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

Monday 21 May 2012

The Dangers of Deja Vu

[Please note: this blog is my own thoughts and ramblings. Anything contained in it does not necessarily mirror the thoughts of the other admins or Express as a whole.

Although I do have the membership of Frontierville Express to fall back on for impressions, there's going to be people who disagree, I don't speak for every gamer, just myself and the views I've got from the page.]

Dear Zynga, here we are again.

I must admit recently things have happened that have made me think you're really taking notice of the fans, we're seeing more stuff on our own homestead, we're seeing lower crafting levels and less upgrades to buildings.

It's been really positive and it's been noticed (and I'd say appreciated) by the fans.

So, please, listen to the general consensus we're getting from gamers and rethink repeats.

It's got to the stage "repeat" is a dirty word, there are people out there who just won't get past it, that becomes the overriding aspect of the whole thing. It may seem like throwing an entire burger away because you don't like the slice of pickle or dumping your girlfriend because she has a birthmark the shape of a mongoose riding a polo pony on her inner thigh... but it happens.

You could write any mission you like, and as soon as you add in that dreaded overview mission... It's dead to them. Worse than that, it taints all the missions, people often don't see interesting missions, they see the word "repeat" and bam.

What gets so insane is it's not even just THOSE missions, at the peak of "Repeat Fever" every mission we put up was greeted by "I hate repeat missions" or "No more repeats"... even when there wasn't repeats in the missions, it just became an automatic reaction. Frankly at it's height I probably could have posted a folder of tasteful art nudes of the admins and 7 of the first 10 comments would involve the word "repeat".

The cowgirl missions were great, these babysitting missions are great... but then many people dislike them anyway for the addition of that one factor, the R Word.

Worse, you often get accused of lacking ideas or creativity, you'll give us nine brand new missions with a total of 27 requirements. and it'll all come down to the two or three in the overview mission.

Surely whatever you are getting out of repeats, be it to slow the game down or increase wall posts for marketing, it can't outweigh the negative PR? An entire mission thread, which presumably takes some time to design and code up, all brought down by one bit of it...

So, ideas, ideas, ideas. I suppose usually this is the point I get all arrogant (other pages love that) and try and suggest what I think could be done differently... well, I hate to disappoint and the insults make me laugh so here goes.

1) The Unrealistic Nirvana Solution.

No, I'm not getting a naked baby swimming or some unenthusiastic cheerleader backing dancers, it's about a perfect world. No repeats at all, gamers hate them, we've got enough missions already, folks will like the missions so much more.

OK, here's the problem with that. You must have some reason to do repeats or you wouldn't keep shooting yourself in the foot by having them. Therefore, to hope they'll go away entirely is generally a fanciful notion... but hey, it's a game, it's all fanciful notions. You want a massive PR boost? Try it.

You know full well on current release schedules we'll have one or two more threads come out before the final mission of these is active so where's the harm? Doing the same thing again, just doesn't excite people.

For the gamers though I think we should be looking more at a compromise... remember, they can't give us EVERYTHING, sometimes it's good to meet them half way.

2) The More Realistic Compromise Solution.

OK, I'll start this bit off with a pointer to one of the things that annoyed people with the babysitting. If we're being told to repeat certain missions we'd expect to get close to the final total of reward items (in this case "hugs") that we need. Having barely two thirds of the final total from the mandatory repeats really wasn't on, a lot of people felt they were a little ambushed there.

Instead of tying us into specific missions, just give us a set total of items such as Hugs we have to get and let us loose.

The fact is we all know the missions you get us to repeat will be the worst ones, to the point that your average player will know they've got no chance of finishing them off in short order.

If we're going to repeat, let us pick how many times we'll do each one, like you have in the past with the Native American threads, along with the overall bonus for completing each mission ONCE.

There's going to be the advantage to those prepared to go for the harder missions, more "hugs" or whatever is that series reward is, better individual mission rewards like mystery animal crates etc that people won't mind challenging for.

Personally, I would rather do a mission that takes me a day or two 10 times, instead of a mission that takes a week or more to complete even once. I want to feel I'm succeeding, not just seeing the same icons in the same places every day and picking which gets my limited request stock this time.

I know it's a balance for you, you have to keep it interesting and fun, while still making sure you're advertised by the social part of the game. We get that, we don't mind that... but there's something mildly predictable and boring about knowing the missions we'll be forced to repeat will always have an undue amount of requesting in them.

The average player will never be short of wall posts, eventually you run the risk of alienating potential gamers by having them see folks post 6-10 times in a row for all different kinds of things.

In all we're going to need to request 844 items during babysitting, 288 of which comes from the 2 repeats each of missions 4 and 8. Was 556 Wall/Direct requests too small a number?

So let us pick, let us feel like we're achieving things by letting us have the choice over the missions we want to repeat. Have these as the requirements...

Collect 120 Hugs
Complete Missions 1-4
Complete Missions 5-8

There we go, we've all done the missions once, and now we get some autonomy, some personal choice about whether we'll hammer the little missions again and again or push the bigger ones for better rewards.

If nothing else, think about it logically for a sec. We can only post once every 6-8 hours anyway. Does it matter if we're posting for muffins to finish mission 1, or mounting bolts to finish mission 4? Add that to the fact that as they're daily missions and we're seeing a two thread a week pattern, most players will have TWO more mission threads appear before the final mission of this one.

What makes more sense? Players losing interest in an entire thread because of one word, or players searching the thread to see which are the best missions to keep doing?

Players just want to achieve things, they want mission completion popups, they want rewards, they want to FINISH something because it gives a sense of pride and achievement.

So... if you can, stop the repeats altogether, I don't know your reasoning behind them but I could probably argue each one, in the end always coming back to "folks hate them".

But if we have to have repeats, just let us pick WHAT we'll repeat. Give us a reason to do the harder ones, but don't FORCE them on us. Number of posts, speed of game for the fast or rich minority... neither of those things really seems as important as a happy player base.


  1. Absolutely perfectly said!

    1. and we allllll say AMEN!!!!!!!! I have actually considered quiting my fav game on fb because of lack of accomplishments. Well said Andy, well said.

  2. GReat commentary...the repeats and multiple upgrades are taking the fun out of the entire game...right now I have 26 missions...some have been there for a few weeks. I play 2-3 times a day but seems I am getting nowhere...there are only so many friends who play regularly and they are diminishing. I no longer even look at the times missions and, as for repeats, I do barely what is required to complete each mission once and that is it. If I miss out on some 'rewards' so be it...this is a GAME meant for relaxation not punishment.

    1. Timed missions have been out for me as well. I still have missions from last christmas, thanksgiving and even holloween to finish. It begins to get discouraging at some points.

  3. Well put. I don't really mind redoing missions, but I would rather get to pick the ones that I redo. I know I will probably get things thrown at me for saying this, but there is actually regular missions that I would not mind being able to repeat. On the other hand, I understand that it can be over whelming if you are fairly new to the game and keep getting repeatable missions.

  4. have to admit, that after 2 years, I stopped playing the game for all the above reasons...then I had to actually block the game because it's mountain of wall feed requests were filling my wall so I couldn't find anything else. I am not the only one on my friends list who have done the same. it's such a shame they don't listen to their players isn't it?

  5. I agree completely with you, Jocelynne. There are missions that I finished one time and probably never repeat. It's taking the fun out of the game. I don't mind a lot of missions, but really hate repeats.


  6. As usual, well said Andy. I personally now break out in hives every time I see the words repeat, overview, or wrapper. They really have to stop with it.

  7. makes sense to me.. My hate for repeats comes from 2 things.

    1) I hate doing the same thing again and again, 1 repeat isn't that bad, but 3/4 times is over the well over the top.

    2) the chilli mission a prime example, hidden repeats, having to make 8 chilli's to finally finish the mission, to then find the next mission demands you make even more chilli, that sucks big time.

    I know I can go on Express and read the mission breakdown you kindly provide, but I like to be surprised and treat each mission separately. So surprises like that are awful.

  8. I try to kkeep continue the game but ... little by little I feel fed up!! to much "repeat" mission!!! to much BUGSSSSSSSSSS loosing requests, unable to "clean" my neighbour list to put away the inactive one.. ??? too much long time missions. Finally it is no more a pleasure to play...

  9. I agree with you totally Andy!! Wel said and I hope they will listen!!! I also hate the repeats and sometimes I don't even bother! Also putting in limits on how much you can have in stock in repeatables or multiple upgrade buildings is p... me o..
    So Zynga, give us the old fun game play back please!!

  10. I totally agree with you Andy and the worst part is I have started just plain old not starting missions... I never finished the Halloween mission... could not get the broom made, I never finished the Christmas ones... still have a couple that could be done but i am not going to. I did not do the last timed missions.. cause I knew there was not enough time... I have not started the little crow missions nor the babysitting ones... Repeat?? Heck i don't have time to finish once never mind again. And is this because I have no friends heck no i have lots of friends... they are just as tired as i am of posting to get this and that only to have to do it again. Please Zynga... rethink this game cause you are losing people and that is a shame cause it is a good game. Oh and by the way... I did spend $50 trying to catch up... didn't work just gave me more missions.. not on!

  11. Love it! Well written! The repeats are making the game completely boring and take too long and I'm ready to stop playing since I have three pages FULL of missions and have no realistic sense of getting any of them accomplished. Like all those molten cakes and cookies I still have to bake? Forget it with all the repeats and new missions coming out - there aren't enough requests available per day or heck, by the hour and now that the people who only log in every couple of days can't send you multiples of the same item that you requested of them, I get even fewer of my requests answered. I need to find a game that I can actually get things accomplished and keep me interested!

  12. I agree! I really do NOT like the repeat missions! It's boring and frustrating! I have a few missions hanging around that I haven't finished because I've just gotten tired of trying to get people to send things that they've already finished.

    Thanks for voicing what I've been feeling for a while!

  13. I can handle doing a mission twice. Not in love with it but can live with it. These 3,4,8 repeats sucks all the joy out of playing the game. It starts to feel more like a chore. It would be great also, in my opinion to be able to get rewards\supplies from actions on our homestead. For example, supplies for the bakery or anything we will use over and over to create energy. The asking of neighbors for passing missions is just lovely but would like to be able to do some things myself instead of constantly bombarding friends with requests for chocolate and such. It takes a long time to get what you need from these posts as everyone is more focused on the current missions. Also, these favor missions need to have better rewards for people to do them. I just let them run out if I'm not interested in the rewards.

  14. Well said Andy. I for one am happy to repeat once or twice... but 4 times... its a bit much!

  15. Well said Andy. I hope THEY hear you. I and many others really appreciate you trying to help us when we have issues. Thank you for all you do:)

  16. You've worn me out! Not "all gamers" hate repeatables. In fact, they are my favorites. You've come to think your ideas represent the million people who play this game ~ they don't!

    You've long used your influence to convince people repeats are bad! When people complain you grab that negative energy and run with it, rather than look for the good. You actually put out a survey about them without a positive choice ~ It was pick which way you like them least! I have always liked repeatables because I can plan. I am not a slave to waiting to know what's next. I can wisely use my reward clicks and move on to some goodwill clicking.

    Also, and this is important, needing so many of the same things keeps us and our lower level friends mixing it up and meeting each other. There's a greater continuity of play between full-timers, part-timers, upper and lower levels when we want the same items. Yes, repeatables can be too repetitive, but they are not the devil you make them out to be.

    Personally, I do wish you'd ease up with comedic flourishes in your writing. They are tiresome and it wears me out reading through them to get to the point. There's a time to be funny and it's not 100% of the time. "Unenthusiastic cheerleaders backing dancers," really? Please...

    Last, why must you put out lists with how many we need in the end?? I don't care if in the next week I need 100 of the same item ~ it makes it easier!!!! I am not going from cool water to warm mild and trying to remember the items names and slight picture variations. We are all going to be here next week ~ why does it matter if we collected 100 of one thing or 10 of 10 different things?

    1. Liberty, let's answer a few things including correcting incorrect statements.

      1) I've never said "All Gamers", in fact if you read the disclaimer at the top I've specifically pointed out twice these are my thoughts and feelings and the feelings I've garnered from members, but NOT the entire community.

      2) We tend to push the fact people can enjoy the missions themselves without having to repeat them, trying to bring positivity to the threads and deflect the constant negativity. From the very start the majority of interaction we (and other pages) have received has been against them for one reason or another, they cause dissent and dissatisfaction in the game.

      Initially we blarneyed, we twisted, we tried to deflect, but frankly when the majority of comments all lean one way, it's normal to assume that's at least a general opinion.

      As for your statement about the survey I'd have another look at it, I fear you missed an entry.

      3) Which way do you want it? So you want me to put a more positive spin on things and make people feel more cheerful, or should I stop the humour? It's how I talk, it's how I live, make one person smile, it's a result.

      This is all my thoughts and feelings, a more personal look than I take on Express, so that's how I talk, that's how my friends know me, it's how I write. This is personal, I don't make anybody read it, just as I wouldn't make anyone in real life listen to me. (And I think perhaps you missed the reference on the cheerleaders)

      4) We do the lists because people ask for them. If we don't put in totals, we get posts and comments wanting to know the totals, if we put them up, those who care, can read, those who don't care, can ignore. It gives people the choice. Not putting them up there only gives one side what they want, there is no choice.


  17. You hit the nail on the head, Andy. Now here's hoping that someone who matters is paying attention.