Millionaire City’s Advent Calendar Giveaway

Millionaire City developer Digital Chocolate is getting into the holiday spirit for the whole month of December. Every day this month, the company is running a contest on the official Millionaire City forums. To enter, players simply have to complete each day’s Advent activity. Millionaire City community manager Ronald Goldtooth (not his real name?) then picks one winner, and awards them some free Gold Bars.

For example, yesterday’s task was to take a Christmas picture. The day before that, players were asked to create a 10×10 winter district inside their city.

This contest is taking place on the game’s official competitions message board.

FrontierVille Barbecue Party Begins

FrontierVille developer Zynga is keeping the new quests coming. The most recent new addition is a new timed mission: Barbecue Party! Apparently our pioneers weren’t informed that December isn’t exactly prime barbecue weather.

Players must accept the mission before December 31st. After accepting, players have five days to complete the requirements.

To complete the mission, players must sell ten adult pigs, collect ten Carving Knives, and collect ten Special Seasonings. The Carving Knives and Special Seasonings can only be obtained as neighbor gifts. Some players might already have some knives, as they were previously used for the Halloween Pumpkin. The seasoning is a brand new item, however.

Players that complete the quest will be awarded 250 XP, a Smoker, and two Lunches.

Treasure Isle Introduces Treasure Chest Upgrades

Treasure Isle developer Zynga has introduced the ability for players to upgrade the treasure chest that washes up daily at their home island. The higher level the treasure chest, the better loot it will contain.

The initial upgrade requires one of each gem, with prices increasing successively from there (2 of each gem, 3 of each gem, etc). If there’s one thing Treasure Isle players have been clamoring for, it is more items that require gems! Kidding, kidding…

In any case, there is no way to know specifically how a higher level treasure chest is influencing the loot players get each day. Our level 3 treasure chest awarded us a special Dragonfruit (+45 Energy) today.

FarmVille Amex Statue Offering Double Mastery

FarmVille developer Zynga has teamed up with American Express to offer gamers an exclusive Amex Centurion Statue. When placed, the statue earns players double crop and double tree mastery for one week. FarmVille Freak has the scoop:

Simply click the link that takes you to Amex’s Facebook Page. Then click the button to get your code. Copy your code. Next, click the Redeem Code button which will take you to a Zynga’s redemption page. Enter your code in the box provided. Upon successful completion you will receive a notice that tells you that you’ve receive a free Amex Centurion Statue. Go to your FarmVille farm and check your Gift Box. The Amex Centurion Statue can will be in your Gift Box. To turn on Double Mastery, you must place the statue on your farm.

Unfortunately, some Facebook farmers (including this blogger) didn’t actually receive their statue. Hopefully Zynga and Amex can work out these kinks to ensure that everyone gets to participate!

FarmVille Dec 6 Podcast Released

FarmVille developer Zynga has released another edition of their weekly podcast. As usual, FarmVille community manager Lexilicious has managed to cram a tremendous amount of FarmVille news into a quick six minute package. Readers can listen for themselves below, or read the podcast transcript.

Hey Farmers and welcome to this week’s installment of the official FarmVille podcast. My name is Lexilicious, and I am here to bring you all of the latest news and information about FarmVille from Zynga. This week, we will be discussing our latest releases, and you guys will all be getting sneak peek of things coming to FarmVille in the near future.

Now, before we get into discussing all of our newest features, I would like to give a quick thank you to all of the players who participated in the FarmVille Dessert Contest. We challenged everyone to bring FarmVille to life with ovens, flour and just a sprinkle of creativity. Well Farmers, you rose to the challenge like true baking champions. The cooks in our Dessert Contest whipped up some of the most creative and edible works of art we’ve ever seen. Choosing the winners of this contest was no easy task, but after much deliberation, the FarmVille Team decided upon the most creative, delicious and well presented FarmVille desserts. If you would like to check out our winning entries, please visit the official Farmville forums and congratulations again to our winners who will be walking away with 1000 Farm Cash and 1,000,000 Coins. Remember Farmers, these contests are a great way to showcase your talent and earn some extra farm cash, so make sure to enter next time for your chance to win big.

So the past couple of weeks for FarmVille have been absolutely packed with new features. From great new Winter Holiday themed items to brand new features, FarmVille has been going all out to celebrate the holidays this year.
First up was the release of the Winter Workshop. This new constructable building is the first major step to our FarmVille holiday season and soon enough you’ll be able to harvest special Holiday Gifts from the Winter Workshop for special use later. But first, however, just worry about getting them built as much as you can.

You’ll get the base for the Winter Workshop for free the first time you play FarmVille, and you will immediately be entered into Placement Mode. You can place the Winter Workshop base on your farm now, or you can choose to place it in your Gift Box for use later.

You’ll only be able to have one Winter Workshop at a time. If you sell yours and want another, you can find it in the Market for 5,000 coins. You’ll need to be level 5 in order to place and use the Winter Workshop.

Now, the basic Winter Workshop looks pretty but you’ll need to level it first before you can start using it to collect Holiday Gifts. To level your workshop, you will need to collect parts like our other constructible buildings. You can acquire these parts via the free gifts page, farm cash, special delivery boxes and neighbor requests.

Harvesting for Holiday Gifts will begin soon, so make sure to finish constructing those workshops soon.

Our other big feature this week was the release of quests. Now, this feature is currently only available to a randomly selected group of users, but I want to give everyone a quick explanation of how this release works so users who do have it understand the benefits, and players who don’t can be better prepared once it arrives.

Coupled together with the introduction of the Winter Workshop, the Winter Wonderland Quest is a mission to make your farm into a beautiful wonderland and earn some cool gifts along the way. To get started, click the quest icon located at the lower left-hand side of the game.

Clicking on this icon will bring up the quest window, which will display your current quest, your quest progress and objectives. Your first quest objectives are to Place a Winter Workshop on your farm and buy one Candy Arch from the Market.

You’ll see a green checkmark by the objectives you’ve already finished. Once you complete these objectives, you will be awarded a prize. The prizes will automatically be awarded to you and you’ll return to your farm. You also have the option to Share the special gift with your friends by making a post to your feed.

A new icon will show up if there is another quest to complete. Your next quest’s objectives are to change your landscape to the snow blanket, place 4 parts in your workshop and acquire holiday lights from your Neighbors. Once you complete this quest, you will receive a special reward. Now, the rest of the Winter Wonderland Quests are all similar in structure to the ones I’ve just explained. Now, I don’t want to give away all of the surprises, so get out there and start questing today. If you are in need of any additional information about this feature, or you have feedback that you would like to share with us, please make sure to visit the “Game Updates” section of the Official FarmVille forums.

Alright! So this week’s coming soon segment will actually give you guys a little bit more insight into a feature I know everyone has been waiting for. This year’s holiday tree will be making an appearance in FarmVille soon, but it works a little bit differently this year.

You will need to collect holiday gifts from your Neighbors and place them into your tree. As you add more gifts, the tree will grow and change in appearance. As you collect gifts, you will be able to redeem your gifts for special prizes along the way as you unlock them. Similar to how the Haunted House could be used to collect Candy, the Winter Workshop will become harvestable for holiday gifts once the tree is released.

Keeping with the holiday spirit, when you redeem a special prize, instead of sharing an extra one via your feed as per usual, we’re going to let you pick which friends you would like to send it to as a present. Players who participate in this feature may also see a special present from Zynga this year, so make sure to keep an eye out for this release in the near future.
And lastly, we have the new snowman feature coming to farmville in the coming weeks. Players will be able to have snowball fights with their friends by visiting their farms or joining in on other friends snowball fights. With all of that snow being thrown, you will eventually end up with a big pile of it. You can use this pile of snow to build a Snowman, that may even dance for you if you can find the right item for it.

Alright folks, that’s it from me this week. Again, my name is Lexilicious and I will be back on December 17th to bring you all of the latest news from around the Farm. Happy Farming everybody!

Cafe World Introduces Cooking Academy

Cafe World developer Zynga has finally kicked off the next evolution of their hit restaurant game. Players can now take the first steps towards joining the Cooking Academy.

The event kicks off with a letter from Amelia herself, but she quickly dumps players off onto Matty, who guides players through the chain of missions they must complete to gain admittance.

Things start off easy enough. For the first referral, players must cook a Spitfire Roast Chicken (one of the game’s first recipes), and then serve it to three customers. Next, players must simply finish construction of their Spice Rack (if they haven’t already). For the second referral, players must visit at least one neighbor, and eat two neighbor’s daily dishes.

The third and final referral mission simply requires players to spice five neighbor dishes. A simple task, considering an earlier mission required players complete their spice rack.

Once all the missions are complete, players earn their Light Blue Cravat, and are accepted into the cooking academy. For now, the chain of missions ends somewhat anticlimactically – there are no more academy activities to complete. We’re sure more are in the works, though.

Mafia Wars Secret Santa Event Begins

Mafia Wars developer Zynga kicked off the holiday season a few days ago with the introduction of a new Secret Santa mission. The task is labeled as a “Secret Mission” but it doesn’t really seem that secret to us, since it is advertised right on the Mafia Wars home page. Secret or not, there is plenty of exclusive loot up for grabs, and that’s what truly matters, right?

To complete the mission, players will need the help of four of their friends. By making a Facebook wall post, players can give friends the opportunity to fill in as a Demolitions Expert, Bagman, Driver, or Electronics Expert. Players can also automatically fill any of the four slots by paying 10 Reward Points.

Once the roles are filled and the mission completed, the exclusive loot is then divided among the participants. The two rare items are a Field Raider vehicle (21 Attack, 71 Defense) and a D-07 Proximity Mine weapon (70 Attack, 39 Defense).

FrontierVille Level Cap Increased

FrontierVille developer Zynga has increased the game’s level cap. Dedicated pioneers can now climb all the way to level 150!

Our memory might be failing us, but we believe the previous level cap was 100, meaning players now have 50 more titles to earn. The new title bestowed on a player each time they level up seems to be the only reward earned for these new levels – there are no additional gifts or items unlocked in levels 101 – 150.

Level 150 earns players the title “Tough-as-nails Founder” and requires a whopping 6,600,000 experience points!

First Look: Fantasy University

I’m going to be complete up front, here: Fantasy University is the funniest social game I have ever played.

The game is a text-based parody RPG, with gameplay similar to Mafia Wars or Kingdom of Loathing (or MUDs, for the oldschool gamers out there). Games like this live and die by the quality of their writing. If you’re anything like me you cringe a little when you hear that a game is intended to be a comedy. When it works and the writing is good, it is awesome. When it doesn’t, it is disastrous.

Luckily, the team behind F U (natch) seem to be pulling from a bottomless well of humerous pop culture, fantasy fiction, and game design tropes. Within the first 10 minutes of gameplay, I spotted references to Pirates of the Caribbean (or more accurately all Johnny Depp movies), World of Warcraft, Spongebob Squarepants, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and plenty, plenty more.

No single moment is laugh-out-loud funny, but all the little details add up, and create a very charming package. Players’ lodgings are the Mordorms. As a “Mathamagician” character class, my character deals Abracadamage. Your best friend and neighbor is named Ron Wheeezy. And on and on it goes.

Comedy is a sensitive and subjective thing, and I sometimes felt that FU was trying a little too hard – players take the “Hellevator” up to their dorm room, for example. But I found the writing to hit much more often than it missed. For every very obvious, hit-you-over-the-head joke, there are two more subtle references slipped in.

Besides the writing, the gameplay & game design itself also has a great attention to detail. Your character portrait changes to become more beat up as you take combat damage, for example. The gameplay itself is quite simplistic, but there is more to it than Mafia Wars-style “push button to win.” When in combat, players will have multiple attacks to choose from, and will also have the option of consuming HP-replenishing or stat-boosting items. So far, the combat is about the same depth level as the opening of any standard console turn-based RPG.

FU could do with a little streamlining. Navigating the game world involves a lot of clicking around different icons, and screens like your inventory or character sheet are a little too cluttered and unfocused. But these are side effects of the game being an actual game and not just a treadmill, so it is tough to complain too much.

I went in to Fantasy University with a huge dose of skepticism, but the game absolutely won me over. It’s smart, deep, and has a great attention to detail. Below we’ve reproduced the “disclaimer” gamers have to click through, as an example of what we mean.

Your application to Fantasy University has been accepted!

We are looking forward to having yet another bright young mind take advantage of the unending knowledge of the country’s finest and foremost Adventuring College (that we know of)!

We hope you are looking forward to the challenges presented by a Class-A Adventuring Education, and hope that you will meet any and all challenges with the same kind of fervor and optimism we exhibited in preparing this form letter!

Before you are actually accepted, there is one formality that will be taken care of by this magical letter. It contains a disclaimer form that must be accepted before enrollment becomes final.

Agreement: I, Justin Davis, do solemnly swear that I will do my best to uphold the traditions and integrity of Fantasy University and will always remember that I become the property of Fantasy University and that any accidents or punishments that may befall me up to and including death, dismemberment, depression, apathy, illness, decapitation (real or imagined), fraud, theft, delusions, nightmares, food poisoning, Rapture, stolen organs, borrowed organs, hallucinations, leg trauma, lupus, being burned alive, water torture, tickle torture, plain old torture, spasms, night sweats, day sweats, pant sweats, restless leg syndrome, restless elbow syndrome, poverty, canings, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, plain stroke, extortion, blackmail (which is technically different from extortion), blindness, deafness, loss of an ear, loss of one or more shoes, dew crotch, being forced to watch bad comedians (you know, the really bad ones where half of you wants to feel sorry for them, but the other half can’t stop laughing at how awful they are), and jury duty are all considered perks of the University and must be enjoyed as such. Furthermore, it remains the right of the University to… Geez, does anyone even read this crap? I spend 24 hours a day down here in this well, shackled to this printing press, writing up legal documents for you people BY HAND, and for what? A few half-hearted chuckles? My humor is all I have to give, and I try so hard, but what’s it all amount to? You’re never going read this anyway, and that’s okay. My wife will probably run off with some romance novelist, who she’ll fall in love with after he writes her into every single one of his best sellers. That’s cool, I’ll chill down here, with the rats, and the constant trickle of dank sewer water. No really guys, it’s fine. I’ll just keep making you laugh throughout this entire game, as you never once question where such brilliant humor stems from. You’ll never realize that every joke you read is really told by one lonely guy trapped in the bottom of a well, and that’s a fate I’m willing to accept. Bye forever.

First Look: CityVille

Social gaming juggernaut Zynga has finally flipped the switch on their long-awaited town building title: CityVille! Is the game destined to become a mega-hit like nearly every other Zynga title, or is it merely a re-hash of the town building concepts others games have introduced? Social Game Central is here to give you the full scoop.

The first thing we noticed about CityVille is that despite being a town-building title along the lines of My Town, Social City, and Millionaire City (among others), the game actually has more in common with Zynga’s own FrontierVille than any of their competitor’s titles. Players have an energy bar that refills over time, and must spend this energy to complete most in-game tasks, including constructing buildings, chopping down wild trees, and supplying businesses with raw goods.

Also like FrontierVille, gamers are guided through the game by a lengthy series of missions. Some are quite simple (Harvest Four Carrots), while others require more preparation and more help from neighbors.

Although CityVille is still quite easy to pick up and play, the game is probably the most complex Zynga has ever made – to progress, players will need to keep track of all aspects of their city’s health. The bulk of CityVille’s gameplay revolves around smoothly managing a chain of supplies. All elements are interconnected. For example, to raise their city’s population, players will need to have enough money to build homes. Players earn money via their town’s businesses. These businesses only produce money if they are supplied with raw goods, which are collected from farms.

It is certainly more complex than FarmVille or FrontierVille, but it never feels overwhelming. Players produce goods via farming plots, turn those goods into cash via businesses, and spend that cash on homes, decorations, and everything else they need for their cities to thrive.

CityVille’s social element is a major departure from other social games, including Zynga’s own. Rather than lean on news feed posts, CityVille instead has players reaching out to their social graph on a one on one basis, asking individual friends for help via notifications. Players need 7 employees to staff their police department, for example. Rather than making a news feed post asking for employees, players can instead bulk send notifications asking for help to up to 60 of their friends at once. We’re still mulling over the ramifications of this major change, and will have more thoughts on it soon.

Our first impression of CityVille is positive. Like all Zynga titles, it is very polished, and already has lots of content for players to experience. We’re disappointed that the game doesn’t seem to make much effort to break new ground in the way FrontierVille did earlier this year, but we don’t think that will stop this city building title from becoming a big hit.