Studio head Jeremy Verba reveals the mysteries of Treasure Isle
On April 1, Zynga released its newest game, Treasure Isle. The online game, in which players sail to different islands to dig for treasure chests filled with rare artifacts and jewels, is gaining buzz as an addictive addition to Zynga's other top game FarmVille, Cafe World, and Mafia Wars.
Treasure Isle combines some of the best gaming elements of Zynga's most successful hits. Players can harvest plants and trees and decorate their own islands similar to the way players do in FarmVille. And like Mafia Wars, Treasure Isle players must fill their energy levels to perform missions such as searching for treasure with friends.
Treasure's general manager Jeremy Verba sat down with us to discuss the evolution of social gaming, Indiana Jones, and why digging is fun.
Q: What exactly is Treasure Isle?
JV: The game is about traveling the world to find buried treasure. For some, the exploration will be the most appealing, and for others, it's a relaxing escape. Have you heard the tropical steel drum music that accompanies game play? I wish I were on my island right now.
Q: Why would someone want to do that?
JV: Digging is fun. Currently, you get to use picks, shovels, and machetes to look for treasures and build collections of jewels and artifacts. The sounds of digging are very visceral and are different depending on which tool you use. When you find a treasure box, your avatar jumps up and you have to open the box to see what you unearthed. When you run out of energy, head back to your island retreat and rest up for your next adventure.
Q: Where does the inspiration for Treasure Isle come from?
JV: We wanted to create a sense of mystery to the game so we thought about different influences like Indiana Jones and Lost and the Swiss Family Robinson. There are elements to this game that appeal to a broad range of players like the adventurer, the billionaire hunting for rare jewels, or the vacationer who enjoys being on a deserted island.
Q: Does that mean Treasure Isle players will find mystery hatches and polar bears on their own islands?
JV: Well, that's pretty close to Lost. There's going to be a lot of fun features coming out that highlight mystery and different genres. Users will be able to visit Atlantis, a pirate island and the Mayan ruins. You have to unlock new ways to travel to these new worlds.
Q: Sounds mysterious. How does this game compare to FarmVille?
JV: Social gaming is constantly evolving. We are just entering the next inning of social gaming. With Treasure, our goal is to weave game play elements like harvesting and decorating and energy bars together. This requires a balance of providing users with both a compelling experience and a satisfying experience. That's not an easy thing to do. But I think the social gaming industry is raising the bar in delivering both aspects.
Q: Tell us about the team that created this game.
JV: This is a classic example of of how Zynga operates and makes great games. A third of our team is Zynga veterans who bring institutional knowledge and the rest of our team is made up great, young entrepreneurs from a couple of acquisitions. I like to say we have the best of all worlds.