BEN KAWAICHI

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It's hard work making things easy

Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to make an interaction feel effortless. We wanted users to be able to click-and-drag to "paint" actions, but that input was reserved for panning the canvas. So we took the time to devise a system that would allow users to do both—without thinking. The result: less clicking, more farming.

Farms are more fun than dialogs

Keeping the user on the board was a huge priority for us. So when we needed a dialog, we used a split-screen approach where dialog actions on the left are reflected by on-farm actions on the right, keeping the user rooted on the farm.

Keep your eye on the prize (chicken)

There's nothing worse than getting overwhelmed. To avoid information overload, we set up strict rules around preserving a clean HUD and always surfacing information contextually. Our goal: only show you what matters, when it matters.


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A feature that's going places

English Countryside was FarmVille's most ambitious initiative yet: a second farm in a faraway land. Rather than simply plopping our users in a new environment, we took them on carefully a crafted journey, wrapping brand new mechanics in a compelling story arc with a host of new characters.

1 + 1 = Ewe

If that weren't enough, we also introduced a groundbreaking new breeding mechanic in English Countryside. Instead of a series of preset outcomes, the system was procedural; users could collect different colors and patterns of sheep and cross breed them for infinite possibilities.

A game changer

English Countryside was so successful it set best practices for the game moving forward. FarmVille now offers expansion farms every quarter, and animal breeding continues to expand and drive gameplay.


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Poker is scary...but pirate penguins are fun!

To teach poker in a non-threatening way, we had to move away from the sleek, intimidating feeling of most casino games. By including familiar video game concepts like power-ups and exotic bosses created a fun, slot machine-style experience that attracted a new demographic.

Why can't we be friends?

Poker Blitz was designed to be a teaching game, so we focused on creating an environment that felt accessible to beginners. Instead of head-to-head competition, we introduced collaborative gameplay as well as a weekly chip count race. Low commitment gameplay and helpful tutorials also helped establish a base comfort level and ensured that no one felt scared to try their hand.

An early experiment

Though it never became a smash hit, Poker Blitz was noteworthy in that it prefigured the current wave of casual casino games. It was a unique opportunity to explore a new concept in social gaming with a small team and it taught us a lot about the casual game space.