Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Great Garden Nursery Game

click this totally sweet image to link to the makers page

It seems to me I am determined to design games based on my life.  These days I'm always thinking about Gardening and gaming.  To that effect, I was thinking of gamifying my job.  That is to say, my job has just a few dynamic elements, but they keep me busy all day.  

First there is watering.  Plants start to die if they are not watered.  Many of them can bounce back without any trouble, but some of them don't bounce back so well.  And if they go long enough without water they lose their ability to hold water effectively, thus requiring more water.  This also takes place when a plant is in a pot for too long and becomes root bound.  In both instances, the plants run out of water quickly.  A final thing that happens when a plant is not appropriately watered is that the plant will die partially, and become ugly.  Ugly plants don't sell.  

It's important to keep the plants healthy.  However, the primary reason to keep the plants healthy is so that customers will purchase them.  Thusly, customer service takes priority over watering.  This conflict of interest can be very challenging, as customers do not respect the greater needs of the nursery, they are singularly focused on their own needs.  (there are rare customers who see the bigger picture, and they are wonderful people).

Sometimes customers will simply pick out plants on their own, purchase them, and be on their merry way.  Other customers require a great deal of song and dance before they will make a purchase.  This comes in the form of simple questions, obscure questions and shopping buddies.  Simple questions require only a moment of time, obscure questions require research, and shopping buddies require full devotion of attention for an extended period of time.  The flipside of the devotion of time for shopping buddies is that they often will make the biggest purchases.  

Y'know, kinda like this

When I imagine these systems in the form of a video game, I'm thinking of a one-screen game, with basic pixel art, using color to attach meaning.  In the basic stage of the game, you simply have to water all of the plants.  Plants are represented by green icons, which, over time, degrade to yellow, red and then brown.  If a plant turns yellow, it needs water.  The player icon simply has to walk to each yellow plant and press the 'water' action button to resucitate the plant.  I imagine little blue and white pixels for water.  

If a plant turns red, it has received damage from dehydration, and now is not able to water back up to green.  If a plant turns brown, it is dead.  Dead plants will not change when watered, and must be removed using the 'deadhead' action button. When a dead plant is removed, it will be replaced, in time, by a new, green plant.  However, every new plant results in a negative penalty to the score.  

While the player is busy watering plants, customer icons will wander into the screen.  I imagine these as shaped and colored differently from the plants, however, with variation.  The basic customer will enter the screen,  randomly collect green plants, and leave the screen.  For every green plant collected, the player gains points, equal to at least double the potential penalty points.  

I also imagine different customer behaviors.  Some customers target you, and while they are within a certain proximity you are unable to water plants.  These customers can be avoided, but may best be dealt with.  One customer simply needs to be handle by pressing the action button a few times.  Another type will not be shaken, and you must walk across the screen, through the plants, unable to water, but the customer will pick up plants along the way.  After the customer has five plants, they will leave, and you can collect your points.

Maybe something like this, but with higher resolution?

The goal is very simple, in classic arcade style: gain points.  Each stage will have the same time limit.  Essentially from open to close.  Points carry over from one stage to the next.  The game is lost when the player runs out of points.  Players are ranked based on the number of stages they can complete, and the highest number of points they can acquire at any one time.

But the dynamics will increase with every level.  I imagine a temperature meter, with a low of 70 degrees. The temperature can increase level to level, thus increasing the rate of dryout for the plants.  I imagine larger plants which are slower to dry out, but also slower to water.  These plants are also worth more points.  As you gain in levels, the days get hotter, the customers heavier and the plants larger.  You can conceivably go on forever, or until the temperature gets up to 150 degrees and all the plants die instantly.  Fun times.

Seems vaguely fun to me.  And I get to do it every day in real life!  Wow!  Anyway, I have no idea why anyone would have read through all that stuff I wrote up there.  I just like to come up with basic game ideas and describe them.  If I had the attention and dedication, I'd even program them myself.  Until that happens, this is what I've got.  Sayonara,


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