In select circumstances, until earlier today, the Zynga game Coasterville told users to email a certain address @themepark.com if something went wrong. The problem is that email address didn't belong to a Zynga employee.
Instead, it belonged to Eric Mueller, who owns the domain themepark.com, which he uses for his web design firm.
Now, Eric doesn't work for Zynga. He tells us he's never played a Zynga game in his life. But the mix-up has for the past few months left Eric in the role of impromptu customer service assistant, with frustrated Coasterville players emailing him for help with their problems. A position he's taken to with aplomb.
See, rather than ignore the emails, Eric ran with it. When Zynga didn't reply to his messages pointing out the error, he started doing their job for them.
Here's a selection of his responses to Coasterville players, most of whom had no idea he wasn't an actual Zynga employee, and who went along with his seemingly helpful requests.
Hi [removed], I apologise for the delay. I've been talking to our engineering department and they're saying that message should have worked for the server. Can you try posting it again but in all-capital letters? So you would post "I LOVE POODLES AND NOODLES" on five friend's Facebook walls. I'm assured by the engineers that this will do the job.
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Regarding the golden treasure chest, I see what you mean; I don't have any record here that shows you clicked "show me" to open the chest. Can you try clicking it five times, very slowly? Usually that sets it to definitely recognise that it has been opened. Click, pause for a few seconds, and repeat that 4 more times.
Regarding the dino skull, it's the same situation. Try the slow clicks.
Finally, regarding the Majestic Castle landmark bonus, that's a tricky one. You can try the slow-click technique for that but I'm not sure it'll work. I talked to the engineers and they suggested holding down the M, E, and H keys, and while you have all three keys held down, try clicking the button then. This is a cheat code that can "force" the button to activate.
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This is actually a known issue with the Coasterville server, and I have a solution from our engineering team. It is a little bit strange, but here's how it works. You need to go to 5 of your Facebook friends and post this message on their wall: "I love brown bears, folding chairs and little curly hairs!"
I know that seems odd :-) but the engineers have assured me that by connecting that message with your friends on their Facebook walls, then the game will see the message and it will cause it to avoid the problems that you've had. It has something to do with how the server was set up, and posting that message triggers special key words that are embedded in the game and assure the game's integrity. When the game sees those key words, it will know the server is configured properly and should be able to proceed without any other errors. (As a side effect, I am also being told that can also help the games load faster, too.)
It doesn't matter which five friends you pick, and they don't need to be playing any of our games. The system just needs to see those keywords on five walls.
Sadly, after we contacted Zynga to confirm the loophole — which they tell us was "rare", and only occurred on "select internal server error screens" — they went and closed it, ending what for Eric has been equal parts ordeal/good time.
As for those affected by his "customer service", well... you could argue it was pretty mean, but the thought of a Zynga gamer trying to hit "meh" over and over is too funny to get worried about.