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Selecting Your Tribe
Unlike the previous Virtual Villagers games, The Tree of Life allows you to handpick your own starting tribe members. You can select five in total. To get the best start, I recommend picking at least one male and one female of reproducing age (18 and older). The younger your adult villagers are, the longer they will be with you.
In addition, you need one child of around 10. The child will help you with picking mushrooms and retrieving collectables, which is essential at the start of the game. If you select an older child, they may grow up before you’ve had a chance to reproduce, which will then leave you unable to find collectables until you have a new child (children will reach working age at 14). You can pick a younger child, but this will mean they take longer to grow up, and especially at the start you can use those extra hands.
It is tempting to select a nursing mother, too. This means you will start off with one more tribe member. Nursing takes two “years”, so you can then select a child of up to 12 to help you with the collecting at the start of the game. This child will then reach working age by the time the new baby is weaned. However, nursing mothers don’t work, so during those two years you will have one less pair of hands.
Finally, pay attention to your villagers’ likes and dislikes. Try not to select villagers who dislike learning, working or running – they will soon become a bit of a pain, especially in those early stages. If you find one who actually likes running, lucky you!
Now that you’ve picked your expedition tribe, let’s get started!
Villager Details Menu
To find details about your villagers, select a villager and click the “details” button in the bottom right of the screen.
In the villager details window you can check your villager’s age and skill levels, set a preferred skill for them to use, change their name if you like, and see how much longer nursing mothers will be nursing. You can also see their likes and dislikes, which may help you in deciding their line of work.
Quickly scroll through your villagers with the arrow keys on either side of the villager’s name. You can sort them according to age, health status and skill level.
Closing the details window will zoom you to the villager whose details you last viewed.
Villager Health and Life Cycle
- Mothers nurse their babies for two years, during which time they don’t work.
- Between ages 2 and 14 your villagers are children. Children can collect mushrooms and collectables, as well as flowers for stew making.
- At age 14, villagers come of age and will be able to start working.
- At age 18, villagers reach reproductive age.
- Females are able to conceive babies until the age of 50.
- Villagers may live well into their seventies. It is even possible to have villagers reach 80+.
When a villager dies, they will be taken to the mausoleum by their tribe members. You can click on the floor of the mausoleum to enter and view your lost villagers, their age and cause of death. Villagers can die of old age, starvation or illness. The higher your medicine technology level, the longer the average life span.
Illness can be prevented by making sure you have enough food in the food bin, and that the fire is always going. Cold villagers catch disease more quickly! Disease will slowly decrease the red health bar in the details menu. When it reaches 0, your villager will die. So don’t leave those illnesses unattended!
Whenever a villager is not feeling well, they will stop working and go sit on the beach. You can heal villagers by dragging a villager on top of the sick villager. This will increase that villager’s healing skill. The higher someone’s healing skill level, the quicker they are at healing. Villagers skilled at healing may heal sick friends automatically. Once a villager is healed, their health bar will gradually begin to fill up again. Dragging them to the food bin so they will eat speeds the healing up a little.
Start by making a fire. If you’re running the tutorial, it will show you how to do this. First, drag a villager onto the pile of firewood to the left of the big staircase. Then drag someone onto the patch of dry grass by the stairs – this will serve as kindling. Finally, drag a villager onto the fire pit with the grass and wood on it, and they will light the fire.
Fire is needed for several things. You need fire to make stews and to light the fire pit later on in the game, which will allow you to cook the yellow fruits. More importantly, fire will keep your villagers warm, which keeps diseases at bay.
Your villages have five different skills they can master, which are: farming, building, research, healing and parenting. The more experience they get in a skill, the better they will be at it. Skill levels they can reach are trainee, adept and master.
Villagers can start working at the age of 14. When they become of age, they will start hovering around the fire being “unsure what to do”, so you will need to spend some time getting them to start working.
To start a villager on a skill, drag them to one of the activities that promote that skill. Sometimes you need to try a few times before they are successful. Sometimes they simply refuse to learn something at all! Just try them on something else. Check your villager’s likes and dislikes, which can occasionally give you a clue about what they will and won’t do. Once the successfully started a skill, they will keep doing activities related to that skill automatically.
Your villagers are most likely to do activities of their highest level skill. You can set a preference for a certain activity in a villager’s details menu, but this simply means they will be more likely to perform that skill – it doesn’t mean they will always perform it. For example, a master scientist that you want to train in building may still every once in a while revert to science when you leave them to their own devices.
Picking berries, cooking yellow fruits, collecting fish. See section on food.
Building new huts, clearing the obstruction in the stream, clearing the cooking pit.
New huts can be moved until work has been done on them. Villagers will not automatically start building new constructions. However, once a construction is successfully started, they will continue building it until it’s done.
Once cleared, the stream will keep slowly blocking up again. This may be a bit of a pain at first, but it gives you a constant means to train up your builders. This means that later on in the game, when you’ve finished building all the available structures, you can still achieve your scholar trophy, for example.
Doing research in the research lab. See section on technology.
Healing sick villagers, studying medicine at the hospital. To get a villager to study medicine, simply drop them onto the hospital.
Becoming a parent, embracing, telling stories.
Nursing a baby is the fastest way to increase a parenting skill. Becoming a father is a close second. However, each time villagers embrace, their parenting skill goes up too. See the section on reproduction below. To have an adult tell stories, simply drop them on one of the children, and all the children will follow the adult to a cosy spot by the pond to listen to the story.
When you drag a villager to the table in the research lab, they will start doing research, which will accumulate tech points. In your tech menu you can see what upgrades you can buy for your tech points.
Science – the higher your science level, the faster your villagers accumulate tech points.
Medicine – the higher your advances in medicine, the lower the rate of disease in your tribe. It also makes your villagers more fertile and live longer. At level 3 you can build a hospital, where villagers can study medicine.
Construction – advances in construction allow your villagers to build and repair various structures. At each level of construction you will get the basis for a new hut. Huts allow you to increase your population.
Learning – higher levels of learning allow your villagers to increase their skills faster. Level 3 learning allows you to build a nursery school. Drag a villager who is a master in at least two skills onto the school and they will start teaching the children. Nursing moms will come hang out too! Each time children go to school they will get a little bit of knowledge in one of the five skills. This will get them started more quickly and easily when they reach working age.
Food Mastery – higher levels of food mastery mean that the food your villagers harvest is worth more.
Dendrology – the study of dendrology allows you to heal the Tree of Life. Although there are two levels of dendrology you can buy (you start on level 1), the image in the tech screen shows there are six steps to healing the tree. The other steps are gained through puzzles 2, 13, 14 and 16.
There are several sources of food, each of which will become available after specific events in the game. You start out with nothing but a simple berry bush in the southwest. Just drag a villager onto it and they will start collecting the berries and bringing them to the food bin. Clicking on the berry plant will show you how many berries are left. They will grow back after a while.
Once you’ve managed to get the cooking pit going (puzzle 7) you will be able to cook the yellow fruits on the palms in the far southwest corner. Simply drag a villager onto the palm and they will shake down a fruit, cook it on the fire and then take it to the food bin. There is an unlimited supply of yellow fruits, but harvesting is slow and doesn’t yield that much food.
Once you’ve completed puzzle 12 you will be able to collect fish from the fishing nets. Just drag a villager onto the pier and they will get fish from the nets.
Once you have the fishing nets you can also catch crabs from the beach, but this is a bit of a hassle and not really useful as a food source. See puzzle 10 for explanation.
Finally, children can collect mushrooms. More mushrooms will pop up when it rains. This is useful especially at the start of the game when food is scarce. So set those kids to work!
You can’t reproduce until you’ve built the “Love Shack”, which is the hut with the flowers (and jacuzzi!). Villagers can reproduce when they’re 18 and older. Women can have babies to the age of 50. To try and reproduce, drag an adult male onto an adult female (or vice versa). Sometimes they’re not in the mood or don’t like each other and run away. In those cases, keep trying or just go and find another couple!
Sometimes all they do is embrace. That’s a good sign. It will also increase their parenting skills a little. When they really like each other, they will “go indoors”. If you’re lucky, that will produce a baby.
However, you don’t have to wait until they’ve walked all the way to the shack, “discussed” the baby making business and come out again. You can instantly tell if an encounter has been successful by looking at the population number at the top of your screen. It will go up as soon as you drop one villager onto the other. If you’re in a hurry, you can then instantly set them back to work without letting them go indoors.
You can have single babies, twins and sometimes even triplets! As in real life, these are random occurrences.
Nursing mothers will nurse their infants for 2 years. During this time they don’t work.
As with the previous games in the VV series, there are four sets of collectables that your children can find. In this game they are: wind flutes, fish scales, lab gear and mausoleum pieces. This time, however, you can actually view your collections in the main window as well as in the collections menu.
- The wind flutes are collected in the northeast, by the river obstruction. This place also offers a location for your villagers to meditate.
- The fish scales are collected on the fish statue in the southeast. Fish scales can only be found in the rock pool by the statue, and only at low tide.
- Lab gear is collected on the shelves in the research lab, behind the long table.
- Mausoleum pieces go directly on the arch of the mausoleum in the northwest.
There are twelve collectables of each type. When your children collect items that you already have, they will take them to the lab for your scientists to use which will give you some tech points. Especially in the early parts of the game, when tech points are gathered slowly, this can really make a dent! Uncommon and rare items give more points. You will only be able to collect one of each mausoleum piece.
In this game, your villagers can cook stews. Some specific stews are required to solve puzzles (see puzzle solutions below), some are just for fun.
Basic stews consist of a pot of boiling water, either fresh or salt, and a variety of herbs and foods.
To make a stew, gather three herbs, in any combination, which will be put on the table by the cooking pot. Herbs you can use are the sweet smelling flower, the spicy smelling flower and the soapy smelling flower.
Then fill the pot with either salt or fresh water, and boil the water. How to boil water is described in puzzle solution 3.
When you have herbs and boiling water, drag a villager onto the cooking pot or the table with the collected flowers and they will make the stew. Some stews only require the water and the herbs. However, if you added three herbs but it says the stew is unfinished, or that it needs something nutritious, you need to drag a villager to the food bin so they can add food. The stew made with fresh water and one of each herb can’t be completed until you’ve got access to all food sources, so you might as well just chuck it out.
When the stew is done, the water will disappear from the pot and the steam changes color. You can then drop villagers onto the cooking pot to have them sample your creation.
If you don’t like your stew and want to start over, drag a villager to the well behind the pot (the circle with the grid on it) and they will empty the pot.
Go and experiment with different combinations of herbs and water, and see what happens when they eat it! Some reactions are quite entertaining.
Other Useful Tips
- The game will keep running even when you’ve closed it down. Set the game speed to slow before you go to sleep at night to avoid major disasters in the morning.
- To pause the game, hit the spacebar.
- The screen is divided up into nine sections like the number pad on your keyboard. Use your number pad to quickly browse the entire screen.
- If you set a villager to do something that’s not related to one of the learnable skills (for example filling the pot with water or gathering herbs), and then exit the game, the action is cancelled and you will have to start again.
- If you pick up a villager during an action, the action is cancelled.
If you quickly want to find a child to pick up a rare collectible, pause the game and then hit the right arrow below the detail window. This will zoom you to your youngest villager. Drop the child on the collectible and then start the game again by hitting the spacebar.
PUZZLE SOLUTIONS - 1 – The Cutting Tool
You will learn this during the tutorial. Drag a villager onto the fish skeleton on the beach and they will collect fish bones. They will then heat them in the fire and take them to the research lab. Each completed process creates three tools, but you can store several batches in the lab.
2 – The Stream
This task is done in two steps. First, drag a villager to the obstruction in the stream and they will start clearing it. You can have multiple villagers do this at the same time. When the whole obstruction is cleared, the water will flow around the tree.
You will see that the water flows down a hole just above the research lab and won’t follow the course of the stream. You need something to block off the hole so the stream can get through. On the beach where the water used to fall before you cleared the obstruction you will now find a boomerang-shaped stone: the keystone. Drag a villager who is adept in both science and building to the stone and they will take it to the hole above the research lab.
3 – Boiling water
To boil water, first drag a villager onto the bowls by the stream (for fresh water) or at the base of the rocks by the sea (for salt water). The villager will fill the bowl with water and take it to the pot in the research lab.
Then drag a villager onto the pile of stones by the steps to the research lab. They will take the stone to the fire. Wait until it’s hot and then drop a villager onto it. They will take the stone to the pot and you have boiling water!
4 – Making Soap
Requires puzzle 3. To make soap, collect three soapy smelling flowers; they’re the white ones just to the right of the berry bush. Fill the pot with salt water, heat a stone and boil the water. Then drag a villager onto the pot or the table with the flowers and they will start adding the flowers to the pot.
When the “stew” is ready, the water will disappear from the pot and the steam gets darker. Then drop a villager on the finished “stew” and they will stack the soap on the soap rack by the pool. Each completed process creates three bars of soap, but you can collect as many as you want.
When you drag a villager onto the soap, they will throw a bar of it in the pond behind the research lab. When you’ve also successfully diverted the river, the pond will turn soapy and you can chuck people in it to get them clean.
5 – The Butterflies
Requires an unobstructed stream and a cutting tool (puzzles 1 and 2). After the stream has been flowing for a while, the brown stalks to the left of the berry bush will revive. Once they’re green and fresh again, drag a villager onto them and they will go to the research lab to get a tool to cut them down. So make sure you have some tools!
When they cut the stalks, they get sticky plant sap all over them. Yuck! However, you will notice that the butterflies that were fluttering around the stalks are attracted to the sap. Pick up your sticky villager and very slowly drag them to the base of the Tree of Life so the butterflies follow them – go too fast and you will lose the butterflies. Then drop the villager at the base of the tree and they will start rubbing the sticky sap onto the tree. You may have to do this a few times for it to “stick” but eventually the butterflies should stay on the tree.
6 – The Frog Rescue
Requires an unobstructed stream and a bar of soap (puzzles 2 and 4). When it rains, you will notice some pools forming to the right of the big stairs that have frogs hopping about in them. As soon as it starts raining, drag a villager to your soap and they will drop it in the pond. Then throw a villager in the pond and wait until they come out sparkling clean!
Once a villager is sparkling clean, throw them in the frog pools and they will catch a frog and carry it up the long stairs to the tree. This will need to be done several times, and you can have multiple villagers do this at the same time. You’ll have solved the puzzle when all the frogs have been rescued.
7 – The Cooking Pit
Requires level 2 construction. Drag a villager onto the covered stone pit in the southwest. They will start to clear it. Once it’s cleared it needs to be filled up with four hot rocks. However, if you’re too slow the first ones will cool down and you have to start again.
The trick is to have several people do this task at the same time: when one is walking to the pit with a hot rock, have another ready to put a new rock on the fire. Also, you can start walking to the fire with a new rock when the other one is still heating. It takes about the same amount of time to heat a rock as it takes to walk to the fire, so when you’ve added a rock to the fire, wait a couple of seconds and then get the next villager to pick up a stone from the pile. Make sure another villager takes the hot stone out of the fire before the villager with the cold rock gets there, though!
Once you have four hot rocks on the fire, it will tell you that the pit needs to be covered. Drag a villager to the banana tree to the right of the berry bush (image) and they will carry a banana leaf to the fire. This also needs to be done several times.
8 – Cloth Invented
Requires level 2 science and a cutting tool (puzzle 1). Once you have level 2 science, the basics of a new hut appear. Drop your villagers on it to build the hut.
Once the cloth hut is completed, the “pulpy vines” growing on the rock cliff to the left of the big stairs will be fully grown. Make sure you have a cutting tool from puzzle 1 in your lab and then drop a villager at the base of the vines. They will go get a cutting tool and cut down three lots of vines to take to the lab.
Fill the pot with salt water and put a hot rock under it. Then drop a villager on the table and they will add the vines to the pot. When the “stew” is done, drop a villager on the pot and they will carry a bowl of stewed pulp to the flat rocks on the shore. Keep dropping villagers onto the pulp until the cloth is ready. They will then store the finished cloth by the cloth hut. Each completed process creates three rolls of cloth.
Tip: if you put two villagers on the wet cloth when it’s at 90%, they will sometimes each create three rolls.
Once you have the cloth hut, you can also drop villagers on the hut and they will be able to exchange their outfits for 5000 tech points.
9 – The Nursery School
Requires level 3 Learning. When you’ve achieved level 3 Learning, the beginnings of a new building appear. Get your builders to build it. Once it’s finished, drag a villager who has mastered at least two skills to the building, and they will start teaching.
10 – Mossy Rocks
Requires fishing nets (puzzle 12). When your fishing nets are complete, fast running red crabs will start to appear on the north end of the beach. They will pop out of the sand, run down a bit and then disappear again.
As soon as you see a crab, hit the spacebar to pause the game. Then go and find two children and drop them on the crab. Then hit the spacebar again to un-pause the game. The children will “distract the crab”. While they are distracting the crab, drop an adult on the crab and they will pick it up and carry it to the mossy rocks at the base of the pond. Do this five times to clear each of the rocks.
11 – The Grand Feast
Requires availability of all food sources (puzzles 7 and 12). Fill the pot with fresh water and put a hot rock under it to boil it. Get one of each plant (sweet, spicy and soapy) and add to the pot. Then drop a villager onto the pot to add food from the food bin. This needs to be done twice.
Then set a villager to collect berries, one to collect the yellow fruit and one to collect a fish. It should say that they are “adding to the stew”. Also get a child to find a mushroom and they will add that to the stew too. When everything is added, you will get the grand feast.
If the stew goes cold while you’re still collecting ingredients, simply heat another rock and warm the stew up again. You can continue your recipe.
When the grand feast stew is ready, everyone will come get a bowl of it and they will all gather around the fire for their meal.
12 – Fishing Nets
Requires cloth (puzzle 8). When you’ve created cloth, drag someone to the broken piers on the beach and they will fix them. Keep dragging people on them and they will get cloth from the hut and repair the fishing nets. It takes about six rolls of cloth to repair the fishing nets.
Once you have the fishing nets, your villagers will have another source of food.
13 – Pruning the Tree
Requires level 2 dendrology, cloth (puzzle 8), soap (puzzle 4) and a cutting tool (puzzle 1). Drag a villager to the tree and drop them on the sick branch. You may have to try a few times in various spots for it to “catch”. They will get some cloth to bind the tree. Once the tree is bound, drag someone to the cutting tools and they will cut off the sick branch. Finally, drag them onto the soap and they will clean the cut.
14 – Honoring the Tree
Requires 20 villagers. Make a stew with fresh water and three sweet smelling flowers. Add some food from the food bin to the stew to finish it. Then drag 20 villagers onto the cooking pot. They will start carrying bowls of yellow colored stew to the Tree of Life. Any 20 villagers will do – adults, children and even nursing mothers.
15 – Purifying the Tree
Requires level three dendrology and soap (puzzle 4). To purify the tree, you need a villager who is both clean of mind and body.
Once you’ve bought the highest level of dendrology, drop a villager near the wind flutes and they will start to meditate. It’s important that the villager is not interrupted during meditation, so it’s a good idea to send someone to teach at the school or to have an adult tell the children a story so they don’t interrupt meditation. Adults clearing the river obstruction shouldn’t get in the way.
Once the villager is done meditating, they will be “clean of mind” and yellow orbs appear around their head. Now they have to become “clean of body” too. Drop a bar of soap in the pond and drop the villager with the yellow orbs in the pool. Wait until they’re clean, which you can tell by the white sparkles around them.
When you have a villager who is both clean of body and mind, drop them on the hole in the trunk of the Tree of Life. They will go inside the tree, take out some rotting roots and throw them on the fire. Now the tree is purified!
16 – Decorate the Tree
Requires four steps completed in healing the tree, and three rolls of cloth (puzzle 8). When it says “the Tree of Life is recovering” in your tech menu, you will start seeing a purple hummingbird flying around your village. At this point you can drag a villager onto the crates with the moth-eaten braids in the bottom left corner of the lab. They will take one of the braids and take it to a flat rock by the sea.
Drop a villager onto the braid, and they will gather a roll of cloth to repair the rope. When you drop a villager on the finished rope, it will tell you that “the lei needs more flowers”.
Now pay close attention to where the hummingbird is going. The hummingbird will hover around some flowers to pollinate them, after which you can drop a villager on the flower to pick it. If the hummingbird didn’t pollinate a flower it will keep telling you “this flower is not in full bloom yet”. You can usually get several flowers from one plant.
You need six flowers for one lei and three leis to complete the puzzle. Note that if you interrupt your villager as they are carrying the lei to the tree you will have to make the whole lei again from scratch!
Well done, you’ve now cured the Tree of Life!
After you’ve finished all the puzzles you can continue playing with your tribe. Try and collect all the trophies!
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