Shortly before the St. Patrick’s Day Crystal Chapter ended, Playdom introduced something brand new into the game. Players noticed it if they looked at the corner of their screen or if they happened to see that a new quest chain had been added. It was a Time Lab. Inside was a Time Mechanism (that had some glitches in it that frustrated players). What was this thing?
In short, it was a new chain of quests that players could do. The idea was to master each of the pages in the Time Lab in order to access new things. It was clear that there would be a special item for those who completed the quests.
In order to master each page, players had to collect special items and then use the Time Lab to turn them into something. You couldn’t move to the next page unless you completed the one before it. If I remember correctly, you had to go through the entire process, for each page, more than once in order to master it and move on.
The first page you must master gives you energy.
As you can see, you needed to have at least one red glass, and at least one blue glass, in order to create energy. Where do you get them? One way was to play scenes or visit neighbors and do Blitzes (like you always do). The glass pieces would either randomly appear, or they would not. Energy is useful because you must “spend” if you want to play a scene.
The second page gives you tokens. You had to collect up 1 red glass, one yellow glass, and 1 blue glass in order to do that. You would end up with 3 tokens. This is where a lot of players started to get frustrated. The yellow glass was difficult to find, and you needed to obtain more than 1 if you were going to master the token page.
What are the tokens for? Unfortunately, they led to the biggest source of frustration with the Time Lab. Inside the Time Lab was a Time Mechanism. You had to use 1 token in order to give the Mechanism a “spin”. It would randomly select one scene. Usually, you play a scene and you are given anywhere between 6 to 12 objects that you must find. Once you find them all, the scene ends (and you get experience points, silver, and potentially a crystal or a special item).
In the Mechanism, scenes were either done as a Blitz, or a Flashlight. For the Flashlight scenes, the screen would go dark. Move the mouse and it would appear as though you were using a flashlight to find the hidden objects. Find them all to finish the scene (and hopefully get the items you needed to complete the Time Lab pages). Some of the regular scenes in the game are presented as Flashlight scenes, so this was easy to understand.
The problem was with the Blitzes. For a Blitz, players are given 60 seconds to locate as many objects as possible. Typically, the time runs out before you find everything (and that’s ok). It turned out that this part of the Time Mechanism had a glitch. The time would run out, but the scene would not end. You could take as long as you wanted to find everything. Another glitch prevented the game from identifying when you found the very last item. So, players ended up “stuck” in the Time Mechanism.
This was frustrating for the obvious reasons. What made it worse was that players had to collect special glass items in order to make the tokens that they used to play the scenes in the Mechanism. Another problem was that, since the scene never ended, players were not receiving whatever goodies the scene had granted them.
The only way I found around this problem was to refresh the browser after getting “stuck”. When I returned, the game would give me a pop-up that noted that my scene did not complete. Did I want to restart it? No, that would just get me stuck again.
Eventually, players were advising each other that they should use the tokens to spin the Time Mechanism. If it landed on a Blitz scene, they suggested that people not play it, and instead use another token to spin again. I doubt this was how things were intended to work. I heard a lot of players who were very upset about having to use up tokens without getting the chance to even play a scene in the Mechanism. (Things got worse later, when it was revealed that a certain item could only be found in the Time Mechanism. It was a hard to find item, of course).
At the same time that the Token page popped up, the Crystal page appeared. Collect 1 blue glass and 1 yellow glass, and you could “make” 2 crystals. I found this part to be incredibly helpful. It was how I got enough crystals to go as far as I did with the St. Patrick’s Day Crystal Chapter.
Next, you had to master the Goggles page. Collect 1 yellow glass and 1 red glass. Make it in the Time Lab. Wait until it finished. Just like that you got 2 Goggles hints. These are used in the scenes. If you get stuck and cannot find some of the items that you are supposed to, you can use a Googles hint. Swipe it across the screen. If you run over any of the items you are supposed to find (but can’t) they will light up (and make it easy for you to click on them). The Goggles only last for a few seconds, and are useful.
Those who persevered, and mastered the first four pages in the Time Lab, were able to work on the next page. To master this new page, you had to collect 1 red glass (easy to find), 1 yellow glass (difficult to find), and 2 glass leaves (nearly impossible to find). Put all that together, and you would make a rose fragment. This was the first thing you could make that did not have an immediate and obvious use in the game – and you had to go through this whole process of collecting stuff more than once to master this page.
This was the final straw for many players. The glass leaves appeared randomly if you played scenes in the Time Mechanism. The Time Mechanism was malfunctioning. I heard a lot of people complaining that they were quitting this chain of quests when they reached this point. As for me, I paid for the glass leaves with gold. Playdom has been doing Gold Tournaments much more frequently than usual (perhaps to help with the Time Mechanism problems). I won gold, I used it to buy glass leaves, I was able to master this page. It seemed like an obvious solution.
What happened if you managed to get that far with the Time Lab? There was another page to complete. This time, you had to make a Glass Rose (more than once, I think). Look what you needed to collect for this:
That’s right! You had to be lucky enough to collect up 3 glass petals (which were harder to find than any of the glass fragments) and 2 glass leaves (which could not be found at all). Fortunately, I had enough gold to buy what I needed, thanks to the multitude of Gold Tournaments. I ended up making 2 Glass Roses (but am not sure if I actually needed to do that in order to complete the quest chain. Maybe one would have been enough?)
Players who got this far had the opportunity to work on mastering the final page in the Time Lab. From a storytelling point of view, players were taking all the stuff they created and using it to build a Glass Greenhouse. This was the toughest page to master due to the quantity of difficult to find items it required.
I used a lot of Gold to complete this. I’m ok with that because Gold is flowing like water right now in Gardens of Time. (No, I didn’t spend any real world money on this series of quests).
Master the final page, and you get a special item:
When I made the Glass Roses, I had no idea that I would be able to put them into my Garden! I decided that they look good next to the Glass Greenhouse. Later, I heard some players mention that these pretty little Glass Roses can also be leveled to 5 (but do not change appearance) and they give a lot of Reputation Points. Cool!
The Time Lab is still useable after this point. It has a limited time, though, and I expect it will disappear when the countdown ends. Until then, I am using it to manufacture as many crystals as I can. There are several things I need to complete for the French Painter Crystal Chapters.