Roadwolf's portal for his random thoughts and ponderings

Farm Simulators

I recently found some interest in a Farm Simulator game.  Being a generally mindless game of money making and equipment management, I found it comparable for Free Enterprise and Sim Tower.  The first such game I purchased was Agriculture Simulator 2011, which I instantly became heavily involved with.

Agricultural Simulator 2011

Agricultural Simulator is a very nice looking game.  The weather and lighting effects, combined with the dust and mud effects really take you there, and make it seem like you are stuck out in some wet muddy field with your tractor.  The game starts off with 2 fields, and 700,000 in currency.  You have to purchase the basic items, and then begin planting.  You can also purchase animals, equipment and seeds.

The game is heavily dependent on upgrading your farm and growing your farm slowly over time.  Much of the work must be done yourself, however you can hire workers to do menial tasks such as plowing and cultivating for you.  Quickly however you encounter one of the games negative points.  Gas runs out far too soon.  You might only get half a field plowed, before you need to find some gas for your tractor.  But be careful, because it takes about half a tank of gas to get to the gas station!  The first upgrade you should buy is the on site gas storage.  Very well worth it!

The equipment acts very realistic {in operation} otherwise, however physics is much to be desired.  Large heavy pieces of farm equipment often will bounce around and jump into the air in your garage if they so much as bump into each other.  I seemed to be constantly resetting tipped over equipment.

I decided to see where the game would take me, so I cheated a little, and used a ram editor to give myself a shit-ton of money.  I then purchased all the farms and equipment I could.  But I found that my garage couldn't hold much, even upgraded to its fullest potential.  I could not hold one of each type of device.   No, I am not talking about one of each piece of equipment, but rather one of each device!  Like,   I couldn't hold a Combine, Trailer, Slurry Tanker, and Fertilizer Spreader, and some other equipment at the same time.  This is all basic equipment which is all needed at least one of, in order to undertake the complete farming experience.  I had to either sell the equipment I wasn't using at the moment, or move it outside the shed, and store it elsewhere.  Only problem there, is that you can't store any equipment outside the shed, if you plan on assigning a worker to use that equipment, because he wont be able to pick it up unless it is in the shed.

That being said, the market situation is a lot more forgiving in this game, and the value of equipment doesn't degrade too much, unless it gets damaged.  So you can sell equipment you aren't using, only to come back to it and re-purchase it later when you do, in order to save room in your shed / garage.  But it isn't too hard to move the equipment that only you, the player, can use out of the shed, in order to free up some room.

Multiplayer is also fairly easy to set up.  LAN Games can be played using the same game,with the same CD-KEY.  Even if you purchased the game on Steam, you can use the game online, on each of your computers, even if they are in offline mode.

The downfall of the game however, is the instability.  Strange lighting effects in combination with odd freezing, and glitchy graphics.  I also experienced the game shut down on its own, failing at some fatal exception error.  This creates a situation where you become paranoid about if the game will stay up long enough for you to save it.  Alt-Tabbing with the game is a risky venture at best.

That being said, this game will run on my Toshiba Satellite laptop, while Farming simulator 2011, will not.  However, to run on that, with an Intel GMA HD Video Chipset, it has to be turned down to minimum graphics levels.  But at maximum graphics levels you get many smaller details, which put a nice polish on a farm style game.  Details like wheel tracks which occur in the fields if you drive through them.  The tracks stay there until the field is harvested.

The map is also odd, at best.  The distance you have to travel to sell your items, is fairly far.  Also, there is no way to determine what the items are going for at distant mills and such, unless you actually drive to them, which is a huge waste of time.  The game limits how quickly you expand as well.  The time line is heavily scripted, in that it will only make things available after so many days played in the current game.  I think it took about 20 days to reach a 3rd worker!  This forces you into boring menial tasks on your small, slowly growing farm, even if you give yourself tons of cash to grow big.  Which I suppose in a way is good, it forces you to play the game, but on the other hand, this is really just a simulator, so, if you want to simulate having enough money to buy everything at once, you should be able to.

Mod development for Agriculture Simulator 2011 seems to be lacking.  Most places I looked for 3rd party add-ons, only had minor hacks or mods, which really didn't help.  Most mod results which come up in a search, are actually mods for Farming simulator 2011, which has a large modding community.

Farming Simulator 2011

This brings us to Farming Simulator.  I guess that Farming Simulator is actually the original, and Agriculture Simulator was a copy of sorts, in order to compete with Farming Simulator.  Farming Simulator is a lot more aggressive in terms of what you can do.  Bales of hay, actual cows that you can see (animals in Agriculture Simulator which you own, you generally can't see, as they are usually hidden inside a 'barn' which you can't get into), and endless fields which you can harvest, cultivate and sow almost right away.

The start is usually challenging, however you do start off with 2 tractors, and 2 combines.  And unlike in Agriculture Simulator, in Farming simulator you can hire many workers.  Apparently on the stock map, the default limit is 10, but with 10 workers, you can do a lot of work!  Other maps have other limits.  The game itself is a larger scale game, but more open ended, allowing you to do what you wish in this sandbox of yours.   You can even plow over much of the terrain and plant new fields where grass or even concrete used to be!

The games graphics are less astounding, however the game will not run on my Toshiba Satellite laptop, so I was forced to only play it on my Desktop, which is a older Intel Core 2 Quad machine, with a GeForce NVIDIA GT430 video card.  Nothing too impressive, but it works.

The economy on Farming Simulator is less appealing also, things will often sell for half of what you purchased them for, making selling equipment almost pointless unless you are raking in the money.  Even old outdated equipment is useful well into, what I call, mid-game, where you are working your way up to the best of the best tractors.

That being said, Farming Simulator keeps you busy.  I find with 6 to 8 workers, cultivating, sowing, and harvesting 2 or 3 rotations of fields, you really don't have much time to stop and watch the grass grow.  A lot of the time you do spend driving equipment between fields, as the workers will only work the field, and will not travel between fields.  So you have to position the equipment, and the worker takes over.  This is a point which could be improved, maybe using map waypoints?   i.e.  "Send this piece of equipment here".   Also, an equipment trailer would be a good addition.  Maybe a long trailer with a ramp, which could carry 2 or 3 pieces of decent sized equipment, but would have to be pulled by the larger of the tractors.

A neat feature of this game is the ability to connect trailers together.  If you are good enough, you can actually connect an endless string of trailers together, tho without help, usually the maximum most people can likely accomplish is about 3 or 4.  I would often run sets of 2 trailer loads between the harvesters and the mill,  this would often buy me enough time that i wouldn't have to make trips there every five minutes.

Similar to Agriculture Simulator, Farming Simulator only allows workers to do so much.  They are unable to cut grass, rake grass, or collect grass for the cows.  They are also unable to drive the bailers to bail hay, or drive corn harvesting combines.  Likewise they are unable to apply fertilizer, but you can get around that using a bit of a glitch.  Try connecting a fertilizer tank to the front of a tractor, and starting the spray, then hiring the worker to sow seeds using the equipment on the back of the tractor.  This works out okay, and simplifies the process.  It also in essence gives you unlimited fertilizer.

On my new laptop, Farming Simulator 2011 works great.  With an i7, 6 gigs of ram, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX460M. I would hope it works good.  The game is a bit more demanding of the processor, for less magnificent graphics.  But the game is smooth, and allows for a more open ended game play.  And while the market is slightly messed up in that values aren't quite realistic, for buying, and more so for selling when compared to the buying price.  It still allows for a slightly more balanced and challenging game play progression.  Even though you start off with the ability to work every field, it is pretty much impossible to do this until you earn the money to purchase equipment.

Personally I enjoy farming 3 fields at once, with 3 combines, and 3 sets of cultivators and sowing machines.  This is more then enough to keep me busy.  I generally cultivate over the hay left behind from the combines, as forming bales and picking the bales up takes a shit-ton of time.  And really isn't worth it for the time lost cultivating a new harvest.

Overall, I do enjoy Farming Simulator 2011 better then Agriculture Simulator 2011.  I do miss Agriculture Simulator's weather, and lighting effects sometimes, but I do hope that eventually one of the 2 franchises will be able to successfully combine graphics, physics, and playability (including re-playability, in terms of a modding community, and such) into an amazing hit, which blows the other out of the water.

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