This is a project I started (in BASIC) way back in the early 80’s and put aside for many years. I recently found the original code, and after having a good laugh decided it would be an excellent project to re-write in Quick.
The concept is simple – you’re an 18th century farmer dropped onto a forty acre/field grant of land and you have 50 years to try to survive and if possible thrive. In the process of surviving you will have the opportunity to develop the land, raise crops and animals, build the necessary infrastructure, weather disasters, and if you’re both lucky and smart - build some wealth.
This game is intended to be a simulation and thereby has some relation to reality. It is not intended to be easy or even fair. Farming is a difficult proposition nowadays and a few hundred years ago it was too often an extremely labour intensive path to starvation. The game tries to mimic some of those former realities and provide a challenging experience.
Warning - it will take a long time to play. Currently each year takes approximately 30 minutes of real time – so for a successful game you’re looking at an investment of 25 hours or more. I only recently sped things up from the 1 hour real time to 1 year of game time ratio I had set, so things could have been a lot worse! During each year of game time, there will be moments of frantic activity where you try to do many tasks in a short amount of time – such as planting and harvesting. Other times you’ll be sitting around watching things slowly develop and hoping you’ll be able to harvest enough crops before winter.
The land will need to be closely managed – swamps drained, wells dug, fields fertilized, wood lots cut and replanted, barns and silos built, animal stocks fed, and disasters managed.
The gameplay will consist of a graphical representation of the farm, along with an extensive menuing system to direct your actions. Crops will grow as the seasons cycle and their readiness to harvest will be clearly visible. Natural disasters such as hail, wind storms, fire, politicians, and plague will strike without warning. Winter comes and destroys any unharvested crops and tests the farmers ability to lay way sufficient food.
Four types of environments are available in the game. Each have unique characteristics which should be considered carefully before developing.
With 25 per game, Forests account for more than half of the land area. Forests contain valuable wood and although they can be easily ploughed under and planted, forests grow slowly and are vital building products.
Grasslands are the obvious first choice for development. They can be easily ploughed under and planted. Grasslands are somewhat limited, and you will find only 10 of them in a game.
Four swamps inhabit the landscape in your game. Each of them will need to be drained before they can be utilized. In order to drain a swamp, you will need to build a very expensive Windmill.
A single desert exists in your game at the beginning. Deserts are fields with no water and zero fertility. In order to develop a desert you will need to dig a well and spend time spreading fertilizer. Be warned, any field that is over used and dry out and become a desert as well.
Soil types affect how well crops develop and the risk of damage to your equipment. Soil types are:
Swamp Too wet, you must build a windmill to drain
Rocky Dangerous to plough – you may break your plough
Clay Poor growing
Sandy Poor growing
Rich Better growing conditions
Loam Best growing conditions
Desert Nothing grows, must be fertilized and have a well dug
Along with soil types, each field has a state that affects what can be done with it. These states are:
Fallow Untouched, ready for work
Ploughed Initial ploughing has been done, field can be planted but will not produce well
Harrowed Field has been harrowed (must be ploughed first). Optimum condition for growing
Planted Field has a crop planted
Weeded Field has been weeded – improves growing conditions
Harvest Field has been harvested, will return to fallow over the winter