Matching With Friends was almost Picnic With Friends, and other facts

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Matching With Friends Picnic With FriendsThere are plenty of things you don't know about the inner workings of Zynga, but there is probably even less known of the social gaming giant's many satellite studios. Take Zynga With Friends, for instance, the creator of Words With Friends formerly known as Newtoy. During a session at GDC Online 2012 in Austin, Tex., Zynga With Friends's Vijay Thakkar cleared a bit of that fog.

Thakkar went deep into the studio's process in creating new intellectual property (IP), from free-reign development sessions to off site jams on new ideas. (It seems that Zynga With Friends considers each entry in its With Friends as new IP.) In that process, games like the recently-released Matching With Friends started as different games entirely.

Before it went through the ringer and, according to Thakkar, faced cancellation head on, the match-heavy take on Words With Friends was known as Picnic With Friends. Its earliest concepts featured food as game pieces and a decidedly adorable art style, but lacked restraint in terms of how many pieces it allowed on the board at the time, leading to anticlimactic endings to matches. The game then went through several more art styles before it arrived at gems.

Zynga With Friends prides itself on its very start-up approach to game development, even after an acquisition by Zynga. In fact, Hanging With Friends was the result of what Thakkar calls "Indie Fridays," days given to its staff to focus on whatever they wish. However, that resulted in a year's worth of development time. "No game gets cancelled [at Zynga With Friends]," Thakkar says.

The Zynga With Friends fellow also pointed out that the studio looks to move away from the With Friends stable of board game-style mobile games. Considering the studio was also working on a city-building game at one point as well, who knows where the next release from Zynga With Friends will end up.

[Image Credit: Zynga With Friends]

Are you a fan of the more recent With Friends games, or are you a Words With Friends purist? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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