Chief game designer leaves Zynga

Photo: Shutterstock

Bloomberg, via @Cabel:

Reynolds founded and led the Baltimore studio known as Zynga East, which produced the game “FrontierVille.” Prior to Zynga, he earned acclaim as the lead designer of Sid Meier’s “Civilization II,” a strategy game developed by MicroProse Software Inc. Reynolds didn’t respond to requests for comment. Zynga shares declined 8.5 percent to $2.60 at the close in New York.



  1. He’s going to pursue his career as an iStockPhoto model where he attained considerable fame as “Awkward white guy on Casual Friday.” 

  2. I can only hope Zynga paid him well for selling his soul… The guy who did Civ II and Alpha Centauri working on Frontierville? That had to sting a bit.

    1. It raises the question: was Frontierville any good, or in any meaningful way different from the numerous other “ville” titles?

    2.  That is what blew my mind when I found out who he was and what else he’d worked on. Civ II was practically every waking hour of my Senior year of High School and Alpha Centauri kept me from going insane once I’d graduated but couldn’t find work. The fact that the lead designer on those games ended up making Frontierville is just a huge “LOL WUT?!” moment for me.

      1. “Civ II was practically every waking hour of my Senior year of High School”
        That may be a clue to the mystery…

  3. I wonder why they even hired a game designer, given their dedication to not actually designing any games.

  4. Great. Who is going to design Intercom Page of Exemplary Service, Falo, Super Sarioh Cousins, Meat Fighter 2 and Angry Kurds for them now?

  5. I am still of the opinion that Alpha Centauri was the best strategy game ever devised (as opposed to the expansion of same) – in fact I still have it on my computer. 

    What possibly process could a person go through to move from the pinnacle to Zynga?  Was Zynga different before and only became evil over time?  Or was it something else?

    1. Game design is a seriously precarious existence. You’re only ever as successful as your last game and, in general, you earn less than other disciplines. You’re also undervalued because everyone thinks they understand game design.

      Zynga comes along and offers you a fat paycheque and a potential audience of hundreds of millions of users… I dunno, I can see it. Game designers gotta pay the rent too.

    2. >Was Zynga different before and only became evil over time? 


      >Or was it something else?

      It was also a Mark Pincus joint. And therein lies the tale of woe.

  6. With any luck this is just further evidence that Zynga is on a collision course with the Bug Zapper.

  7. Alpha Centauri is the best of the Civ games.  Zynga products all seem to be shit.  Here’s hoping for a much better third (?) act for Reynolds, and for the rest of us gamers as well.

    1. Agreed. I still play it form time to time. IMHO, Alpha centauri>Civ III>Civ II> the others.

      I still have those tech advance and secret project quotes in my head. 
      “The substructure of the universe regresses infinitely towards smaller and smaller components. Behind atoms we find electrons, and behind electrons, quarks. Each layer unraveled reveals new secrets, but also new mysteries. Academician Prokhor Zakharov, “For I Have Tasted the Fruit””

  8. Y’all are missing a fairly big chunk of Reynolds’ career, e.g. Big Huge Games (“Rise of Nations”, “Rise of Legends”, and the Cataan X-Box Arcade game, among others).

    I’d agree though on being curious why he agreed to work for them (anything beyond ‘$$$$$’?)

    When he was working on Civ2, his wife took an academic position in London. He went along, and programmed most of Civ2 by himself in their apartment.  He periodically mailed discs with the code to Sid Meier (in Maryland or wherever).  This was of course pre-internet… 

    Doesn’t sound to me like someone who would want to be Chief Game Designer at Zynga.  But, who knows… BHG certainly had a fun feel to it the one time I visited the studio; maybe he thought he could bring a similar atmosphere, and make a difference.  (Hint: no, he couldn’t…)

    1. By all accounts, Zynga East was pretty okay.  And it gave him a venue to design casual/social games while that space was still pretty wild and new.

    2. >  pre-internet…


      Internet was already there for twenty years. Just unevenly distributed ;-)

  9. I only came here to say how amused I was by the stock photo.  Now I feel super-smart for even realising it was a stock photo.

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