Game designin’ (GX)

Before I can make full use of the characters in Germination X, I need to think about the game itself, the social aspects – and how this interacts with the theme of companion planting.

This could be a very rich area to play around with, but it needs to start as simple as possible. I’m lucky in that I can make a lot of use of the research we covered as part of the Naked on Pluto project, and as ever, I have to start with plenty of drawings.

The design is focused on three main priorities:

  • Getting people working together (co-operative play).
  • Do this in a world organised by companion planting.
  • Integrate the world with the FAtiMA AI system, and make use of the notions of social awareness encoded within it

I’m also trying one well used casual game mechanic – a time based restriction, where some “energy” or “karma” is used up by actions (planting), and then slowly recharged. This is required in order to make cooperation necessary – people will be able to request help from other players who have more energy/karma and may choose to plant beneficial companion plants near to their ill plants. This could perhaps be rewarded by being given a larger reserve of planting energy if you do this.

I’m particularly interested in the interaction of these game mechanics, and finding some sort of minimum to achieve engagement. For example I’m quite against explicitly punishing “bad behavior” (in this case planting harmful plants near other player’s plants) and seeing how this might be explored by players in practice.

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