I've been skipping back and forth between three games recently, WNC II, 2Worlds2, and HM: Save the Homeland. Neither of the three games are particularly good, but they all have town/house building, which I'm an easy mark for. The problem is that these small parts of each game are so underdeveloped; it takes forever to get anything built in WNC or 2W2 (especially in 2W2, where your village accrues income in real time), and you'll finish building your farm halfway through the first year in Save the Homeland.
I can understand why its like that too, since WNC and 2W2 are quasi MMOs, so you're supposed to exploit the towns for fat lute after hours/days/weeks of gathering the necessary components. Save the Homeland, on the other hand, was more story driven and running the farm was supposed to be an afterthought, since it alone couldn't save the town. But I still feel like all three teams dropped the ball and left these pieces underdeveloped for fear that a potential player might not like them, and would want to avoid them entirely. Can't there have been one team member who thought to themselves 'Hey, this bit is really neat. Maybe we should put more effort into that?' The famous story of Sim City is that Will Wright was building maps for a shooting game, and was having way more fun with the building than with the shooting.
The lesson of Farmville should be that there's a huge untapped market for this, but that seems to have given the wrong message. Rather than look at Farmville as proof that people like to grow and work on things over time, it's instead been proof that, if someone feels obligated to continue playing a game because of people they know in real life, then they're more likely to continue playing that game.