I’ve been oddly fascinated with Farming Simulator 2013. Much of my enjoyment has been over things that weren’t intended to be the focus of gameplay, like climbing electrical towers on foot or hauling trailers of corn down staircases. That makes sense. It’s a niche game, intended less for the mainstream audience more for hobbyists whose greatest demand is that the tractor models have accurate stats and appearances (and also more for Europe than America). There’s a bit of emergent complexity in hitching chains of tools in the right order to complete two field-tending steps at once, and a smidgen of cooperative multiplayer involved in pulling a high-capacity collection cart alongside a harvester to keep the latter, smaller vehicle from overfilling, but other than that, it’s just what it says on the tin: plant crops, grow them, harvest them, and either sell them or feed them to livestock to get the most money from a fluctuating market.
Working even the smallest field once gets boring fast unless you like sitting on a tractor and turning 180° every half-minute until you’ve furrowed all the furrows. And that only preps the field for planting. You need to do it again to spread seed and a third time to harvest once crops grow. Add another pass if you want to fertilize (and you do, since it substantially improves yield), and three extra passes if you grew wheat or barley and want to bale the leftover straw. Fortunately you can hire AI farmhands to tend fields for you and accelerate time so you don’t need to wait hours or days between sessions.
The first adventure was configuring the game. It supports windowed mode, but you need to hand-edit the configuration file. Inverting the Y look direction is handled likewise. (I’m one of the many people who needs to do that.)
I occasionally got tasked to mow grass at the country club. Fair enough. The cheapest grass-cutting device is a riding mower. So I bought one, headed for the club, and discovered I had to drive across the countryside in a vehicle with a top speed of 6.5 MPH.
The forklift attachment on the front-end loader is controlled much like Surgeon Simulator 2013, only less intuitive. Left button + vertical mouse motion raises/lowers the fork arm. Left button + horizontal mouse motion tilts the fork up/down. Right button + vertical mouse motion extends/retracts the fork arm.
The map marks places that buy your crops. Good! Markers are color-coded based on whether prices there are high, average, or low at the moment. Great! But each location only buys certain crops, and that’s not indicated anywhere. You have to learn by trial and error.
The game is moddable, which is something else I’ve been diving into, but it needs professional-level familiarity with 3D game engines. Good news: the developer supplies a free editor that can alter or create maps and terrain. Bad news: it can’t make new 3D models like fences or trees or trucks. Good news: you can make those in an external 3D modeling tool, like Maya or 3ds Max or Blender, and transfer them over. Bad news: Maya and 3ds Max cost $3,600 each. Good news: Blender is free. Bad news: a version change broke the transfer script back in May. Good news: it’s simple to fix and the fixes are online. Bad news: you need two fixes and it’s unusual to find them posted together. More bad news: once you get all that working, all you can make is objects that just sit there and look pretty. If you want to make an item that the player can buy and place in-game, you need to reverse-engineer how to configure that item’s store data. And that is easy compared to creating anything that animates, handles crops, or responds to player actions. There’s plenty there for me to pick at until I get tired and realize it’s simpler to create a whole new game from scratch in Unity.
In the meantime I have plenty of interesting things to discover, like:
- You can magically change what seeds are in your seed spreader on the fly.
- Hired helpers are amazing. They drive perfect lines in pitch darkness, and any vehicle they pilot doesn’t use up gas (or seeds either, if it’s planting).
- Chickens don’t eat. Sheep, on the other hand, must be fed cut grass, even though they live in a grass-covered field and constantly graze. Fortunately, you can cut grass from their own field.
- Hay gives cows diarrhea. This diarrhea is magically transferred into liquid poop tanks, where you can refill your liquid poop spreader.