It’s been over a month since my last blog posting. The busy travel schedule has ended and as I write this, I’m down to the last two work days left in 2017. I’m hoping they both go by as smoothly as possible. As a matter of fact, at the present time I’m enjoying a big cup of coffee while watching it snow from my 4th floor office window. So I guess this should tell you I’m pretty bored and really just marking time until I can walk out and not have to return until next year.
2017 The Year of Farming
As we were closing out 2016, I wrote a blog posting where I predicted that 2017 might go down as the year of farming. After all, Giants had just released Farming Simulator 17 and we were all salivating over the news about titles such as Cattle and Crops, Pure Farming 17, Farm Expert 17 and others who all were saying their products would be released in 2017. Of course, we all know not all these things ended up coming to fruition. Cattle and Crops delayed their “early access” release by several months and what they released in the early summer was simply not ready even for EA. Pure Farming 17 ended up changing their name to Pure Farming 18 and a release date of 13 March 2018 is now being advertised. Farm Expert 17 appears to be anything BUT an expert as reviews are quite poor for this title.
While we may have been left disappointed by those other titles, I’ve got to say that Giants really helped make up for it this year with the release of their Kuhn, Big Bud and Platinum paid DLC packs along with the unexpected bonus free Horsch Packs. Giants single-handedly saved 2017 and placed themselves squarely in the drivers seat for 2018 and beyond.
I only began hearing about Farmer’s Dynasty a few months ago. Most likely with my busy work/travel schedule (which kept me away from just about everything related to simulation based gaming), I began seeing information popping up on forum sites like PC-SG and began seeing some preview videos on YouTube. I honestly wasn’t planning on involving myself with another “Early Access” game title (especially in the agricultural simulation genre) and had pretty much convinced myself to just wait and see what happens. Especially after learning the developers initially hadn’t planned to add support for wheel/pedal type controllers. (more about this in a minute)
But my dear, dear friend Eustace Pharmer pulled the trigger and through a most convincing preview video featuring Creepy Oliver, the bait had been set and I took it “hook, line and sinker”. According to Steam stats, I’ve spent approx. 1.3 hours in the game and all-in-all I’m not disappointed in my purchase. Is Farmer’s Dynasty the Giant(s) killer? NO! At least not now and certainly not from anything I’ve seen in my short history of playing the game. But, the 1.3 hours I’ve spent playing Farmer’s Dynasty does have me wanting more.
As previously mentioned, Farmer’s Dynasty is an early access release. There are bugs, there could be more bugs coming and obviously the game will most likely change for the best over time. Again, in my 1.3 hours of game play, I’ve not experienced any game crashes, errors and performance has been fantastic running on my high-end gaming machine.
I would best describe Farmer’s Dynasty as a mix between Farming Simulator 17, The Sims and perhaps the upcoming House Flipper. Essentially Farmer’s Dynasty allows you to do some farming, interact with other characters and make repairs to your old, run down farm which you’ve inherited from the death of your grandfather.
In the 1.3 hours I’ve spent playing, I’ve taken the time to repair Oliver’s barn. In return, he gave me his old run down tractor and I’ve spent just a bit of time repairing a few things on my farm. I probably have more questions than answers at this point. While I’m enjoying grinding away in these early hours to build up my equipment, repair my farm and gain social status points. I’m curious just what the future holds. For example, will other maps make their way into the game? Will we be required to grind away each and every time we might choose to start a new map?
Controller Support – Including Wheels/Pedals in Simulation based games
One of the biggest disappointments I’ve seen with Cattle and Crops and also Farmer’s Dynasty has been the lack of support for external hardware controllers and specifically wheels and pedals. While I’m not a software developer, I wish the first line of code that would get built into these types of simulation based games would be for 3rd party controller (wheel/pedal support). Game titles which I’ve previously mentioned all involve some form of driving. While much of the work we’ll do in the early hours of Farmer’s Dynasty won’t involve much driving, eventually more and more will. After all, we’ll be driving a tractor to plow, fertilize, seed, harvest and sell the crops we grow. While not everyone will use a wheel and pedal setup, many do. And from reading comments, many have decided not to support the EA release until such time wheel and pedal support has been added. So gaming developers, if you are going to build a simulation based game that has any sort of driving involved, YOU MUST add support for wheels/pedals.
GBS Holiday YouTube Schedule
I’ve been working hard the past couple of weeks in creating a small backlog of videos to cover the Christmas and New Year Holiday period. My wife has a rather long list of “Honey Do” projects lined up and while I do plan to spend time playing simulation based games over the next 10+ days, I most likely won’t have time to edit, render and upload anything new until after the new year. But don’t worry….here’s my release schedule which covers from now through 1 January.
Wednesday – 20 December – MidtownUSA Ep 3
Thursday – 21 December – MidtownUSA Ep 4
Friday – 22 December – Thornton Farm Ep 13
Sunday – 24 December – GBS Christmas Message
Tuesday – 26 December – Thornton Farm Ep 14
Wednesday – 27 December – MidtownUSA Ep 5
Thursday – 28 December – MidtownUSA Ep 6
Friday – 29 December – Thornton Farm Ep 15
Monday – 1 January – Thornton Farm Ep 16
If you’re not yet a subscriber of my YouTube channel, please consider subscribing. Just visit www.youtube.com/c/grizzlybearsims and click the Subscribe button. You’ll find 100% G-Rated, Family Friendly entertainment suitable for all ages on my channel.
Well….I need to seek out another cup of coffee and take a stroll through the data center. I hope you’ll tune into my channel for my FS17 videos and a special Christmas Message on the 24th. Thank you all for your support and friendship.
Until next time….
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you next year!
Is Cattle and Crops a Scam? Now before I get too deep in this blog article, let me just say for the record that I DO NOT believe Cattle and Crops is a scam. However, as I frequently discuss Cattle and Crops (CnC) in my YouTube “Let’s Play” series and on my YouTube, Twitch and Hitbox Livestreams (not to mention I’ve blogged about CnC many times on my blog site) the question does come up from time to time. Just a few days ago during one of my YouTube Livestreams a viewer asked my opinion of this very subject. So I thought it might be time to discuss this concern here on my blog. But before we dive into the question if it’s a scam, allow me to provide a little more insight.
2017 – The Year of Farming
Just a few months ago I wrote about how I felt the year 2017 would go down as the year of farming. If we count the final few months of 2016, along with the discussions for future agricultural based simulation games with planned release dates in 2017…one could easily say that 2017 would be “The Year of Farming”. As we were all prepping for the end of 2016, Professional Farmer 2017 came crashing into the scene just ahead of the release of Giants Farming Simulator 17. For the record, I did take a long hard look at Professional Farmer 2017, but decided to keep my money in my pocket. I’m glad I did! Even after many patches and updates, I still think this title has a very long way to go to be considered. Another title (which really isn’t worth mentioning) is Farm Expert. Like Professional Farmer 2017, I also gave this one a pass.
If you’ve been watching my YouTube channel, you know I’m very pleased with Giants Farming Simulator 17. I have over 430 hours in the game (compared to 743 hours for FS15). I realize I may not be setting any records with the amount of hours I’ve recorded in FS17, but these are all actual game play hours. Meaning I’ve spent over 430 hours sitting at my gaming PC playing FS17. Anyway….
In addition to the very promising release of Cattle and Crops (which I’ll discuss in a moment), another title which impressed me and I became excited about is Pure Farming 2017. The team behind Pure Farming 2017 launched a website and a Facebook page. Unfortunately, while I’m not saying this is a dead project…there really hasn’t been any new news on this title in some time. I guess time will tell just what these guys are up to. I suppose it really doesn’t matter as they haven’t approached the community for any money as of yet.
While my predictions of 2017 going down as the year of farming may not be looking as promising as it was in the Fall 2016 time frame, I suppose only time will tell. Now, let me get back on subject.
Enter Cattle and Crops
It was early 2016 (February/March timeframe) when I first learned about Cattle and Crops. The first blog entry I found where I mentioned CnC was dated 8 March 2016. They released a “pre-alpha” video which really impressed me. Ok…the video had a cat in it and that pleased me. But the more I read about this game and their plans for it, the more and more impressed I became. As the year progressed, the CnC Dev team released more information and more videos. Sometime in the early Fall timeframe we learned CnC would be funded via a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve supported many endeavors via Kickstarter in the past, but this would be the first time I would actually support software development. I signed up immediately…it was a no-brainer. At the time of the Kickstarter campaign the plan was to provide the financial backers with an early release product sometime in March 2017 with more expanded features afterwards, leading up to the full release sometime in late 2017. I think everyone will agree, the Kickstarter campaign has been tremendously successful. Based on the information published on the CnC website, they have a total of 10,071 Supporters who have contributed 460,726 Euro.
Why I don’t believe Cattle and Crops is a scam?
Understand, I absolutely do not have any first hand information to validate my opinions one way or the other. Like many of you, I’m just simply an investor in the Cattle and Crops Crowdfunding campaign and (again, just like you) I anxiously await the early release and/or any news from the CnC Dev team. Based on all that I have seen, read about and my own gut feeling….I truly believe this is a genuine software product (not vaporware) which is being actively developed with the intentions it will be released.
I believe much of the concern has to do with the delayed release of early access and the somewhat lack of communication from the CnC Dev Team. I’ll address communications in a moment, but in the real world I work as an IT Manager for a large US based software company. While my direct job isn’t in software development, I’m obviously aware of the various lifecycles a software product will go through from the time of its initial concept design to being 100% ready and rolled out to customers. The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” can often be an understatement when talking about software development. As hard as any development team may try to avoid, delays happen and it’s generally in everyone’s best interest to press the brake pedal, versus rolling full-steam ahead. In addition, early release products and any associated dates of release should always be viewed with flexibility. While I agree any published finished product dates should accompany a more solid commitment regarding the date, early access is just that….it’s an early access product.
In addition to what I’ve already stated, I also believe based on some of the individuals involved with the project who have experience with Courseplay, DriveControl, GearBox mod and Modhoster that we would have learned by now if this was destined to only be vaporware. Moving along…
Communication, Communication, Communication
Early on, I was extremely impressed with the level of communication the Cattle and Crops team released. While we’ll never know for sure, but I think it was the CnC communications efforts which drove Giants to do a much better job in communicating and building the media hype ahead of the release of Farming Simulator 17. But unfortunately, I’m of the opinion that Cattle and Crops have really hurt their cause with their lack of communication in recent weeks.
As I’ve already stated, software development is not a perfect thing. Delays can and will happen. I fully support CnC’s decision to delay the early access release originally scheduled for March. Especially after watching how Farm Expert and Professional Farmer 17 were received. While I agree it wouldn’t be wise to communicate a new target date as often more delays occur and the last thing you want is to have to constantly communicate more delayed releases. But at the same time, going almost completely dark isn’t helping their cause.
Now some will argue that it may take too much time to create game play videos and that CnC is better off keeping their nose to the grind stone and not wasting time communicating. But honestly, I really don’t need a weekly YouTube video to keep me engaged in their progress. A simple blog posting, Facebook posting or even Tweet on Twitter each week would be all that is needed to keep their audience in the loop. To make us feel as if we’re still part of the process.
If the original early access release date was end of March (remember what I said earlier about flexibility), we are now one full month beyond that. Most folks who may have helped to fund CnC may not be as familiar with how the software development process and early access releases work. Again, a little more frequent communication from the CnC Dev Team is most certainly encouraged.
Now having said all the above, the CnC Dev team did release an inspiring video showcasing how they have resolved leaky barn roofs. The timing of this video update couldn’t have come at a better time for me. After watching this video and feeling impressed about what they have achieved, I sat down to record an episode on my Lone Star FS17 Let’s Play. Before I could get all my work done it began to rain. As I parked my tractor in the barn I happened to notice that it was raining just as hard inside the barn as it was outside. See…it’s these little things that have me feeling so excited about the release of Cattle and Crops. Immersion and realism is very important to me in a simulation based game.
Cattle and Crops a Game Changer
In closing, please allow me to remind you that I have no inside information. I’m not associated with the CnC Dev Team outside of my financial investment as a crowdfund investor. That’s It! But I really, really believe we’re going to be surprised (in a good way) with what we’ll see both in the early access version and the full blown release version. I stand by what I’ve said many, many times that I would much better wait for the product they intend us to have than to receive something that is half baked and riddled with problems.
Finally, I only have a need for ONE agricultural based simulation game in my library. The main reason I got involved in the Kickstarter for CnC is I do firmly believe that Cattle and Crops will change the way we experience agricultural based simulation games. While I think FS17 is an awesome product, I’m disappointed in the similarities with FS15. Giants most likely (or should be) is in the process of really upping their game. If history repeats itself (and I see no reason why it wouldn’t) we can expect to see Farming Simulator 19 in October 2018. I’m more than certain Giants has been watching and we should assume that one (or more) of the 10,071 supporters of CnC are folks at Giants looking to get their hands on the game. While I don’t like to make dire predictions, but when Cattle and Crops reveals it is everything we hoped it would be AND if Giants releases a product which is just a slightly enhanced version of FS17 but they call it FS19, then that my friends might just spell the end for Giants. At least it will in my book…
I’m curious what you think. Please leave your comments below.
Until next time…