CityVille: Five things Zynga says it could have done better

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After CityVille launched, it was only a matter of weeks before it surpassed FarmVille and reached its current height of 20 million daily players. Zynga Product Development VP Mark Skaggs says they managed to perform what he considers the "impossible" with FarmVille and then with CityVille almost two years later.

And even though Zynga's city building Facebook game is breaking all sorts of records in popularity, Skaggs admitted there were things they could have done better. And his laundry list, revealed in his talk at the 2011 Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, goes something like this:

Trains are only "kind of cool"

Yes, the trains in the game will bring you goods, but they don't really add that 'wow' factor.

Simpler interface for Franchises
"People just click on the buttons and don't really know what they mean," says Skaggs.

It was too easy to buy expansions and people's cities grew too quickly.

Longer run way on the simulation
In normal-person speak, that means that power players shouldn't have been able to crank through the game as quickly as they did.

More surprises and easter eggs
What's more fun than discovering a hidden secret in the game? In FarmVille, it's great to discover that you can trap your farmer so you can get things done faster. In Pet Society, it's really fun the first time you get your pet to produce collectible poo.

Other challenges Skaggs said the CityVlle team faced when making the game was creating a story that was as engaging as the one in FrontierVille (you have to get a spouse, start a family) and injecting fun into the game.

This might be controversial, but I'd argue that CityVille -- despite its runaway success -- is still lacking on the fun factor. Maybe perhaps improvements to the five things listed above (my personal vote is for more surprises/Easter eggs) would bring a much needed sense of delight to the game that's present in FarmVille and FrontierVille but somehow still missing in this virtual city planner.

What do you think Zynga can improve about CityVille? Do you find the game fun to play? Sound off in the comments below. Add comment.

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