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Zynga unveils latest game: Hidden Chronicles

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Zynga's newest game is Hidden Chronicles.

Updated: February 7, 2012 8:25AM

Zynga has uncovered its newest venture, a hidden-object game called Hidden Chronicles on Facebook.

Hidden Chronicles encourages you to invite friends and share rewards, as in Zynga’s other games such as CityVille and FarmVille. Among the game’s unique features: the ability to hide items on your friends’ game boards and compete head-to-head in time-based mini-games.

“Just by interacting with your friends, you are expanding the amount of content that is accessible to you in the game,” says Cara Ely, the game’s creative director. “We are really trying to make that interaction meaningful.”

The story unfolds as you uncover items hidden in scenes and move to unlock new hidden-object locations throughout the game’s setting, the Ramsey Manor estate. At the outset, players are ushered into the mansion’s library, where an assistant informs you that your uncle has died under mysterious circumstances.

“Right off the bat, we are kicking off the mystery,” Ely says.

Initially, the hidden-object scenes are fairly simple. At the bottom of the screen is a list of items you must find and click on. Each hidden scene becomes more complex, as does the story. “The larger story arc is a little bit Da Vinci Code-like,” Ely says.

Artists worked on the game to give the scenes a stylized realism, art director Margaret Foley-Mauvais says.

“The person who (looks) at this game for the first time is going to be fascinated by the number of things they can see, the variety and richness of the scenes,” she says.

Tens of millions of people play hidden-object games, and Seattle-based Big Fish Games “has built a whole business around” the games, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Atul Bagga says. “It makes sense for Zynga. ... This is an audience that monetizes very well.”

As with Zynga’s other games, you can play for free, but you can also spend real money on unique items and energy to allow you to play longer and progress through the game faster.

Zynga is “thoughtfully trying to hit every major game genre, in the hopes of attracting not only more players overall, but players who will play more than one game,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter says. “It’s a smart strategy and allows them to keep growth at a high level.”

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