The result is a much more in-depth experience than the average social game. However, Bisceglia notes that developers must still try to preserve the casual feeling. Players need to be able to stop and take a phone call, for example, without losing their place. The key, says Bisceglia, is to balance “synchronous and asynchronous” aspects of the game, allowing players to participate whether or not their friends are playing at the same time.
Adventure World incorporates new technology that Zynga developed called the Boston Rendering Optimization engine (so called because it was created at Zynga Boston, formerly Conduit Labs). This engine allows a complex game environment to run using the browser technology Flash, speeding up the loading and processing of interactive objects and freeing designers to build larger, more complex worlds. Without the engine, players would likely experience slow loading times or hiccups during the game.
Zynga Boston CTO Craig Lancaster says, “We wanted a social game with the style and scope of games we’d played outside of that genre, and we had to build the engine that let us do that.” The company plans to use the new engine to power future games.
Like other Facebook games, Adventure World is designed for short bursts of play. Players might work on a map for 15 minutes during a coffee break, says Kurlancheek. And Zynga is sticking with its proven business model, offering for sale virtual items that will help players complete tasks within the game more efficiently.
In addition, Kurlancheek says, Adventure World’s creators aimed to deepen the social experience. Many of Zynga’s games reward players who recruit friends to help them accomplish in-game tasks. In Adventure World, friends can make different contributions to one another’s progress. A player can gather skills and items and then share them with friends—in order to, say, win renown as the player who does best with the grappling hook.
Zynga has already taught many casual players what it means to level up. Kurlancheek hopes that Adventure World will also tempt casual players to talk about things like getting a party together to explore a new corner of the game. “This is the first time my Mom actually understands what I do,” he says.