Realistic Plant-Growing Simulator

Year: 2020

Time: 3 months (in development)
Tech: Unity, Blender
Platform: Web
Demo: Itch.io
Description

Realistic Plant-Growing Simulator is a game I designed during the Babycastles Residency program. It is a real-time plant growing sim in which players are given a mysterious plant, and are asked to nurture it from a seed to a fully grown plant in a span of a week in real time. It aims to capture the realistic challenges of plant-growing, including close observations of the plant, reading its subtle and delayed responses, and silent waiting.

Inspiration

Gardening and plant-growing simulation games usually evoke a feeling of contemplation, serenity, and stability. As much as I enjoy them, I often feel that something core to the plant-growing experience is missing in those simulations.

 
Despite having grown plants for 6 years, I still see plants as a mystery. Unlike an animal companion who’s constantly active and would sniff around for food to fill their bellies, plants are mostly quiet and static above the soil surface, and their needs are much harder to detect to the average observer. As an amateur gardener, my inability to understand their subtle signs and calls-for-attention has made my plant-growing experience one full of anticipation and anxiety: a succulent would look green and healthy long after their death, and a dried up pepper plant would spring back to life after a rainy day. This sense of uncertainty and insecurity in plant-growing is mainly why I find this activity fascinating. The slow and challenging process of trying to decipher the signs of plants and their way of communicating with the external environment has rarely been captured in existing plant-growing sims. What would a player feel if they are not sure most of the time whether they are doing the right thing? What if a game responds to your input not with instant and juicy feedback, but in a series of small, delayed and subtle ones? I hope to answer these questions by making a different plant-growing sim: one that is risky, confusing, frustrating, and full of surprises. 

 

To learn more about the project and my development process, you can watch my presentation at the end of the residency here