Avatar Farm!: Update status, freezing issues and other problems

Hi everybody,

As you may have experienced, Avatar Farm! has a freezing issue that can occur anytime while you’re playing. First things first, our apologies for releasing a game with a bug as that one on it.

Now our excuses:
As some of you may know, the XBLIG  platform doesn’t support official leaderboards, or setting up our own servers to store gamer data or provide services to gamers. For that reason, we use a custom P2P sharing scoreboard. This system works as follows: While you’re playing, network sessions are created from time to time, and other players playing the game at the same time join that session. Once joined, scoreboard data is shared between both players, and data is stored on both computers. After that, they disconnect and start over again.

Although quite dirty (too many connections, lots of repeated entries sent…), the system works, which is better than nothing.

Sadly, this environment is hard to test while developing the game: At most we can test with only a handful of consoles/computers sharing data. In this controlled situation, the system works fine and everything goes smoothly. But, once the game was made available on the Marketplace, literally hundreds of people are playing the game at the same time, connecting and sending data each other.

In this situation, some issue in our code arises and causes a total freeze: The only option when this happen is to reboot the console with the power button.

We’ve tried our best to reproduce the issue in our limited environment, to no avail: We’ve let a handful of systems running and sharing at an increased rate (around 100x the rate on the released version), and no freezes are found. So we’ve had to look for the issue “by intuition”, looking carefully at the source code and trying to guess what could be happening (since there’s no way to determine where is exactly the game freezing).

We’ve found some things  that could be causing the issue, and fixed/improved them, but there’s no way to be 100% sure that we’ve fixed the freezings. So, to ensure you can keep playing even if we haven’t fixed it, we’re going to add an option to disable P2P score sharing.

Meanwhile, we have some workarounds you can do to avoid the freezings:

  • (Only if you are using a wired connection) If you just unplug the network cable once the game has started (Xbox Indies need you to be online to start the game, but once started you should be fine), you won’t share scores with anyone so no freezing should happen.
  • If you disable online play in parental control settings, you won’t be able to share scores as well and you should be safe (remember to enable it again to play other games!).

Since XBLIG doesn’t allow to submit an update until 7 days after a game is released, we won’t be able to submit the update until next Thursday. And once the update is submitted, there’s the usual approval process, which can take a week. So we expect the update to be available around Tuesday 23th.

Other issues:

We’ve been also notified of other issues, such as red screens or sound issues. Many of them are related with a bug in the loading process, which will be addressed in the update as well. This isn’t as usual as the freezings and in most cases you can keep playing.

Gameplay issues:

We’ve received some complaints about plants rotting if you don’t attend to them. Although this is a game design decision, it seems that many players are upset with this mechanic, so we’ll be reducing its effect:

Currently, once a plant is ready to be harvested, it waits 100-150% (randomly selected) of its growth time until it dies.

We’re going to change it in the following way:

  • A plant will take 150%-200% of its growth time until it dies.
  • The minimum time until a plant dies will be of 12 hours.
So, for example an Aloe Vera now takes 10-15 minutes to die, it will take 12 hours. A pumpkin  takes 2-3 days to die, now it will take 3-4 days.
We’re going to add a message when you’re quitting the game where you will be told when do you have to come back if you don’t want any of your plants to die.
We’ve seen as well that many people has leveled up way faster than we intended, there was some people at level 15 in just 7 hours of gameplay. We’re going to increase a bit the experience needed to level up on higher levels (around 25-50%), and more importantly, we’re going to lower the experience bonuses from fast-growing plants (such as aloe vera, cotton…) to 50% of their current value.
We’ll also increase the walk speed of your avatar, we don’t know yet the exact value, but expect an increase of 10-20%.
These are the main things we’re going to change in the next update. We’re going to add some new items as well, and maybe increase the level cap a bit, but we’re not sure yet.
Our intention with this game is to keep updating the game, adding new items and features to add more variation and gameplay elements to it, but we’re only doing it if it proves successful (we hope you understand).
Regards,
The Milkstone Studios Team

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  • Royadin says:

    Thanks a bunch! i was concerned when i didn’t know what was going on! Thanks for getting it fixed, and adding new content! 🙂

  • Matt says:

    Thanks for addressing so many of these issues! I’d love a higher level cap even though I enjoy the leisurely pace of a game like this. No need to rush it!

    • WaaghMan says:

      The level 16 cap is there mainly because there would be no benefits for levels over that value (no new items). We plan on adding more items later, and will probably increase the level cap when that happens.

  • Christopher says:

    This Game Is So Awsome I am Happy You Guy’s Brought it to XBOXLive Market Place. I have been playing this all day since I got it for 80 Microsoft Point’s and it a Great Deal but after the 10th Crash I said enough and Deleted the Game & My Game Saved from My Xbox360 HDD went back and redownload the Game and it Crash Some More!! am really Happy That I found your website on the net and that the Bug’s are being worked on : ) This Game is Simply Awsome looking forward to the update : )
    Sincerly Christopher

  • Christopher says:

    lol Yes you are correct : ) I had like 800 Microsoft Point’s and decided to be thrifty so I bought 4 or 5 games I and Couldn’t recall which Game’s cost 80mp or 240mp but I did buy Farm Avatar and at 80mp or 240mp it’s still Hand’s Down one of the Game’s worth playing : )

  • Christopher says:

    ooop’s I ment Avatar Farm see everyone make’s mistake’s lol

  • Zach Dumas says:

    Glad to hear the glitches are being fixed! Also, I said this in a tweet, but here it is too:
    The sound settings cant be set to 70 it seems. If you try, it goes automatically to 60. 80 works though?
    Also, when in the Shop, if say I have Aloe Vera highlighted, and go down one, then try going back up to Aloe, it wont work. I have to loop around by going “right, up, left” to get back to Aloe. It does this in all categories of the Shop. Odd glitch :p
    And just an idea (I know animals have been suggested multiple times) so how about more to the background? Don’t clutter it, but 3 of the exact same mountain is a lil lame :p paha. Doesn’t matter very much at all, just an idea. Cheers, love your game!

    • WaaghMan says:

      Both issues are being fixed as well in the next update :).

      We’ll take into consideration improving the background, thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  • Alexis Acosta says:

    I love the updates you guys have planned. If you get crazy with the update,and add even more things I don’t mind paying some more microsoft points,but only if you get crazy with new features.

    • WaaghMan says:

      Even if we wanted, there’s no way to add DLC to Xbox Indie games, so the only way to charge extra points for content would be to release a new game (which is not our intention). So all the new content will be provided for free :).

  • Mike Leigh says:

    i keep getting a error message code 4? the game wont even start why????

    • Mike Leigh says:

      i can see now that im gona lose my save aint i. i swear i got 20000 coins out in growth an i lose that i aint buying another of your games

      • WaaghMan says:

        The Code 4 error has been fixed, it’s not a problem with the save data so it should be safe. You’ll have to wait until the update arrives though, it can take some time.

  • tomaso says:

    Yes a brilliant game, Just it would make it a little better if you had better background scenery ( I know someone mentioned this! )
    Perhaps another good idea would be to actually be able to go into the buildings such as the Barn, Bakery etc.
    Thanks for another brilliant game, Definetly addictive, But wish the whole game would pause when you turn off the console.

  • Mr. Freeze says:

    The update occurred, but I’m still getting freezing issues. Great game, otherwise!

  • Maczaz says:

    Still freazing after update. Maybe you should resign of this list of best players at all if it causes problem? Great game anyway. I hope you’ll work on it and add new plants, maybe new buildings. Animals could be great cows, or pigs in some cutle yard. You could add some buiding to do wine from grapes… Maybe some vehicles: harvester to harvest faster grain and some watering device?

    I think quite simple but very usefull could be runing skill for avatar to go faster from one site of farm to another…

    • WaaghMan says:

      You can now disable P2P scores on the game settings. We’re working on the issue and plan to keep adding content as long as the game keeps selling a decent amount, thank you for your suggestions :).

  • Christopher Trevino says:

    Hello : )
    Updated the game this afternoon and the game is still freezing. I really enjoy playing Avatar Farm and hope that there would be another update soon.But I wanted to know should I delete my game save and Avatar Farm? And redownload ? I have been disconecting my XBOX360 from my network after I start the Avatar Farm as you have suggested! Should I keep doing this? and I guess the other Question I have will I get in trouble by Microsoft for not having xboxlive connected while playing a Indie title?
    240mp is still a Value for Avatar Farm hopefully you get it fixed soon : )

  • Anissa Bryant says:

    How do you plant grapes after you build the barn?

    • WaaghMan says:

      Once you have built the barn, you will be able to plant grapes as with any other kind of plant: Just open the shop and select them, and then plant them on plowed land.

  • Lloyd says:

    Is there a way to start again? my flatmate didn’t pay the broadband bill and everything has died in my absense. i had every penny i had in the ground. and now i can’t even plow! 😀 lol

    • WaaghMan says:

      Don’t forget you can recycle items with X, you can recycle plowed land and get 5 coins. Anyway, there’s an option on the settings screen to reset your data and start over again.

  • Soulexx says:

    I was just curious, exactly how much XP does it take to reach Level 18?

  • Ron says:

    WILL THERE BE FARM ANIMAL.

  • Ron says:

    WILL THERE BE FARM ANIMALS, LIKE COLLECTING MILK FROM COWS,WOOL FROM SHEEP.

  • Tempestdragon2 says:

    Great game, I’m glad to see you guys are working so hard to improve and make fixes to this game.
    I am excitedly looking forward to all the new things you bring to the game, as you’ve already made some great improvements with the recent updates.
    Keep up the great work. =)

  • kris says:

    There is still a freeze happening when a player gets into the first season of fall after the start of a new game.

    • Soy1Bonus says:

      If it freezes a lot in your game, please disable P2P sharing in the Settings menu while we find a fix for it. Thanks for your patience!