The Ville: Zynga's formula distilled to fine wine with borrowed ingredients

The Ville preview
The newest 'Ville game to come from Zynga seems as if the developer knocked on YoVille's door to borrow some proverbial sugar and peered into The Sims Social's window from atop a tree branch. Zynga then took that and everything it has learned and stirred it up into the frothy brew that is The Ville, what can be considered the next generation of 'Ville games from Zynga.

Upon first glance--thanks to a hand-off demo courtesy of FarmVille creator and Zynga senior VP of product Mark Skaggs--The Ville looks strikingly similar to The Sims Social, but upon closer inspection, this game more like a goulash of YoVille and Playfish's flagship Facebook game. Just like in both games, players build their very own dream home, complete with decorations, furniture and functional items.
TheVille on Facebook
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The Ville: Zynga's formula distilled to fine wine with borrowed ingredients
Of course, these items all serve to raise a player's house value, which is eerily similar to how The Sims Social ranks players, though the developer insists it was inspired by CityVille's population value. But what good is a sweet pad if you can't show it off? This is where The Ville separates itself from both games, albeit through improving what both do best.

Seemingly at any point during play, players are able to invite multiple friends over to their houses asynchronously. During that time, your friends' avatars will interact with one another automatically, making the group chill session seem natural. However, the player has the option to have her fully-customizable avatar (right down to personality traits) interact with her friends' in a number of ways.
The Ville on Facebook
Skaggs shows us, for the sake of the demo, how a player might woo his friends' avatar into dating his digital self. A Zynga staffer's avatar cooks a lovely dessert for her friend using ingredients both home-grown and borrowed from friends. Then, she plays a game of pool with him, but ultimately she decides that she wants someone else, and heads to another friend's house. (Asynchronously, of course.)

After partaking in a few flirty interactions with this friend, she decides it's high time to head to the bedroom to make "whoopie", as Skaggs calls it. After the hearts fly, the player earns hearts--otherwise known as relationship points--herself and her friend likely earns some next time he logs into The Ville. But something interesting, something new happens almost immediately after.
The Ville Z Talk
The players returns to her avatar's home, and brings up a module known as Z Talk. It's a log of all interactions your friends have with you and vise versa, with the ability for both parties to comment on those actions in-game and push that content to Facebook. The system is admittedly meta, like having a Wall with your Wall ... so you can--never mind. But it's also admittedly brilliant.

Before this, players would talk about their in-game actions outside of said games, on Facebook, of their own accord. In fact, some developers dreamed of the idea in marketing for their own games. But The Ville facilitates that potentially viral chatter with a proprietary system that even pulls in players' Facebook status messages for players to comment on.
The Ville screens
The Ville is, for all intents and purposes, Facebook's meta game. It's also Zynga's much needed update to YoVille and its answer to The Sims Social in one admittedly gorgeous package. But are these ingredients--both borrowed and original--too much flavor to make for the fine wine that Zynga seems to hope to produce? Find out for yourself when The Ville goes live later today.

Are you excited to hang out with your friends in The Ville? Does the Z Talk feature interest you? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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