Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Downloadable Content... a Glitch Solution

(DISCLAIMER: All information and ideas in this post are purely hypothetical, As far as I'm aware nothing like this is being planned and there's zero precedent in Zynga history so is unlikely, I'm just having a nerdy brainstorm)

One of the biggest changes recently, possibly ever, to the console gaming market has been the gentle assimilation of what was originally a PC gaming-only staple, hard drives.

From a quick 5 minute install or update to the 30-45 minutes it took me to install the latest Gran Turismo on my PS3, console gaming has taken a huge leap forward in severely cutting loading times and being less static, gone are the days of buying a game on a cartridge or disc and that was the finished product.

I recently bought Fallout: New Vegas, a pretty new game but already on it's second patch by the time I got it, upgrading game content and features.

Along with being able to patch the game it even allows quick and easy addition of new content, even paid items.

And so, this got me thinking. Surely downloadable content is in the future of web games as well? Not so much for the sake of additional content or patches as they're even easier to do in an online platform... but the much maligned area of loading times.

Elsewhere I've mentioned the problems Zynga have with server issues, especially in the case of chicken farmers etc. Loading all the assets the game requires to function takes time and bandwidth, hammering the Zynga servers hard and giving us some fairly slow loading at times, even major game crashes.

So, dear readers, a vision into a utopian future.

I boot up Frontierville and it loads, swiftly and cleanly. I play it for an hour or so with no glitches, errors or rollbacks and my progress is saved smoothly to the servers thanks to there being minimal server load and a strain on the bandwidth.

I visit some neighbours... each homestead loads quickly and easily on my screen, no matter how many items they have or how bad a chicken farmer they are.

When closing the game I do so with the confidence born of knowing my game status will be kept safe until the next time I visit and wont have been lost in a worrying server-burp along the way.

All this simple, clean and swift gameplay is thanks to one thing... A downloaded asset pack/software insert.

Just think if we could download a small piece of software that would contain the vital in game assets, the flash objects and images that are the in game representations of the animals, buildings, avatars, trees... even debris and varmints.

This would mean every time we loaded the game, rather than needing to download all the required assets and place them over an internet connection from already strained servers they'd simply be plucked from our hard drives at many times the speed of even the fastest cable broadband.

The read/write speed of an internal hard drive (or even an external USB drive) is vastly better suited to the transfer of lots of data than an internet connection.

Even if only a quarter or fans took up the option just think how much freer the servers would be, how much less data would need to fly over those lines... A quick update of the software every time new content is launched would surely be better than the constant drain of the assets being loaded every time we boot up the game?

I'm not talking about playing the game offline, it would never work, we need that connection to the server and to Facebook. Just speeding up the play by making most of the server/memory hungry items locally sourced rather than dragged from online.

The game could still look online if no local assets are found, so playing on a friends computer would still be easy to do, just a bit slower. (I KNOW nobody would play this on a work PC at all, that would just be wro... QUICK! change windows and look busy, here comes the boss!)

As I said at the start, this is very much a hypothetical situation.

Could it be done? I don't know.

Would it help? I THINK so... but maybe it wouldn't, I admit I'm a fallible nerd.

All I know is the idea struck me and I felt the desire to waffle about it. If you managed to read right through the end then congratulations. You get the reward of a very special mystery animal, an invisible badger. It'll sit just off the top edge of your homestead and you won't be able to see it or feed it but you'll know it's there.

Go look, I've put it there now, just for YOU.


  1. I just want to be able to play ! By the way the badger is adorable .

  2. The badger is very cute and I think it's a good idea too.

  3. I love reading what you write. It would be a good idea if it would work. Not have to read about all the problems going on. Then Zygna might be able to do or fix some of the other little problems going on. Or if this was possible, then we wouldn't have any problems. But like you said this is a "What If" Because some people aren't happy if there not complaining about something. Thank you for this thought and the many others that you have come up with. Also loved your humor in the "RULES" Keep up with the brain storms, I appreciate them.

  4. AWW the badger is a cute little bugger,blue my fav color. LOL. And Andy that would be a dream come true, if that we ever to happen. Think of the possablities!!!

  5. Really great idea. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath. Maybe you should try to get on with Zynga! Thanks for the badger! :-)

  6. Developers usually love nerdy brainstorms!

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