FarmVille Item Requests take one giant step backwards

Depending on how many active neighbors you have in FarmVille, asking for building materials or other items from your friends can either be a painless or incredibly painful process. I'm sorry to say, though, that the gift request setup has become even more tiring with a new update launched by Zynga this week. While all users may not have this update yet, it comes with a new way of requesting items, with a slight pro and plenty of cons.

First and foremost, you'll see that this new gift request method allows you to send out gift requests without leaving the flash gameplay window itself. That is, instead of being sent to a new page, where the game may freeze or simply disappear in the process, forcing you to reload the game from scratch, you'll now be able to send out bulk requests to friends from within the game proper.

Sounds great, right? Well, take a look at this:

This is the way the new window looks. It's similar to the Special Delivery Box window that appears the first time you play FarmVille each day, but worse. You'll still have the option to see your friends in two groups: those that play FarmVille and those that don't, with single and triple parts being offered accordingly. However, every single one of your friends is checked by default. Granted, you can click on the "Select All" box to uncheck all of those friends just as quickly, but you're then left to scan through page after page of neighbors, with only a first name and last initial (along with a mini version of each user's profile picture) to go by.

What if, like so many other players, you've added Facebook friends that are complete strangers, just to play the game with them? What if you used their last names (which were perhaps unusual) to pick them out from the crowd, because you wouldn't be able to tell who they were from profile pictures as you've never met? Even better, what if your friends have changed their profile pictures to not be pictures of them, and what if you have two or three friends named Ashley or Bob on your list, both with the same last initial (you can see a Chris R. example in my list above - how am I to know which is which)? Needless to say, there are a ton of variables here, all of which seem to make this feature a step backwards, rather than forwards in terms of ease of use.

While that might be a lot of questions, it turns out I'm not the only one with those concerns. Multiple threads have appeared on the game's official forums questioning why this feature was released to begin with, along with documenting bugs that have already started to spread throughout.

Will Zynga listen to users' pleas and revert to the old system of item requests? It may be an archaic method, but at least it (for the most part) worked as designed. If users are already our Facebook friends, then why the secrecy of their last names? Right now, this feature seems to hurt more than it helps, and we'll make sure to keep an eye on things, to let you know if they go back to the way they were.

Have you received this new item request feature in FarmVille yet? What do you think of it? Does it make asking for items easier, or more difficult for you? Sound off in the comments.