Gardens of Time did a couple of fun things that fit in with Halloween.  One of them was the Spooky Handbook.  It was directly connected to the Time Lab, and it had a “countdown” attached to it.  This meant that players had a limited amount of time in which to complete the Spooky Handbook.  I didn’t complete all of it, but I managed to get pretty close.

As you can see, it cost players 50,000 silver to unlock the Spooky Handbook.  Silver is the in-game currency in Gardens of Time.  Those who did not have enough silver could earn more by selling unwanted items or by playing more scenes in the game.  The Spooky Handbook appeared in the Time Lab in October of 2013.

This is what appeared after you paid the silver and unlocked the Spooky Handbook.  It shows a creepy treehouse, which is the item players would receive after completing the entire Spooky Handbook.  I didn’t get far enough to get one of these.  The green “Share the News” button allows players to give other players in the chat something to click and score points from.  There is always a Tournament of some kind going on.  One team will win a prize.

Next, this appears to indicate that you have completed the quest to Unlock the Spooky Handbook. My best guess is that this second notification that you have, in fact, unlocked the Spooky Handbook was due to the way the game works.  It needed something that “told it” that the player completed a specific quest.  Maybe that was necessary to let the game know to give the player the next quest in the chain?

The next quest in the Spooky Handbook chain is “Collect Glass Pumpkins”.  Players must collect 2 purple glass pumpkins, 2 orange glass pumpkins, and 2 yellow glass pumpkins.  The only way to do it is to play scenes, and keep playing scenes, until you manage to collect them all.  The pumpkins did not pop up every time, and you had no control over which color you received.  It was random.

This is what the Time Lab looked like for the Spooky Handbook.  You start by gathering enough glass pumpkins to “master” the item in the first circle.  Doing so gives the player some energy. You need 10 energy to play 1 scene in the game.  After you master the energy page, it unlocks two more pages in the Spooky Handbook.  You had to master those in order to unlock the next two pages. (Each of the pages required players to complete them more than once to master them.)

One of the next pages has an image of a beaker that is half filled with golden liquid.  That one is called “Elixir of Midas”.  I’ve never quite figured out what the Elixir of Midas is used for.  It appears to be something like a raffle ticket.  Players make them in the Time Lab.  Playdom randomly selects one and gives that player a special prize?  I’m not sure, because I’ve never gotten anything from an Elixir of Midas.

The storyline of the game suggests that the Time Society is looking for a successful batch of Elixir of Midas because it can help perfect time travel.  As you go through the story, there are several points where the time machine glitches and drops the characters (and the player) somewhere unexpected.

Creating an Elixir of Midas requires you to collect up a specific amount of glass pumpkins.  This is what pops up after you make your very first elixir in the Time Lab while the Spooky Handbook is active.  (Previously made elixirs, for other handbooks, do not count).

Congrats, you made one Elixir of Midas!  Don’t get too comfortable.  You have to make some more in order to master this page in the Spooky Handbook.  After you do, you get another pop-up that acknowledges that you have mastered crafting the Elixir of Midas and that you have unlocked new pages in the Spooky Handbook as a result.

The other page that unlocked at the same time as the Elixir of Midas page has the icon of a coin. This one requires you to use more glass pumpkins to create 4 Tokens.  Here’s what appears after you manage to do that for the first time:

Next, you need to gather more glass pumpkins so that you can turn them into more Tokens.  If I remember correctly, each page in the Spooky Handbook required you to make the same thing three times before it concluded that you had mastered the page.  You cannot move to new pages before mastering the current ones.

What can you do with the Tokens you have created?  A new quest called “Play the Time Mechanism I” gives you some clues.  It also hints that there will be at least one more quest after that.  You don’t need to name something “one” unless there is a “two” coming up behind it.

To complete this quest, you had to use the Tokens you created in the Time Lab and “spend” them in the Time Mechanism.   The Time Mechanism has scenes that appear in the regular Gardens of Time game.  Instead of using energy, you had to use 2 Tokens to play 1 scene in the Time Mechanism.  This is where things started to get tedious.

Use 2 Tokens in the Time Mechanism.  It will spin and give you a random scene to play.  You do not get to choose which one it will be.  The scene could be a “Flashlight” scene (which makes the screen dark except for a small circle of light that you move around to find the hidden items).  Or, it will be a “Blitz” scene where you have to find as many objects as possible in a limited amount of time.  Ideally, the game will drop some of the glass pane items that you need to complete the above quest.

If you did not get enough glass panes on your first try, the only option was to start gathering up more glass pumpkins (by playing scenes in the regular Gardens of Time game).  Then, you had to use the pumpkins to make more Tokens.  Next, you had to use those Tokens in the Time Mechanism and hope that it would drop the glass panes you needed this time.

Let’s say you got super lucky and got one glass pane to drop in each of the 2 scenes in the Time Mechanism.  That was enough to complete the second requirement in the above quest.  But, you still couldn’t finish the quest until after you accessed the Time Mechanism four times.  You would have to go through the whole, tedious, process again even if you got lucky with the glass panes!

This situation was frustrating, time consuming, and didn’t have enough of a “pay off”.  My experience with the Spooky Handbook made me decide that it isn’t worth my effort to do any more of the Time Lab quests.  I’ll give them a try when I play, but I am no longer motivated to log into Gardens of Time in an effort to complete all the Time Lab stuff.

Here is what pops up when you finally finish the “Play the Time Mechanism I” quest.

While you were working on completing the quest, you were also working on mastering the Token page.

If you made it to this point, it means you have unlocked the Crystal page and a page that has a spider on it.  The Crystals are purple.  Once again, you have to gather up glass pumpkins in order to make some Crystals.  The Crystals are useful.  You need them in order to play the Crystal scenes, and you also use them to build or level up special buildings that require Crystals.  It is not easy to obtain Crystals.

Some Gardens of Time players will work their way through a handbook until they unlock the Crystal page.  After that, they focus on using the Time Lab as a “Crystal dispenser” until the time runs out.  It’s not a bad strategy for those who aren’t interested in whatever special item is offered as a reward for completing the handbook.  You have to complete the entire process that makes 2 Crystals at least three times before you have mastered it.  That gives you 6 Crystals.

The next quest is called “Craft 1 Glass Spider in the Time Lab”

HINT: Unlock the Glass Spider Handbook Page and Collect Glass Fragments to craft it!

This required players to collect up glass pumpkins and a certain amount of the two types of glass fragments in order to create one glass spider.  Play scenes in the “regular” part of the game (again and again) until enough of the correct color of glass pumpkins dropped for you.  How do you get the glass fragments?  You have to use Tokens so you can play the scenes in the Time Mechanism.  But first, you have to collect up more glass pumpkins so you can make the Tokens. Annoying!

There was a reason why I managed to push myself through this part of the Spooky Handbook quest chain.

I’ve received a Glass Spider?  Awesome!  I knew exactly where I wanted to place it in my garden.   Where is it?  My best guess was that the glass spiders that I created in the Time Lab would be sent to me after I completed the Spooky Handbook.

When the Time Lab was first introduced, it included a series of quests that players had to complete in order to receive a greenhouse.  Players received their greenhouse and the two glass roses that they created in the Time Lab and were able to place all three items into their gardens.  Ok, so I’d get the glass spiders later, right?  I can wait.

Not everyone could.  Players complained as soon as they realized that they were not getting the glass spiders immediately after they created them.  Players who were further along, or finished with the Spooky Handbook, said they never received their glass spiders.  Was all this effort for nothing?

The next quest in the chain was expected, yet unwanted.

HINT: Uncommon Glass Panes include the Web Corner and the Web Center

To make a long story short, this quest is pretty much the same as the first one. The only difference is in which types of glass you are required to collect.  The tedium begins all over again.

The next quest was called “Master 6 Handbook Pages”.

One quick glance at the Time Lab shows that you have to master all of the pages in order to complete this quest.

Count the pages.  Yep, there is a total of 6.  You can’t opt-out of any pages if you want to complete this quest.  The last page in the Handbook is the “Spider Path” page.  Take a look at what you needed to get before you could make one spider path.

Gather more glass pumpkins.  Only the yellow ones will count (but the game will continue to drop all three colors of pumpkins anyway).  You have to go through the process of making Tokens, again, so you can play the Time Mechanism scenes, so you can collect more glass fragments.

Keep repeating the process until the game drops enough of the special, uncommon, web related glass for you.  Now, look at the last thing you need in order to create one spider path.  You need one glass spider.  This means that you have to go back and create more glass spiders before you can master the Spider Path page and move on.  Are you exhausted yet?  I was.

I pushed myself to go through the tedium of mastering the Spider Path page in the Spooky Handbook.  I think, at the time, I felt like I deserved to get the spooky treehouse item after all the effort I put into the damned Spooky Handbook!

It just so happens that if you master the Spider Path page (the 6th page in the Spooky Handbook) you also end up completing the quest that requires you to complete 6 pages. Yay?

When I got to this point, I felt relieved.  I finished it!  Mastering the last page, the Spider Path page, unlocked the final part of the Spooky Handbook.  All I have to do now is wait for the time to run out and I will get the creepy treehouse.  It was worth it after all!  Then, I took a closer look at the Time Lab.

Oh no!  I wasn’t done after all!   But, that’s ok, because there is still some time left before the Spooky Handbook disappears.  What do I need to build the Glass Treehouse?  Let’s see… 8 purple glass pumpkins.  There are three different colors of glass pumpkins, and those are the ones that are the least likely to drop.  More Web Corners and Web Centers.  Ugh, this means I have to do the entire process of making Tokens again!

Wait, I need four glass spiders?  I just made four of them!  Where did they go?  It seems those glass spiders became one with the Spider Paths, or something.  This meant I had to do even more of the tedious process involved with making Tokens and collecting special glass pieces so I could make four more spiders to complete the Glass Treehouse.

My hope was that if I somehow managed to complete this process it would mean I’d earned the Glass Treehouse.  Maybe I only had to do this last part one time?  The next quest appeared, but it was confusing.

The name of this quest is “Complete the Glass Treehouse”.  I’m trying! Collect the Glass Treehouse and Master all Handbook Pages to Complete the Handbook.  There is a Hint at the bottom of the quest window that says: HINT: Craft the Final Handbook Page 1 time!

Wait… I’m confused.  So far, we had to complete a page three times before it was considered to be mastered.  Does this mean that the last page only requires one completion to master it?  Let’s say I manage to do that.  The quest also requires me to collect the Glass Treehouse before I can complete the quest.  But, I probably won’t get that until after the Spooky Handbook times out, and the quest is supposed to end at the same time… right?   Confusing!

I gave it my best effort, but there simply wasn’t enough time for me to complete the last part of the Spooky Handbook. Based on what I was reading in the chat, it appears that a lot of players were just as frustrated as I was.  Why would Gardens of Time create a quest chain that was so time consuming and tedious?

Then, I realized something.  I believe the entire purpose of the Time Lab Handbook quests is to push players to spend real world money on the things they need to finish the quests in a particular Time Lab.  That’s not fun!

Oh, look!  The Spooky Handbook quest chain has expired.  There’s Quincy (one of the non-player characters) looking all sad because I didn’t manage to complete the Spooky Handbook and therefore, didn’t get a Glass Treehouse for my garden.  Great.  Am I supposed to feel bad now?

The only good thing that came out of the Spooky Handbook was that I did receive all three of the Spider Paths that I made.  I placed them in my garden next to the Halloween items that came from an entirely different set of quests that Gardens of Time was doing in October of 2013.

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