My first proper games industry job was with Zynga in their Baltimore studio, working on FrontierVille. For the first 8 months, I worked in a content development “pod” where we created new features for the game on a bi-weekly cycle. Our pod was one of 3, and we each worked semi-independently under the guidance of the game’s project management team. It was a fast-paced (and sometimes chaotic) process that required a lot of coordination between separate engineering teams to run smoothly. Despite its intensity, I enjoyed the work and learned a lot about developing for and managing a live service/game.
Eventually, I was asked to join the pre-production team for “Pioneer Trail”, a large expansion for FrontierVille. The design of Pioneer Trail was very different from FrontierVille, both from a gameplay and engineering perspective. I was part of the initial engineering team that figured out how to create a seamless transition from FrontierVille’s game architecture to the new Pioneer Trail architecture. When Pioneer Trail launched, it was so successful, the company decided to subsume all of FrontierVille and its content into the Pioneer Trail expansion. Pioneer Trail ran for another 3 years until shutting down in 2015.