In art treatment and gameplay, FrontierVille is very similar to one of Zynga’s most popular games, FarmVille. Instead of a farm, though, the player plays the role of a pioneer of the American Old West.

The player creates an avatar which resembles a pioneer. The player then may complete a total of 46 collections which can be traded for coins, experience points (xp), decorations, livestock, trees, craftable items, energy and horseshoes (rare money). The player can also finish goals which include tasks such as gathering money, buying energy, clearing land, chopping down trees, raising livestock and trees, creating items such as beds, furniture, and clobbering unwanted pests like bears, snakes, foxes and groundhogs. Eventually the player may acquire a spouse and have children. The player can also have them perform tasks. However, they can only perform the tasks one at a time not mutually.

Other tasks include collecting from buildings, building inns, wagons, general stores, cabins, schools, chicken coops, barns, trading posts, barber shops, churches, and sawmills as well as seeding, growing and harvesting crops. Completing goals yields rewards.
Coins enable the player to purchase decorations, buildings, crops, trees and animals. Horseshoes, which can be earned in-game or purchased through real-world credit cards, allow the player to buy mules and horses, paint buckets, hand drills, nails, bricks and hammers. These items are essential for completing certain goals. Friends may also “gift” these items to the player.

Crops may be planted and must be harvested before they wither; as in FarmVille, the wither time of a particular crop is twice the maturation time. Also as in FarmVille, crops vary in their time to mature from 5 minutes (clover) to even 4 days (peanuts), with crops with longer maturation times providing larger payoffs. Harvesting can trigger encounters with ground hogs, which must be “clobbered” to avoid spending extra energy within their area of influence. Clobbering pests and harvesting crops yields coins, xp and food. Food can be used to get energy, which is necessary to do almost any action in the game except for planting crops. Energy can be purchased in exchange for food or horseshoes. Every 5 minutes the player gains 1 energy. When you run out of energy you must either purchase more energy with food or horseshoes, or wait for your energy to build up. You can also gain energy by visiting your neighbor’s farms and performing up to 5 tasks daily on each neighbor’s land.

Animals may also be purchased and either regularly harvested for resources, or sold outright for a large one-time reward. They start out as juveniles and must be fed (harvested) several times to grow into full-fledged adults. There are two main types of animals; mammals (goats, sheep, pigs, cows, oxen, mules and horses) and birds (chickens and geese). Mammals take somewhat longer to produce resources but generally provide a larger payoff. Birds take less time to produce resources, but there is a chance of triggering a fox encounter when you feed a bird-type animal; unless the fox is “clobbered” (killed), all birds within its area of influence (as seen with a red aura) can only be “sold” (i.e. “hunted”), not harvested.

Players can also plant fruit trees: cherry, apple, pear, peach and apricot trees are available. They are bought as seedlings and must be watered (in a similar manner to animals being fed) to reach their full potential. They provide somewhat fewer resources than crops and animals do, but they never wither or risk triggering the appearance of a pest.

Leveling up rewards the player with full energy, coins and sometimes advances the limit of a player’s maximum energy. Leveling occurs by accumulating experience points (xp). They are earned by doing most actions in the game.

Initially, oak and pine trees, grass, cacti, wildflowers, rocks and cow skulls fill the player’s “homestead”. At least some must be cleared to obtain usable land. Chopping down trees yields 1-3 wood, which is needed to build buildings. Chopping down trees can trigger a bear encounter. Bears, while “harmless” (as there is no real danger in the game), prevent the player from doing some things. They are removed by scaring them off (and the bear “dies”), which expends energy, but yields rewards (coin, food, xp, etc.). Clearing land may also trigger a snake encounter, which is handled in the same manner as a ground hog encounter, that is, “clobbering”.

Collections are an intrinsic feature of the game. Collection items are found while doing most actions in the game (feeding animals, harvesting crops, clobbering pests). Collection items are automatically added to collection sets. When a set is complete, it may be redeemed for in-game rewards, such as food, energy, xp, etc. The player can request collection items and can receive them as gifts via Neighbors (i.e. friends).

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