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Zynga's chief designer left to work on smaller games

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Brian Reynolds, who worked for nearly four years as chief game designer at Zynga, left the company recently to focus on smaller games, according to an article he wrote, published in Venture Beat.

A veteran of FrontierVille and CityVille 2, Reynolds wrote that he misses "in a funny way, the day to day panics of being somewhere small and new and vulnerable, and the excitement of owning a small company." Before joining Zynga, Reynolds worked at Big Huge Games and co-founded Firaxis alongside Sid Meier.

Reynolds wrote that he joined Zynga early enough to identify and implement some of the hallmarks of the social gaming industry, and he remembers those days fondly.

"I think my favorite part, throughout the whole Zynga experience, has been the sense that we were writing new rules for a new industry," he wrote. "It felt strange, but awesome, to make an arbitrary decision in April and then by August see the entire social games industry doing exactly that same thing. And the social games space was so young (and initially a bit primitive). It moved so fast that being a game designer in it felt like traveling back to the late 80s 'knowing everything you know now' and then recapitulating the '90s and '00s at hyperspeed."

Word of his departure surfaced earlier this week, first from sources and then through a confirmation from Zynga officials.

Reynolds is the latest in a long list of employees who have left Zynga in the last several months. In August, both Mike Verdu, Zynga's chief creative officer, and John Schappert, its chief operating officer, parted ways with the company. In September, Zynga's chief technical officer of infrastructure Allan Leinwand left the company. Jonathan Flesher, Zynga's vice president of business development, resigned in November.