The original FarmVille was cumbersome to use. Too many clicks, too many contextual menus—it just wasn't a joy to play with. For FarmVille 2, we knew we wanted a more seamless, immersive experience—it needed to be exceptionally easy to use.
The team decided to utilize clicking and dragging to reduce experiential pinch. Now all of a sudden you could harvest a field of crops with a single swipe—no more carpal tunnel from harvesting the farm. It was a great idea, but it also posed a huge interaction challenge: click-and-drag is also the de facto input mode for panning the board. Could we come up with a way to allow both?
Furthermore, we knew our demographic was not very computer savvy and would be quickly overwhelmed by a complex or subtle system. Radial menus and heavy tool-based gameplay were scrapped because it was too complex.
Sometimes it takes complexity to make things simple. A ton of prototyping and iteration led us to a ruleset that allowed for a minimal amount of tools, with simple one-click default actions for all object. We developed massive charts and may prototypes
Came up with various models and began working with a developer to prototype them. Defining the most used actions and scenarios, and catering to the most common. Don’t allow everything at any moment—constraints are helpful in this case because we knew we wanted to reduce the number of choices for our demographic. If click on bare plot and we assume you want to seed.
Outcome: FarmVille 2 became a wildly successful game, with XXX DAU and accounting for 40% of Zynga’s revenue. The systems we put in place are still largely intact, and as the game matures we are able to maintain the simplicity of the core interactions.