Is it possible to create a new genre of social game? Who knows, but that's exactly what Zynga Boston, formerly known as Conduit Labs, aims to do with its very first Zynga game: Adventure World. Announced just recently, Zynga Boston Lead Game Designer Seth Sivak took us on a hands-off tour through the game--a long, detailed tour of Zynga's largest game to date. Coined as a "social adventure game" by Sivak, Adventure World throws players into exploration age of the 1930s in search of El Dorado.
Heavily inspired by old adventure comics and design quirks of the time, Adventure World has players searching across five massive environments for the Lost City of Gold, which players will ultimately arrive at. (Though, based on the size of these levels and what it takes to trek through them, that won't be for awhile.)
And while basic navigation through the game doesn't venture far from staples like The Pioneer Trail or the original FrontierVille, it's the nuances that make this first effort truly unique from Zynga's previous releases.
For one, Adventure World, complete with pseudo-3D , cel-shaded characters, was built using a brand new engine overlaying the Flash player almost all Facebook games are displayed through, using tech borrowed from Conduit Labs. Two, the environment reacts to you, and more often than not poses a threat. Traps litter every map in Adventure World, and they have a funny way of letting you know of their presence.
As Sivak walked us through a lush, massive jungle (one of the game's first environments), he stumbled over a trap of wooden spikes that drained his Energy. However, he noticed a small lever next to the trap that could have been interacted with. Later, he approached a similar trap with more caution, disarming it by pressing the lever, which rewarded him with lots of bonuses.
Throughout your time in Adventure World, the game will teach you its many gameplay hooks slowly but surely, which is a far cry from the extremely literal approach of the company's other games. Basically, instead of the game demanding that you complete certain tasks a specific way like previous Zynga games, Adventure World wants you to pay attention to detail and learn from it. This tactic will come in handy across the game's litany of puzzles, too.
Sivak called this a "Rule of Three," meaning the game presents an obstacle once for you to encounter, and twice more with slight variety to show you that there's more at play here than just tiles. In fact, certain puzzles have you applying pressure to tiles to cause stairs to raise or doors to lift, all of which adds life to a game that otherwise wouldn't look much different than Zynga's previous work.
We did mention the word "social" somewhere up there, right? Ah yes, this is a "social adventure game," and Zynga Boston is looking at a few interesting ways to foster social play. Through your time in Adventure World, you will see silhouettes of potential friends that can join you in times of need. While it's not mandatory, making use of your friends (asynchronously, of course) is highly encouraged.
This is thanks to Tools, or objects that players will acquire in their travels like machetes to cut down brush or grappling hooks to climb high walls. However, your Tools will level up with your adventurer at your discretion, as your only given so many points per level to apply to your Tools. Since it's much wiser to focus on powering up just one or two Tools, your friendships become far more useful both ways for specific situations. Finally, the game will reward you for using friends more often than others, increasing the bonuses they provide with each visit, which serves to organically create a tight group of friends (12 maximum, it seems) to play with.
For a point of reference to the game's actual size in terms of content and literal real estate, Sivak told us that the game is 40 times larger than FarmVille. More specifically Zynga Boston packed over 1,000 distinct art assets, over 10,000 avatar combinations and 200 quests across 30 maps in Adventure World.
However, this game has no territory to maintain--just a linear story told through quests and cutscenes, and an adventure to trek through with your friends. (In fact, Sivak revealed to us that the game draws influence from the classic Legend of Zelda series, which certainly shines through in the puzzles.) And while there is no direct replay option planned, Zynga Boston plans to make certain scenarios re-playable, and will add more adventure content later down the line.
While the game won't release for a few weeks, we're already excited to get our hands on what looks to be one huge Facebook game in more ways than just the size of its jungles, mountains, volcanoes and ancient golden cities. Wow, that does sound like a lot, doesn't it?
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What do you think of Adventure World based on what it sounds/looks like? Do you think Adventure will hit a fever pitch, as most Zynga games are wont to do? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.