Now that the Farm Frenzy series has become quite popular, people ask us a lot of questions about how we came with the idea for the games, the challenges we had developing Farm Frenzy 3 and so on.  We always enjoy sharing our behind-the-scenes fun with our players, so here goes…

Inspiration Point

Our inspiration for Farm Frenzy was a casual game called Chicken Chase.  It, too, was a business sim, but we changed the setting, added new animals and made it possible for the player to produce a succession of products, such as eggs into powdered eggs, powdered eggs into cakes and so on.

I don’t remember when the idea of including falling bears came about, but I do know that as soon as we implemented it in the game, it became one of the most important aspects of the gameplay, mainly because it set Farm Frenzy apart from other business sims.  To this day, I expect to see bears dropping out of the sky every time I drive by a farm. (Maybe I should take a vacation before we gear up to work on Farm Frenzy 4.)

Delayed gratification

I’m a firm believer in providing a satisfying experience in the first game in a series, but also in saving some of your best ideas for its sequels, and that’s what we did with Farm Frenzy.  We had planned to include the incubator in the first game but had to put that idea on a back burner.  We went back to it when we were developing Farm Frenzy 3, and I’m glad we did, as it really gave the gameplay a boost.  I think Farm Frenzy 3 plays faster and puts more control in the player’s hands, which is always a good thing.

Bigger is better, right?

We learned a lot during the development of Farm Frenzy 3, including the importance of putting together a solid game plan before we start development and working together once we get things underway.  Both of these things were vital to the success of Farm Frenzy 3, as it was a much more ambitious effort than the first two installments.

For starters, we expanded the game to include five locations around world, including an arctic region, Eastern Europe, Africa and North and South America.  In addition, we invested each location with its own local color.

Now, we didn’t create all-new buildings for each setting.  If we had, you wouldn’t be reading a developer diary about the creation of Farm Frenzy 3; we’d still be working on the game!  Rather, we made several groups of buildings and then set them apart from each other by altering their color palette.  We also designed each building so that its production process would take place outside, allowing the player to see what each building was doing.

Coming up with a unique look for each setting presented our artists with several challenges, as did designing the new animals, which include llamas, penguins, walruses, turkeys and other amusing creatures.  Plus, instead of using only brown bears, we wanted each location to have its own predators, which meant designing and animating jaguars, lions and grizzlies. Despite the amount of work involved, I believe our artists managed to make each creature unique and memorable.

 

A character building experience

In spite of the backbreaking nature of our work on the locations, buildings and animals, creating the look of our heroine, Scarlett, gave us the most trouble.

Our writers came up with the idea of a girl giving struggling farmers around the world a helping hand in exchange for their vote in her bid to become the president of their union.  They wanted to tell a story about a plucky gal who becomes even stronger and overcomes obstacles to beat out her rival, a greedy man who was stealing the farmers’ dues.

If we were going to have a strong central character, we knew we’d need a plot to match.  It’s not easy to admit this, but the story for the first two parts of the Farm Frenzy series and the Pizza Party add-on were a little dull.  What can we say?  Everything took place on a generic patch of grass!  So with the third game, we not only wanted to take players to new places, we wanted to give them a reason for being there.  And that involved the creation of a narrative that would explain the actions of the heroine and tie the separate episodes together.

We did all this to make sure players didn’t lose interest in the series, and I think it turned out quite well.  Scarlett’s character evolves from episode to episode, and by the end, she’s able to take on any challenge.  I genuinely hope she inspires our female players to set out on their own quests for justice and empowerment.

We’re certainly going to work hard to make her a star.  Our artists would riot if we did anything less, as the creation of her look gave them more than a few headaches. You might think it would be easy to draw an ordinary girl from rural America, but that wasn’t the case.  True, we had plenty of sources from which to draw inspiration, including Jessie from Toy Story 2, but we weren’t looking for an easy way out; we wanted to produce a Scarlett who was unlike any other girl from the heartland of America.

The evolution of Scarlett

The Scarlett that ended up in Farm Frenzy 3 was version 5.0.  Yes, we created five different Scarletts.  At first, she was your typical storybook sweetheart, with delicate lips and a self-assured smile. But bit by bit, the Scarlett you know and love took shape. Her beauty isn’t perfect, but she does possess a certain charm and a zest for life.  Her face might have the classic rural look, but that’s what we were trying to achieve.  We believe that’s how a country girl who grew up working from sun up till sundown on a farm would look.

Over and out

We had our share of concerns during the development of Farm Frenzy 3, from balancing the gameplay to making Scarlett someone special.  And we spent a lot of time rendering the new buildings, as we wanted the entire production to be livelier and more colorful than the previous games.  Even so, we’re now setting our sights even higher as we start thinking about what the future holds for Scarlett and the players who will be taking part in her adventures.

Kirill Plotnikov is the producer and vice-president of publishing at Alawar Entertainment.