Saturday, August 25, 2007

Clever Natsume! Frustration conceals a purpose...

Whenever I describe the most vital elements of Harvest Moon to any one, I try to stress the importance of patience, determination and the need to pay attention to ALL aspects of life in any Harvest Moon game.

I discovered a little trick recently in Rune Factory that allowed me to win the Egg Festival in the first Spring, but performing this trick successfully apparently is not simply a matter of purchasing an egg from a local shop. It is possible that, if the player does not have any friendship points with the monsters he/she has tamed, his character will not win the Egg Contest with the spurious egg. All my Monsters had at least 3 FP at the time of the Egg Festival.

Knowing the value of high Friendship ratings both with other individuals and with all tame Monsters (the Rune Factory equivalent of farm animals), I used the Brush daily on the Monsters. Friendship ALWAYS is as important as wealth and experience in Harvest Moon.

In all honesty, however, the value of the egg that is entered by your 'rival' may be set at midnight... I need to confirm this in another game. It is possible that, if the player who lost the Egg Festival had been able to reload his game BEFORE midnight, he would have won the Festival as I did...

In Rune Factory as in other Harvest Moon games, there is a use for each and every one of your tools and if you neglect them, gaining no experience, you will not be able to perform necessary tasks later in the game.

I was fuming over the particularly long delay in having my hammer upgraded to Level 3 when I realised once again how clever Natsume is in designing their games. By taking my hammer for a week (a festival and Holiday intervened to extend the required 4 day wait to a week), I was forced to concentrate more on my other tools, and to spend more time fishing and chopping wood, tasks I had neglected a little when new mines containing valuable gems and items were unlocked.

Although I stress the need to perform all activities on a regular basis in my guides for Harvest Moon games, I myself often am guilty of becoming too obsessed with a single goal. One cannot afford 'tunnel vision' in Harvest Moon. It always is a mistake to focus too much on a single goal or quest. If one is diligent with respect to every activity and interacts with every individual on a regular basis, the plot will unfold naturally and new options will be unlocked. It is only when one becomes frustrated that mistakes are made and new options overlooked.

That having been said, I was very glad when I finally was able to fetch my Level 3 Hammer from Leo's Smithery...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cheating in Harvest Moon

Any one who has used my game guides knows that I do not believe in 'codes' or other types of 'cheats' but I am more than happy to find an 'exploitation device' within the game itself that allows one to succeed more quickly or gain an advantage.

Much to my delight, I found an early 'cheat' in Rune Factory. It is included in my General Guide, but for any one who reads my posts on this site, I will write about it here as well.

There are a number of festivals in Rune Factory as in other Harvest Moon games. In the first year, it is difficult to participate properly in any of the early festivals, apart from attending and speaking to the villagers.

The Spring Festival is the equivalent of the Spring Thanksgiving Festival, which is the Japanese 'Valentine's Day'. In Harvest Moon games, it is a day when boys give 'Cookies' or 'Chocolate Cookies' to girls they fancy. In almost every Harvest Moon game, one's character is unable to do anything for the girl or girls he likes in the first year as he will not have a kitchen nor an Oven in which to bake any suitable offerings. Rune Factory is no different in this respect.

The next Festival in Spring is the Egg Festival. In Rune Factory, there virtually is no hope of obtaining the 'Cockadoodle' who lays eggs before the Egg Festival in the first year, but I suddenly realised that there was a shop that sold small eggs. Without knowing what would occur, I bought an egg and stored it in my rucksack for a day or two before the Egg Festival.

On the day of the Festival, I went to the Town Square and offered my (purchased) egg to Jasper, the officiating judge. Much to my delight, he not only accepted my spurious offering as a genuine entry, but actually declared that I had won the contest!

Winning this contest is not simply a matter of pride. The prize is 5000g and an Empty Bottle! An Empty Bottle may not sound like much, but for those who are playing Rune Factory, it is worth its weight in gold, as one only can obtain health Recovery Potions if one has an Empty Bottle in which they can be poured.

By 23 Spring, 5000g may not be that significant, but another Empty Bottle really makes a difference when it means that one can take three Recovery Potions instead of two to the caves.

27 Spring is the day of the Cooking Festival in Rune Factory. As in most other Harvest Moon games, one must resign oneself to the certitude of failure in the first year, having neither kitchen nor appliances with which to cook anything, even a dish as simple as sashimi.

There is only one house upgrade in Rune Factory, instead of the usual two that are possible in some of the other Harvest Moon games but it is quite costly. As in all Harvest Moon games, however, all good things come to those who wait...

Part of the fun of Rune Factory is the addition of traditional RPG combat to Harvest Moon. I always love to fight monsters who drop 'war trophies' on occasion. In most cases, a chest can contain one of two or three different items in Rune Factory. War trophies in chests do not appear each time a monster is defeated, which makes it even more of a 'surprise package'. I never outgrew my love of wrapped gifts and chests in RPGs never fail to delight me even when they contain nothing more than a 'cheap bandage' or 'cheap cloth'. After all, the next chest could contain a special sword or crystal...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rune Factory Guides Live!

Where guide-writing is concerned, I have had one of the most difficult weeks of my life, as my hard drive was wiped, destroying all my files. Although a technician supposedly saved the files to a disc beforehand, the disc proved to contain nothing more than empty folders for the most part.

Among the casualties were my notes and game journals for Rune Factory, as well as the preliminary draught of a General Guide.

Nonetheless, I have managed to work furiously to rewrite the Guide and it has been published now on IGN. You will find links both to a preliminary General Guide and to a reference guide for all Shops and Locations on the Map.

I consider it a personal triumph in a sense, although the guides would have been far better had I not been obliged to spend so much time writing information that previously had been included in my files. There were a few moments when I barely could stand the idea of doing it all again, especially when some of the work involved typing long lists of items and their values.

Rune Factory, however, is worth the effort. I consider all Harvest Moon games to be worth any amount of energy and time. It will be more fun when I can play the game without having to copy everything into my guides, but meanwhile, I hope other players will enjoy Rune Factory as much as I.

Rune Factory is a marvelous game. Like all the best Harvest Moon games, it requires a great deal of time, patience and determination. I have to admit that I love being able to wield a sword as well as farm, mine and fish!

Like all my guides, these will be updated regularly.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Havest Moon Philosophy

'Rune Factory' takes the essential philosophy of Harvest Moon to new levels. All Harvest Moon games embrace an animist view of the world but in many games, the interactions between humanity and 'magical creatures' is fairly limited, although one can court and even marry a magical girl in some games.

Interactions with Harvest Sprites often involve befriending them and learning their likes and dislikes. In all Harvest Moon games, ranching success depends somewhat on affection levels with the animals. It is not simply a matter of keeping them fed but of paying attention to them and spending a little time with them on a daily basis.

In 'Rune Factory', one cannot purchase farm animals. One must find them in the wilds, where they have become 'monsters'. One then must confront them and defeat them. Once defeated, however, one must establish a relationship with them, first by building a home for the monster and then by using the 'Friendship Glove' to try to persuade the monster to become a friend.

Tabatha, a maidservant who is a magical individual in disguise, tells the hero that: 'If you can get along with the monsters in the caves, you can become friends with them! If you have this friendship glove, you can become friends with them. Win it over and it may become your friend. But be careful, you may be attacked before you win the monster over.'

Then: 'The way to get along with something without speaking is through showing how you feel. Even if the monster hits you, you have to show it that you want to be friends.'

All Natsume games contain spiritual wisdom and a guide for players to follow in their real lives. One must be willing to deal with different personalities, to be patient with people who can be rude at first, but who ultimately display hearts of gold. One must respect the elderly and be kind to children. Listening to people and responding appropriately always is a vital element in Harvest Moon games. You can play the game without paying attention to the nuances, but you ultimately will wonder where you went wrong when you fail to obtain essential information and items!

In 'Rune Factory', the hero is both farmer and warrior. In every aspect of his life, he must work towards the good of the earth and the community. Learning how to maintain a balance in all things is the foundation of a hero's ultimate success in Harvest Moon. If he only is interested in wielding a sword, he never will be able to advance even as a warrior as the 'Runes' that restore energy are found only where crops are grown. If he is interested solely in farming, he never will be able to tame monsters that could provide him with eggs, milk and wool. If he neglects the other inhabitants of the village, he never will be able to acquire items and information that will allow him to attain his greatest ambitions...