Developed by small independent company Hammerware, s.r.o., Family Farm is a farming simulation game that combines RPG elements with gameplay reminiscent of Farmville or Harvest Moon games.
Based on the Ogre Engine, the game was released 15 April 2011 for the Windows platform via the developers website and the Desura digital distribution service. Mac and Linux versions were released the 28 and 29 April respectively.
The game consists of several stories, with different starting criteria and specific end goals that need to be achieved within a certain amount of time; other goals exist, including yearly ones that change throughout a single story. Custom story, a post-release addition to the game, allows for more sandbox play allowing the player to choose the starting criteria and play an open-ended scenario.
Goals that a story may have include harvesting a certain amount of a particular vegetable, clearing land or expanding the family home. Completion of goals grants the player experience points on their profile and unlocks new items or maps as the player subsequently gains levels.
The game is played from a birds-eye view, similar to Real-Time Strategy or Tycoon games, and is primarily mouse-controlled. The player selects workers and assigns them a task which they will complete autonomously; however there is very little AI to the workers and to avoid wasting man-power the player must proactively manage them. A secondary view is available that shows information on plots of land and allows the player to choose the function of it.
In each story the player has access to one or more family members, which form the core group of workers available. Additional workers appear in the morning and can be hired for the season if necessary; there is three types of worker available with set skill levels and prices, the cheapest being unskilled, and the most skilled being expensive to hire.
All workers have the following skills that can be levelled up, however the hired help changes per season and the benefit does not transfer.
- Tilth - Affects speed of tilling the land, and the resulting soil quality
- Hard work - Affects clearing land, and building work
- Plants - Used during planting primarily
- Animals - Higher levels improve the animals condition
- Cooking - Reduces time taken to prepare and cook lunch
Workers will become fatigued over time, and will require a short break; this can be offset by improving morale on the farm. This can be achieved by placing decorations, flowers and providing regular lunches to the workers.
All of the locations provide flowerbeds where decorations and flowers can be placed, although to fully improve morale plots of land will likely need to be used as park areas. Both flowers and decorations appear in the catalogue and do not require any intervention by workers to be placed.
Lunch requires a worker to prepare and cook it and will take varying amounts of time for each dish; multiple cooks can be used to prepare the dish speeding up the process, although only the chef with the highest cooking skill will remain to cook the meal. Some dishes provide a beneficial effect, the duration of which is improved by using a worker with a high cooking skill level.
As the family members maintain skill levels and do not require a wage, they are more desirable than hired help; if the house has enough space the player is given the option to have the family birth a baby. This puts the eldest female member of the family out of action for a season, whereupon a crib appears outside the house containing the baby and the mother is able to be used for work again.
Periodically the baby will cry out and a worker, family or not, will have to sooth the baby; at the end of this season the baby becomes a child character and can be seen wandering around the farmstead but cannot be utilised for work yet. In the next season the child will become an adolescent and can be controlled and begin levelling up skills.
If the house does not have enough space, workers will have to take time to expand it costing money and manpower. The secondary benefit of expanding a house is that it allows more chefs to help prepare lunch.