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

Sunday 29 January 2012

Gaming on a Diet

[Please note: this is an Andy's Imagination post, purely my own thoughts and will likely not appear in game]

Folks, my brain has been on the work again... This is another one of those posts where I show unbelievable arrogance and suggest I might know better than the company behind some of the world's most popular games... go figure. (Hey, might as well live up the stereotype some folks have of me!)

Today's idea isn't a building, or a feature or a little tweak, it's actually something a little more excessive.

Today's idea is Frontierville on a diet, it is...

Yep, Lite.

We know that Frontierville/Pioneer Trail is an intensive game these days. Many issues can be traced back to PC performance, especially memory.

So why not have another option for those with slower PCs or who want a quick fix in a half hour lunch break?

The differences between the main game and the Lite one are fairly significant but mostly cosmetic... The two modes will use the SAME server so your info will be the same across both, you can play one then go play the other and find your game exactly how you left it...

1) Expansions - Lite has no expansions, no Trail, no Hollow, no Ghost Town. It is PURELY for playing the homestead. That's a price folks have to pay and they can still play them via the main game. All extraneous code is hoovered out.

2) Animations - All assets are simple, unanimated image files, no animal movement, no little building tweaks. Instead of larger Flash files everything is just a small, web-optimised PNG image file. This speeds loading time and play time.

3) Avatars - OK, this one is a doozy but bear with me. We lose the people. No spouse, no kids, no NPCs so Granny, Doc, Bess etc all go away. If you need to talk to them you click their relevant building.

And... here's where the mind is bent, no avatar. You click, something gets done, it's that simple. The avatar is graphical bling. Neighbours could be a simple icon you click and the work gets done, the family could be choosable options so you can still do spouse/child specific mission requirements... but no more avatars on screen in Lite.

4) Doobers - The Doobers (the items that pop when you tend/harvest etc) all go out the window. They're a good graphical show off feature but honestly, who is THAT bothered? When it works fine, folks ignore it. When it works BADLY... then it becomes a source of huge frustration as it slows the game down and you're chased around the screen by doobers as you try to get anything done.

In Lite stuff just gets credited, it just happens.

5) Popups - OK, I've gone into great length about this before, and frankly we ALL know how helpful this would be. No Jack telling us what we already know, no popup asking us to send largely pointless gifts to friends, no automatic giftbox... when we load up it just goes into game and we get to play the game without interruption, and much smoother.

6) Menus - Menus will be simplified, Collections are especially optimised with smaller images, possibly even NO images. Again, doesn't look as pretty but some folks would rather drive an old Ford that does 40 MPH instead of a Ferrari that's limited to 5 MPH.

Mission menu, gifting menu, building menus, all cropped down and simplified with smaller (and uglier, yes) graphics to speed loading.

Obviously this is going to be a balance, both for us and Zynga. Lite will be limited and less fun/less aesthetic. We get a quicker game but at a cost of limited gameplay, features and attractiveness.

Most people, if possible, would still play the bigger better XL version, but this Lite version would make it simpler to just nip in, tend some animals, make a request or two, plant a couple crops and be out again. Quick, simple and smooth.

Right now folks find it hard to play because the game is trying to be so good.

Perhaps it's time to give another possibility, to admit that this won't look so pretty, that it won't be as complete... but what it WILL be is working for those on slow internet connections or with less powerful computers.

No point having a pretty game if folks don't get to play it.


  1. I want the LITE please. Have to post as anonymous cause I don't know where to find the URL, but my name is Mavourneen Ellis so please give me the LITE.

  2. Great ideas..Wish it would happen..It's a shame that Zynga really doesn't listen to it's players and what ideas they have that would improve game play for everyone across the board.

  3. Sounds like the Perfect game to me!! Why dont someone do it? All the extras you speak of are only a hassle anyway and could be done with out. I am all for your idea.

  4. I went 'cold turkey' over Christmas and the New Year mainly due to the time it took to load everything. So far I haven't been tempted to go back but a lite version would help!

  5. I have been thinking that some sort of sliding scale would be an encouragement to some of us slower players. Like you might have easier requirements if you are not at a very high level, or if you've been working on the same mission for months! But this idea sounds even better!

  6. Awesome ideas!!!!!!!!!!!!! It would make playing so much more pleasant!

  7. Fantastic ideas, Andy. I would play the Lite version 90% of the time. Please take over Zynga and implement your ideas!

  8. Andy
    Your posts are always a delight. I find myself sitting here saying you are seeing into me. Thanks for the posts, I hope zynga hears you !!!

  9. rather it be left alone! yeah it's slow sometimes and hard to load..but I like things in the game as they are....

  10. Im in on this one ..Lite please

  11. I'll take a 6 pack of the lite plzzz :)

  12. This is a great idea. I also feel we should be allowed to pick and choose which missions we want to do. If one comes up you click accept or deny. I had neighbors leave because the crafting and missions got to be way too time consuming and demanding. We started playing these games to relax, have fun and interact with they have become a full time job if you want to keep up. Not much fun, surely not relaxing and NO interaction who has time to stop to say hello any more?

  13. I like the idea. I am so sick of all the comments coming up on the screen that don't have anything to do with what your cursor is on. It hides so much I can't even see what I'm trying to do. Please get rid of it!

  14. Great idea! If they had the lite game I wouldn't have had to buy a new computer!!! It did everything except PT!!!

    Also, have an option to delete items in our inventory that we no longer use. I thought that was what the trading post was going to be but they don't put all the old stuff in there. If our inventory wasn't 45 pages long, the game might load faster!

  15. I think this is an excellent idea Andy! You are brilliant have you attempted to throw this at Zynga? People with slow connections or PC's may even be able to play the game. I hope to see this in the near future... as I said Brilliant, we can always count on you Andy to hit the nail on the head. Yayyyy for Andy.. Thanks, Carole Drumm