Here we are at the end of a long day’s work……Cultivating another farmer’s field to make a bit of money on the side. I now have a fuller understanding of how the Seasons mod works, at least in terms of basic arable farming. If you use the default settings of nine days per season, each in-game day (real world time) equates to around 10 farming days. You can do a lot in that time! Let me take you through some of what I have doing in my first farming day on the Six Ashes map.

I set out to completely prepare my field for sowing, including the first stage of fertilizing. I think now that that I could have spread the work out rather than doing it all in one game day – fertilizing could have waited until the next week – ie next irl game day or even the one after! The upshot is that I am ready to sow but soil temperatures are too low for reliable germination of the seeds. I also bought more fertilizer than I needed (I filled up the spreader!) – so I’ve got around 5000l sitting around. That’s not a disaster – I’m just waiting for a fertilizing job on a neighbouring farm. But in the first week of March all the jobs are plowing or cultivating……With an occasional transport job thrown in. Doing plowing for other farmers allows me to try out some of the larger equipment like this Lemken Titan 18……It is a pig to line up for each cut because the tow bar is on a swivel and I think that the time lost positioning it outweighs any gain from a slightly wider cut. That all the jobs reflect the time of year is a good thing – it brings realism. I’m expecting jobs to sow or plant as the weather turns warmer and, when autumn comes, harvesting jobs. In between I’m sure there will be weeding and fertilizing to be done. In fact, I’ve already got my first patches of weeds……They popped up while I was doing my lime spreading! A look at the map shows them dotted around in every crop field…

I have mentioned soil temperatures being too low – Seasons brings much more realistic weather and crop growth. If you glance back to the shot of the weeds in my limed field you can see a number of icons at the top of the screen. The second from the left shows the air temperature and, below that, the ground temperature. I can open up the seasons menu of sowing and harvesting periods, and check what temperatures are needed for each crop to germinate……and I can get a weather forecast that lets me know what the weather over the next few days is likely to be……looks like it’s going to get colder and we may have rain on Wednesday! I may be able to sow on Thursday but Sunday is currently looking better 🙂 In Seasons time those days equate to early-April and early-May. I’d probably prefer to get my crop in the ground in April if possible. Like the real world, the weather forecast may not be totally accurate – it might be possible to sow on Friday despite rain being forecast (which would be mid-April). Then, once the crop is in the ground I’ll be checking how well it can handle what the weather is throwing at it. There’s a chart for that too……I’ll let you read that one for yourselves!

As you can see, Seasons brings a lot more to the game than bare trees 😉 There’s a lot more thought and planning required – all of which may come to nought if there’s a bad drought over summer or if it rains and prevents harvesting the crop before it withers. Much more realistic 🙂 There’s more I could tell you about but this post is already long so it will wait for another day. To close I’ll share a shot with you of how our previous farm, Oak Glen, would have looked in early spring…

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 🙂