Friday, 30 November 2007

Fishing in Mineral Town

Well Skyrender's guide was correct with regard to the fishing pole. Winter finished and as soon as my pond defrosted in the spring, I took all the fish I had been storing in my fridge in Winter and threw them in the pond, which was quite a few trips back and forth. But the very next day I was rewarded by Greg the fisherman, who gave me the upgraded Fishing Pole. This really improves your ability to catch fish. I have used that Pole to catch some of the King Fish. So far I have caught the Angler Fish (late night fishing in the ocean in Winter), The Char (in the river by the Hot Spring after you have cooked all the fish dishes) and the Catfish (in the underground lake in the Winter Mine). Still remaining are the Squid (can only be caught in Summer) and the Bream (can only be caught when all other King Fish are caught). I think that to catch the Squid you also need to have shipped (by hand) at least 200 fish, which means I have another 50 or so fish to catch and ship.
The best place to fish, but the furtherest away, is the lake by the Winter Mine. Although only small and medium fish are caught there, the catch rate of fish to garbage is small. It is also useful to not litter anywhere, to improve your catch rate, and its best to forgive your littering sins by confessing to Carter the priest in the confessional on Mondays or Wednesdays between 1pm - 3pm.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Tales from HipPiTy Farm

Progress is going slowly on HipPiTy Farm, currently I am playing in Winter of my 2nd year, I am trying to make sure that I can achieve all targets. Winter is a tiresome season, only the crops from the hothouse and the products from my animals to generate income. Via the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Harvest Moon I have found a recipe book and a walkthrough. The walk through does not interest me as much as the recipe book. Having built up quite a supply of edible products in my fridge, I have slowly been learning more recipes. Some of them seem a little un-intuitive, for example, one would have assumed that you would use the pot to make popcorn, but instead one uses the frying pan! I can imagine my character picking up popped corn from all over the kitchen... but anyway...

Skyrender's walkthrough for me is a little dry, I glanced over it and found some information, that I otherwise would not have found out, namely that there is also a fishing pole to be obtained. Apparently Greg the fisherman will come and admire your pond once it has more than 50 fish in it, and as a reward for such an abundant supply of fish will give you a fishing pole, which improves your fishing ability. I did not know this earlier, so I have been selling off all my fish from the pond as they get big. Now that I have found that out and now that winter has come around I have been been frantically fishing and stockpiling fish in the fridge to put into the pond in spring, hopefully I can get the fishing pole soon. On the topic of fishing, Skyrender, also mentions in his walkthrough, about different fish that can be caught in different locations. I do not know if this is true for the PSP version Boy and Girl, as his guide is written for the original version of Back to Nature, but if it is true, I have a lot more fishing to do to catch the various King Fishes.

Happy harvesting!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Free Rice

In line with my previous post on Ripple, helping the developing world through the power of the Internet, comes today's blog post.


This website is set up as a word game where you have to choose synonyms for the word displayed. For each word you have 4 choices, for each correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated via the United Nations to feed the world's hungry. The game starts out quite easy and gets more difficult with each correct answer. With each incorrect answer, the difficulty level drops and you get asked a new word. You don't lose any grains of rice that you have donated.

The money to donate the rice is once again, like Ripple, generated by advertising that appears on the website.

The total number of grains of rice donated now (13th November 2007) stands on 1,712,371,750 grains since the 7th of October 2007, this figure seems to be increasing exponentially as the website becomes more known.

The lovely dual benefit of this site is that not only are you providing a meal for someone, aleviating their hunger, but you are also improving your vocabularly, and spending your time on the net for a good cause.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

HipPiTy Farm

I love the fact that you can customise your farm in Harvest Moon to give names to all of your animals at birth. With names, your animals, especially the cows and sheep, become like friends that you greet each day by name. I have not sold any animals yet in Boy and Girl, but in Innocent life, when you sold an animal, you were asked "If you sell Daisy the cow, you will never see her again, are you sure you want to continue?" This almost had me in tears the first time I read it, and I didn't go through with the sale! However in Innocent Life, you did not have the option to give your animals personal names, instead you had to choose one from a list. Being a vegetarian, and an animal lover, I love this aspect of Harvest Moon.
In Boy & Girl I have personalized my animals in the following way:

Farm: HipPiTy farm
Farmer: Shaggy
Dog: NiKs
Horse: PIkwIk *
Sheep: ShaWn, WooLard*, YarNaRd*, LaMbERt*, BaaBAra*, FleeCi**
Cows: TriXsY, DikXi *, LiKxI **, PiKxi **, FiKxi **, WiKxi **, RiKxi **, BiKxi **
Chickens: ChuCki, CLuk*, CHooKi, CheePa, KliKi *, ChUkXI *, ChIkXi *, ChUnKi *, RooSta *, HeNRi **

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

If only....

If only real life was like a Harvest Moon game.....

1. You inherit a farm
2. Time stands still when you are in the supermarket
3. You can survive eating only one meal a day
4. It hardly ever rains in summer
5. Prospective marriage partners are impressed by simple gifts
6. Small spites help you with your daily chores
7. You can build a Hothouse with wood alone
8. If you want you can fish all day long
9. Cows and sheep can conceive without bulls or rams
10. You can harvest honey without getting stung

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The (developing) Third World, what can you do?

The hegemony of the North over the South, the constant abuse that the developing world sustains from the developed world, the fact that progress in creating equality in this world is moving far too slowly are all topics that interest me. Coming from (and having been brought up) in a developing country, and now living in a developed country gives me an advantaged view of the inequalities on our planet. In my daily life I try to address these inequalities wherever and whenever I can. This can be as diverse as informing someone of the repercussions of their actions to actually helping out in developing countries.

One of the hurdles that needs to be jumped, is to make people aware of the fact that unless they actively do something, the situation will go unchanged. Most people (in developed countries) would not be stimulated to do this, firstly because they are already (unfairly) benefiting from the inbalance in the world's resources and inplementing change would mean fewer resources for themselves, and secondly, due to ingnorance. The visible inequalities are happening in some other part of the world and not theirs, and as such they are unaware of its existance.

Thus what I try to do is to make people aware of the situation, and provide them with ways that they can help. One of the pitfalls here is that people alleviate their guilt by doing something small, but that unless they radically change their lifestyle, there will be no real change. However, still doing something is better than doing nothing.

Something that requires very little effort is clicking a mouse. Ripple is a way to donate real money to good causes by simply clicking and watching an advert. You can also add it to your Facebook or Myspace page and your friends can click to donate. The way that it works is that advertisers pay real money to advertise on the page that you are linked to once you have clicked. This money gets donated to the cause that you have clicked on. Real people benefit from your virtual clicking.

Once again, it may be an easy way of alleviating your guilt, however any awareness is better than total ignorance, and all it costs is the time to click and read the advert. Hopefully more people can become more aware and do all they can to distribute the resources of this world in a fairer way.

Monday, 5 November 2007

My Mother

Today is 3 years since my mother passed away, this blog post is dedicated to her.

I have much that I am thankful for from my Mom. She taught me many many useful things in life, she showed me and shared her love of Nature. She instilled in me, a curiosity for, and a questioning of, all things that I came across. She lead by example, on how to deal with people in a way that was friendly and non-confrontational. She was patient and taught me the virtues of patience. She was thrifty, saving all sorts of items, that might have a use later on. This is something that I still do today. She was tolerant when I turned up at home during my student days, barefoot and with odd haircuts, my arms laden with dirty washing. My homecomings also always meant, roast lamb, made with love, the proverbial fattened lamb sacrificed for the prodigal son!

On the epicurial aspect, my mother excelled. She made the most delicious dinners, baked the best fruit cakes and loved to cook all sorts of traditional German foods for my Dad, sister and me. Even when both my sister and I had left home to live independantly, she still baked as many cakes as before, especially fruit cakes on Sundays. If these didn't get eaten by guests on Sunday, the cakes went into the freezer. Many a time, my uncles and my parents friends went home after a visit with a foil-wrapped fruit cake to enjoy at home. Six months after my mom's death, I still found deep frozen fruit cakes lying in the back of the freezer, such was the supply she had horded in there.

Cooking was not the only thing my mom did well. She was a wizard on the sewing machine. As a teenager, my mom sewed lots of clothes for me, shorts, tracksuits, sweaters etc. She was also good at figuring out plans that I had. I remember one evening we constructed a hammock together. It was the night before I was due to set off for a trip that I made to Tanzania. I don't know how many needles we broke with the tough canvas, but she worked till late after I went to bed. I awoke the next morning to find the completed hammock hanging over my bedpost. My younger cousins also wore many of my mom's creations. She delighted in making new clothes for them as they grew up.

The above examples show some my mother's altruistic side, she showed me the pleasure in giving something to someone in need, without expecting something back. In today's world, this seems to be quite a rare trait.

My mother was a teacher by occupation, and was very well known and respected in her community. The world was indeed a sadder place after she passed away. However, I remember her in many of the actions that I undertake daily, in the philosophies that I apply in my life, and the outlook I have in my daily interactions with the humanity around me. I miss my mother a lot, but am thankful for all that she gave to me.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Harvest Moon: Boy and Girl

Well, I was so enthralled by playing Innocent Life, intrigued by all the Harvest Moon's fan sites, and curious that I purchased Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl also for the PSP. This was the only other Harvest Moon title for the PSP, and was rather difficult to find. I eventually tracked it down in a specialist gameshop in The Hague. I had not yet finished playing Innocent Life so the game remained on my bookshelf.....

Then came the bombshell, my PSP fell to the floor one day whilst charging the battery! The UMD no longer worked, and thus I could no longer play games at all. I was heartbroken. Fortunately I had just completed Innocent Life before the accident, and was busy redoing certain scenes trying to improve my livestock's heart levels, so I did not really have unfinished work.

As it so turned out, the old version of the PSP that I had (thick and heavy) was no longer available in the stores due to the impending release of the new Slim and Light version. I duely placed an pre-order for the new version and got myself a good book to read in the train while I counted the days to the release.

Eventually, The All New Slimmer, Lighter, more plasticy PSP came out and I was able to play Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl. I certainly was not disappointed. I found out why some of the older Harvest Moon fans didn't like Innocent Life. Innocent Life, whilst it has superb graphics and was amazing for me, lacks the complexity of the previous titles in the genre. Its storyline is quite fixed, and it is difficult to stray too far from the plot. Being a human robot, you did not get to marry or have romantic interactions with the villagers, something that was new and interesting to me in Boy & Girl.

I have now been playing Boy and Girl for about a month-and-a-half now and am fully engrosed in it. I am loving the romantic aspects of the game. Karen is my favourite girl and she has a purple heart for me, Ann is in love with me and has a blue heart. I will have to see which one I eventually marry!

Later on I indend to post on further developments in this game, interesting tales from HiPiTy farm, and other Harvest Moon titbits.

Harvest Moon: Innocent Life

Harvest Moon is a series of games that I have discovered in the last few months. I was in despair, I could find no games that I liked to play on my PSP. I must say though, that I am quite fussy when it come to games. Racing games bore me, shoot 'em ups with blood, gore and huge weapons of mass destruction are way to violent for my pacifist tendencies, sport games are not worth the effort, that leaves very little else, that isn't aimed at pre-pubescent children. When I found the game Innocent Life: a futuristic Harvest Moon, the blurb on the back of the box had me hooked...

Till the rough soil and grow crops on your land!
Raise a selection of different farm animals!
Explore the near future world of Heartflame Island!
Meet new people and make friends in the town!

I bought the game and immediately fell in love with it after the first minute of playing. Finally a game where you do not have to kill or destroy anything, on the contrary, you have to rebuild and grow. You have to be kind and considerate, amicable and thrifty, manage your time and resources to gain maximum rewards, be those jewels, happy cows or upgraded tools. The graphics are wonderful and Natsume and Rising Star Games really did well with this game. That is, in my humble opinion, many reviews on the Internet rated it poorly, but these misguided folk probably love killing, blood, war and weapons, and are too uncultured to have picked up on the finer points of this game.

The philosophy behind the game deals with man's relationship with the Earth and its inhabitants. The way we treat Mother Nature, and the way modern man, races towards mass production and automation, without considering the destructive impacts he is having. It reminds us of our place on this Earth, and our role as temporary caretakers of the planet. The dialogue in the game, can often be read on many levels as the game is designed for ages 7 and older however, some of its themes are quite mature. To complete the game totally, and extract maximum pleasure, is a task that I enjoyed doing. It whiled away many hours whilst I sat in the train on a daily commute, and, provided an escape from the hubbub of the morning and evening rush hour. In my attempt to play the game to its utmost, I did turn to help from fellow players, one in particular, Freyashawk. She writes guides for Harvest Moon games, and is herself a great fan of the genre, for there are many more Harvest Moon games apart from Innocent Life. Her extremely well written guide(s) provided more insight and value into the game. I did not follow her walk-through to the letter, but extracted many useful answers to questions I had. Her guides are indeed well worth the time to read. It is evident that she invests much time in writing them.

If you are feeling like there is nothing good left in this world, try playing Harvest Moon, It'll certainly bring peace to your heart and a smile to your face, it did to mine!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Welcome to the First Post in my first Blog. What I hope to achieve and record here are random thoughts that I have, presented in an interesting context. Thoughts that have been stimulated by things I've seen, things I've found on the 'net, things I've experienced first-hand, anything and everything... We'll see where it goes