Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Adventure World Is Bigger, Richer and More Treacherous, But It’s Still a Zynga Game

It must be an interesting experience to be a Zynga game designer working on a new franchise launch. On the one hand, you’re creating something that is guaranteed to be used by an unfathomably large number of people, and you have corporate support to make the new product bigger and better than whatever came before. But still, you have to always be careful to keep things simple, to never ask too much from players, so that you can find a mainstream audience.

That’s what Nabeel Hyatt, general manager of Zynga Boston just went through. His team created Adventure World, Zynga’s new Facebook game that is being announced today and will launch in the next few weeks.

Adventure World features many innovations that are novel for Zynga: a game board that is 40 times larger than anything previous, a new 3-D rendering engine with customizable avatars, tasks that require the qualifications of Facebook friends based on their previous gameplay, and 200 possible quests that include puzzles and battles. Beware, coddled FarmVille and CityVille players: There are even good and bad consequences!

But this is still a Zynga game. Even though players can now swing 3-D machetes, they can’t necessarily wield them with skill, good timing, or in a particular direction. And even though friends can now work together on tasks, they still don’t have to do so at the same time — asynchronous game play is still a core part of all things Zynga.

“We didn’t want to make a hardcore game,” Hyatt said. “It’s a tough balance to make something that’s still in its essence a mainstream product.”

Hyatt (pictured at left) attested that Adventure World was inspired by “everything from Indiana Jones to ‘Jewel of the Nile,’ pulp movies of the ’30s and ’40s, ‘The Maltese Falcon,’ ‘National Treasure’ and the ‘The Da Vinci Code’ — the concept is the world is covered in secrets that you’re trying to uncover.”

Adventure World is Zynga’s third big launch this year, following Empires & Allies and Pioneer Trail, which was an update to FrontierVille.

Hyatt and his team came to Zynga when it bought Conduit Labs last year, and the Adventure World rendering engine was something they had been working on before the acquisition. The team now has about 35 people. The game will be launching in eight languages, but for now it is not available on any platforms other than Facebook.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google