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Requires a TADS interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
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color file for DOS tr runtime
Requires an AdvSys interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
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by David Welbourn

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On the Farm

by Lenny Pitts

Slice of life

(based on 15 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

"Visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm for the weekend is not your idea of a good time. Mom has told you countless stories about the great adventures she had growing up there. Days spent feeding the chickens and pigs, and riding the horses, but that was before Grandpa got too old to work the land. Now the farm consists of barren fields, rusting equipment and empty pens." [--blurb from Competition '99]

Game Details


7th Place - 5th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1999)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

You're a kid trying to help your grandparents get along. Surprisingly original--your grandparents are crusty sorts rather than big lumps of sugar, and they have a wide variety of responses. The puzzles aren't as creative as the premise, unfortunately; mostly, they amount to gathering objects rather than exploring relationships in any real way. There's also some backstory that's not really relevant to the game but helps flesh out the story, which is a nice touch; it might have been even better if it had been more integrated into the rest of the game. This is a good effort, in short, but the pieces don't fit together as well as they might.

-- Duncan Stevens

The farm is supposed to be abandoned, nonworking, and there are plenty of nicely done stray details that convey decay and neglect, such as a barn door hanging by a hinge, a rusted-out tractor with a dead battery, a groundhog-eaten garden, and a mildewed haystack. In that respect, it's a vivid setting--it's a specific rather than a generic farm. There are also lots of unexplained details, however (notably a huge ball of twine and a metal hook whose presence and function remain mysterious), and the writing is uneven at best--punctuation errors and unfortunate phrasings.
-- Duncan Stevens
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

When so many IF games take place in science-fictional or fantastic settings, it's quite refreshing to play a game that is firmly grounded in the real world. Even better than that, the setting is fully realized, to an impressive level of detail. Most all of what I call the first-level nouns (that is, nouns that are mentioned in room descriptions) are implemented with descriptions. The writing is crisp, conveying an excellent sense of place. Lots of details are present, not because they somehow serve the game's plot, but simply because they bring the farm and its environs to life more vividly. Yes, there are some problems in the writing as well. There's the occasional comma splice or punctuation stumble, and from time to time the sentences seem to lose their rhythm, foundering like a lame horse. In addition, the prose sometimes descends into a sort of juvenile, scatological humor that works against the sincere tone of the rest of the game. Despite these few flaws, in general the game's prose achieves a satisfying clarity. I grew up in suburbia, and my ancestry is decidedly urban, so I've never experienced firsthand most of the game's referents. Nonetheless, after playing On The Farm I really have a sense that I've been there.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
An enjoyable day on the farm, February 2, 2009
by Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway)

You're spending the weekend with grandma and grandpa on their small, old, run-down farm. There's nothing much exciting happening, and the farm doesn't even have electricity, so it looks like it is going to be a long and boring weekend. But as a game, it's actually rather enjoyable.

There is no strong main objective (perhaps except making grandma happy again), and there are no time limits or ways of getting the game into an unwinnable state (except dying), so the gameplay revolves more around exploration. The writing, though nothing to write home about, isn't bad, and the game actually succeeded in making me feel like a kid having fun exploring the old farm and the surrounding area.

The puzzles aren't very sophisticated; they're more of the 'fetch a pale of water for grandma's soup' type, and mostly not to hard. The game features short built-in hints, and the list of hints change when you move from room to room, and as you solve other puzzles. Even so, I did get stuck at one time, and had to resort to the walkthru. (The basics of what I had to to do was clear, even before looking at the hints, but exactly which command to use was not obvious, and the result of a similar action had a not very encouraging outcome.) So even sometimes the mechanics of the gameplay did disturb the story, it mostly worked well.

Before finishing this review, I'd like to add that for people using an interpreter supporting graphics, there's a very nice picture of the farm when you start the game, and a picture of a sunset when you quit or finish the game. These are the only graphics featured, and while they add a nice touch to the experience, they are in no way necessary for enjoying the game, so do go ahead and play it even if your interpreter doesn't support graphics.

To conclude, I'd like to think of the time spent playing this game as a rather enjoyable day on the farm.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The lonely windmill., September 7, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

It's been ages since you went to visit your grandparents on their old farm. Old, as in barren and empty. Old age and debts forced them to sell the cows and leave the fields unplanted.
Your tired mom drops you off rather hurriedly, right when your grandmother angrily slams the porch door on her husband. Hmm... A bit of tension there?

Although you were anxious in the car about spending so much time on a farm without electricity (which means no TV), you're warmly welcomed and quickly default to kid-on-a-farm mode: explore and have fun.

Your grandparents are not the hovering caretaker type. They go about their business and trust you to enjoy yourself in the wild outdoors and have adventures.
As NPCs, they're not very talkative, replying to questions with short and to-the-point answers. Nonetheless, they are loving and helpful when you ask them questions, providing some backstory about the farm's history, some glimpses into your mom's childhood, and sparse clues about the obstacles you encounter.

On the Farm is mostly finegrained, almost simulationist in its implementation, with deep and heartfelt descriptions of locations down to a detailed scenery level. Further into the adventure, when the player is presumably more concerned with advancing the plot and finding a direct route to solving the puzzles, the detailed implementation falls through a bit. In later stages of the game, there is more undescribed scenery, a comparative lack of reasonable synonyms and alternate commands. For the player wishing to stay in the role of an inquisitive kid exploring the surroundings, this breaks the illusion somewhat.

The farm environment is mundane, realistic and down-to-earth, don't expect any strange contraptions or magic. (With one exception to be found in a meta-command: (Spoiler - click to show)XYZZY brings up a list of locations, allowing you to transport to any you have already visited.)
This allows for a brilliant multiple use of the everyday objects you find on the farm. They serve to help your grandparents with little tasks and chores, plus most of them will be necessary in unexpected ways to solve the steps toward the solution of the overarching puzzle.

The game-side of the story consists of an engaging chain of not-too-hard puzzles which do require some thoughtful applications of those everyday objects. The end-goal is quite obvious from the get-go: talking to grandma and grandpa will point you in the right direction, and many clues are scattered throughout the house and the outdoors. These clues are directly linked with the story, allowing you to recreate your mom's childhood and your grandparents' life from small bits and incomplete hints.

On the Farm presents two interwoven layers of atmosphere.
There is a melancholy, a still sadness. Here are your grandparents, here are an old woman and an old man, living the remainder of their life on an old, unused and almost empty farm. A feeling of loss and ending.
And here you are, a ten-year-old kid running around and exploring, having an adventure. Bringing young life and joy and action to this place.

These two sides come together in an understated heartwarming endnote.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A cute story about helping your grandparents make up, February 3, 2016

In this short-to-mid length farm game, you are a young girl trying to help grandma and grandpa make up after a fight.

You explore a farm, learn about your family's history, and try to help the two of them out. The main puzzles of the game involve a battery used in three locations.

The writing was charming, the puzzles were mild, and the setting was fairly unusual for interactive fiction.

Good for fans of mildly puzzly slice of life.

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On the Farm on IFDB

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