How FarmVille's Lost & Found saved my sanity

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As I impatiently wait for my FarmVille farm to load, I can't help but wonder what new features will greet me as I sail past the FarmVille loading screen. Even though I visit my farm (and sometimes several farms) on a daily basis, there's always something new going on in FarmVille.

You gotta give it to Zynga for that – it continuously keeps the game fresh by adding new content several types a week. Now, whatever the new actually is may not always be appreciated (think Gilda's List). Sometimes there's a controversy (fluctuating market prices). But, it's when they get it right; those are the moments that make me smile. You know the ones. The rare moment when a game feature debuts and really makes the players happy because it makes playing the game more enjoyable and may even rid you of some frustration. You can usually tell when it's a player requested feature because its fruition will make you feel like it was your very own idea. It also gives you some sort of confirmation that the game developers are listening to what the people want. Yes, they really do hear us! This quietly happened in FarmVille with the new Lost & Found feature introduced last week.

There was no build up to its release nor was there any hyped "coming soon" unreleased images in the virtual farming blogosphere. Nope, FarmVille opened its Lost & Found doors right along with the release of its somewhat mundane regularly scheduled FarmVille Market update of new Limited Edition items. Did they think we wouldn't notice this little gem? It doesn't matter, because it's here to help you find lost items on your FarmVille farms.

Managing as many as six FarmVille farms creates the perfect atmosphere for losing an item and not remembering where you placed it. We all know how annoying it can be to lose an animal, but when you've accidentally placed it outside of an animal habitat? Forget it. I call it the forgotten wilderness of death because it's likely that you may never see it, much less harvest it again.

Until now, the misplaced rogue animals of our neglect were seemingly forever lost in cyberspace. Now, the Lost & Found feature can help you relocate that poor lost Star Sheep who was hiding behind your gigantic, waste-of-space Nursery Barn. You know, the one you lost before you knew you'd need to harvest it several times to complete a FarmVille Quest. (Ugh, hate when that happens). In addition to helping you find misplaced items on your FarmVille farms, this nifty aide can also assist you in finding missing items in your FarmVille Gift Box as well as Storage. Why did we have to wait so long for this feature again?

Some of you will have to wait a bit longer to claim your lost items at FarmVille's Lost & Found. Unfortunately, the Lost & Found is on a slow roll-out to all farmers. In other words, some of you may have access to this new feature already and some of you will have to wait longer.

Veteran farmers will be familiar with how this works. Sometimes you're the first to try out a new feature, sometimes you're the last, and sometimes never at all. I'm still upset that I never got a visit from Claire when she was handing out Farm Cash. I heard she was a pretty cool girl, and who doesn't like to trade old items for Farm Cash? I had tons of junk she could've bought. But I digress...

For those of you still waiting on this fantastic new feature, here's how it works: The Lost & Found feature can be located in your in-game toolbar, towards the bottom right. After clicking on your FarmVille Gift Box, you will see a new icon of a classic FarmVille dog. The dog serves as the poster boy (pooch?) for the FarmVille Lost & Found. He's here to help "retrieve or fetch" all your misplaced items. Click on the dog to get started.

Once you open the Lost & Found feature, you can begin keyword searching for lost items on the current FarmVille farm that you are visiting, and also in your Gift Box as well as Storage. Simply type the name of the item you are trying to find in the Lost & Found search bar. The Lost & Found will then retrieve an alphabetical list of items that match your search terms as well as their location. Note, animal habitats are considered "Storage" to Zynga. For example, in the image below, I searched for "horse" and the Lost & Found gave me a list of horses that reside in my Gift Box as well as Storage. If an animal is placed on your farm inside an animal habitat this is considered "Storage." Once you click the "Show" button, it will take you back to your farm and the building that your lost animal is housed in will be highlighted in blue.

I can think of a few other scenarios Lost & Found will prove useful. FarmVille tree-breeders will no longer have to manually search through multiple Orchards when trying to breed a specific tree requested by a friend. The Lost & Found feature allows you to search the tree by name and then it will highlight the Orchard your tree is housed in -- searching through hundreds of Orchards one click at time can be quite painful.

FarmVille flower-lovers will be happy to know that (at least for now) the Lost & Found is also helpful at sorting your same type Mystery Bulbs by grouping multiples of the same type that you've placed on your farm together in the search list. It's up to you to actually sort them out, but the Lost & Found feature can help you to identify which Mystery Bulb will be the same. This can save you from growing up the exact same Bloom flower again and again.

I've never been big on tree-breeding myself, but I know I will use the Lost & Found to keep track of animals that require harvesting for Quests. I tend to stick my Quest rewards in the animal habitat that is most ready to harvest, on whichever farm I happen to be visiting. I know there are better ways to keep track of animals, but I still manage to lose them, and this feature has already helped speed through the endless quests.

Aside from the slow roll-out, there is one other downside to the Lost & Found feature that I'm sure farmers will be quick to notice. The Lost & Found feature does not search all FarmVille farms at once. You can only search for missing items using the Lost & Found on the current FarmVille farm you are visiting. This means if you've lost an item and you have no idea what FarmVille farm you've placed it on, you will have to physically travel to each farm and then visit the Lost & Found per farm.

Granted, Anything can happen in FarmVille, so maybe this one downfall will be improved in the future. I'm still glad to have FarmVille Lost & Found, for the piece of sanity that it gives me, as well as the time saved from needle-in-a-haystack situations. Kudos to Zynga and the FarmVille Team for releasing this handy feature, and if you don't have it, hopefully that will change soon.

Do you have Lost & Found feature yet? How has it come in handy for you? Sound off in the comments below. Add comment.

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