm now regretting that I spent real money on this game - it is possible to play it for free - but if you want any of the pretty things, like the flying saucer at the top, you pay using farm vouchers - you only get a few of these slowly through game play. I was happy, at the time, to pay real money to Zynga as I know how expensive such games are to develop. Now I'm less so because I cannot play with my toys even though I paid for them.

I have asked for any of these:

1. My farm as it was, presumably with dairies reduced down to 20 cows each, and playable.
2. A new, empty farm, credited with the FVs I'd purchased.
3. My money back.

They have not replied to this.

Here is one last shot of my farm as it was for Halloween:

Update: Zynga finally fixed it. My farm was dead but I am able to play again. However the support did not contact me to tell me it was fixed - one really does have to attempt to get in to find out...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cleaning up...

Faceted St Andrews

On Saturday, Ellen, blogged about cleaning by including a clip from Withnail and I.

At the time it made me realise that we really could do with a purge ourselves - we've not got to the wonderfully graphic stage illustrated there but really we would do with cleaner carpets. But the vacuum is on the blink and in any case we need something stronger...

Did you ever have a school teacher who'd respond to your protests about the quality of your art equipment with

"A poor workman always blames his tools"

well today I had what seemed like a moment of enlightenment, I realised that the answer was because

"A good workman would never have consented to use those tools in the first place"

And so, following on from that I went virtual shopping for carpet cleaners...

And its with such fantastic leaps of logic that I turned feeling guilty about the carpets into the need to buy a new usable carpet cleaner... or two...

Incidentally what really struck me about the clip was how young Richard E Grant was then... so I've just looked it up on IMDb and found it was released in 1987... I suspect we all looked a bit younger then

Sunday, November 08, 2009


If you read my previous post you might be expecting me to completely break down and post about FarmVille - but instead I bring you FishVille!

After writing that post, Jim got our connection to the web back up so I could publish it - unfortunately I was then unable to get into my farm and haven't been able to since - I'd thought it hilarious when I'd got 27 green alien cows into a dairy that was only meant to be able to take a maximum of 20 cows in total.

From browsing the web it appears that they have fixed the bug that allowed this to happen but that those of us who had seriously overdone the stuffing have not been able to load our farms since. Whilst searching for more help on the issue than was coming from the makers of the game (Zynga) I discovered that they had just launched a new game on facebook - FishVille.

So rather than sulk too much longer I thought I'd play with fishes instead. And it is very relaxing - just like watching a fish tank - well almost.

I didn't take any really early screen shots - but here is one when I'd got to level 3 and my first neighbour had joined me:

The idea is to buy fish eggs and feed the hatchlings enough that they reach maturity when they can be sold - in fact they can be sold as soon as they stop being babies - but for some fish that in itself takes a day - for others it takes as little as 3 minutes. - you get more for them if you keep them growing and sell them as full grown adults - provided you can keep them alive!

They let you know when they are hungry like this:

But they start clamouring for food like this well before they actually need feeding... I did notice one neighbour had a fish with a red bubble asking for food - presumably it was really hungry. If you don't feed them in time they die and you have to clear up the dead fish.

Neighbours I hear you ask?

Well that's a concept from FarmVille and being fairly closely modelled on FarmVille, FishVille also has neighbours. People who are your friends on facebook and playing the same game can become your neighbours.

You can visit each others tanks which is fun in itself also your neighbours (or rather neighbors as its an American-written game) can send you gifts to decorate your tank:

What you are able to send increases as you go up levels.

The variety of fish eggs you are able to buy also increases with levels:

My goal yesterday was to get to level 8 so I could buy the clown fish. I managed that (just) and got up to saleable clownfish overnight:
The image at the top of this posting was how my tank looked when I started to write. Now after writing all of this the fish have grown:

Oh oh... no matter how intriguing I've made this sound I must also tell you that the screen is now saying:

Update: I was suspicious from the wording of the above notice that the issue might be political rather than technical and it appears that facebook has pulled the plug on the fish tanks because of advertising violations. At least that's what they are saying at techcrunch.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Poor neglected blog!

Summer / Autumn

So... I'm going to attempt at least one posting a week for a while - see if I can rekindle the blogging habit / rabbit / hobbit (choices from my spell checker - you decide).

I'm not sure how long it is since I've blogged - the internet is currently down (thanks to an "upgrade" that Jim installed a couple of days ago.... it requires him to have woken up before I can actually post this). Certainly not since (or not much) since I started to play FarmVille on facebook - I couldn't see the point of facebook a year ago and now I'm spending far too much time on it playing this sim-type farming game - and if you are not playing FarmVille you won't want to add me on facebook... I'll try not to mention it again in this post...

Ammonite pendent

Summer here was not very summery... lots of rain and only a few days of heat. I don't like the heat but I'm not that keen on rain either! We mostly spent summer in Bristol and enjoyed it despite the weather. The main casualty of the weather was my photography - hardly anything to show for it.

Westonbirt festival of wood

We went to Westonbirt Arboretum's Festival of Wood in August.

Active carving

Jim's mother and her friend Ted were on a coach tour that meant they were in Cheltenham for the day. We popped up there and took them for an airing on Cleeve Hill. They were glad to get away from yet another day of potential shopping!

Cleeve Hill

Autumn has been much better for weather, except the week we took on holiday - we seemed to pick the wettest week for that! But again it was fun and as we were on holiday I took photos anyway.

For my birthday (though not actually on it) we went to see the Autumn colour at Wesonbirt.

Autumn Colour

Our week up in the Yorkshire Dales was a prelude to a surprise 70th birthday party for one of Jim's aunts. She was indeed very surprised but also delighted that so many people turned up for her. We then spent a couple of days with Jim's mother before making our way back home... and to more FarmVille! (??? words before I gave way... ;-)

Prawn Cocktail!

Whilst in the Dales we visited some caves - ones with a guided tour, there was a lot of stooping but no crawling through water ;-) - there were lots of fantastic stalagmites / stalemates (my spell checker again!) amd stalagtites (no guesses for that one...) - hard to photograph but wonderful to see. The guide even extinguished the lights briefly for us all to see the caves by candlelight as the Victorians would have seen them when exploring them. And then he blew out the candle so we had utter darkness too.

In a cave

Jim had discovered the existence of a small turf labyrinth only 20 minutes from his mother's house - despite the nearness it wasn't a place she or he had been before - so we explored it whilst visiting her.


One of the advantages of taking a dog on a long journey is its an excuse to look for interesting places to stop where one can let her out to have a bit of a run. We'd stopped at this place before but not discovered the topiary before!


See all the photos from the mosaic in this flickr slideshow: