Zynga has been all over the news lately as the result of the nearly simultaneous reveal of the Tiny Tower knock-off Dream Tower and the Bingo Blitz fiasco. The Zynga CEO responded in a VentureBeat interview, but his comments (as well as the "confidential memo") only seemed to pour more fuel on the fire.

Now, an alleged former full-time Zynga engineer has come out of the woodwork to post the Reddit thread, IAmA Former FullTime Zynga Engineer. If you don't follow the "IAmA" section on Reddit, it basically amounts to people in interesting positions post who they are, and you can ask them anything. Sometimes people just randomly post, and other times there are scheduled upcoming threads, like Blink 182's Mark Hoppus this afternoon.

The caveat to all this is that the authenticity of the people posting can often be hard to judge. In this instance, the former Zynga engineer provided a photo of his Zynga Termination Certification as proof. Of course, this would be easy to fake, so take the whole thing with a massive grain of salt.

That being said, the things he does post are very in line with what we've heard from people who have worked with Zynga in the past. Anyway, here are a few interesting snippets from the thread:

In regards to the Tiny Tower drama:

Tiny Tower + D Heights is all standard operating procedure here. If you can't buy em, clone em. Even the core technology for FarmVille (MyMiniLife), was bought. The only "homegrown" codebases at Zynga is MafiaWars2 and maybe Poker, the rest of their tech was just bought from small studios.

Creepy stuff went on at Zynga:

Spying on players. Getting intimate gaming data, their habits, their networks, and how to effectively monetize given X. Another issue was skewing gameplay for the sake of profit, example; I actually resorted to BAD MATH, to make the case for making a feature more fun. At the end of one sprint, a QA dude was complaining about the drop rate of a specific item being absurdly insane, and therefore UnFun. I looked at the code, and tweaked some values, gave it back to QA guy, and fun was restored. Product Manager overrides this, goes for unfun, yet more profitable version.

There's way more in the actual thread, so if reading about the (alleged) inner workings of Zynga piques your interest, head on over to Reddit. Heck, the whole IAmA section is worth checking out if you're bored.

Update: There's also a similar thread on Hacker News.

  • Anonymous

    Any ex Gameloft guys gonna step up now?

    • Adams Immersive

      Probable not :) But at least Gameloft can claim do develop games that are truly (yes, shamelessly) “inspired by” another game rather than lazily cloning it such minute detail. And at least their “inspirations” tend to be games they aren’t directly competing with: ones that don’t exist on iOS, rather than seeing what’s already making money on iOS and deciding to use that creator’s work—really blatantly—to take some business away from them.

      That doesn’t make Gameloft’s habits entirely palatable to me—I’d still far rather see original work.

  • Adams Immersive

    I wish Zynga hadn’t bought Words With Friends. The With Friends series now has two new unnecessary problems: 1. constant bombardment with ads and badges for IAP, even in the PAID versions of Zynga apps, and 2... whether paid+IAP or free-with-ads+IAP, either way you’re supporting Zynga! I used to shrug Zynga’s annoying habits off, but I can’t anymore.

    WWF taught me to love asynchronous multiplayer. But I’ll have to start getting my fix elsewhere. Disc Drivin and others will get my time.

    (And actual Scrabble—the iPhone version especially--has gradually evolved into pretty decent asynch multiplayer, although still cumbersome in terms of usability, and the iPad version has not been updated to keep pace. WWF was certainly “inspired” by Scrabble after all. I think it’s back to Scrabble for me! Origin username: AdamsImmersive, accessible from the “Connect With Your Friends” button.)

  • Dima R

    Hey!

    Everybody knows that Zynga steal a lot of features for their poker from Kama Games "Texas Poker". May be only the Mafia is their original product.

    • http://twitter.com/Pkeod Brian Kramer

      The mechanics Mafia uses were very popular with online sites well before Zynga started using it, even before "social games" really became a well in use term.