FV2 Interactions

Less is more
Challenge

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.

In the original FarmVille, harvesting 15 crops took 15 clicks.

In the original FarmVille, harvesting 15 crops took 15 clicks.

Approach
In FarmVille 2 we utilized click-and-drag to queue up similar tasks. Now harvesting is a single click.

In FarmVille 2 we utilized click-and-drag to queue up similar tasks. Now harvesting is a single click.

Click-and-drag was also the de facto input mode for panning the board. Could we come up with a way to allow both?

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.

A radial menu was explored but ultimately scrapped because of the ever-increasing number of options.

A radial menu was explored but ultimately scrapped because of the ever-increasing number of options.

We knew our demographic was not very computer savvy and would be quickly overwhelmed by a complex or subtle system.
Solution

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 

A massive interaction matrix defined all default actions and cursor states.

A massive interaction matrix defined all default actions and cursor states.

The solution was to offer less, not more. Instead of allowing everything at any moment, we simplified the user flows drastically so a single click would perform the most likely action by default.

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

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.

Instead of a radial menu with a ton of options, we simplified: a single click would perform the default action. If it’s hungry, feed it. If it’s ripe, harvest it.
On-board interactions were made as satisfying as possible; picking up animals and dropping them is one of the most delightful in the game.

On-board interactions were made as satisfying as possible; picking up animals and dropping them is one of the most delightful in the game.