Game maker Zynga touts ‘Made in Cambridge’
From the ads, it looks like Zynga is excited about its new game, “Adventure World,” and only slightly less excited that the game was, as the ads say, “Made in Cambridge.”
The local origins of the Facebook game are prominent on ads splashed around the T’s red line, including cardboard sheets inside the cars and a giant skin on the T station itself at Harvard Square.
The group jungle adventure game, which went live last month, is described as “one of the company’s most ambitious yet, containing 200 quests, 30 maps, more than 1,000 art assets and 20,000 objects … more than 40 times bigger than past Zynga games like ‘FarmVille,’” according to venturebeat.com. “It’s got dramatic music, cute sounds, a good-looking and large map, and lots of fauna to hack. The game’s slogan is ‘Grab life by the boulders,’ and its cartoonish art is meant to appeal to as broad a group of users as possible.”
Zynga is best known for the “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars” games that clogged Facebook status updates for an impressively long time and for a Machiavellian approach to business that has literally earned the San Francisco company a reputation for being evil. (“Zynga’s motto is ‘Do Evil,’” an ex-employee of the company told the SF Weekly.) But with plans to go public and a need to boost players above its recent 275 million, Zynga is seen as needing more and better games — which led to the purchase of two local software firms, Conduit Labs and Floodgate Entertainment, over the past couple of years.
The combined 35 employees are called Zynga Boston although based in Cambridge’s Central Square, according to The Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner, and soon to move to larger offices Harvard Square that allow room for expansion.
Hence the proud, red line-wide boast of “Made in Cambridge.”
But from Kirsner’s description, the Cambridge programmers also have much to be proud of:
Zynga Boston also developed its own rendering engine, the software that paints the picture you see on screen, to enable you to move fluidly through such a vast game universe. They dubbed it the BRO Engine, which stands for Boston Rendering Optimization, and work on it began well before Conduit was acquired by Zynga. Zynga Boston also built many of their own custom development tools that enabled them “to create lots of content in a short amount of time, without reinventing the wheel,” according to Paul Neurath, Zynga Boston’s creative director, and formerly the CEO of Floodgate.