Farmville Dirt Farmer: The Dirt Farmer LIVE! Farmville Studio Interview Transcript 14th July 2016

On the 14th of July, 2016, your Dirt Farmer Team sat down with Farmville Production Leaders Ratheesh and Anil.  Join Dirt Farmers Heather, Wendy, Eric and Michele for a very special Dirt Farmer interview.  We asked them the questions you ask daily in ASK The Dirt Farmer and more. This post is a full transcript of that interview, for the hearing impaired or those who wish a quick reference and thus it is lengthy. If you would just like to review information on one topic, please use your browser’s search function to locate it. Please do share with friends as well.  To listen to the podcast for yourself Click Here.

Transcript by Dirt Farmer Karen, Images by Dirt Farmer Mary Beth, Proof reading by Dirt Farmers Melissa and Heather.

Heather:  Ok, good evening and welcome to this very special episode of the DF Live.  I'm Dirt Farmer Heather, Locke is tied up this evening, most likely at the strip club, and tonight we are bringing you our 7th interview with the Farmville Studio Team.  We have two of the folks who make our favorite game here with us, to give you an update on what's to come, as well as the status of bugs, glitches and your concerns.

First let me introduce our cast for this evening, who from your DF team is here with us.  We have two members of our Zynga Contact team that are in contact with the studio on a regular basis, addressing your concerns in the Ask the Dirt Farmer group and making sure that Farmville studio team is aware of those and can get them taken care of.  Ms. Wendy Maris is here, no doubt with her two beautiful Malamutes listening in and nosing about for puppy treats.  She's in constant contact with the studio, advocating for selling from pens and from orchards, updates, turbos and much much more.

Wendy:  Good evening, everyone, and actually no, they've got their treats, so you may hear them chewing in the background. 

Heather: And Mr. Eric Pond, our resident Pokémon Go expert, WWE aficionado, and crusader for updating daily mystery gifts, fixes, and advance information with you.

Eric:  Hello, everybody.

Heather: And joining us for the very first time on the Dirt Farmer Live, our newest and one of our most helpful and knowledgeable Ask the Dirt Farmer admins, Ms. Michele Shaffer.  Michele will be our producer this evening, and will let us know if we need to clarify anything.

Michele:  Hello, everybody!

Heather: Now please join me in welcoming our two special guests from the Farmville Studio Team, Mr. Ratheesh is a production lead at Farmville, responsible for pretty much every aspect of timelines in Farmville, many of the new things we get to play and do.  How are you today, Ratheesh, and tell us a little bit about what you do at Farmville.

Ratheesh: Hi, Heather, Hi other players, I am Ratheesh, I am the product lead for Farmville.  So I am pretty much responsible for everything that goes into the Farmville product.  I am responsible for ensuring that it turns out to be something that our players love. I'm very happy to be part of this call and thanks to the Dirt Farmer team for giving us this opportunity to interact with our players and let them know what we are planning to do in the coming few months.  And I have with me Anil.

Heather: Anil is also a production lead at the FV studio, he's joining us on air for the first time this evening.  Welcome, Anil, how are you , and can you tell us a little bit about what you do at FV?

Anil: Thanks, Heather.  Hello everybody, I'm Anil as Heather said.  I take care of , so we have a vision for FV and we ensure that whatever you guys want is pushed into the game so that you guys can enjoy it.  We would like to thank you guys for giving us this opportunity to showcase our product.

Heather: We're very glad to have you here, players love a personal touch and they love to hear directly from you what's about to happen and we all love advance information.

Let's get started with some things that the studio team asked to share with you this evening.  And I have the first question, which is what can you tell us about functionality improvements in the game and addressing things that cause players pain.  Are there any updates on additional modifications to improve the game's performance, make it easier to load, make it faster, etc..

Anil: So for the FV studio, performance is the topmost priority for us.  We have taken this issue very seriously in the past and we will continue to do so. We feel that making sure that you players can interact with the game, enjoy the game, is what we are looking for.  So in the coming quarters and coming days, our primary focus is making sure that the game loads, we reduce the freezing issues, and we make the entire game enjoyable and playable for you guys.

Heather: Is there anything special coming soon, like maybe making it a little faster to collect bushels, or anything you can tell us?

Ratheesh:  So at the moment we don't have a reason as to what could cause that, so there are a bunch of things that we are investigating Heather.  At the moment we will not be able to comment on what exactly could be the results of that investigation.  So there are a lot issues we hear our players discuss, about the craft shop, the bushels, missing neighbors, so we know these issues.  Our team, and this is the topmost priority for FV team.  So we are looking very seriously into this, but we won't be able to say which of this will be fixed in the coming months so we will let you know as soon as we have more updates from our side.

Heather: Ok, I am now going to turn this over to Wendy and Eric who will be conducting the rest of the interview. 

Wendy: Evening gentlemen, and again thank you very much for spending this time with us. Like Heather has said, our players appreciate the personal touch and knowing exactly that we have this connection with the studio.  That it's not an us versus them type of situation, so thank you very much.  Going along with that, do we have a plan, do you have a plan for addressing the missing items from gift box, missing neighbors, etc.?  And actually the accidental purchases where people will buy something and not get a popup asking them if they want to make sure they want to spend the FC?  Along that line though, as I've pointed to you previously in our other chats that we saw the grayed out button in the craft shops and stuff, that if you have the bushels, you cannot accidentally buy those bushels.  Thank you very much for that one.  That was a big problem.

Ratheesh:  So yes, what we have done is identified areas  that require improvement.  As you all know, this is a seven year old game. What we are trying to do here is like to improve your experience so related to gift box, missing neighbors, accidental purchases, all this is what we are investigating currently. I wouldn't commit to saying that we fix it overnight, but given time, say a month or two, we will have something in place for you guys to ensure that this does not happen.  So we are currently in the process of investigating each of the line items that you mentioned, and hopefully soon we will have something for you all.

Wendy:  One of the things is and we keep telling the people in ASK who want immediate changes and really do not understand all of what goes into coding is that you have a lot of San Francisco code and it's just not an overnight fix, to recode things and make sure that they're not going to break the rest of the game, things like that.  It's good hear you say that, thank you.

Ratheesh:  Sure Wendy, we are happy that you noticed the change that we pushed out.  So we know that you can expect more of the same in the coming days.  At the same time we have to keep in mind that players have been playing this game for seven years and they expect the buttons to be in a certain place, and any big change is going to impact the way they play the game so we are mindful of that as well.  It is a priority for us in the coming weeks, you can expect something in the coming few months.

Wendy:  Great, I know the players will appreciate anything that keeps them from having an accidental buy.


Eric:  Alright,  thanks again guys for joining us tonight, I cannot say that enough.  You know, a lot of game studios do not take the time out to do interviews like this so we really appreciate it.  I'm going to ask you about something I'm very excited about, what can you tell us about the ancient Greek farm?  What new exciting features have you planned for it and can you tell us the name of the farm?

Anil:  So we are very excited to talk about the new farm, as much as excited as you guys are.  So our next farm is inspired by the Greek mythology, it is themed around Mt. Olympus.  It will be a seven week farm. (side note: the studio doesn't count every week) The theme here, the FV studio team has really worked hard to bring out the big feeling of Greek mythology and the legends in the farm and the game board.  So with every game board what we try to do here is to ensure it turns out to be that people, turns out something that people love going to.  People are really excited about farming on that land.  So a lot discussion goes into, a lot of thought process goes into what themes to pick up and for this next farm we have identified the Greek theme. The early signals that we get from our players, players are liking it. I'm sure that you no doubt have noted that as well. So this time we have a unique game board that brings farming to heaven and underworld.  So players get a chance to farm on the heaven and underworld as well. Each of these regions will have a distinct lighting and ambience.  We also have some interesting effects on the rewards that you will be getting.  We are eager to see how our players respond to that.

Heather: If I can just interject quickly, will the be a tiled farm like all of the farms since Avalon have been?  Will it be a flat farm or will it something new.

Ratheesh:  It will be a tile farm, but it will be new.

Heather:  Will folks ever see a flat farm again, because there's kind of some controversy, some people would like to see those again.

Ratheesh:  The flat farm, right?  That's what you said?

Heather:  Yes, the old ones like Atlantis, England, those kinds of farms.

Ratheesh:  Yes so we have received that feedback as well.  But a lot of players like the tile farm as well.  So we will take this feedback, we will see what we can do there for the upcoming farms.

Eric:  Are we going to have a Cerberus animal for the new farm?

Wendy:  Cerberus, the three headed dog.

Ratheesh:  Yeah, so at the moment I'm not really sure about all the content in the farm.  I'm sure that it will be something that our players love.

Heather:  Can you tell us the name of the farm?

Wendy:  Remember it's our job to push for information.

Eric:  We're nosy.

Heather:  Because we're nosy ourselves.  You guys know that from knowing us.

Ratheesh:  It will related to Olympus.

Wendy:  It will be around Olympus, I'm sorry?

Anil:  So the name hasn't been finalized yet.  We should have something for you guys, probably next week, and probably after that you guys can probably announce it to our players and let them know that this is what they can expect.

Heather:  Awesome!

Ratheesh: So it will be related to Olympus, and it will mostly be, the name is going to have Olympus in it mostly.  But we are not finalizing the name on the expansion yet, completely.  We will let you know as soon as we have the name, but it will be themed around Olympus for sure.

Heather:  Ok, we're going to bug you about that because we want to know.

Wendy:  Yeah, we are.  Since it's Olympus, you know, it kind of leads to the possibility of a lot of decorations and I'm sorry, I've just started putting my toes in the water of decorating.  But anything along the Greek lines sounds like it could have a lot of decorations. That's really neat.

Heather:  And a lot of big buildings for the decorators to build around, hint, hint.

Ratheesh:  So we hope, we definitely know that and we are really sure that our players won't be disappointed with this farm.

Anil:  And we are hoping that everyone is like Wendy where that start decorating right away.

Wendy: Excellent!  Eric, go ahead.

Eric:  Is there anyway that you can tell us what the next farm will be after the ancient Greek one?

Ratheesh:  Eric, so at the moment, it's still in the works, at the moment we don't have, we have not finalized that theme yet, but we can let you know as soon as we do that.

Eric:  OK, I'll ask you in a week.

Heather:  And then I'll get you the next week, and then Wendy.

Ratheesh:  The reason that we don't commit to that now is that it is still under the discussions, and there is a chance that if we commit something to you, and then it might change at a later point of time.  So, that is our only reason why we hold back that.

Wendy:  Understood, understood.  Going back to kind of back to Story of Sakura and it's regions that were somewhat controversial, some people loved it , some people hated it.  Especially with the items and things that were time locked, features that didn't open for a specific period, or only opened for a certain stage and then you still had to wait several weeks to open another stage.  It generated a lot of controversy.  Will there be future farms with regions, similar features like the relic room?  Will there be changes made to make them more popular all around, if indeed that happens again?

Ratheesh:  So first of all here, we would like to thank our players for there love of SOS.  So we know a lot of players loved it, and this expansion was a response to our players that they wanted more time on a particular farm. So we heard a lot of comments from our players and feedback from our players that 7 week expansions or farms are too fast, and they we not able to keep up with the pace.  Hence, we came up with the 14 week farm, which was SOS. And a lot of players loved that, and we had the time on it, so that people had the time to enjoy the farm, for 14 weeks period.  So now, even though a lot of players loved that, we have decided to keep the next couple of farms in the 7 week format.  While we evaluate all the variables while we evaluate how we should be going forward with the 7 week or 14 week.  All we can tell you at this point is that the next couple of farms will definitely be the 7 week format.

Wendy:  Well, I will admit, I wasn't happy with the buildings that you had to wait to unlock a second stage.  I'm on of those that when self contained crafting buildings come out, I want to get them done, and get them done as soon as possible.  Usually, and Heather will tell you, I have them done in the first week.  But waiting for certain other things to unlock was a little irritating.  On the other hand, that's the farm that got me started on decorating so curse you! LOL

Ratheesh:  So thanks for that feedback Wendy, we know that some of the players think like you, what you just mentioned.  We will evaluate all the variables before we make decisions.

Anil:  I mean the reason that we are evaluating the 14 week farm, we know the mixed opinion around it  So we want to make sure that we implement our learnings, if and in case that we go ahead with a 14 week farm, we just need to see where we are at, how players perceive it, and see what we can do better with it.

Heather:  What if we had a choice as to whether to unlock it on time, or unlock it at will? Maybe like a two different early access packages, we could even pay a little more if we wanted to do it at our pace?  Because, personally, I didn't even play Sakura until Zen came out because I'm not going to mess with a farm until I can finish it. 

Ratheesh:  So yeah, definitely all this feedback are good, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on that.  We will consider all this feedback as well when we arrive at the decision. 

Michele:  Ok, I want to step in for a minute.  On Sakura, one of the biggest gripes people had was the timed Dojo.  If you couldn't get on, you had to spend FC, will there be any changes if you do a farm like that again? 

Anil:  I'm sorry, could you please repeat that?

Wendy:  I think Michele was saying that one of the biggest irritations, we have a lot of people now complaining that the only way that they can get their shipping license is by spending FC, because they weren't able to meet the requirements of harvesting the Dojo in time, every day, and so the only way that they can get their shipping license now is to either buy it, or buy tiles.

Heather: And there were some folks who were locked out, they had some loading issues for a number of days, and then it wasn't even their fault that they couldn't harvest it.

Ratheesh: So that's great information from Michele, thanks for letting us know that, we will definitely factor in this feedback.  About the loading issues again, so we do profile our farms before we put it in front of our players, we often each and everyone one of us goes into the farm and try to ensure that everything is ok, everything is correct.  We don't want our players to have any problems with the farms, so we can continue to do that going forward.

Wendy:  Good, because that unexpected issue with a lot of our players hurt them and as I said they are now in a position where they either have to buy the shipping license or they have to buy the additional tiles.  We may need to talk to you about something else about that, another option.

Eric:  Well I still haven't beaten the SOS farm.

(Side note:  Don't forget that the Dirt Farmer has it's very own group dedicated to decorating farms, feel free to visit or join Farmer's Showcase for some fabulous ideas, or just to enjoy the wonderful creations posted there)

Eric: Alright, with all the unreleased seed decoration spitters that are coded, why don't we see more of them actually make it into the game? Some of them would be great decorations on the farms. 

Anil:  We have a lot of seed or decorations spitters as you guys call it, we recently released tulip garden, but at the same time we don't want to release a lot to the players at one time because it is going to overwhelm them.  So we want to space them out a bit and release them when we see that players want to engage with this, we release one at a time.  So we have a few coded but at the same time we don't want to push everything together.

Ratheesh:  We will definitely start more in the coming few months.

Eric: Is there any way to not actually code new ones until all of the old ones are released? 

Heather:  Because when people see them they want them.  And everyone likes different ones so there's no way that you can make everybody happy.

Anil:  So the reason we put it out there is it's easier for us, or rather it's convenient to like push it out for the players once they are already coded, say we have to code a new decorations or seed spitter, it is going to take a lot of time.   So we just try to squeeze them in and just keep it ready for you guys.

Wendy:  Well we understand that, but we actually want to see them come out in the game.  I think that we have some, from what Heather, back in 2013?  At least 2014.

Heather: March of 2015 I think is the last one.  When the tulip garden came it took us from 17 unreleased down to 16, so that's why we want to see some more of these.  I understand it takes some time, but 16, 17, going back a year and a half?  People want this stuff.

Ratheesh:  Sure Heather, that's the reason why we pushed out the Tulip garden , we know that are players are looking forward to this, so you can definitely look forward to having those more frequently. 

Anil:  So you guys know the list of coded decorations and seed spitters that we have.  Which one would you guys like to see?

Wendy:  Oh, no, that's putting us on the spot, that's not fair.

Heather:  And we probably are all going to have a different answer if we do that.

Anil:  We will try and see that you guys see more of those in the coming months or weeks.

Wendy:  Don't get me wrong, everybody appreciates the decorations, but we even have a large player base that would like to see some seeds come back into them, and not just decorations because we have people who play the game and like to master the crops and things like that.  So hopefully, we'll see some seeds get back into them.

Ratheesh:  Sure Wendy, feedback taken we will factor this feedback and pass on this feedback to the team.

Eric:  Well how about which ones we'd like to see, the unreleased ones, how about we do a poll for that, in Ask the Dirt Farmer?

Heather:  And then the players can tell you what they want the most.

Eric:  Of all the ones that have been coded and not released yet.  We could do a poll on that in Ask the Dirt Farmer and the players can help decide and give you all feedback on that?

Ratheesh:  So Eric, let us get back to you on that, we will get back to you on that point later.

Eric:  OK

Wendy:  Understand.  I've got another decorator item, the water path that was released in the bingo game was a big change and it was very much appreciated.  Will we see more things like the water path available in the market since it appears that we are going to have water on all the future farms?  It would be really nice to have them. 

Ratheesh:  So this is definitely good to hear that our players like that reward.  We had a discussion on this particular comment and this particular feedback from our players.  Our design team will be incorporating this feedback when we think of the rewards going forward. 

Wendy:  Excellent; I know our decorators will be happy to hear that, as well as people who don't do a lot of decorating but like to embellish here and there on their farms. 

Anil:  So the water asset in bingo was more of a testing for us, but since we know that you guys like it, we will definitely see more in the coming days.

Eric:  I think Wendy was talking about me with the dabbling of the decorating.  Alright, can you give us an update on any increases in market stall capacity. Remind players why this increase in market stalls cannot be unlimited.

Anil:  So yeah, market stall capacity and gift box capacity are the two asks that we often receive from players.  This is where our hands are practically tied down because Farmville being a seven year old game, we are pretty limited with the tech that we have.  When we increase the gift box capacity, we tend to run into performance issues and as we stated earlier like performance being our top most priority, this is pretty much counter with that.  While we do understand that you guys need more space with the new farms coming out, we try to increase them when possible, but bigger increases or faster frequency, it's very hard for us to increase that, keeping performance in mind.

Eric:  I think that's understandable.

Wendy:  That is, that's very understandable, and hopefully the players understand that.  I mean we tell them.  So, along those lines, and this kind of goes back to having the mess with San Francisco coding, I've asked before and you know I'm going to ask again, is there any way that we can get a use all button, or some sort of scrolling number for the turbos and fuel cans we have in our gift box?  Can that be done? 

Anil :  Interesting to hear this.  A while back we were actually discussing like how many fuels and how many turbos do people really have in the gift box and is it actually an easy thing for them to do.  So we actually reached a finalized decision back then but then you bring it up again right now.  So we will reconsider this and we will see if it is doable in the coming months or coming weeks.  So as of now, I'm not giving commitment per se, but this is something that we will take a look at again.

Wendy:  Well we certainly appreciate that because I know that we see people commenting in ASK that they have a thousand turbos, or over a thousand turbos, or over 500 fuels cans and to sit there having to add them one by one just takes a lot because, I think I counted one time almost seven clicks to do all of that, just one. so...   Anything you guys can do with that will be greatly appreciated

Anil:   Most definitely.  So the funny part being that Ratheesh was the one who asked me this question awhile back so he was playing Farmville one day and he kept trying to use like turbos and fuels and he's like how can I do this faster.  So that's when we got into the discussion and we didn't conclusively finish it but then  you guys bring it up right now, we need to reconsider this and see where we can go with it.

Eric:  All right, that's good to know.  Last interview, we were told that a fix had been rolled out for disappearing collects for Daily Delights.  They are still disappearing and it shows next day that you didn't collect, when you did.  What update can you give us on that?

Ratheesh:  So specifically with Daily Delights, we do know that the issue still persists, for a group of players.  So in the past we have pushed out I think three to four fixes and we have explored a lot to make sure that the issue is resolved, but each time we find a common case which, and some people are still facing the issue and  we are trying our level best to actually nail it down and they get a bug free feature for you guys.  But with that being said, Daily Delights does not impact the majority of Farmville players, it's a small group of people who are affected and we are actively working on making sure that we fix it for them.

Eric:  So also if anybody has this issue, do you suggest that they contact customer support?

Ratheesh:  Most definitely.  I mean any issue that you guys have, please feel free to reach out to us, customer support is there to help you guys with all your issues, if any.

Wendy:  Great.  I seem to have gotten all the decorator questions this evening, although the also apply to our complete and total customer base, or the user base, I guess I should say since it's your customer base not mine.  When you place animals on your farm from the gift box, the gift box reopens,  but when you place decorations it doesn't.  Can that be changed so that when you place the decorations it does?  That also happens frequently with the storage, when you are bringing out items in storage you have to go back and click on storage and click on the item to put it on the farm, and things like that.  Can they be to where they are to automatically reopen?  Or can we get an idea on that?

Anil:  So we have a couple questions for you guys.  Do you prefer the gift box to open for the action that you do or do you want it to close as well?

Ratheesh:  I think you want it to reopen right, that's what you mentioned Wendy?

Wendy: That's what people are asking, that it reopen.

Heather:  Because a lot of the time when you are placing something like a path or something, having to reopen the gift box or the market every time, or the storage drives people crazy.  The path, you need 100 pieces of it, nobody wants to do that many clicks, that kind of thing. Does that make sense?

Ratheesh:  Sure, so we will take that feedback.

Wendy:  Do we have any kind of update on when we can see more permanent colors of hay bales, like the violets and browns and things like that.?

Ratheesh:  So the colors for the bales, that's what you asked, right?  So this is something which our design team comes up with.  And they factor all the feedback, they usually look at the forums, they look at what players seek, players comment on, and its their decision , and they keep rotating as well, so having the same color may lead to player monotony and boredom.  So they factor in all the aspects and then they come up with a color.  And they do their best to ensure that we don't repeat the colors too often and things are rotated, and we cater to all kinds of people.  There may be some people who like red, golden, so they are factoring all of this, and then they come up with a color.  So definitely good to hear that Wendy likes violet.

Heather:  So the thing with that is there have been a lot of limited edition hay bales, but people want more colors that will stay in the market permanently, that they can always use with their decorations. That's what they want.

Ratheesh:  So the  permanent colors, that's the thing, right?  Sure.  OK, so that's not something that we have, we will look at this.  Ok, so hay bales seems like a pretty easy thing to do, let's see how far we can get with that with the team here.

Wendy:  Cool! Thank you!

Eric:  That sounds great! Will the 80 to 90 percent off expansions or 30 percent off everything in the market for 30 minutes be returning any time soon?

Ratheesh:  So Eric, we had an 80 percent discount sale on all of our recent farms recently, in June if I remember correctly, on June 15 or 16 we had an 80 percent sale.  We had one in March as well. So we definitely have 80 percent discount sales and you definitely look forward to sales coming your way.  90 percent, we will not be able to commit to at this point, but we will definitely be having 80 percent on sales.  And we will also ensure that we have the world sales, where we have all items in the farm, in a particular farm available for sale.  So we are looking to bring that back as well.

Heather:  There used to be something where it was just a half an hour, a 30 minute sale, and it was 30 percent off everything in the market for 30 minutes.  That was hugely popular but we haven't seen it in a long long time.

Ratheesh:  Sure Wendy, so thanks for that feedback, we will definitely explore the possibility there.

Wendy:  So that was Heather, but if she hadn't said that, I would have.  It was an item, those flash sales as they put it were very popular, as well as other things we've brought up like double mastery weekends, and things like that but not going into that since we didn't ask you about it.  The current mystery babies were just extended for another three months, and we know that it is the same babies that we had for the previous three months.  Are there new ones planned for the next update, or maybe even sooner?

Ratheesh:  So yeah, the current content will be active until September ends, as you rightly pointed out.   We will be refreshing the content, we will be adding new content after that.  

Wendy: Great and I guess that is actually about the time that we will be looking for a new Bob's update.  Can we get a hint if Bob's is going to be extended?  Or am I pushing it too much?

Anil:  So yes, Bob's will be extended.  I mean, unlike mystery babies, Bob's Berry gets refreshed more often.  So you should maybe see an update for Bob's Berry around the same time as well.

Wendy:  Excellent, I know a lot of people really enjoy the Bob's feature, as well as the mystery babies, so thank you very much for that.

Anil:  Actually on that note, Bob's Berry might be extended slightly earlier than mystery babies, so you can look forward to that also.

Wendy:  Cool, you heard it here, folks!

Eric:  Is it safe to say now in this stage of the game that Bob's Berry Farm is a permanent feature?

Anil:  I wouldn't go as far as calling it a permanent feature as of now, but definitely we don't intend to take it out anytime soon.  You guys love the particular feature and we know that so we want to keep it there as long as we can.

Eric:  That's good to know.

Wendy:  Excellent

Eric:  Will there be any more updates to the daily mystery gift link in the near future?  Thank you for adding the super fertilizer, the players really appreciated that and taking out some of the older things.

Ratheesh:  So we are really glad that you guys liked the change, Eric.  So we are really happy that players like this adding super fertilizer to that. So we would also like to know from you, on what you would like to see there, and we will definitely check the feasibility from our side, whether it is possible or not.  The daily gifts, we don't want to keep it boring for sure, so we want our players to look forward to it, and of course, subject to feasibility from our side, we can add that to the mystery gift link.

Eric:  That's great, that's really good to know!

Wendy:  Yeah, people appreciate that there are different things in there, very much.  Thank  you guys! 

Wendy:  Now if I could go off on a totally different direction, we noticed that there had been a survey on the VIP membership program.  What are you plans with that, are you thinking about different tiers, different levels, or is it just going to stay the way it is?

Anil:  So it was very observant of you guys to notice that.  So it's been about two years since we launched that VIP program, and we as a team are pretty much invested in making sure the program is better for our VIPs, who are amongst the most valued people in Farmville.  So we are trying to look at opportunities to make the entire program better, and all I can state at this point is that you guys should stay tuned for more.

Wendy:  Ok, well I know when members all of a sudden got this email from an Amanda, they had no idea, they had no clue who she was, a lot of people thought it was spam and deleted it from their email and so forth, and fortunately they commented about it in ASK,  and we checked with you and you said yes she does work for you all and yes she is in charge of the VIP program.  So when she sent follow-up  emails they were all able to respond.  Can you give us some reason, or some idea why some VIP members were contacted and others weren't?

Ratheesh:  So thanks for bringing it up Wendy. So Amanda is from the Farmville Studio, and she's part of our efforts to ensure that we keep all of our players very happy.  So as you know a lot of you guys, a lot of our players have been with us for 7 years and they are really invested.  We wanted to convince our players that we are really looking forward to hearing your opinions, and we thought Amanda could help us with that.  That's exactly what Amanda is doing.  She is reaching out to the players, hearing their concerns, sharing our thoughts with them so that the players are happy.  Currently, because of the limited bandwidth we have, we have not reached out to the entire VIP player population, so we know that we will not be able to reach out to all the VIP players as well.  So that is something that we are experimenting as well and just finding out how the players are feeling, players are responding to this, and based on that, we will be taking a call on the program going forward. 

Heather:  So is it something that is specifically connected to the VIP program, is it just randomly contacting long term players?

Ratheesh:  Yeah so this is not related to the VIP program.  One thing that we want to correct here, this is not related to the VIP membership program inside the farm.  This is a separate program, which is aimed at keeping a lot of our most invested players happy.

Wendy:  Long term players, OK.  That I thinks helps to clarify it more, that it's separate from the VIP program.

Ratheesh:  Yes.

Heather:  So other folks who have been playing a long time are contacted, that's the criteria, basically?  Is that what you're saying?

Anil:  I wouldn't say that is the criteria, but that's the group of people that we are trying to hear from, what they feel about the game.  Do you think that, are they happy with the game.  So we are trying to get a pulse from them, so we get a better understanding at the studio, and probably work towards making sure that everyone's happy, or at least, I know it's pretty much impossible to make everyone happy, but we want to make the majority of our players happy.

Wendy:  OK.  Can it be expected for her to expand her contact base?  Or are you just contacting a core group?

Anil:  So right now, it's pretty much in the experimental phases, we are still testing, how better we can understand our players, so once we have some initial feedback from it, we can probably make a decision to expand.  Then we can look forward to the next steps.

Eric:  So do you need to give Amanda my number also?

Wendy:  Eric, we'll save you a coffee mug and a T-Shirt, ok?

Eric:  Ok, thank you.

Ratheesh:  Sure guys, yeah.

Heather:  We can tell you that it's random.  Because even within the people that communicate with the studio on the Dirt Farmer team, some of us got contacted, some of us didn't, it's not something that makes somebody more special than somebody else.  It's just a way that they want to keep a pulse on folks. 

Heather:  You guys may not be able to answer this, because I didn't bring it up in advance, but I have to bring it up because everybody is yelling about it.  Are there any more sheep and pigs patterns coming in the near future, because everybody's crazy for those.

Anil:  Sheep, I mean we are thinking about sheep patterns, but as for now, we aren't entirely sure if that is something that we will continue in the near future, but sheep is something that we are thinking about.

Heather:  Any new piggies, or no?

Anil:  Not that we've thought about, I'm just being frank here.

Heather:  That's good, that's fine. 

Heather:  Is there anything else that you'd like to tell the players this evening?

Anil:  Yeah so on a side note, I'm pretty sure that you all know about Carnival Booth.  So what we are trying to do here is we got an understanding that a lot of you like the features in Carnival Booth so we are thinking of refreshing one of the old features in the coming month or so.

Wendy:  Ok, so should people just keep holding on to their darts? 

Anil:  It might be any of the Carnival Booth features, we just trying to see...  We recently put up a survey to get a pulse as to what you guys like, and we have decisions with this.  So probably in a month or so you guys should see one of the Carnival Booth features released again with new rewards.  So that you can enjoy the games that you liked earlier. 

Heather:  Well that's cool.  Any other upcoming features, inside information you can give our listeners tonight?

Ratheesh:  So yes, the next new feature for us is the farm themed around Olympus.  So that is something that we are excited about and we definitely look forward to how our players are going to receive that. 

Wendy:  Well I know a lot of our players are looking forward to the Olympus farm.

Heather:  Yeah.  You said heaven and hell for one thing, are there any special features on it like we have Lord Ooga on Caveman Club, or the relic room on Story of Sakura.  Is there anything special that's coming to the farm that you can tell us about?

Ratheesh:  So we have, we are trying something with some of the rewards, so that's how much we can say at this point.  Ha ha.  So we are planning to add some effects to the rewards you will get from the buildables.  That is something that is currently under the works here at the studio.  So we will be very eager to see how our players receive that. 

Heather: What are the chances that you all can make a mistake and let us see a few images early to whet our appetites?  Or even just give us some that we can publish, just to let people get more excited, even like one or two things?  Like a loading screen or something?

Ratheesh:  So I mean a couple of weeks before we get around expansions, the next farm.  Probably around that time you guys should have some marketing stuff.  I mean you guys should have something around that time.

Wendy:  So what, next week?  Week after next?

Anil:  Next week, or the week after that, probably the name of the expansion.

Eric:  Are we going to get toga avatar costumes?

Heather:  Eric wants to party.

Eric:  Well I mean, I know technically because I've seen a lot of people get upset about that because of the origins of the toga is technically half Roman and half Greek and stuff like that, or at least a tunic, I guess you would call it.  The technical Greek term.

Anil:  Costume is something that we could explore, so let's see.  I wouldn't want to disclose what our costumes are going to be.  But I'm pretty certain that is something most likely you will like it.

Eric:  OK.

Wendy:  Anything else that you guys can tell us about, you're working on?

Ratheesh:  Yeah, sure.  So what we would like to reiterate at this time is improving the game's performance, and making it better for our players is the topmost priority for the studio at this point.  And we are doing everything at this point that we can, to make playing Farmville a better experience for our players. That was the first question that you asked as well, about the functionality improvements, performance improvements.  So that is something which we are taking very seriously, which we are putting in a lot of effort from here to ensure we fix a bunch of those.  So we are looking at a lot of options, what we could be doing there, and that is something that the studio is committed to.  And we would like to tell our players that, we would like to thank all of our players for being with us for a long period of time and that is also a source of motivation and we would like to say a big thank you for all our players for being with us.  We are looking to serving you better, every passing day.

Anil:  And this is also the answer to your previous question, as to do we have any new features lined up.  Frankly, we don't have a lot of features lined up per se, because we want to concentrate our efforts into making sure that the game that you guys like so much works as you guys want it.
Heather:  So we are getting less new features because you are working more one resolving issues that people have, because that's something that you see in ASK a lot, they say, "why don't they fix this, this,and this?"  "Why are there so many new things?"  So you can actually say that is what you are doing right now?

Anil:  In a nutshell, yes.  But you would see like sufficient features coming your way as well. Not way too much to overwhelm you guys, but sufficient features will be out there for you guys to enjoy and interact with.

Ratheesh:  So we definitely will have features, which you guys have loved in the past.  Something similar, so we do research on what you guys like, look at the comments, the forums all the time, and we definitely have some of the features coming your way.  So we really look at the player experience.

Michele:  I wanted to go back for a moment if I can for the sheep.  When the new patterns were released, when we tried to breed the sheep, you either lost the pattern, or you lost your color, or they were shadow dots.  Is there any looking into that?

Ratheesh:  So we know that some of the patterns that we have released recently were invisible and players had problems with that, that feedback is taken so we are more careful about the new patterns that we are planning, that's under the works now.  So the will be more prominent, the patterns will be more prominent for sure.

Michele:  Will the old patterns be fixed?  Because now even the ones that we got in the beginning, they no longer work.  Will they work again?

Ratheesh:   Changing something retroactively might not be possible, but we will definitely incorporate your feedback for the new patterns that we put out in the game.

Michele:  Thank you very much!

Wendy:  Well, if we can't pry anything more out of them.
Heather:  Are you sure that we can't pry anything more out of them?
Wendy:  I don't know, you're better at that than I am.
Eric:  Do you all accept checks?

Wendy:  Eric's trying to bribe you now.  Well I think if we all contribute.

Eric:   I'm sure Locke has a credit card laying around.

Heather:  So are you sure that we can't pry anything else out of you?  Any more upcoming secrets that the players would love to hear?

Anil:  I mean after this one hour call, I doubt there's any secrets between you guys and us, I think that we've pretty much been open about what our plans are and what we intend to do.

Heather:  You guys are being mysterious though, there's a lot of I don't want to disclose, or you're just giving us little hints and teasing us.  So you know, we got to try.

Anil:  I already gave you the major chunks, except for the specific details, because that might change, but the chunks that we gave you, that's what you guys can expect. 

Heather:  OK, well thank you very much for joining us this evening.  Do either of you have any other statements that you'd like to make to the players? 

Ratheesh:  So we just want to say thank you to all our players and thank you all of you for giving us this opportunity to talk to our players and convey what we are doing here in studio. 

Anil:  And keep farming!

Wendy:  Well thank you for spending your time with us!

Eric:  We appreciate everything you all do for us.

Heather:  And the players really do appreciate the personal touch, it's very good for, you know, folks to hear a human voice and you know, get to know the folks behind the game a little bit, so you're not an anonymous company.  So again, thank you very much for joining us.

Bunch of thank yous all around.

Heather:  That concludes our interview for this evening, we hope everybody has a great night, and if you have any questions about anything you heard tonight, please join us in our Ask the Dirt Farmer group to find out the answers.  Have a good night

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