casual games


…or, how to keep your neighbors happy and hopefully they will keep you happy too. 🙂

There’s a lot of guides out there for Frontierville, but not many of them about what to gift people. I’ve also read some place that “gifts that give energy is always welcome” and “you don’t really need more than 15 ribbons” which is really just total misinformation (or completely outdated information, depending on how you look at it.) Here’s the basic rule of frontierville gifting:

Give things that your neighbors cannot BUY in the marketplace.

That’s it! This includes:

Building Materials (330)
To build ONE of each of the buildings in Frontierville, you will need 66 of EACH building material. That’s 66 Bricks, 66 Nails, 66 Hand Drills, 66 Buckets of Paint, and 66 Hammers. That’s 330 gifts of just building material in order to finish all the quests in the game. So if your neighbor’s wishlist is empty, send them a random building material. If your neighbour’s wishlist is full of collectibles that you don’t have, send them a building material. In other words – when in doubt, send building material! Even if your neighbour already built everything, who knows when Zynga will add another building and ask for 50 of each material for it?

School Materials (255)
Once the schoolhouse has been built, your neighbors will want to complete lessons offered at the school. These are very demanding – to complete all of them you will need 51 of each of the following: Chalk, Slate, Ink Pen, Ink Well, and Spitball. 255 Gifts. However, don’t send these unless you see at least 1 of these on their wishlist. Great to plan ahead and all, but if s/he is still building a school house, s/he will probably appreciate some building materials more.

Ribbons (92+)
You will only need a scant few ribbons before the school house is built, but once it is built, you will be needing a lot of them. 92 to be exact. If you see ribbons on your neighbour’s wishlist, send it as a priority.

Collectibles (Only when it’s on your neighbour’s wishlist)

Nobody wants an extra 10 poultry puddin’.

Really. Nobody does! We already have over 60 from trying to get eggs! Send collectibles if you have extra, off the “My Neighbors” tab. This way you will know for sure that your neighbour needs the collectible you’re sending. If you have something very rare, send a message ahead to see if they want to trade.

Other rules of etiquette:

  • Don’t send food unless your neighbour asks for it as a request
  • Don’t send decorations, animals, trees, etc unless the person you’re sending to specifically asked for them. Stick to the list.
  • Click on your neighbor’s “wanted material” links – they cost you nothing, and you can click on 50 of them a day.
  • You CAN send out more than 30 free gifts a day, just not more than 30 per session, so just go back to the free gifts page, choose a gft, and pick more neighbors.
  • Mystery gifts are only good for high level players who has plenty of everything else – i.e. if they don’t have ribbon, school material, or building material on their wishlist. (Also useful in the case where someone is desperately seeking a hard to find collectible – like a welcome mat.)
  • If you see something strange on a newbie’s wishlist – like planks, fire, or even cloth, send them a message to let them know how to get those things. It’s not immediately obvious that clicking on a building allows you to craft things.

Now onto the tips:

If you’re a fast typist, make a list in notepad of all the people who wants the same thing. If there are 15 people in your list who wants ribbons, then you can just send them out all at once. Let’s say you pick a brick, then start typing in the text box to filter out the names. Once a name comes up, hit TAB > SPACE > Shift-TAB and keep typing. You can easily go through the entire gift list for 4 different gifts in less than 5 minutes.

If you find clicking on your neighbor’s wish links to be a bit tedious, start utilizing your middle mouse button (or CTRL-tap on a laptop) to open them in new tabs. Go down your news page, always sorting “most recent” and middle click all the wanted and give away links. Then go through the pages from the last one up and click on yes and hit CTRL-W to close the tab. You don’t need to load up the game for it to take effect. Click-close click-close click-close. You get EXP and free food from their other links, so click on their wish links!

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Free full length adventure game you can play in your browser.

Is the legandary City of Hetherdale real or only a fairy-tale made up by an 18th century madman? What dark mysteries does it hold? Find out as you play Dr. Heather Montrose, a young scholar destined to uncover the secrets of Hetherdale.

Hetherdale

If you’re using firefox, get the Flash Game Maximizer extension and play the game fullscreen!

General Hints and Tips:

  • Start the game with 2 kids, 2 young women and 1 young man.
  • Spend your tech points in the most logical fashion: from the cheapest to the most expensive on level 2. Once all the second level techs have been bought, save up that 70k for the extra tech points.
  • When you start the game, drag one adult all over the map to familiarize yourself with the hot spots.
  • The numpad is great for jumping to spots on the map, but it misses large portions of it. Don’t rely on it too much in hunting for collectibles.
  • VV4 is more forgivable when it comes to food than the other VV games – it’s pretty hard to starve to death, even with a large population.
  • If an adult refuses to do something, it might a job for a child.
  • Sometimes it takes more than just tech levels to solve a puzzle. It might take a skilled villager. Or a store of supplies.
  • Fresh water is for drinking. Salty water is for crafting.
  • When you see a collectible, pause the game and drag one kid on it. Then quickly hit the spacebar twice (unpause and pause again) and drag anther kid on the same collectible. This also works on mushrooms.
  • If you already collected the collectible, it will be turned into tech points. If you pick up the child and make him drop it, your tech points will go up immediately.
  • To make babies, pause the game and drag a villager on top of another villager until your population counter moves up. You don’t have to wait for them to go into the shack – the chance of pregnancy is calculated as soon as you put the villagers together.
  • A 2 year old can’t work…but she can be a healer.

Puzzles hints (as spoiler free as possible!)

  1. Covered in the tutorial. (check the fish bones.)
  2. Check the top of the river near the falls. When you’re done with that, look at what was under the waterfall. No luck? Check again after science level 2.
  3. Look at those wooden bowls for water near the river and the ocean. There are also some blackened rocks near the research area.
  4. Soapy-smelling plants and salter water equals…?
  5. Requires completion of #1 & #2. Cut down the greenery covered in butterflies and SLOWLY bring them to the tree.
  6. Requires #2. Check the pond near the top right cliffs in the midst of a monsoon.
  7. Clear the debris near the hard fruit trees. Then heat and use 4 blacked rocks. Cover with broad leaves from the tree right next to the blueberries.
  8. Requires #1, #3 and a clothing hut. Involves salt water and pulpy vines.
  9. Needs learning level 3.
  10. Take a couple of kids and an adult to the crab. (it’s red, it’s on the beach, it scuttles, and it’s really fast.)
  11. Requires completion of #7, & #12. Stew ingredients: 1 of each herb plant, fresh water, berries, baked fruit, fish, mushroom, and 2 bins of food from the food bin. A lot of people have trouble with this one – some say you need all those food already in the bin first.
  12. Needs #8. Have something to do with the piers.
  13. Needs #1, #8, and #4.
  14. Needs >20 people and dendrology level 2. Make a sweet stew and put everyone on it.
  15. Needs all pipe pieces, level 3 dendrology, #2, and #4. Bring a villager of pure body and mind to the tree.
  16. Needs Rope (in the research area), some supplies of #8, and then…follow the hummingbird.

Got questions? Post them in the comments.

Download the PNG

Put this in your c:\where you installed the game\Virtual Villagers 4 – The Tree of Life\Images\
directory.

Why? Because my eyesight is horrible and scanning all over the map for little mushrooms are simply painful. I tried adding a simple glow, but that was nowhere near enough. These are stroked in 2 pixels of red. There is NO WAY you could miss them.

Screencap for glowing collectibles

I just got my hands on a Lenovo S10. It was really cheap on tigerdirect (actually, the day after I ordered it, the price went up by $20 and then it went out of stock) and I ended up paying less than $300, tax included. One caveat: the native resolution is 1024×576. 576? Wow, that’s random. Seeing that the vast majority of casual games run on 800×600, we’ve got a problem. Unless I want to 1) stick to games that are 640×480; 2) use an external monitor to set resolution or 3) have all my games cut off at the bottom, I need a software solution.

Now, while the default resolutions are either 1024×576 or much less, netbooks DO support higher resolutions. You just need to find them.

  1. Right-click on the desktop and choose “Properties”
  2. Click on the tab that says “settings”
  3. Click on “advanced”
  4. Click on the tab that says “Monitor”
  5. Find the line that says “Hide modes that this monitor cannot display” and uncheck the checkbox to its left.
  6. Click ok.
  7. choose any resolution you want. 800×600 should be available now.

Now when you load up a casual game, you can move the mouse up or down to the edges to scroll.

There is a little problem to this particular approach: in order to change your desktop back, you’ll have to go through the steps again and change your resolution back. I’m assuming you don’t want to keep your resolution at 800×600.

There is a software solution that I absolutely love. Best of all, it’s freeware. Download this little piece of software called Screen Mode Switch. It sits in your system tray where you can use the right-click menu to get to any of the modes you set up, and it also works automatically. i.e. If you load up a program that runs full-screen at 800×600, it will change your res to 800×600. Once you exit the program it switches you back to the native resolution. Neat, eh?

The first Escape From Paradise was a great game. It had good puzzles to figure out, generic but addictive mini-games, and it had a lot of charm with the chibi-like characters with their big heads. All in all, it was a good “island survival” game that incorporated other casual game genres. Its sequel, however, was a major disappointment.

Maybe I just had my hopes up a little too high, or maybe it was dumbed down because the challenges were deemed too tough for the casual gamer; either way, the game feels like a series of chores. A series of chores with sub-par minigames to make up for the lack of riddles.

The entire game focuses on collecting jewels and tikis, and in order to do so, you need to:

  1. Lead your monkey all over the place looking for tiny 2×3 pixel jewels hidden in the grass and trees;
  2. Complete quests;
  3. Complete mini-games.
  4. Catch all the fish, dig up all the fossils, and catch all the birds.

There are multiple problems with this way of finishing a game.

  1. Those jewels are tiny. If you realized that you missed any AFTER you’ve done point 2 as well as 3, you’ll end up leading your monkey around the entire map looking for a few colored pixels.
  2. The quests are easy – there is no challenge in them at all. They come with clear directions and end up being just a series of chores.
  3. The mini-games range from match-3, hidden object, click-management…to sudoku. Name any one person who’s good at ALL of those. You’ll have to be, since there are no hints or extra powerups in sudoku or match-3. And they’re long games.
  4. Birds are VERY hard to catch.

On top of that, there’s the control scheme. You can either left click and drag a person to a spot, or you can left-click and right click. Sounds simple right? Now add to it that right click and dragging the map moves it, and once you select someone, you can’t access the map. So in order to move someone across the entire map, you’d end up doing a whole lot of dragging. The map is this tiny box at the bottom of the screen that can’t be enlarged, and has no significant markers. In other words, getting around is very frustrating.

Graphics and sound of this game is just as good as the last one, if not better. The core mechanics – hunger, thirst, sleep and social – stayed the same. Load times are minimal, and you can quit and autosave any time you like.

Escape From Paradise 2 isn’t necessarily a bad game. It’s still a fine casual game, but it seriously pales in comparison to the original. It’s just a bad sequel. It’s a step backwards. For $6.99, it’s a deal if you enjoy any of the mini-games.

If you are getting this game, I highly recommend getting the strategy guide with it. It is superbly written, with clear directions and great screenshots, even a map with all the locations. The only downside to the guide is that you can’t print things out.

I actually had a video walkthrough for the ENTIRE game made a while back, but the site is broken and I really don’t have time to fix it. Eventually I’ll dig up all the video files and just post the links, or move to a new server. Meanwhile, this particular puzzle is here on request.

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Puzzle 1

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Puzzle 2

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Puzzle 3

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