Grind… Grind is our thought for the day… Grind is a Timesink… Almost all computer games have it. In many, especially games from Triple A publishers, it is deliberately introduced into the game. Usually the grind is there to give the player a sense of achievement when they finally get a rare resource or special weapon, having worked long hours to get it. More recently it has become central to a controversial form of monetisation in games produced by certain publishers – made excessively hard to encourage players to purchase ‘time saving’ items from the publisher’s store. There are other forms of monetisation like loot boxes that have now come under the eye of governments around the world as they often constitute gambling where many of the players are below the legal age to gamble. Again, Grind is used as a way to push the player into trying to be lucky with loot boxes and purchasing them multiple times in the hope of getting the desired reward.

Does Grind exist in Simulation games? Of course it does but that’s just part of simulating something that happens in the real world of whatever the game is simulating – it isn’t something artificial that the developers have introduced. Is it used to ‘monetise’ the game? Not normally. An example of monetisation that I would recognise as such is the availability of special fishing kit dlc’s in The Fisherman – Fishing Planet. These are often purchased by new players to get a kick-start in the game as they offer higher level equipment than is available when you first start, along with some in-game cash. But they’re aren’t forced upon you by the Grind of trying to level-up which happens very quickly anyway and they do offer some cosmetic items that are otherwise not available in the game – so you choose whether you want to be seen in a gold and white spandex jacket by other players 😉 Definitely not my style! In The Hunter – Call of the Wild you can purchase weapons pack DLC’s. They will give you access to some more interesting and more powerful weapons than the initial ones in the game but they won’t make you any more successful as a hunter as that is entirely related to your ability to find the animals and shoot accurately. So neither of these really offer a way to reduce any Grind you may experience in those games.

The Truck and Farming Sim games have Grind – it’s part of being a Farmer or a Long Distance Truck driver in real life. Do the games offer ways to avoid the Grind? Yes, but you don’t buy them – they’re part of the base game. In the Truck Simulators I can opt for only short jobs – there’s a job length slider in the settings menu and the game will then offer more short distance jobs if I wish or mainly long distance if I prefer that. In farming sim, you can hire a helper to do your task for you such as seeding or harvesting while you either watch them or get on with another task around the farm. There is a caveat to that, and one which prompted this preamble, you can’t use a helper when you’re creating a new field because the game engine can’t know where the boundaries of your new field are going to be. So you have to plough it yourself and Do The Grind!

Which brings us neatly to field 14 that I mowed in the last post. I’m creating a new crop field on the west side of the track through the field and because the plough only cuts a swathe 2.5m wide at a speed of 7mph that is going to take some time. Starting at the bottom (south end) of the new planting area with the first few rows done……It’s going to be a long morning. Forty minutes later and we’re a third of the way up the slope……I’m running on real time, so that’s forty real world minutes of rinse and repeat, row-upon-row. Just over half-way and we enjoy a Spitfire flypast……Finally after an hour and forty-five minutes, the job is done……Now that’s Grind!

Could I have avoided the Grind? Well, I could have bought a pre-existing crop field from another farmer – then I could have got a helper to plough the field for me. But the cost of buying such a field was too high for my budget and my intended way of growing my farm so that was out of the question. Another option was to ‘cheat’!! There are fast ploughing mods out there which make your plough cut a much wider swathe than it’s supposed to and allow your tractor to do the work at 30mph instead of 7mph – Can you really see me going down that road in a simulation?? So I accept the grind because it’s part and parcel of being a Farmer.

I said that I wanted to get this second crop field ‘on-line’ as quickly as possible because the Euro Truck Sim Community Event is probably starting today so yesterday I pressed on in the real world afternoon, Liming and Cultivating in preparation for Sowing. The good news is that the field’s previous owner had fertilized the Grass – so when I ploughed the grass in it, in-turn, fertilized the field so I don’t have to do that step 🙂 Final task then was to Sow the field……and I’m planting Soy Beans which is a good cash crop. And here we are, folding up the seeder after completing the task……Just got to wash down the implements and take some of them for maintainence – the plough in particular is looking a bit worse for wear…

I will continue to post about Oak Glen Farm but it’ll be less frequently. My next task will probably be harvesting my crop of Oats in the other field, then it’ll be time to cut a crop field into the other side of field 14 – possibly for Wheat or Barley which would open the door for Chickens. Have a great day everyone! 🙂

Another Oak Glen Farm update so soon?? Sometimes life throws a curve ball or, in UK cricket terms, bowls a googly. This is particulary true of Computer Games. Yesterday evening I was trying out a grass baling job and hit a couple of problems caused by some mechanics relating to using a particular collection tool for wrapped bales. Items you’re trying to collect can act in a very bouncy manner in FS19 and I found it impossible to carry them reliably in the tools supplied for the hire job I was doing. The reason for doing the job was sensible – I wanted to learn about grass harvesting and creating silage bales. In that respect the first 3 parts of the job went well and I learnt a lot. But the last aspect of picking those round bales up was just about impossible with the tools supplied. I suspect that Giants Software have recognised this as an issue because they have provided an auto-load trailer for these bales now but I think that the job would still have given me the basic forks to pick up the bales. Anyway, after struggling for over 40 minutes and watching one bale roll away down the hill into the stream at the bottom of the valley, I conceded defeat and cancelled the job – a first for me.

This morning I went seeking the relevant trailer mod in the mods section of the game and I also downloaded some updates to other installed mods. I also bought a DLC for Anderson equipment which had some alternative options for the baling issue. When I tried to save the game not long after that, it just hung 😦 Eventually, after waiting some minutes, I had to resort to the windows key and a stop command on the Steam site. When I logged back in to the game, my Oak Glen Farm save was gone. A really annoying outcome given that my first crop was now growing 😦 For some players of games something like this is a cue to rage-quit, throw the controller across the room or abuse the family cat. For me it’s an opportunity to rerun the things I had done and perhaps do a better job second time around. So here we go, same farm and same first field.

Ploughing with the Fendt and Agro Masz as before. This time I think I’ve done a much better job!……now that might get a commendation in a ploughing contest! 🙂 And I’ve applied the Lime…

I will continue to bring things back up to date over the next couple of days and I now have an additional skill in my armoury for when I choose another field to buy 🙂

It’s been a long time and I’m sure that you, my reader, have long since forgotten where the story was going and what the next task was. To be honest, so have I! That’s the problem with both my current favourite simulations, Trucking and Hunting, having some major changes at the same time – Other games get left for a long time. So I took stock of the situation and decided to begin over.

Like last time, I have purchased Oak Glen Farm which includes Chicken and Pig rearing facilities along with storage silos and parking for equipment……But we’re going to do something different this time. Instead of buying another farmer’s field with a crop in it I have reviewed other options. There are some unused fields available. In fact there’s one directly opposite the farmyard as you can see on the map……where the green dot is. Currently that field isn’t under cultivation. It has a steep bank at the northern end and along the east side. There’s a bit of a dip on the west side too as you can see in this view looking north……So it has some issues but we should be able to plough a good sized planting area. At £115k it represents a significant saving over the £334k I spent on my first field last time but with the caveat of a lot of work to do before any crop returns!

So, off to the farm store to buy a Tractor and a Plough (I also bought a trailer and pallet forks but we’ll cover those at another time). Choosing the tractor was easy this time, I was so impressed with the Fendt Favorit that I had to buy that again. However, on our smaller starting fields, it will be the main tractor so I bought the more expensive 150HP version……Even so, it represents a bargain compared with some of the more modern tractors. It is just powerful enough to pull the plough, an Agro Masz POH5……It’s very important to watch the Horsepower rating of the tools you buy to make sure that you don’t buy something your tractor can’t pull! As an aside I did notice that, back in 2018 when this version of Farming Simulator released, the plough I’ve bought was rated as needing 180HP so I guess initial gameplay identified that as an issue and resulted in a lowering (nerfing?) of the required HP to make the plough more suited to smaller tractors.

So, off to our field and it’s time to plough in that grass……You’ll notice an odd diagonal cut in the image above. To create a new workable field I had to turn on ‘allow field creation’ in the game and that was an initial test cut before getting down to ploughing proper. Normally ‘allow field creation’ is kept off so that you don’t plough away field boudaries, etc. Here’s our finished new field – not going to win a ploughing contest, but it’s neat enough for our purposes…

The next task is to apply lime to the growing area. Last time around, I hired a spreader to control the costs but this time I can afford to buy and hopefully use the same implement for fertilization of my farm and neighbours fields too. I chose the Amazone ZGB – one I have previous experience of……with 26m coverage, my field was coated in lime in just 3 passes and that was with quite a bit of overlap! I see the crows are already looking for worms and seeds…

Job done and back to the farm to park up……These things are always much harder to park than my truck and trailer! 😉

What you have seen in this post represents around 2 hours of gameplay over 2 days. Ploughing is a long repetitive task requiring a high degreee of patience as you can’t hire an employee to do field creation for you. Now it’s time to take a break before carrying on to sow our first crop. I’ll do my best to keep this series running this time!