Brian Reynolds Emerges Through Zynga’s Revolving Doors

By John Walker on January 30th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Brian Reynolds’ choice to join the ranks of Zynga always felt like a strange one. The Rise Of Nations developer surprised many when he joined the less-than-lovely company in 2009 (yes – it really was that long ago), but now Polygon are reporting that he’s stepped out, blinking into the sunlight, a free man.

Oddly, despite Poly having learned of Reynolds’ departure two days ago, Zynga denied it to them (that’s how you say “lied” when writing a news story – Journalism Ed). But now they’ve finished writing their statement, so the truth escapes their strangled throats. President Of Games (which is quite the title) Steve Chiang told the angular site,

“Brian has a long history in the game industry and has been a great partner to the creative leaders at Zynga. I want to thank him for his leadership of the Zynga Baltimore studio in the design and development of FrontierVille, which brought many innovations to social gaming. We appreciate Brian’s contribution and we’re proud of the deep bench of creative leaders who are leading the next wave of game innovation at Zynga. We wish Brian the best in his next chapter.”

So what next for the Rex Nebular And The Cosmic Gender Bender developer? No one knows at this point, but he took to the Twitter to say “Back soon.” Countdown to a Rise Of Nations Kickstarter?

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78 Comments »

  1. Gap Gen says:

    I feel the strange urge to start shouting ALPHA CENTAURI over and over.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Beat me to it :)

    • Meat Circus says:

      Once you start down the dark path, it will forever cloud your destiny.

    • abandonhope says:

      This would certainly wash the Zynga filth away.

      • BenLeng says:

        I bet Zynga was all: “Please don’t go.The Drones need you. They look up to you.”

        • Faldrath says:

          Someone get this person a “best comment of the day” award, now!

          • Gap Gen says:

            I want someone to record it in a soothing voice, adding “BenLeng. Datalinks.”

        • vedder says:

          Please accept this best comment of the day award, now!

        • Bhazor says:

          What I really miss more than anything since Alpha Centuri is the little data link FMV’s for each Wonder/Secret project. Everytime a civ game comes out I always let out a huge groan when I see how rubbish their Wonder videos are, that’s if they even have them.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlfxwgNOHb8 I mean look at that. Look at how cool that is.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW21WM0mMO4 then look at Civ 5 and bear in mind *that* is an improvement from Civ 4.

          • Lanfranc says:

            Yo, Civilization V, I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish, but Civilization II had the best wonder videos of all time. Of all time!

            Edit: Incidentally, Reynolds was a major contributor to Civ II as well.

          • Bhazor says:

            Its weird because they put more and more money and time into every other part of presentation and then completely drop the ball when it comes to the Wonder FMVs. Look at how much time/money they spent on giving every faction unique sets of music (including seperate soundtracks for when at war) and fully animated leaders. Then for the wonders it’s a five second gif.

            Bahhh, humbug. How am I supposed to get hyped about building the pyramids when all I get is a postcard?

          • Gap Gen says:

            Lanfranc: Yes, I learned half of Henry V’s prologue by virtue of playing that game so often as a kid. Shame I can never remember the middle bit.

        • benkc says:

          Thank you for this.

          And yeah, I’d be quite happy with another thing along the lines of either Alpha Centauri or Rise of Nations. Will have to keep an eye on what he does.

        • Geen says:

          You win an internet.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Actually, I don’t care if he can’t get the SMAC licence. Another smart, cultured game in any setting would be ace.

      • abandonhope says:

        I don’t care about the license either, but my preference is still sci-fi. So long as the word “kingdom” doesn’t enter into it, I’d be content.

        • vedder says:

          Kingdom should totally be a valid method of government even in a sci-fi game.

          • Bhazor says:

            Empire is even more prevalent.

            Personally I’d like to see more Lady Gaia factions in sci fi. Basically hippies with star cruisers and a well hidden mean streak*. They start off all about living in harmony and peace with nature then you dig a little deeper and realise that they are fucking metal.

            *Bearing in mind the standard tactic for AC’s Gaia faction involved capturing brain eating worms, forcing them to fight each other then using the leveled up worm mass to just steam roll cities. In a way that is so horrible that the survivors are driven mad by the horror. That’s brilliant. There really needs to be more factions in 4X games that use local fauna to fight for them and cultivate local flora to breed it.

          • Lanfranc says:

            “…more Lady Gaia factions…”

            I first read that as “more Lady Gaga factions”, and I was all “okay, that’s odd, but… yeah, why not?” Then I read it again and felt a little bad about myself.

          • Gap Gen says:

            “Commissioner Lal, despite your diplomatic efforts you have yet to read my p-p-poker face.”

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yes. Very yes. All of my yes.

    • psepho says:

      I was playing Alpha Centauri on the train this morning!

      Clearly I must be magical and my click-clicking has shattered the wards that were binding Reynolds at Zynga. That’s my explanation, at any rate…

    • Anton_Titus says:

      upto I saw the bank draft which had said $8919, I didnt believe that…my… neighbour was realey earning money in there spare time at there computar.. there brothers friend has been doing this 4 only eight months and a short time ago repaid the dept on there condo and purchased a top of the range Citroën 2CV. read more at… http://xurl.es/ya08g

  2. someguywho says:

    A new Rise of Nations? This needs to happen

    • PearlChoco says:

      Totally.

    • yabonn says:

      A third actually, bust let’s call it a second, and start all over again.

    • RedViv says:

      Pah. A new Rise of Legends, that’s what the world needs. A successor to the best RTS of all time in the world ever.

      • Deathmaster says:

        Can’t tell if sarcastic or plain stupid.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Can’t say if trolling or just…, no wait, it’s trolling.

          Accept that not all people don’t share your opinion.

          • RedViv says:

            Now now, he could merely be referring to the fact that it’s officially RoN: RoL, and thus actually a Rise of Nations title.
            If it really is meant to disagree with my opinion on RoL as my favourite title, sadly underappreciated by most, then it’s only a far too rude start to a debate for me to follow up on it. /NetZen

          • Deathmaster says:

            My apologies for the somewhat rude approach, but I can’t possibly imagine anyone preferring RoL over RoN.

          • Surlywombat says:

            Luckily you don’t have to imagine it since the above has stated that it is indeed a reality.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Sins of a Solar Empire always struck me as being pretty RoN-like, in terms of building lots of discrete settlements in an RTS setting. But yes, I did find it very hard to go back to Age of Empires after RoN. It seems so obvious that villagers should do stuff on their own rather than mill around waiting for you to micromanage them.

  3. OpT1mUs says:

    There goes my hope for “Alphacentauriville”…

    • Gap Gen says:

      “A new mindworm has entered Jessica Friendsworth’s farm. Survivors: 0″

  4. Dowr says:

    That dog is missing it’s maniacal smile and devil horns.

    • Bhazor says:

      I’d also say it’s lost its balls.
      Remember to spay and or neuter your terrible cancerous developers.

  5. Meat Circus says:

    “Creative leaders”

    “Zynga”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahaetc.

  6. Hulk Handsome says:

    He made Rex Nebular? I loved that game! Very underrated and fun adventure, especially if you play on easy/no-adventure-game-bullshit mode. And if you don’t mind a little bit of good ol’ family sexism (it’s no more offensive than the Leisure Suit Larry games. I think. It’s been a while).

    Time for a Rex kickstarter, then!

  7. Morlock says:

    Rex Nebular was quite entertaining.

  8. Zeewolf says:

    I thought it said “revolting doors”. Which would have been kinda fitting.

  9. misterT0AST says:

    Are we cheering at a guy losing his job?

    • MiniMatt says:

      Whilst these things can and do get spun it does look like both parties are describing it as a resignation rather than a sacking.

    • lordcooper says:

      I will happily cheer at anyone losing their job if said job involves working for Zynga. Particularly when they’re actually a rather talented individual who could be making actual games.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Sounds like he left willingly. We’re cheering the possibilities.

      Compare Spector, which had some cheering of possibilities tinted with “well, dang”. (Not least because, at least originally, Spector seemed pretty pumped to be with Disney, so either that turned sour or he got kicked out while still wanting to be there—neither pleasant outcomes.)

    • Lanfranc says:

      We’re cheering the fact hat one of the best game developers isn’t wasting his time in a creative black hole anymore.

      Whether Reynolds left voluntarily or was fired, I doubt he’ll have much trouble finding another job, or getting investments for his own thing if that’s what he wants.

  10. Tony M says:

    Who is this “President Of Games” and why wasn’t I allowed a vote? The President Of Games should be Notch, or maybe Tim Schafer.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Now that I think about it, Gabe Newell should probably be called President of PC Games for sure.

      • RedViv says:

        I would vote. No more world wars, thanks to Gabe Newell, President of Games.

        • Vorphalack says:

          Not sure if President Gabe aims to promote world peace….>_>….or biased against grand strategy gaming.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            That’s why vice president needs to be from Paradox Interactive, the protectors of forgotten genres.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            That’s why vice president needs to be from Paradox Interactive, the protectors of forgotten genres.

            Unfortunately the vice president in that case would be prone to causing all sorts of political gaffes by offending foreign dignitaries and the like for the first few years of being appointed to office.
            After a few years of education he or she would be the best vice president that ever existed but those early days would always haunt the memories of the people.

          • utharda says:

            Wow. Fredrik Wester is Actually Joe Biden. How crazy is that.

            ;)

          • LintMan says:

            Right

      • progmeer says:

        He’d be a great President of the World too. Think about it: No WWIII ever.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Molyneux would be gaming president, only he has the levels of deceit and self promotion to be such a gaming politician.

      • guygodbois00 says:

        Bazinga! You, sir, should definitely do stand up.
        Maybe you already do, for all I know…

    • MiniMatt says:

      This ain’t no democracy, you don’t get a vote.

      So pronounceth my old PE teacher, aka The Dictator Of Games.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        “We’re here to play Democracy, not practice it”

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      It’s a “one man, one vote” system. He’s the one man & he gets the vote.

  11. mckertis says:

    Let’s just hope he doesnt join Firaxis again, sullying his name with Zinga was enough.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Yes, joining a well-established PC centric studio where he would probably have near-full control over his project and will have the opportunity to work with people who he has known for decades would be so terrible.

      Don’t make me laugh.

  12. caddyB says:

    eeeeh. ZYNG?

  13. gschmidl says:

    Psst, you misspelled “revolting” in the headline.

    • Revolving Ocelot says:

      Revolting Ocelot? I’m not -that- bad. Merely a bit… unwashed.

  14. Surlywombat says:

    I can see it now. Two acclaimed game designers, one famous for futuristic civilization game set on a far off word, the other famous for a futuristic RPG set here on earth. Both on the lookout for new possibilities form a partnership to bring forth a new game..

    Reynolds and Specter’s – Alpha Deus.

    A strategy game where you infiltrate kingdoms and governments throughout history and the future as one of many secret organisations such Majestic 12 or the Illuminati. Attempting to bend the world to your ends via guile, agents and intrigue.

  15. Maniac says:

    next wave of game innovation
    Lovely…
    at Zynga
    HAHAHAH! :’D

  16. Berzee says:

    I’m listening to a lot of old Three Moves Ahead podcasts at the moment and it’s hilarious how they keep having conversations (with each other or with Special Guests) which keep insisting (in 2009/2010) that Asynchronous Social Network Browser/iPhone Gaming is the wave of the future and where the genre is headed (especially the more thoughtful turn-based games). I recently listened to the one where they discussed how Brian Reynolds was going to go to Zynga and infuse it with THE GAMEPLAY, and how Soren Johnson was teasing some new social-y game.

    It’s weird knowing I have like three years of podcasts left in which these predictions go unrealized…I keep wondering where the turning point will be (and when the more big-budget-innovator-developer type guests on the show will admit that ordinary .exe games are pretty good too).

    All that being said, I should give Rise of Nations another try some day. I didn’t like it when I got it, but I think that’s because I was approximately 11 years old.

    • biz says:

      you have to look at it from the perspective of business reality. nobody is ever going to get enough resources to spend money on actually making a decent strategy game, and that’s the core problem.

      rise of nations / civ4 were close, but not quite there. and the direction they needed to go in (better multiplayer or better AI) wasn’t deemed profitable enough

      we get tons of mediocre strategy games. I would argue that there hasn’t been a single great strategy game. ever.

      the multiplayer games are always about clicking fast / micromanagement
      the singleplayer games are always about beating an incompetent AI

      i don’t know if all the strategy designers who went to Zynga fit this description, but for someone who wants to make great games and not just enjoyable mediocrity, the traditional strategy gaming industry is just a giant brick wall

  17. Tuor says:

    Shouldn’t this be an “ending his self-imposed exile” motif instead of a “freed from prison” motif? Just saying: he went to work for Zynga on his own accord.

  18. Josh W says:

    I love the idea of a games company having a “president of games”, what are the other high level positions? “President of evil”?