zynga Battlestone

Launched as Zynga's first 3D-action Role Playing Game (RPG). How did Zynga ever get a game like this made? A lot of whiskey and a lot of punches in the face.


Role: Lead Designer
Launch: May 2013
Contribution: Feature Specifications. 
Oversight of Balance, Mechanics, User Interface, and Level Design
Recognition: Top-20 Free iOS, 4.5 Stars (launch)

from tech-demo to game

As part of the new mobile IP team, I was asked to take over the lead game design responsibilities for Battlestone in mid-2012. With a mandate to ship in 7-months with no delay, we marched to turn a tech-demo into a free-to-play game. I oversaw 5 designers ranging from UI, Narrative, Mechanics, Balance, and Level. By May of 2013, we launched Zynga's only (to this date) action RPG.

Mechanics in UI

The basic mechanic of the game is a simple gesture where our heroes can chain together attacks to defeat baddies in the system. This being a free-to-play game, many of the core loops take place in the UI. From resource management, equipment upgrades, and gacha heroes, I owned our feature specifications. An example of our weapon upgrade flow is shown here.

Balance Sheets

I also provided the first draft of our game balance; creating models for upgrades, economy, and pinches (points of friction where users pay to play). Overall, our game showed decent monetization ($0.12 REV/DAU, $16.981 REV/Payer) but poor overall retention (D1-7: 38% to 11%). While we were trail blazers for the company, Zynga's monetization goals were beyond the depth of what the game offered. Battlestone was sunset in 2014 as operating costs overran revenue.