The Dirt Farmer’s Visit to the Zynga Farmville Studio


The Dirt Farmer's Farmville Studio Visit

Before I move into the actual topic, I would like to take time to call for a celebration of sorts… This post here commemorates the occasion of your trusted Dirt Farmer clocking a cool 2500 posts on this site… Infact, this one is the 2500th post on www.FarmvilleDirt.com… What more? Another achievement to cherish about is ASK The Dirt Farmer group becoming the go to destination for 25000 members for their Farmville related queries (coincidently happens on the same day – today)… A double feat that is rare to happen, so this calls for a celebration… Now, everyone take off to your refrigerators and get some snacks to celebrate this dual milestone, and then come back to read about The Dirt Farmer’s exclusive visit to the famed Zynga’s Farmville Studio…

 

Warning: Move to the next line only when you have your celebration snacks and drinks on your table…


It was a busy yet pleasant day as usual in Bangalore when I reached the city for some personal work. Staying at my relatives, I left from their home early as I had to complete my work at the earliest. I had some other schedules planned for the day, for which I was waiting since a long time. Noon approached and it was nearly that time which I was planning for. It was time to visit the Zynga Farmville Studio in the city, as a Dirt Farmer. Yes, you heard that right. The Farmville studio of Zynga is now operational from Bangalore, India. Zynga India has been operational since last 4.5 years, but most of the Farmville operations have moved here from San Francisco studio only since the last few months.

 

Well, I won’t take long for other details or crap talk…. Let me get straight to my visit and experience… Btw, I did not just crash into the Zynga office and say that I wanted to go inside… I had to take prior appointment and timing before so that I could get good time to spend and not disturb their schedules, and also so that they are prepared for the visit too… Once I got into the office, I was (as expected) asked to sign an NDA related to the visit… Then a person (Mr. A) from the Zynga team (not taking any names here as I have a fading memory, and maybe also to protect identity of the people associated) took me along on a quick tour of the office (I had been there earlier once, but just for a quick casual visit and not prepared to attack them with questions from the DF team, but this time I was prepared) and I got introduced to some members from the various departments of Designing, Product management, customer care, etc… Next, I was taken to a conference hall for further discussions, and I expected 5-6 members from various sections to be there to listen to me for a few minutes maybe… And that is where I estimated it totally wrong…

 

It was not 5-6 people that came into the conference room, but about 10-12 of them poured down in just a couple of minutes, and got seated in all corners of the room, literally surrounding me (I thought they all wanted to catch me on behalf of DF for making all those pictures trashing the Zynga guys for bugs/issues in the game)… They all took their seats, got themselves introduced, and then, they just waited… Just struck to me that it was my turn to talk… It was just the beginning of things to come…

 

The discussion started with Zyngites (yes, they call themselves that) asking me reasons as to why we (The Dirt Farmer team and also as a player myself) feel that people are leaving the game, what could be done to bring back player confidence towards the game, and related topics… It was not just one person talking, but 3 to 4 of them taking turns to ask their own questions to me, trying to look for answers, or tally it with the ones they already assume… One thing that got my attention was that I could see concern in their faces towards the game… They really seemed intended on making the game better, and that could be sensed from their tone, expressions, and the way they were all trying to attentively listen to all that was being discussed there…

 

As little more time passed, another batch of Zyngites came inside… Now it was like 15+ members (maybe even 20 of them) in the room, and all of them started participating in the discussions… We even discussed some of the points that I had noted down on behalf of our team, like follow up on FV Express updates, pending bugs/issues which were yet to be addressed since a long time, some feature requests from players in our ASK The Dirt Farmer group, a few new ideas from our ASK group and also some of our own… It was quite an interactive session overall and I could see everyone there trying to take down notes on important points, bug reports, and other stuff… We discussed a lot on these topics for about an hour, and I was being questioned for doubts from my left, right, front and all possible corners… That really made one thing clear for me… This team might be new to coding for Farmville than the SF team (they do have vast experience in other games though, like YoVille, Cafe World, Empires and Allies, Hidden Chronicles, Hidden Shadows, and others), but they had more willingness to try their best to make the game better… Even our experience of communicating with the new team on various issues or bug fixes has been great so far, when compared to the earlier team… When asked what drives them to care so much about the game, they only had one answer… They were being driven to work for making the game better by their new GM in India… Well, that explained it… A good leader is the only motivation that can drive an entire team towards a common goal…

 

The meeting did not help me get any deadlines on possible fixes, nor did I get any info on yet to be released features, nor did they give any assurance on whether the mentioned issues would be fixed, but the one positive that I was content with is that they are willing to experiment and interested in listening to players, which in itself is a BIG STEP towards a better future for the game… Well, with this thought, the meeting ended after around an hour of discussion… We would have discussed more, but they had a team meeting scheduled, so had to end up earlier than expected… I made my move out of the conference room, and was instantly pleased to see the GM in person… We spoke for a couple of minutes only as he had to go into the meeting… From there I was taken to their refreshment zone, where I was offered snacks and soft drinks… I was watching around to check the atmosphere of the workplace, and was surprised to see one of them picking up a dart gun (the one with the soft darts which stick to the walls)… He aimed it at one of his colleague and took a shot, just because he wanted his attention… The refreshment room even had a couple of games for the employees to de-stress themselves… It showed that there was a good atmosphere built in the office…

 

After I had my drink, we moved back down (did I forget to mention that the FV studio was in the 3rd floor of the Zynga building?) towards the exit… Thanked the person accompanying me (Mr. A), and left on way to my home, satisfied that there is a responsible team now for Farmville, which will at least try, if nothing else, to revive the game, and not just give up on it as a lost project… I will surely be looking forward to paying them another visit sometime in the coming months given an opportunity…

 







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  1. This is an excellent report. Thank you so much for it.

    Of course, all Zynga has to do is to look on their own forum to see the many problems with the game. These are also posted, daily, on the various Dirt Farmer sites. Do the employees you talked with even know there is a Zynga forum? Or Dirt Farmer sites?

    I think the most important problem is to have a way to get back missing/stolen farm cash. Zynga should at the very least have some mechanism in place so that everybody who has stolen/missing farm cash can get it returned. Many of us paid real money to get farm cash, so this is real money that is being stolen. The Dirt Farmer "missing farm cash" page has been absolutely worthless in helping us get our stolen money back, and I am surprised that it is not only still there, but that the Ask DF Facebook page today told people to report their missing cash there. I reported in detail last August, and nothing was ever done.

    So, if you do visit Zynga again, would you please suggest that something be done about getting missing/stolen farm cash returned?

    Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the missing cash post on the DF site was created only after permission from the Zynga heads, and it was being tracked for a while. But then the studio shift happened and most of the operations shifted from SF to India. Being a new team for FV, they are yet to know of all the talks that happened before with the DF team and Zynga. The same concern was risen with them when I went to visit them, and they told they were unaware but thanked me for informing them about it, and told that they will contact the SF team and get details on the same and try to start following those 2 posts (missing FC and bugs reporting) on a regular basis... yet to hear confirmation from them, but on a different note, they have been actively following our FP and groups like ASK the Dirt Farmer, and even comment there on occasions, which shows that they are more intent in communicating with the players than the earlier team... A lot of good communication initiatives have happened in the last few months which I sincerely hope will only get better with time, and we will also get them to start following the 2 posts on DF site more often too... :)

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for that excellent reply. I deeply appreciate it.

      Delete

 
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