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FarmVille iPhone diary: Day one on the farm

Cock and bulls

FarmVille iPhone diary: Day one on the farm
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| FarmVille by Zynga

No stranger to Facebook, I've nonetheless successfully avoided experiencing any of its many casual time drains. Zynga, not content to let me slide through its fingers, has brought world-conquering casual game FarmVille to iPhone as well.

Whether this news makes you light up inside or retreat, screaming bloody murder, into the shadows will be a good indicator of whether or not this freemium app is for you. I start this journey in the latter camp, but that may change over the next few days as I throw myself into the game that has consumed a generation of social fidgeters.

In case you don't already know, FarmVille is a casual social game in which you run a virtual farm on Facebook, buying various domestic flora and fauna and then harvesting and selling it for profit to invest in further growth. It's also possible to trade with your Facebook friends.

You can make income by succeeding in the game, or you can fast-track your way to virtual wealth by buying 'farm coins' from Zynga.

The iPhone version allows you to plug into your Facebook version, which was previously impossible because Apple doesn't support Flash, on which platform the game is based. Zynga's new iPhone app contains many of the features of its Facebook counterpart, but not all of them.

Temporary events and challenges, for example, aren't available on the iPhone version, and nor is your avatar, so it's really more of an accompaniment to the Facebook game, allowing you to carry out maintenance whilst away from your computer.

That's the background. Here's how I got on with it.

Having spent one day on my new plot, I can report that everything is as slick as you would hope it to be, bar progression. A simple tap on a plot of land will plough it, whilst a second will open the market menu, allowing you to select from a variety of seeds to plant.

Planting a selection of strawberries, eggplants, and soya beans, I excitedly waited to reap what I had sown. And waited. And waited some more. With no money left (and no intention of trading real cash for pretend funds – surely the worst exchange rate in history?), I went back to my day and forgot all about it.

A few hours later, whilst playing Red Dead Redemption with a friend, the familiar iPhone message ping distracted me from the shootout, resulting in my death. “Your strawberries are ready to harvest”, it said.

Brilliant.

Stay tuned for more updates next week, as I spend more time ploughing fields, buying animals, and possibly even making some friends.