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GDC Online 12: Zynga With Friends on the creative process and coming up with new IP

GDC Online 12: Zynga With Friends on the creative process and coming up with new IP
Zynga is a much talked about company at GDC Online 12.

Giving an insider view to how it's coming up with new IP was Vijay Thakkar, from the Zynga With Friends studio.

Entitled Finding 'Ways to Create Joy: The Quest for New IP', Thakkar said the studio was tasked with coming up with new IP for Zynga.

Small, fast

"Destructive attitude kills new IP. We try to run as small teams as possible, and push forward as quickly as possible," Thakkar said.

Part of this is creating a good work environment.

"Happy people create fun," Thakkar explained.

The studio doesn't crunch and encourages its staff to have a creative mindset, both inside and outside the work environment. For example, based on Google's '20 percent concept', it runs a program called Indie Fridays, where people spend each Friday prototyping their own games.

Sandbox

This has developed into a more formal prototyping process, which is backed with tools and resources including an experienced central team who can help the prototyping process, with each game developed through two week sprints.

"It's a progress-or-die situation, which is really positive as long as you have clear goals," Thakkar said.

"Failing quick is not failure because you're learning."

Yet the biggest issue with prototyping a lot of games is you never have enough resources to bring all the games to market, which can be disheartening to workers.

Because of this and other issues, Zynga With Friends has broke out some of the '20 percent time' of the Indie Fridays into off-site periods of three days - every couple of months - where the entire company works on new ideas.

"We get a lot more productivity from this approach," Thakkar said.

Flexibility

It's also trying to get people to take use '20 percent time' to work on new IP not just on Fridays, although this is difficult to schedule around the normal development activity of the studio.

In this way, Thakkar's view was there's no silver bullet approach to coming up with, prototyping and developing new IP.

Yet, companies need to empower their staff with time, structure, encouragement, backing and strong goals, if they want them to come up with new ideas.

"Coming up with new IP is a very holistic process that requires constant feedback," Thakkar ended.

"And you need to be prepared to fail. That's the only way to come up with great games."
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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