Archive for February, 2010

We have a(nother) winner(s)!

February 22, 2010

Well with 10 spectacular winning entries this is going to be a long one so we won’t keep you. Anyone who has a particular desire for a longer intro take the following steps: go back to an older competition results blog post (there are lots), copy paste the intro into Wordpad and do a find and replace of the previous competition’s name with “Country Story Theme Competition”. The result will be something along the lines of: “Yadda yadda yadda, big competition lots of prizes, yadda yadda yadda, so many cool amazing entries we were blown away, yadda yadda yadda, congratulations to all the winners!”

And you know what? It’d be true too. Because you did blow us away once again. And we’re willing to wager you’ll be blown away too if you just take a little scroll down this very blog post!

So the task was to create a Country Story farm with a set theme. The theme you used was your choice: as usual we let you guys figure out exactly what you’d like to do, we just deal with the giving out prizes bit!

1) Now this… this wasn’t just a great competition entry. This was one of the funniest, most perfectly awesome things we’ve ever seen. We could explain but Rachel, our competition winner, just sums it up so perfectly herself. Congratulations Rachel, you deserved your 2000 Playfish Cash and no shadow of a doubt! We just wish we’d come up with this idea 55 years ago. Enjoy.

2) 1000 Playfish Cash goes to Hiba Ibrahim Al Qawasmeh for this cute little diorama of a girl sitting in a tree. There’s even some perspective and 3D style goings on here. Try looking at one then the other quickly. Love it!

3) 500 Playfish Cash goes to Engy Elgamily, one of the best ‘portrait painters’ we’ve seen in Country Story. We can tell you now the Country Story mayor was thrilled!


Meanwhile 4th to 10th place each win 100 Playfish Cash!

4)  Allora Jay McCullough – this one’s stunning. Look at the detail! We wouldn’t be surprised if Allora were a dab hand at all kind of other art forms!

5) We received several farms inspired by Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros but Alonso Villouta‘s Super Country Bros was definitely our favourite! Perfect detailing!

6) Helena Campo: Well done Helena for using the competition as a platform to get an important message across. Beautifully made, too!

7) We love Christine Marie‘s Magical Birthday Party. That’s a pretty amazing magical forest cake & purple cabbage gift box!

8) Julia Solovjeva: This amazing freshly baked pizza looks good enough to be a dish in Restaurant City! We just hope you wouldn’t need all those vegetables to make it…

9) Here’s a toast to Zoe Miranda for her brilliant idea. We loved how it was so simple — minimal even — and yet so effective. Absolutely superb.

10) …and lastly congratulations to Karim Kadi for his penguin farmer. Karim’s entry made it into the top 10 by being the cutest thing in the competition, and after all, everyone loves penguins don’t they?

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered! Until next time!

Pets, Camera, Action! Who’ll Win the Coveted Golden Mayor Award?

February 22, 2010

Pet Society fans and movie lovers will be thrilled to find out that our Pet Society Movie Awards competition has premiered, giving players the chance to win 1,000 Playfish Cash!

The competition’s premise is simple: with your Pet Society pet and the multitude of items available in the game, you’re invited to become a virtual film director and recreate a scene from your favorite movie – starring your pet – and enter it into our competition page.  Winners in a variety of categories will receive the highly coveted Golden Mayor award!

This is a chance to really flex your creative muscles and show us what you can do! To get more of an idea of what we’re looking for, I spoke with the competition’s organizer, Cristina Fuser, to get her thoughts.

“Our main goal, of course, is for players to have fun!” said Cristina. “We’ve always known that our game players are very clever and creative.  You only have to look at our previous competition winners to see just how imaginative they can be. But this time we’re looking for players to get their inspiration from Hollywood, Bollywood or whatever the case may be and cast their pets within scenes from their favorite movie and turn them into stars!”

It’s always amazed me how players can take various items from the Pet Society store and transform them in an incredibly creative way that we couldn’t have imagined.

Cristina agrees: “Every time we launch a new competition, we never know what new and ingenius ideas players will come up with. It’s all very exciting! This competition is quite different from our previous ones, which typically reflected holidays or festivals from around the world. But the Pets Movie Awards is a brand new event that will give players an opportunity to showcase their ideas and creativity in an entirely new and fun way.

“Having taken a look through the thousands of scenes already submitted, it’s really incredible to see what people have come up with. I keep thinking, ‘Oooh! I wonder what the next one is like?’ and I spend the next hour going through more entries. It’s quite addicting! I often hear people from the office – who have been looking at the entries, too – saying that they are tempted to enter themselves.

“Like the Oscars or Golden Globes, this competition is very competitive and judging is going to be very challenging.  All of the entries are so good and just looking at the them has been so much fun. I can’t begin to imagine how much fun our players are having making them.”

The Pet Society Movie Awards competition ends Sunday, February 28, at midnight GMT, and the lucky winners in each category will be announced and presented with their very own Golden Mayor award on Tuesday, March 2, on the official Pet Society blog.

Good luck – and as they say in Hollywood, “Break a leg!”

Can you guess which movies these fans have based their pet’s scenes on? Click on the images to see more!

News from the Valentine Competition!

February 19, 2010

We have a winner!

Well more specifically, we have two!

Didn’t we say there’d only be one winner? OK you got us there, yes we did. But as these things tend to pan out with you guys, you just turned out to be too good! With the quality of entries we thought we really had to have a couple of winners; one for our favourite video and one for our favourite image.

If you cast your minds back we asked you to use images and/or videos to show us your pet’s perfect valentine. You didn’t let us down. We were inundated with all kinds of Valentine’s goodness — some romantic, some funny, some tragic, but all supremely creative and packed with all kinds of Valentine’s Day awesome.

As promised the winners will both receive 500 Playfish Cash but also they’ll be given completely unique in game items — items which no-one else in the whole world have! So what are these mysterious items? Well they’re kind of fun. Both the winner and their Valentine will receive a his and hers t shirt and dress personalised to their Valentine, like these:

Cute huh?

So without further ado we’d like to congratulate:

Chia Hui Liu

and Danyela990

…for their amazing entries! They both obviously had a lot of work lavished on them so we’re sure Brico and Daniel must be very touched!

Well done everyone! See you next time!

A letter to our fans.

February 11, 2010
You may have noticed the little drop down banner that appeared on our website a while ago that announced we were hiring. We still are! New faces are always popping up in all the Playfish studios and becoming part of our fish tank. Ken Ward is the “Go-To” guy for all things recruitment at Playfish and here’s what he wanted to say to all of our readers. Enjoy. 🙂

Hi everyone,

When I heard that our company blog was looking for people to write for it, I  couldn’t wait to jump in there and tell you all about how exciting it is that we’re hiring. My name is Ken Ward and I lead the recruiting team at Playfish.  Officially they call what I do ‘Talent Acquisition’ – and that’s not too far from the truth.

We have a great team spread over four studios – London, San Francisco, Norway and Beijing – on three continents, dedicated to hiring the best and brightest talent to join our fishbowl. If you’re wondering how many people we’re hiring, let me put it this way: sometimes I come in on a Monday and think I have walked into the wrong office because there are so many new faces! I know we have found the right people to work for Playfish though when I look around and see everyone huddling together and talking about new ideas and the things they love. What’s even more amazing is that we truly are representative of the United Nations, with staff at all of our offices coming from every corner of the world, all of them working together enthusiastically.

I’ve recruited in many different environments in my career, including banking (it’s on the CV and that’s where it’s staying), and Playfish is a joy to recruit for and by far the most enjoyable. It’s a truly creative and fun environment and, as we expand, it’s super important to maintain that essence as we grow… and it’s a real challenge I enjoy squaring up to.

We focus on giving Playfishers all the tools they need to do their jobs – from providing great equipment and talented colleagues to work with, to an excellent office environment that is inviting to walk into every morning – though I’m still not quite sure where the huge orange space hopper appeared from…!

We’ve got a great variety of positions open at Playfish right now. We’re focused on getting technically gifted Java programmers, super creative game developers, talented artists and excellent product managers, amongst a variety of other positions. It’s really important that people looking to join us have a passion for what we (and ultimately, they) do. At Playfish, we all feel part of the creative process, which is just one of the things that makes it such an awesome place to work. Absolutely everyone in our company is actively encouraged  to make suggestions for new games, new features… and of course everyone has to play our games – a very important part of the gaming development process! 😉

So we’re looking for creative, fun people, dedicated to changing the way people play and enjoy games. Easy, huh? People like that do exist! I should know – I work with them every day. 🙂

I’ve been so impressed with how we connect the offices in such a global environment. The vision is consistent from office to office and it was so cool last year to meet colleagues from all around the world at our annual meeting, Fishbowl 2009, sharing ideas and helping to drive the company forward. Our leadership team (that’s Kristian Segerstrale, Sebastian de Halleux and company to you and me) are instrumental in driving and supporting this connectivity, and our people, regardless of location, really feel at the heart of things. We share videos from each office at our monthly meetings which is a great way of keeping in touch but we also use a whole myriad of communication tools like instant messaging, VOIP calls as well as other more traditional forms such as email and just huddling together over a coffee in our office breakout areas to talk about exciting new possibilities.

Playfish really is a play hard, work hard culture (in that order!), and we’re focused on helping Playfishers achieve their best by maintaining a fun environment for them to create in. It’s evident in the way the office is made as comfortable for staff as possible – simple things like our Monday Brekkies where everyone has breakfast together the first morning back to the office to catch up after the weekend, to those monthly video diaries I mentioned earlier, where we all get together toward the end of every month and enjoy a party with everyone in the office for no reason other than to have fun and enjoy each other’s company! That’s the focus of our day: to create games that our players can enjoy, and to have as much fun as possible doing it! You could say that we hold ‘creativity’ and ‘fun’ as sacred at Playfish. 🙂

I feel very lucky to be here and to be one of the people helping Playfish to grow, not only in size, but in its ability to do what it does – for you, our players – better. And if after reading this you think you can help us to make great social games, too, I’m inviting you to jump right into the tank and let us know!

If you daydream about working at Playfish, check out our careers page or email careers@playfish.com.

A chat with Pet Society’s Product Manager, Vivienne Bearman!

February 9, 2010

Hi guys! As Valentine’s Day draws nearer we’ve seen lots of romantic items appearing across all of our games – from the sweet Valentine’s Day theme gifts you can send your fellow culinary friends in Restaurant City to the beautiful romantic Victorian set available in Country Story, I got in touch with Vivienne Bearman at Playfish HQ to find out what she and her team have got in store for Pet Society fans.

Hi Vivienne. Thanks for taking some time out of your busy day to chat with me and our readers! Would you let our fans know what you do here at Playfish?
Sure! Hi guys – I’m the product manager for Pet Society which means I keep an eye on what players are doing in the game, as well as listen to their suggestions and feedback and use it to make the game better for our players.

Cool! But for those who haven’t played Pet Society yet, would you give people a quick description of what the game is about?
Pet Society is a game you can play on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. It’s a casual game where you create an animated pet of your choice to take care of. But there is just so much more to it than that – and that is what makes it special. Pet Society is designed so that you can play with your friends and family. For instance, you can visit your friends’ pets at their houses or send them really cute gifts. There are tons of items to collect, whether you want them for yourself or to give to your friends. You can also go fishing with your pet and collect all sorts of weird and wonderful fish, or become a pro-athlete at the Stadium and win lots of coins and achievements. There’s just so much to do I could spend all day telling you about it. Though it’s a very casual game, I have to admit I’m a little addicted and spend as much time as I can on there!

That sounds fun! You mentioned there are lots of things to collect. What new things do our players have to look forward to as we get closer to Valentine’s Day?
Naturally, we’ve released a really fun and romantic Valentine’s Day theme in Pet Society. You can start collecting the new items from all the various stores in the game but also you can give that special someone a gift that won’t open until February 14th. We’re hoping people will receive lots of presents to open on Valentine’s Day! My current favourite items are the beautiful Romantic Castle Terrace and the Romantic Castle Staircase that you can get from the Luxury store. I can’t wait to get my hands on them! I hope someone sends me something, haha…

On the Valentine’s theme, I noticed that the Pet Society Fan Page recently announced a competition, too – can you tell me a little bit about it now?
Well, we’ve asked our fans to show us what their pet’s perfect Valentine would look like by submitting pictures to the competition page. The game is really great for giving our players the creative space to express themselves and we’ve been getting loads of really fantastic entries. I can’t wait for the winners to be announced. We’ll be taking entries until Sunday 14th February at midnight GMT and winners will be announced on Friday 19th February. The best entry will be rewarded with 500 Playfish Cash and a personalised gift for your Pet Society pet, as well.

Where will the winners be announced?
All of our fans and players can keep track of all of the latest Pet Society news and announcements at the official Pet Society blog and the Playfish blog.

Excellent. This month has been very busy for Pet Society! You’ve also released a brand new game feature, is that right?
Yeah! I’m really excited about this particular new release. The recent new feature lets your Pet Society pet have their own pet – we’ve called them Petlings! Players can go to the Garden store and buy either a kitten or a puppy for their pet. We’re planning on releasing more Petlings in the future so we hope the fans will definitely be watching this space for more news on that. On an unrelated note, I just wanted to mention that we’ve also increased the number of ways players can earn bonus coins – from playing the daily lottery to walking around town to collect coins that drop from trees. So, yeah, we’re constantly improving the game.

So many new features! How do you come up with these ideas and keep the game feeling fresh?
I count myself very lucky to be working with such an amazing team. Our artists have a fantastic feel for who our players are and what they want. We also have very dedicated coders and developers for the game. We all work passionately to bring something new and exciting to our fans every week. The Pet Society themes are sometimes tied to fun festivals around the world and we also pay attention to what people are saying on the Pet Society forum. In fact, we asked our players what they wanted to see in the game toward the end of last year and we’re now using that feedback to help us plan out the next few big item themes. The Pet Society team are really friendly and we all get along really well together. I think this really shows through in the game, both in the cute graphics and the happy themes we come out with.

What would you say you’re the most pleased with so far?
I just love that we’ve created a game that lets friends and family play together. And it’s such a quick game to get into – it’s not challenging but there are lots of things to do if you put the time inif you want to, of course! I really love that I can visit a pet’s home and just check out how creatively the owner has used the items we created for them. We’ve seen some really sophisticated designs and themes appearing and it’s so wonderful to see our players finding a form of expression through Pet Society.

Well it has to be asked, Vivienne, what’s the name of your pet?
Hahaha. I’ve called her Tinky. That was the name of my first cat when I was little.

And dare I ask which of the Playfish games is your favourite?
All of our games are beautiful – everyone at Playfish really puts their hearts and minds into them and I know we’ll continue to make them better for our players. So even though I naturally spend a lot of time on Pet Society, I really do love all of our games!

And finally, Vivienne, any last comments?
Definitely! A shout out to our fans!  We’re always interested to hear what players want from the game and the best way to tell us is through the Pet Society forum. We are often running surveys there which players can get involved in if they want, and someone from Playfish is online there 24/7 to listen to players ideas and concerns!

Thanks, Vivienne – and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to more fun releases on Pet Society!

Poker Rivals (or friends, as the case may be).

February 4, 2010

The Playfish office atmosphere is really very special. There’s always something fun going on and I think our games represent this quite well in the colourful designs and the casual gaming structure we present in our titles.

Poker Rivals is in the small cluster of games we’ve recently released that is in contrast to our other titles such as Pet Society or Country Story. It’s different because of the inherent notions poker carries with it: a serious, competitive and quite mature game. So when I was asked to write something for our blog to give our fans insight into the game, I realised that I don’t really think of myself as a poker player. In fact, mention ‘poker player’ and I immediately imagine some guy (yes, male) wearing a black leather jacket and denim blue jeans with slicked back hair. Or, if I really thought about it, maybe the more sophisticated Ocean’s Eleven type of ‘playa’ who smirks at everything and steals your shoes from under you.

But no one at Playfish is a stereotype and I don’t think our players are either. So as a loyal Playfisher, I sat down and dedicated some serious time to playing Poker Rivals (research, you see) to give our readers a good idea of what the game offers if they weren’t so familiar with poker.

Mark Bendon, a self-proclaimed seasoned poker player and our Game Designer, happened to pass my desk while I was playing Poker Rivals in a search for inspiration. Seizing the opportunity, I flagged him down. “Mark! Fancy a game of Poker Rivals?”

Card One: Queen of Hearts

The first cards are dealt and I set my avatar to ‘relaxed’. A message bips up on the screen…

Mark: You shouldn’t have asked me to play. I’m a Poker Rivals-aholic.

I smile…

Chorna: Gah. Do I have to confess something now, too?
Mark: Yes, you do. We’re all friends here, Chorna.

Chorna: Very well. I hid someone’s stapler as a joke then forgot where I put it… and never told them. Moving on… I’d thought you were playing Poker Rivals a lot! It’s difficult not to notice when you’re cheering at your screen or slamming a fist on the table.

Mark: Haha!

Chorna: For a game was released back in December it’s really popular! It’s surprisingly easy to get into as well…
Mark: Yeah… I think people sometimes associate online poker with remortgaging the house. Poker Rivals is based around friendly rivalry, and playing with your friends, not machismo or smack talking the competition.
Chorna: Hrrmm – it is focused on having fun above everything else, which I noticed straight away. I was surprised at how quickly I started playing poker considering how little I knew to begin with. Did you find the tutorial quite helpful?
Mark: Uhm… I wrote the tutorial.
Chorna: … Oh. Well… it was good!! Quick and easy. 🙂 I liked that I got chips…
Mark: Haha…! I think it makes a huge difference to get through a simple tutorial and start playing with friends straight away. It’s less like jumping into the ocean and more like sitting in your bath tub with your favourite rubber ducky. No, that sounds wrong… I don’t… do that…

Card Two: Jack of Diamonds

Another card is put down. So far, looking good…

Chorna: Poker Rivals looks really slick – not intimidating at all. I thought it would be like stepping into an ultra serious casino but instead it’s more like picking up a deck of cards at a dinner table.
Mark: Yup. I like the way we’ve kept things simple. A nice simple interface means you don’t have to wonder where the ‘let’s play cards’ button is. Just go to the app, click ‘play’ and whaddaya know, there’s all my friends playing poker too.
Chorna: Speaking of friends, this chat function was really fun. Definitely makes it more about me and my friends and less about an anonymous encounter online. I still get competitive though, even with friends.
Mark: You’re not limited to playing with friends if you don’t want to. You can still mingle with the masses and just play with anyone you like, which is cool. It’s a nice mix.
Chorna: Do you find random players intimidating?
Mark: Yes, I’ve been intimidated by some. But usually I’m more disconcerted by my Playfish colleague’s fashion choices for their Poker Rivals avatars…

Chorna: It’s quite fun being able to customise myself – er, my avatar!
Mark: Heh, it does add a nice element. That’s one of the things Poker Rivals does really well – the level of customisation is brilliant, and it’s growing all the time.
Chorna: That’s like all Playfish games; I think what we’ve started off with is good but it’s going to be really interesting to see all the new content coming out soon.
Mark: Yeah, we’ll be supporting it long after release. What you see when a game is released is only a small fraction of what’s to come.

Card Three: Ten of Spades

I’m starting to get nervous and take a peek at my cards. Must distract Mark…!!

Chorna: Poker Rivals has surprised me at how easy it has made getting into the game, even though it’s potentially a complicated card game.
Mark: Well, poker is about making a better hand (collection) of cards than your opponent. The nitty gritty of it is in the different variations of cards you can have. In Poker Rivals, we’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em, where everyone has 2 cards in their hand which is a secret only known to them. Cards are added to the middle of the table…
Chorna: So the more confident you are about your hand, the more you bet, but of course you can bluff because nobody really knows what the other person has.

I prepare to raise the bet by $550…

Mark: Right. One of the things which makes online poker such a great place for beginners is that the pressure is off – nobody can see you so you don’t have to worry about whether anyone can tell you’re bluffing!
Chorna: You say that but when I’ve played Poker Rivals before – and even now – I really get the feeling someone real was there playing against me. I think the whole thing about personalised avatars, real time chat and real time bets really has that effect.
Mark: The emphasis with Poker Rivals is to make it feel like you have the freedom to communicate and express yourself, as well as enjoy a game quickly and easily.

Mark raises the bet by another $550…!

Card Four: Ace of Diamonds

It’s getting tense. I begin to wonder if Mark is psychic and can sense my nervousness…

Chorna: We really have made it easy to start playing when you’re logged into the game.
Mark: It’s as easy as “Oh look, they’re playing!” *click*
Chorna: There’s always the envelope function – you see someone already logged into Facebook, click the envelope and it sends your friend a quick invite. Next thing you know, they’ve responded and you’re both at a table.
Mark: But also, if you don’t want to invite anyone specific, you can always announce that you’re now looking for players via the megaphone.
Chorna: Shall we invite others to join us then?

Mark: No. I’m winning
Chorna: Haha… oh goodie.
Mark: You can also send your friends gifts, which means you could send your mate Dave a totally ill advised tight fitting T-shirt and see if he feels honour-bound to wear it.
Chorna: You do look good in pink, Mark. I thought that V-neck Playfish tshirt was awesome on you.
Mark: Thanks, I liked it too. With the megaphone, though, we wanted to get all your friends’ attention, let them know that they really should play some poker with you because it’s so quick and easy.
Chorna: These tables are pretty big – they can handle up to 10 players. Which makes it pretty interesting. You’re positive you don’t want anyone to jump in? 😉

Card Five and winner takes all…?

Darn. Mark does indeed win. I lose about $2,000 and I stare at the screen dejectedly…

Chorna: Bah… Congrats, Mark! One to you, then. So, what’s the most you’ve ever won?
Mark: Oh well… I think it was like $90,000?
Chorna: Liar!!
Mark: It’s true!
Chorna: NO – really??!
Mark: I posted on my Facebook profile about it and everything!
Chorna: Who were you playing against?!
Mark: Oh, random folks. And then I lost it all again almost instantly.
Chorna: Hahaha!! … You know, I’d like to see the Mayor of Pet Society sit at a Poker table. I bet he’s got an awesome poker-face.
Mark: Oh man. The Mayor would definitely scare me.

I look over my shoulder and notice Mark grinning from ear to ear. Taking a sweeping glance about the office I can see other staff checking into their Pet Society houses, harvesting some fruit in Country Story and others still logging into Gangster City.

I decide that whilst my poker chips count might be low, the spirits in the office were very high and that was good enough for me.


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