Monday, January 13, 2014

[Review] Hay day

I am in the progress on writing a few products reviews lately. However, thanks to my husband, I could not focus on finishing with the posts. I was introduced to a mobile and tablet game named "Hay day" by him recently. I downloaded the mobile app on my tablet a few days ago and has since been addicted to the game. I just couldn't get my hands off this!

Hay day is a very traditional farming game commonly seen on the social platform such as Facebook or many other mobile games apps available in the market today. However, unlike many other similar games, Hay day has many unique features that will provide players with different gaming experience. I believe this is why this game has managed to catch my attention and got me entirely hooked to it.

Basic Gameplay


The story of Hay day is very simple. You have been asked by your uncle to take over his farm. So you became a farmer. Just like most of the farming game, you get to grow a varieties of farm products like wheat and corn and rear different farm animals such as chicken, pig, cow and sheep. Each of the animals produce a certain products  such as eggs, which can then be put to sale or use as an ingredient to make different products.

The Sale System

To make the game interesting, there are various way for the player to sell their goods.

Firstly, they can choose to sell their products to the town people who visit the farm every now and then. However, player will have to accept any price they offered for the product they wanted. The only good thing abput this will be the experience points the player will get when he chose to sell the products to the town people.


Secondly, player has the choice to place their products to sale at their road side stall. A player will have the choice to set the price of the goods they are intending to sell. I believe this is one of tbe thing that differs Hay day from any other farming game. However, there will be a maximum price which the player can set.

The only downside of this choice would be the player has not be given the option to remove or take back the product he placed for sale from the road side stall if he decided not to sell. There is an option to remove with a cost of an diamond. However, I do not really  know how this works as I have not tried it before.


Even so, the option to sell at the road side stall is still interesting due to an unique feature in the game. Products which are be put on sale on the road side stall will be advertised on an in-game newspaper every four hours. The newpaper acts as a  trading marketplace for any players around the world to buy and sell their products. I find this a really good concept as I do not like the idea of sending mutiples of requests to my Facebook friends asking for certain items I need. To make it worst, I don't even see myself enjoying and playing a game if none of my Facebook friends are playing.

Even so, just like any other real-time simulation games, Hay day also have the social aspect added into the game. The game allows the player to connect to Facebook or Google accounts in order to trade and visit their farms.


Thirdly, players can also choose to sell their products by orders received from external buyers. These orders will be shown on a board beside the farm house. Upon receiving, players would have to gather all tge goods and deliver the orders by a truck. After the goods are delivered, the truck will return with a pot of gold. However, fufilling such orders can sometimes be tough and time consuming. There are many specially made products such as cakes which requires some waiting time to be ready.

In Game Purchases

ITS FREE AND REALLY ITS FREE!!!

One of the major thing I hate about any mobile and tablet game is the in game purchases feature which are neccesary for advancing in the game. I dislike the idea of a free game to actually 'force' me to make certain purchases in order for me to continue the game. This is especially annoying when I am already hooked to the game.

However, Hay day does not give me the kind of feeling. For me, I don't think in game purchases are required. It is true that money and certain rare items are not easy to earn and get in this game, but these are what makes Hay day challenging.


Play at your own pace

Another annoying part I hate about real-time simulation game is I have to play the game every day or some, whenever I got notifications informing me that my products are ready to be collected. In the case where I forgot or have no time to collect, all of my products either rot away or expired. I have to produce them all over again. Imagine all the waiting time I have wasted. It does really make people feel pissed off sometimes. Luckily, for Hay day, this js not the case. If not, I might have lost a bit of my interest on the game.

Graphics

Not only the game play in Hay day is attractive, the graphics are beautifully and colorfully designed too. Everything in the game looks beautiful, detailed and cute. I believe this is also one of the main attraction point to attract people of all age group to download and play Hay day.

I especially love the behaviours of the animals, especially the cows and the pigs. They are just so adorable!!



Upgrades


As one advances to each higher levels, upgrades will be available for the players to expand their farms.  New features will be unlocked for every level the player advances. This makes the game itself more interesting.

Expansion of the farm does not require the player to purchase additional expensive land spaces as seen in many other real-time simulation games. The expansion is done in a more realistic manner by cutting down trees or bombing enormous rocks.

However, the annoying part comes from the expansion of the Barn and Silo storage. The expansion requires the player to gather a few of the rare items such as nails and woods in order to increase the storage size of the Barn and Silo. The items are hard to come by and are expensive to be purchased. For a new player like myself, this can be quite a challenge, yet another interesting part.

Ferris Wheel


To create something which will make the player to look forward to every day, Hay day has added a ferris wheel feature. This feature allows the player to spin the wheels once everyday and acquire various items based on luck.

Final thoughts

I am currently only at the level 14. There are still many interesting features I have yet to unlock. Of course, I am excitedly expecting more surprises from the game.

I am never a lover of such real-time simulation game because I always thought them to be boring, dull and time consuming. However, I must admit this really got my attention and didnt disappoint me.  I love the graphics, the gameplay and well-designed controls. I think the game controls are really one of the adds- on to player gaming experiences. Sometimes, I do feel as if I am really a farmer.

The only bad thing about this game would be it depletes my tablet battery life really fast. I see myself having to charge my tablet after half daynof continuous play.

For people who are looking for some casual games to kill time, try Hay day. It will never be a game that will bore you.


** Disclaimer: I do not own all these pictures in this post. All the photos are sceenshots I have taken from the game, "Hay day" itself.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for any latest updates on my blog. So stay tuned!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

[Film Review] Born into Brothels

Photo credit: Kids with Camera

Two months ago, I remember writing a post on the family tradition of prostitution within the Bedia caste in India. However, my curiosity to understand and know more about India did not stop me here. Feeling deeply intrigued but disturbed by the facts I learned, I continued to read excessively on various social issues which has long existed within the India community. Among all, I feel particularly concerned and interested on the issues revolving around sexual violence and unfair treatments towards the Indian women in the country.

Due to boredom, I chanced upon this documentary two weeks ago.

Born into Brothels

"Born into Brothels" is a 2004 American award winning documentary directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. The background was set in Sonagachi,  notoriously known as the largest red-light district in Kolkata, India, the film portrays the discriminated life of the prostitutes and their children.

Synopsis

Zana Briski, a photographer and a filmmaker started with the idea of documenting the life of the prostitutes which led her to move to live in brothels located in Sonagachi. However, never have she thought that people living in the red lights districts are very against the idea of being photographed or filmed, especially by the outsiders. During her stay in Sonagachi, she managed to cultivate and develop close relationships with the prostitutes' children.  

Unlike the adults, the children were excited to meet a foreigner, someone who was very different from them. They welcomed her warmly and were fascinated by the camera she carried.  The children were attracted to the idea of photography.

This surprise discovery led her to start teaching photography to the children, with the aim to motivate and bring out the creativity side of them. She hopes to help the children to realize their own self worth and convince them that poverty and sex work are not their destiny.

The children have produced photos showing many aspects of life in the red light districts. No outsiders could have captured such vibrant and beautiful photos portraying the streets, life and some of the darkest hidden corners in the red-light districts. In addition to the making of the film, exhibitions were held to display the works by the children. The aim of it was to raise public awareness and at the same time, hopes to boost up the children's self confidence and esteem.

In this documentary, Zana Briski also documented most of her processes and efforts to place the children into a boarding school. She faced many  challenges and obstacles. But she never gave up. Her intention was simple. She hopes for a better future for the children and believe that education is the key for changes.

How Do I Feel

This is indeed a very inspiring documentary. This film touched my heart, made me cry and made me reflected deeply on myself. How fortunate and lucky am I to be able to lead a life without discrimination and unfairness. How blessed am I to grow up in an environment where there is clean water, shelter and opportunities for education. 

Yet... I still complained. I did not learn the word "contentment" by heart. I think this is so for many of us too who are born in a more privileged society. We always make a big fuss upon every minor things. We complained and worry about work, school, friends, no money to buy branded products or to travel, but little did we know that these children only wish for the day for them to enter the sex trade will never come. I feel ashamed for my desires. I feel guilty for my incessant complaints about life which are nothing when compared to the pain of the prostitutes and their children.

It is poverty that led people into the sex trade. On top of prostitution, there are even worst problems such as drugs, forced labour and slavery, child prostitution and rapes. It is known that in India, no one would lend you a helping hand even if you are killed and die by the streets. I feel disgusted by such cold and cruel society. This really made me to appreciate all the things I have even more.

Kids with Cameras

I am touched by Zana Briski's efforts in helping the children to pursue a better life. However, she did not just stop here. Her desire to help more children eventually led her in founding an non-profit organisation named Kids with Cameras (known as Kids with Destiny today). The aim of the organisation is to give hope and provide opportunities for the unprivileged women and children in India. 

Though her efforts might seem small and may not impactful on the whole India society, it is still great and heartening to know someone is out there trying to make a change. It might not have benefited the whole community, but for the few who had benefited, they might become someone who would bring bigger changes in the future.

This documentary also made me realized that there are still many things for me to learn. These are things which I could never learn from books. That is to become a selfless person who is willing to give and contribute and a contended person who can be satisfy with life. I believe I have mentioned this in my New Year post a few days ago.

I remember the conversation between two parties from a tv variety show which I have watched recently. 

"Do what you are able to do"

Person A: What do you think you could do for the underprivileged?

Person B: I don't think I can bring major changes the people from the underprivileged community. I can only do what I am able to do, that is to contribute a little of my strength to help as many as I could. The major changes will come from the strength of the social welfare groups or non-profit organisations set up specially to help that group of underprivileged. Only them would have the strength strong enough to bring changes to a community.

However, we knew clearly that prostitution and sexual violence towards the women are major social problems in India that could not be easily solved. Even the Indian government do not have enough power to bring about changes. The roots of the problems lies in the traditional mindset of the Indian people have. This includes patriarchy and the existence of the caste system. I could only say the only thing the government could do is to boost up the India economy as to offer more employment opportunities for their people. Education plays a big part in changing people life.

Raise Awareness

I believe "Born into Brothels" has given a voice to the prostitutes and their children and let the world knows about their problems and pains. 

A little help from an individual have changed the destiny of the children and together with more, more could be saved from their terrible fate.

For people who would like to know how the children are living now or how you could help, you could visit the Kids with Camera website for updates and information.


Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for any latest updates on my blog. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year resolutions?


Happy New Year everyone! 

Without realising, we welcomed the arrival of 2014. A brand new year, a brand new beginning and a list of brand new resolutions for the year. I am thankful that 2013 had been a rather smooth sailing year for me. I hope everyone of you has also enjoyed a great and fruitful year too.

For those who has encountered tons of obstacles and hardships in 2013, lets look forward to the year of 2014. Have faith and believe that 2014 will be a year full of happiness, laughters and hope.

"There is always sunshine after the rain". 

The good things will finally come after all the bad things you have encountered. Keeping this faith in mind, I have managed walked through 2013 with smiles. I am grateful for every little obstacles I have encountered last year, for they are valuable lessons in life that I will never learnt in books.

However, there is on thing that I will surely do at the beginning of each year.  That is to list down a list of new year resolutions for the year. 

So, why is it important for us to set new goals for the rest of the year. This is due to:

1. Sense of commitment

Setting a list of goals for the year instill a sense of commitment into an individual. It will motivate and encourage one to follow the goals, thus a high possibility to achieve their targets.

2. Happiness and sense of fulfillment

It brings a sense of fulfillment to an individual when the goals set in the beginning of the year have been achieved. Of course, happiness and joys will followed when goals are achieved. However, for those who have failed, it will provide them a great chance to review and find out what went wrong.

3. Build confidence and helps one grow

Setting goals in the beginning of the year indicates that an individual knows what he wants. Therefore, he will have plans in his mind and will work hard towards his target. 

When one is clear about his goals in life, naturally it will helps to build his self confidence in whatever he do.

In addition, in any case where the goals set for this year are achieved, it will build more self confidence in an individual. This serve as a very good motivation for one to seek for better improvements in life.

How to make resolutions

Well, there is no standard way or method to make new year resolutions. Try reflecting on the past year and ask yourself what you want in the new year. It can be something you wish to achieve materially, physically or even emotionally. 

What I want

My goal this year is simple. That is learn to be contended and more independent in life. I do not want to feel unhappy for things I do not have. Rather, to be grateful for things I possess. And hopefully, I will learn how to better take care of myself and reduce the reliance on my husband.

"What seems to be perfect might not be perfect" . What seems to be bad might not be the worst."

This is a phrase which I often use to encourage myself. 

Do not feel depressed by the bad things you have encountered. 
Do not feel jealous and envy for the good things happened to the others.
Cry hard when you are sad.
Laugh hard when you are happy.
Believe in hope and tommorrow shall be a brand new day.

Yes, it's difficult because we are humans. I am learning to become such person too. Focus on the little things that makes you happy. The joys in life are the accumulation of the random moments you encountered every single day.

Do not compare with others. Do not criticise or judge someone. Live happily in this very moment. Be grateful for what you got. Appreciate the kindness you received. Learn that giving is a greater gift than receiving. Love yourself for who you are because if you don't, no one would have love you too.

This is a little kindness I received from someone who I did not know from work. A little something that have made my day.