The Pioneer Trail

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The Pioneer Trail
The Pioneer Trail Logo.jpg
Developer(s) Zynga East
Publisher(s) Zynga
Platform(s) Facebook
Release date(s) June 9, 2010
Genre(s) Simulation, RPG
Mode(s) Single-player with multiplayer interaction

The Pioneer Trail, formerly known as FrontierVille is a simulation, role-playing video game available for play on social networking sites such as Facebook. Developed by Zynga, and launched on June 9, 2010, it is a freemium game, meaning it's free to play, but players have the option of purchasing premium content.[1] The game was shut down on April 30, 2015.[2]

FrontierVille was the first game developed at Zynga East, Zynga's Baltimore studio led by Brian Reynolds.[3]


In art treatment and gameplay, The Pioneer Trail was very similar to one of Zynga's most popular games, FarmVille. Instead of a farm, though, the player played the role of a pioneer in the American Old West.

The player created an avatar which resembled a [American pioneer]. The player then may have completed a total of innumerable collections which could be traded for coins, experience points (XP), decorations, livestock, trees, craft-able items, energy, and horseshoes (rare money that can be bought with real money). The player could also finish goals which included tasks such as gathering money, buying energy, clearing land, chopping down trees, raising livestock and trees, creating items such as beds, furniture, and clobbering unwanted pests like bears, snakes, foxes and groundhogs. Eventually, the player may have acquired a spouse and up to four children. The player could have the other family members perform tasks. They could perform tasks simultaneously with their spouses and children, but the player risked being"kicked off" the game.

Other tasks included collecting from buildings, building inns, wagons, general stores, cabins, schools, chicken coops, barns, trading posts, barber shops, churches, and sawmills as well as seeding, growing and harvesting crops. Completing goals yielded rewards.

Coins enabled the player to purchase decorations, buildings, crops, trees and animals. Horseshoes, which can be earned in-game, or purchased through real-world credit cards, enable the player to buy mules and horses, paint buckets, hand drills, nails, bricks and hammers and many other assorted crops or items. These items were essential for completing certain goals. Friends may also have "gifted" these items to the player.

Crops may have been planted and had to be harvested before they withered. As in FarmVille, the wither time of a particular crop was twice the maturation time. Also, as in FarmVille, crop maturity varied from 5 minutes (clover) to 4 days (peanuts). Crops with longer maturation times provide larger payoffs. Harvesting could trigger encounters with ground hogs, which must be "clobbered" to avoid using extra energy within their area of influence. Clobbering pests and harvesting crops yielded coins, xp and food. Food was used to get energy, which was necessary to do any action in the game except for planting crops. Energy could be purchased in exchange for food or horseshoes. Every 5 minutes the player gains 1 energy. When a player ran out of energy, they must either purchase more energy with food or horseshoes, or wait for their energy to build up. They could also gain energy by visiting their neighbor's farms and performing up to 5 tasks daily on each neighbor's homestead.

Animals may be purchased and harvested routinely for resources, or sold outright for a large one-time reward. They start out as juveniles and must be fed several times to grow into adults. There are two main types of animals. Mammals (goats, sheep, pigs, cows, oxen, mules and horses) and birds (chickens and geese). Mammals take somewhat longer to produce resources but generally provide a larger payoff. Birds take less time to produce resources, but there is a chance of triggering a fox encounter when you feed them. Unless the fox is "clobbered" (killed), all birds within its area of influence (as seen with a red aura) can only be "sold" (i.e. "hunted"), not harvested.

Players can also plant fruit trees. Cherry, apple, pear, peach and apricot trees are available. They are bought as seedlings and must be watered (in a manner similar to feeding the animals ) to reach their full potential. They provide somewhat fewer resources than crops and animals do, but they never wither, or risk triggering the appearance of a pest.

Leveling up rewards the player with full energy, coins and sometimes advances the limit of a player's maximum energy. Leveling occurs by accumulating experience points (xp). Experience points are earned by doing most actions in the game.

Initially, oak and pine trees, grass, cacti, wildflowers, rocks and cow skulls fill the player's "homestead". At least some must be cleared to obtain usable land. Chopping down trees yields 1-3 wood, which is needed to construct buildings. Chopping down trees can trigger a bear encounter. Bears, while "harmless" (as there is no real danger in the game), prevent the player from doing some things. They are removed by scaring them off (and the bear "dies"), which expends energy, but yields rewards (coin, food, xp, etc.). Clearing land may also trigger a snake encounter, which is handled in the same manner as a ground hog encounter, that is, "clobbering".

Collections are an intrinsic feature of the game. Collection items are found while doing most actions in the game (feeding animals, harvesting crops, clobbering pests). Collection items are automatically added to collection sets. When a set is complete, it may be redeemed for in-game rewards, such as food, energy, xp, etc. The player can request collection items and can receive them as gifts via Neighbors (i.e. friends).[4]

Pioneer Trail[edit]

This expansion was rolled out in August 2011. The gameplay flows in the same vein as the 80's educational game, The Oregon Trail. Players follow a story line of a rescue mission.[5]


  1. ^ Peckham, Matt, PCWorld. "Zynga's Wild, Wild Western FrontierVille Launches." June 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Shaul, Brandy (March 23, 2015). "Zynga to Shutter Six Games – Including Pioneer Trail". Adweek. 
  3. ^ Takahashi, Dean, "Gaming legend Brian Reynolds on how FrontierVille might change Zynga." October 18, 2010.
  4. ^ Amero, Alexander, "FrontierVille: Everything you need to know." June 9, 2010.
  5. ^ Tecca, Yahoo! News. "Zynga’s Pioneer Trail: Like Oregon Trail without the dysentery." August 15, 2011.