When I look at games like Big Farm, I see a genre soured by the greedy actions of a monolithic developer that tried and miraculously failed to build an empire out of monetizing its own property at the cost of public relations and long term success. I am, of course, referring to Zynga, the least threatening cash vampire since Uwe Boll started his directorial career, and the only company capable of collapsing the public relations of an entire genre.
There really is nothing inherently wrong with time management games. They know what they are and they don’t claim to be what they aren’t, and they don’t spend much time reaching outside the demographic. On the spectrum of gaming, you can’t get much more casual without going into the territory of games that play themselves, or perhaps a pedometer, but they certainly have a wide audience who enjoy them daily.
Big Farm, as its name implies, is a game that starts the player off with a small farm that inevitably grows into a big farm. This is accomplished by building fields out to grow plants and raise animals which are then sold to the market for money or used as resources to grow further goods.
The process does get pretty involved later on. Eventually you’ll be doing things like growing corn to turn into chicken feed in order to raise chickens to collect their dung to turn into fertilizer to grow apples in your orchard and compost the fallen leaves from the trees into humus which can be used on your corn seeds. That’s a mouthful.
The number of buildings, what you can grow, and how much you can store is all governed by an overall level which raises as you complete simple quests (gather x, build y) and gain experience. Higher levels allow for more buildings, expanding the farm, upgrades, and new plants. Along the way you’ll have to worry about factors like population, happiness, and space. You need more houses to hire workers, but more houses decreases happiness which increases production costs. To make your workers happy, you need to build decorations which take up precious farm space. It’s a balance of cost vs efficiency that is completely up to the player.
As far as the cash shop goes, Big Farm primarily sells convenience goods. What few non-decorative buildings you can buy are pretty cheap and offer little bonus as an alternative. Luckily you can amass a small fortune in gold through the game’s level up rewards, by completing quests, and through email promotions by Good Game Studios that are constantly being sent out.
Players can compete against each other in blue ribbon missions that usually involve harvesting more of a certain plant than everyone else, with rewards going out regardless of what place you end up in. Big Farm’s version of a guild is called a cooperative, where players can collaborate on missions with big payoffs, and contribute towards bonuses that reward the entire cooperative.
Big Farm’s ultra-casual nature is sure to drive many gamers away, but for those who enjoy time management games, it’s a decent looking game without the overbearing cash shop butting in. If you take it as a race to the finish, you’re going to see a lot more popups asking you to fork over for some gold, but for those of you who recognize that it is something to be cultivated over months instead of days, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time.
If you do decide to check out Big Farm, you can find it and other MMOs (as well as other games) on poki.com.