…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welcome” and “you don’t really need more than 15 ribbons” which is really just total misinformation (or completely outdated information, depending on how you look at it.)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!

I picked this one up a long long time ago when it was new. It’s been so long, all I remember was the beautiful scenery, the sheer large amount of puzzles, and a few weird camera issues. I also remember an alternate ending and really good voice acting all around. Most of all, I remember giant mushrooms. Anything with giant mushrooms must be good, in my book.

Here are some links to get you started:

A downloadable trailer

Gamespot Review – 6.7/10

Justadventure Review – B

Mr. Bill’s Adventureland Review – Highly Recommended

Demo (92 mb)

Official Website (not much there)

Gameboomers Walkthrough

JustAdventure Walkthrough

UHS Hints

As far as re-packaged games go, Circus Empire is relatively new. It came out July of 2007, and by October it’s at the BFG site.

Gamezone did a review on this one, and it’s pretty favorable of it being a relatively easy to learn simulation game.

Circus Empire is a basic simulation on the lines of Zoo Tycoon or Rollercoaster Tycoon, but on a much smaller scale. This means there is less to do, but it also means it’s easier to play. For people looking for a few hours of easy entertainment that doesn’t require a lot of thinking, this is a good choice, especially for families with kids.

Sounds good to me.

There are really no demos available for this one. Not even on the Enlight official site. Here’s a link to a help forum in case you get stuck.

A mission-based game to promote the Royal Air Force, Global Rescue’s got it all – obstacles to fly around, hostages to rescue, guns to fire. All of it presented in the usual Kerb quality.

RAF Global Rescue

Kongregate is a site like Newgrounds. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain: they’re both flash game communities where independent Flash game developers post their games and get noticed. There are around 1500 games on there and a lot of them are badly made, but the gems are amazing, with no commercial counterparts that I can think of.

Notessimo is a music maker with an easy to use interface that you can use to create music in minutes. I played with it a bit when it was new, and it has now been updated to feature songs by other Kongregate users. It’s amazing the things it can do – you can create complete MIDI songs on this thing. There are tons of instruments to choose from, and it’s as simple as clicking on a music staff.

Notessimo is definitely worth a bookmark.

Another one of those non-casual games on the Big Fish. I can’t exactly take the time to review these ones – they take too long, and with a baby in tow, it’s hard to go through these big long games. I can, however, offer a link to a demo. On the BFG site they do not offer a demo to Hotel Giant, but here’s a link to one on FilePlanet.

Hotel Giant Demo on FilePlanet
Hotel Giant Demo on Gamershell

Remember that this is not exactly the one from BFG – theirs is most likely pre-patched.

A few reviews from across the web:

Hotel Giant is all about building hotels. You get to design hotel attractions (bars, restaurants, health spas, and so forth) as well as guest accommodations, and you have to balance quality with profitability when you do so. …
each scenario goes something like this: spend a couple hours designing the hotel, and then spend about five minutes zipping through time until you win (or not). The only things you have to deal with once the game starts are guest complaints and staff hirings and firings, but the complaints are pretty predictable once you’ve played a little, and the hirings and firings usually aren’t necessary.

…The problem is that room design isn’t really fun even when it’s done well, and the more you have to do it the more boring it gets. Since in Hotel Giant you have to design rooms a lot — even despite a friendly copy and paste feature — and since there isn’t anything else to do in the game, obviously Hotel Giant isn’t very much fun to play.

…Overall, Hotel Giant is a nicely made but very boring game.
56%, Game Over Online Magazine

The first is the incredibly thorough but entirely boring tutorial that seems to last forever. It took me longer to get into HG than any other game I’ve played – including Morrowind….HG is one complex game, at least in its execution.

You can’t have exercise equipment in the lobby or a swimming pool in a boardroom – each object has a specific room they’re restricted to (though there are some common object). … (And it doesn’t help that there’s about three clicks for every action and host of drop-down menus to move through.) To help out you don’t have to design every single room. Each layout can be saved as a template then stamped out all over the floor – much like modern hotels. Then every time you change something in one room, it’s changed in all the rooms that use that template.

…Fulfilling the menial requests of characterless guests didn’t do anything to keep me playing. And the inability to take out some of this frustration on your hapless employees just isn’t possible. Beating up on Manuel-type waiters would have been a welcome addition. I guess what I’m trying to say, HG bored me after about 5 hours.

5.0/10, The Armchair Empire

Sounds pretty bleak, but Gamespy says:

Not a bad game by any means. JoWood has produced a quality title that seems to truly simulate the challenge of hotel management. Unfortunately, a cumbersome interface, and overly complex management scheme detract from an otherwise excellent game. Nevertheless, it’s worth a look.

It’s up to you. Links to the Demo is above.

Zoo Empire is basically a copy of Microsoft’s Zoo Tycoon. Now, Zoo Tycoon wasn’t a casual game, and neither is Zoo Empire. The reasons are very, very simple: there’s way too much to keep track of, too high of a learning curve, and there is no way you can play this for a few minutes and come back later.

For me, Zoo Empire feels like a trip to memory lane. It’s so much like Zoo Tycoon it’s eerie. The only thing that seems to be different is that my polar bears don’t seem to want to have the penguins for lunch when I leave them in the same pen. I don’t think that’s an improvement. Seeing my visitors running away in terror because I delete a part of the fence containing my lions were all part of the fun in Zoo Tycoon.

Zoo Empire is not a new game – it has actually been out since 2004. There has been a number of reviews written about it. So instead of my ranting about how it is not a casual game, I’d like to list a couple of quotations here.

Zoo Empire allowing you to choose from over 40 species and subspecies of animals including both rare and endangered species, over 150 types of visitors and animals objects, over 200 buildings, items and facilities. There are a dozen different terrain types, each with unique dynamic grass effects allows you to experience the subtle landscape changes as you progress in the game. There are also food booths, gift shops, toilets, bins, signs, first aid stations, security and vending machines, etc. As owner of your zoo, you can adopt animals, landscape and build exhibits, hire and manage employees. – GameGuru

The early stages of the game are blessed with a tutorial system to get you acquainted with the interface and controls. This is, of course, frustrating and relatively slow, but is genuinely useful and the game is all the better for it. – BoomTown

The question is, are you willing to play through 2 hours of tutorials? You have to learn how to fence animals in, edit the terrain, hire a myriad of staff, conduct research, build small and large buildings, keep animals in their desired habitats, etc, etc. Despite it being a kids’ game, Zoo Empire has a pretty steep learning curve.

If you’re willing to put in the time, Zoo Empire does turn out to be an addictive Zoo simulation. It is a completely children friendly, non-violent simulation game that contains fun facts on all of the animals that you can have in your zoo. I do recommend picking this one up from the store though – you will want a printed manual on-hand, since the tutorial doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. You can get this off BFG for $6.99, but getting the boxed version shouldn’t cost you anymore – it’s a 3 year old game, and a budget title to begin with.

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