Saturday, September 29, 2007

Growing Mushrooms in HM DS

I am writing this post mainly because I have received 20 emails asking this question in the past few days. This post will be a reminder to add this information to my Quick Reference Guide, but in the meantime, it can help players who have a problem with this.

First, you need to ask Gotz to build a Mushroom Shed for you. When the Mushroom Shed it built, you will have three options to grow mushrooms:

1. You can buy Shitake Seeds from Vesta (in the evenings when her storeroom is open for business);
2. You can gather Matsutake Mushrooms from the wilds in the Autumn season, then convert them into Seeds (Spores really) using the Seedmaker;
3. You can gather Toadstools from the wilds in the Autumn season, then convert them into seeds (spores) using the Seedmaker.

Once you have a bag of Mushroom Spores/Seeds of ANY variety, you must do the following:

1. Throw a piece of Wood Lumber onto one of the wooden pallets in the Mushroom Shed;
2. Throw the bag of Seeds/Spores onto the Lumber.

You will see tiny spores or seeds in the piece of wood if you aim your throw properly. You then need to water the spores daily for MONTHS in order to obtain a fully grown Mushroom. Each of the three varieties has a different growing time, but all three can be harvested at three different stages:

1. Small;
2. Medium;
3. Large

You need to ship one of each size and variety to complete your Shipping List. Moreover, if you look at the Item Guide in the Farm Menu, you will see that you can grow and ship 99 levels of each type and size of Mushroom.

To grow upgraded Mushrooms, you must throw more than one bag of seeds/spores of the same level onto the wood on the pallet in the Mushroom Shed. Five or six bags of seeds (spores) usually will guarantee that you will obtain the next level of crop in at least 8 squares when you plant 9 squares in the soil. In the case of Mushrooms, I never have failed to obtain the upgraded level even when I threw only 4 bags onto the wood.

BE WARNED: Upgraded Mushrooms can contribute to the dreaded 'freeze glitch' that can corrupt your data and destroy your game completely. I personally would advise players to grow only Level 1 Mushrooms of each size and variety. Doing so will complete your List.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Harvest Moon Boy and Girl for PSP

Shaggy, a Harvest Moon fan, recently posted a comment on this site to ask if I had created a guide either for 'Back to Nature' or 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl'. Actually, I never covered 'Back to Nature' but I am about to embark on a new guide venture to create a guide specifically for 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl' for the PSP. It will take time, as do all my guides, as I am very thorough in my gameplay and base the guides on my own games. I do believe, however, that my existing guides for FoMT and MFoMT (Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town) will be of assistance in playing Harvest Moon Boy and Girl. Fundamentally, they should be the same game, although Natsume always adds new dimensions to old games when they are created for new platforms. 'Friends of Mineral Town' basically was 'Back To Nature' modified and transformed for the GBA handheld system. 'More Friends of Mineral Town' was the 'Girl' version.

The first guides I ever wrote were guides for Friends of Mineral Town. If you are playing the boy in 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl', the FoMT General Guide should be useful to some extent until I can create a guide specifically for the PSP game. In similar fashion, my General Guide for 'More Friends of Mineral Town' should be useful in playing the girl in 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl'. As I have not touched the game yet, however, this is mere hypothesis. I do know, however, that players who were playing 'Back to Nature' often successfully used my FoMT guides for reference.

It will be difficult to put 'Rune Factory' aside, I have to confess. It always is difficult to leave any Harvest Moon game. Investment in terms of time and energy is great and after all, these games represents actual ongoing lives. Like your village in Animal Crossing, your neighbours NEED your continuing commitment and when I am absent for any length of time, I feel I have betrayed my 'community' somewhat. Harvest Moon in particular instils a tremendous sense of 'belonging' and working to restore the farm makes one truly believe one has created a place for oneself.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cave Maps and Bestiary for Rune Factory

To the right of this post are sections devoted to specific games. Each Harvest Moon game has a section of its own, with all the guides I have written for that game listed beneath it. Some players apparently did not realise that links to the actual guides can be found on this site. In fact, the purpose of this page is to provide links to all my actual guides.

For any one who is playing Rune Factory, I would like to direct attention once more to the new 'Bestiary and Cave Maps Guide' for the game. I like to write 'text' guides rather than creating pictures because it makes the guide accessible to ALL players, even those with very elementary software. That is the reason I have created 'verbal' maps of all the Caves in Kardia. The Cave Maps give step-by-step descriptions of each cave, the position of each Monster Generator with details about the specific Monster it produces and the items 'dropped' by that monster. It includes the locations of all tillable fields, rocks that contain ore and underground water sources. I wrote this little reference guide in response to a number of emails from players asking for the location of a specific item. With this Guide, a player should be able to find the Monster that drops the item he/she needs instantly.

Furthermore, this guide should provide a resource for a player who finds himself/herself in a Cave without any more provisions and with low HP. By noting the location of all tillable fields, the player should be able to find a field that has wild items that could restore a little HP or cure poison. Remember that Medicinal Herbs and Orange Grass restore some HP. Antidotal Herbs cure Poison.

If you know the position of all tillable fields in a Cave, you can plan which crops to plant in order to be able to have access to runes on a regular basis. A field that is located deep within a cave may be useful when you are exploring that particular area but it is a good idea to grow crops near the entrance of every cave as well. That way, you can use those runes as a regular resource, whether you actually wish to explore that cave or not. I keep some Sweet Potatoes in the first chamber both of Carmite and Toros Caves for that purpose. If I need a rune quickly, I can nip into one of those caves to restore my RP. I chose Radishes and Sweet Potatoes for those locations because they grow quickly and are of little value as crops. It is better for me to keep them in the ground where they can produce runes daily.

I prefer to grow the crops that take more than a season to ripen further from the entrance. Crops will not die when they are not watered. They simply will not advance in their growth until watered again.

In any case, I hope the Bestiary and Cave Maps Guide will prove to be a useful resource to players. I use it myself when I need to refresh my memory as to the location of a specific Generator.

Neither Perfect nor a Saint

A comprehensive guide to any Harvest Moon game cannot be completed in a few weeks or even a month, especially if one does all the research as well as the writing personally. When I first began to write guides for publication on IGN, I included my email address as a matter of course, feeling that I wished to be 'accessible' to fellow fans of Harvest Moon if they had questions about the game.

Other guide writers as well as people at IGN advised me to remove my email address from my guides. I have been advised to delete emails unread if they did not ask questions that were NOT covered in the guide or to simply respond with a terse link to my guide page.

Instead, I tried always to answer all emails, even if the writer asked questions that are answered very clearly in my guides. Not one day passes even now without at least 20 new emails from people with game questions. I have counted more than 50 emails on some days.

I believe in courtesy and kindness, but I am growing weary of people who assume that my time is worthless and who are too lazy to read the guide. Instead of looking at the guide, they basically ask me to write a little personal mini-guide that answers all their questions. It would take me far more time to do that than it would take them to look up the answer in one of the guides that took me six months to write.

I still want to be accessible to players with game questions. I know what it is like to be 'stuck' somewhere, having tried everything I could think of doing without having any success in unlocking the next stage in a game. I enjoy the camaraderie of the gaming community and especially enjoy correspondence with other players who love Harvest Moon as much as I do.

So I shan't stop answering emails but I am going to ask for a little consideration from people who write them. Can you PLEASE write the name of the game you are playing in the Subject Title of your email? If you have written to me before, can you copy the correspondence into the body of your email so I can refer to it myself quickly? I can't be expected to guess which game you are playing or to remember every aspect of YOUR game when I am trying to write new guides of my own as well as answering emails from countless other players.

Especially where Harvest Moon games are concerned, it is extremely important that you give me the name of the specific game you are playing. There are many Harvest Moon games, and some of them feature the same characters as other Harvest Moon games. Every game is different, however. The method of making Butter in 'A Wonderful Life' is quite different from the method of making Butter in 'Rune Factory' or 'Friends of Mineral Town'. The method of obtaining a Yarn Maker in 'Friends of Mineral Town' is slightly different from the requirements of 'Harvest Moon DS'. I want to help you, but you have to help me a little.

If I were a Saint, would I patiently answer the same questions again and again without making any complaint? I thought about that, and although I always feel a little guilty when I am less than good-humoured with some one, I believe that I am right to point out these flaws in internet communication. After all, I am not the only person who writes guides and answers questions about games. For the sake of every one who is willing to correspond with other players, there should be a few common courtesies.

There are people who send emails without addressing the person to whom they are sent. They barge ahead with their questions without a greeting. They never thank the person for responding or for giving them the information they so desperately sought. 'Reply ASAP' they command, as if I am nothing more than a Harvest Moon answering machine who spits out answers to their questions.

Few people bother with proper etiquette in correspondence now but I have to say that I genuinely am touched by the players who write to me to thank me for the work I have done on my guides or who tell me that my guides have made all the difference in their enjoyment of the game. It is those emails that inspire me to continue.

And for the rest, please take a moment simply to try to understand that I can help you better if you help me. I created this website primarily to provide links to all my guides. The guides are here. Look at the right side of the page and you will find links to every guide I have written. These little posts are incidental. 'Harvest Moon Forever' was created to provide you with links to the actual guides.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rune Factory Trick

I added this information to my guide, but hesitated even to mention it, as it totally changes the game. It is a trick that has the potential of allowing a player to obtain almost infinite amounts of money on the very first day of gameplay. If you can amass even 2000g on 1 Spring of the first year, you can buy the Small Fridge and the Small Kitchen instantly from Ivan. Otherwise, you have to wait an entire season until they are offered again on 1 Summer.

It is very simple and is an option that was programmed into the game by Natsume. Whether or not it was intended for THESE purposes is another matter...

All you need is another player with a DS and Rune Factory. Even if the player is a beginner and is on the first day of gameplay as well, you both can make enough money to buy the Fridge and the Kitchen. If the other player is more advanced, the potential is almost limitless.

It is the 'multi-player' option in Rune Factory that allows this trick. In multi-player mode, items can be 'traded' from player to player. Each time an item is traded, it increases in level.

On 1 Spring, you can collect bamboo shoots from your own field. Each bamboo shoot is worth 130g. Trade that and its value doubles. Trade it again and again until it is worth at least 2000g, then sell it at the Spring Rabbit Pub, one of the few businesses open on the Holiday. Take your earnings, and buy the Small Fridge and Kitchen from Ivan.

Another possibility is to connect twice. Connect the first time to enhance the levels of existing items like bamboo shoots. Sell those at the Spring Rabbit Pub, then buy the most expensive item that Emmett has for sale. Return to the Mysterious Shell to trade THAT item back and forth a few times. You can 'create' an enhanced item worth 20,000g without too much trouble.

The most important reason for performing the trick is to be able to buy the Fridge and Kitchen on the first day of the game. It makes a tremendous difference.

Using the multi-player option, it is possible to win ALL contests in the first Spring and Summer, if the other player has Large Ranch Product and has the ability to complete any recipe.

There are no real shortcuts where some goals are concerned and I am happy about that, actually. One doesn't want the game to become too easy, after all. On the other hand, being able to store items in a fridge and cook elementary dishes on the first day of Spring is rather marvelous...

You will find this trick included in the latest updated version of the General Guide.
There is an entire section that deals with the Mysterious Shell with instructions on how to make connections with other players.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Idealism in Harvest Moon

The unwavering idealism that underlies all Harvest Moon games never fails to touch my heart and soul deeply. Rune Factory demonstrated this beautifully in the 'Grand Finale' to the main quest.

Warning: Do not read this post if you wish to be surprised by the 'end' of the game.

Your character, a young man with amnesia, proves his worth, his valour and his essential compassion both for human beings and other species by taming monsters rather than killing them and ultimately refusing to use his weapon against his
arch-enemy because any weapon of his could kill a human being.

He then faces the entire mechanised Sechs Army in order to protect the town of Kardia although he believes the cause is lost, as the Sechs Army has mustered a hundred tanks against the small village of Kardia.

The great Dragon God, Terrable has been awakened by the machinations of the Sechs Empire in the hope that he could be used as a super-weapon against their enemies. Instead, Terrable confronts the army of tanks and breathes his 'fire' upon them.

What occurs then? Rather than being incinerated, the tanks are surrounded by plants!
The leader of the Sechs Army orders his soldiers to burn the plants in order to free the tanks but the soldiers respond that this would destroy the tanks themselves, as the tanks are completely entangled in the vegetation.

The 'great' Sechs Army then is forced to WALK back home, to the ridicule of the people of Kardia!

Throughout the game, characters remark upon the need to live in harmony with the earth and the importance of being aware and respectful of the power of Nature.

Rune Factory is great fun. The philosophical messages are delivered with gentle humour and yet, the game always remains true to the essential principles of Harvest Moon.

One aspect of Harvest Moon games that may be less than welcome to the more 'puritanical' Western players is the position that alcohol occupies in traditional Japanese culture and therefore in Harvest Moon as well. In every Harvest Moon game, there is at least one character who constantly extols the virtues of alcohol and Rune Factory has quite a few! There even is a peripheral quest that is centred on a bottle of rare wine named Rollabouti. Harvest Moon games usually include one girl who can outdrink the men in drinking contests.

When English editions of a couple of Harvest Moon games attempted to 'convert' alcohol to 'Milk', the results were rather absurd. Conversations warning against the strong properties of 'Milk' or telling children that they were not old enough to drink the stuff were rather bizarre, to say the least. Fortunately, Rune Factory in its English version has remained true to the original Japanese in this respect.

Like most Harvest Moon games, the game itself does not end with the credits. In fact, 'winning' the game usually merely unlocks new options. A devoted Harvest Moon player never needs to regret the act of completing the main quest as there always are more quests to discover and complete...

Note: For players of Rune Factory who have requested detailed 'maps' of the dungeons, I have created a 'Bestiary and Cave Guide' now that gives step by step descriptions of each cave and the locations of each Monster generator in the caves of Kardia.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rune Factory and My Birthday

As it is my birthday today and there is nothing planned in terms of social events, I decided to devote the day to the creation of my most useful reference guide for Rune Factory, an Item List Guide. I mention this for two reasons. The first is that any one who is involved in Rune Factory may find the guide useful as it will provide all information with respect to the acquisition of any item in the game as well as the value of the item. The second reason is because, rather to my surprise, I realised that spending the day with Rune Factory, even if I am involved in the rather tedious drudgery of copying out 'Recipes' for items, is not a bad way to celebrate!

I always wanted to learn how to forge real blades and weapons. Unfortunately, when I had the money for it, I didn't have the time and when I finally had the free time, I didn't have the money. Creating and maintaining a proper forge is expensive and lessons in blade-making cost money as well. The days when an artist was willing to take on an apprentice for nothing more than the love of the art are gone for the most part. It has become a 'niche business' like any other.

There are some renowned contemporary female knifemakers, but I never became one of them, despite my great admiration for the art. Now, however, in Rune Factory, I can combine my Harvest Moon skills with the fine art of forging weapons and equipment. It is incredibly satisfying to forge a new magical weapon or to create a beautiful and powerful accessory, even if these items cannot be transferred to THIS world.

Rune Factory is more complicated than most other Harvest Moon games where 'cooking' and 'creating' items is concerned. You not only need the proper space and equipment in order to embark upon any new venture, but you need both the right ingredients and a certain level of skill. This makes Rune Factory particularly challenging.

In some ways, it reminds me of another favourite game of mine, Valkyrie Profile. In Valkyrie Profile, acquiring the right 'war trophies' did not in itself guarantee acquisition of a new weapon or piece of equipment. There were other requirements as well.

This is just a brief note en passant. I now intend to return to the forge, where I finally have amassed enough experience and skill to create a blade of surpassing beauty and power.