While we were waiting or working around the matchmaking problems of Boom Beach, I went looking for a similar sort of game that did not involve blowing up other folks’ bases. I am more interested in building than destroying. “Hmm, but without something like combat, you end up with Farmville.” Lo and behold, in my recommended games from the makers of Boom Beach: Hay Day, their take on Farmville.
Hay Day starts with the time-based mechanic you expect from a farming game (plant seeds, wait) but grows to be a fair crafting game. You grow wheat and corn, which can be used to make chicken feed, and chickens produce eggs, which you can combine with more corn to make cornbread. Sugarcane becomes syrup, cherries can be crushed into juice, and then combine those two in your ice cream stand to make cherry popsicles.
This remains somewhat shallow. There is no deep “tech tree,” just more devices that you set to convert Good A into Good B, with an increasing number of options competing on each. Occasionally Good B can also be used as an intermediate good on the way to Good C, but that is about as deep as the dependency tree gets. There is no Theory of Fun fun to be had here, just resource management.
The economics of what you do with your goods can be interesting. There are five different ways to sell your goods, with different reward schemes in terms of cash, experience, alternate currencies, and alternate advancement. There are also periodic events and competitions to promote the sinks.
Game monetization is minimal. Most of what you would pay for is expanding your capacity: more storage, more farm space, bigger queues on production devices. You could also pay for money or to speed production, but at that point you are paying to skip what gameplay there is, so why bother? Almost everything you can buy with the real money currency, you can also get slowly as a rare bonus while harvesting or crafting, and you get a steady trickle of real money currency. Spend it on bigger queues and expansion materials.
I’m not sure one can go so far as to recommend a game like this, but people who like this kind of thing will probably like this one. I played several comparable games when social media games were becoming a thing, and this was one of the better ones. It reminded me that I have no Harvest Moon experience in my portfolio of gaming literature, and I probably should.