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Growing plants in games - examples you liked?


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#1 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4986

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:51 PM

I just finished playing Plant Tycoon, and I've played many of the Harvest Moon games and A Tale in the Desert which has a farming sim element. What other games would you all recommend where you enjoyed growing plants as part of the gameplay? I'm not really interested in the economic sim ones where you manage crops, I'd like to focus on the ones where the player grows and tends individual plants and making money isn't the main goal.

(I'm asking because I'm collecting ideas for designing an MMO farming sim system.)

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#2 Leartes   Members   -  Reputation: 177

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 01:02 AM

I haven't found a single game as good as plant tycoon. :(

I played it years ago and really loved it, though it gets booring pretty fast as soon as you understood the whole evolution concept.

Recently I thought it would be cool to have a game that focuses more on creating/growing combinations of plants in a single spot just to make it look nice. (Like choosing a bowl, some deco elements like a rock or two and three different plants, putting them together and try to grow them together) If every plant has individual requirements (like amount of water, type and amount of fertiliser, type of soil) it could become quite a challenge to do it right.
Though you would need a good simulation on how the water and fertilizer spreads and different options on how to distribute them etc.

I think many people would like to have such an application (is it a game or a riddle if you don't really interact with other players ?) on their desktop to click them every now and then and care about how the plants grow and look nice.

#3 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 05:01 AM

I liked the way plants work in The UnderGarden. They're beautiful, and kinda fun, and even necessary for advancing the game.

Also the idea of an interactive plant-like desktop wallpaper could be interesting. Seeding plants at various spots, and the plants curling around the desktop. A sort of idle-mind activity, like an interactive screen saver.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on December 12, 2010 11:01:34 AM]

#4 Portugal Stew   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:17 AM

Quote:
Original post by AngleWyrm
Also the idea of an interactive plant-like desktop wallpaper could be interesting. Seeding plants at various spots, and the plants curling around the desktop. A sort of idle-mind activity, like an interactive screen saver.


Sounds like a delightfully unobtrusive version of eSheep. It could work.

#5 AesteroidBlues   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 03:59 PM

Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
What other games would you all recommend where you enjoyed growing plants as part of the gameplay?


Plants vs. Zombies :D

But seriously, I would really recommend you find a way to play Rune Factory (You said you hadn't in another thread). There's a game that could very easily scale up to an MMO. Just don't play RF:Frontier...freaking Runies :[

#6 isometrixk   Members   -  Reputation: 176

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 04:34 PM

Sim Farm! I used to play it all the time.


#7 Dir3kt   Members   -  Reputation: 166

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 06:48 PM

Ok this one is a bit out of subject but it is also related to your previous post about 'collecting small plots of lands' : Runes of Magic. It is your classic 'WoW like' MMO but where every player has an instanciated house where they can grow plants / build furniture / stock items ...

#8 Khaiy   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1342

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 06:32 AM

It's kind of tangential to a lot of game play (unless you want to focus on it), but Startopia had a fun garden-tending aspect to it. You fiddle with climate, humidity, and so on, and then you can grow different plants and sell them for cash, or use them for decoration.

#9 Steadtler   Members   -  Reputation: 220

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 06:53 AM

Its not what you want but you need to try farming in Dwarf Fortress hehehe

#10 FritzMar   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:32 AM

i'm still waiting til i can plant trees in dwarf fortress, as for the other games i think harvest moon is my faviorite farming idea that could spread well in an mmo like enviroment and if you add some elements from runefactory -> a fantasy harvest moon, even says so in the game it would spread very well

facebook is over flooding with these types of games atm so its really hard to find a quality one that works

i like the simple work flow of
plant -> water -> water -> pick -> repeat

#11 Konidias   Members   -  Reputation: 214

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 09:59 AM

The biggest problem I see when faced with a farming MMO is how to deal with land properly. Do players get land right from the start? Do they have to earn it somehow?

Where is the land in relation to the overworld? Is it directly on the overworld? Is it separate?

I have toyed with designing a farming MMO in the past and this problem is one of the bigger problems. If the MMO is going to have thousands of players, it's not really feasible that each player has a farmhouse and big plot of farmland on the overworld. You'd be looking at one heck of a giant overworld.

One solution would be to break off the individual farmlands into their own little private "islands" which players can travel to or something. However this disconnect from the overworld might prevent people from visiting a stranger's farm... So that beautiful farm you've crafted might go unseen by the thousands of people playing the game, because they'd never bother to go check it out unless they passed by it on the overworld or something.

But with all that said, I'd still love to see a farming MMO (that isn't Farmville... that's not really the same thing)

Harvest Moon, Rune Factory... those are by far the best in terms of farming RPGs. The fact that you get to use the crops you farm in various ways just makes it much better. (cooking, selling, giving as gifts, crafting, etc)

#12 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4986

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 10:18 AM

Quote:
Original post by FritzMar
i'm still waiting til i can plant trees in dwarf fortress, as for the other games i think harvest moon is my faviorite farming idea that could spread well in an mmo like enviroment and if you add some elements from runefactory -> a fantasy harvest moon, even says so in the game it would spread very well

facebook is over flooding with these types of games atm so its really hard to find a quality one that works

i like the simple work flow of
plant -> water -> water -> pick -> repeat


One of the things I liked about farming in A Tale In the Desert is that they added a weeding step as a nice simple addition to the possible steps of growing a plant. The plants responded differently to different care - if you plant a flax seed and then ignore it, it will produce a seed but nothing else of use, putting you back where you started. Basic flax doesn't need to be watered, so noobs don't have to worry about carrying jars of water around, but the kind that you water produces more flax. Once you get flax the processing of it is kind of fun too. For one use you need to dry it, for most of the other uses you have to rot it in water for a few minutes before it can be carded into fibers, then the fibers can be spun into twine or rope or woven into cloth. Vegetables had different requirements, to change things up a bit. They needed to be watered 3 times, and each time you watered them they visibly got bigger. (Perhaps I should mention this is a real-time sim activity rather than a turn-based one.)

The advanced flax breeding stuff seemed a bit overcomplicated when I read about it in the wiki (I never got that far in the game) but it did have the interesting possibility that flax could be bred which came out pre-rotted. That was an interesting balance - a time saver if you wanted rotted flax, but a problem if you needed un-rotted flax. I also read that you could breed pretty decorative flowers, I remember seeing people with rows of them outside their house, but again I never made it to that part.

#13 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2788

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 01:12 AM

Be careful not make the growing aspect too complex so as not to alienate players. The last Harvest Moon game I played was a bit overly complex I found.

Basically each crop had different growth stage to advance from each it needs a certain amount of time, water, and sun too much of any of them in a given stage kills the plant. The quality of the plant is based on how close to the minimum amount of time, water, and sun you got during each stage.

But since the weather determines how much sun and water you get each day and the watering can also be used to add water it can be almost impossible to grow high quality plans and difficult to keep track of how much sun and water your plants are getting especially when you have different crops on the go.


#14 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4986

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 09:20 AM

Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Be careful not make the growing aspect too complex so as not to alienate players. The last Harvest Moon game I played was a bit overly complex I found.

Basically each crop had different growth stage to advance from each it needs a certain amount of time, water, and sun too much of any of them in a given stage kills the plant. The quality of the plant is based on how close to the minimum amount of time, water, and sun you got during each stage.

But since the weather determines how much sun and water you get each day and the watering can also be used to add water it can be almost impossible to grow high quality plans and difficult to keep track of how much sun and water your plants are getting especially when you have different crops on the go.


Sounds like you played the one harvest moon that did get overcomplicated - Wonderful Life, I think? Most of them are much simpler: plants take a set number of days to grow per type of plant, and plants must be watered on days it doesn't rain; no sun variable.

But in general I agree, it shouldn't be so complex you have to take notes on it or do math. That's one of the things I didn't like about Plant Tycoon; the game doesn't keep track of experiments you've already done, and there isn't even enough storage space to keep one of every seed, so you're basically forced to make some notes to figure out what you've already tried and what it's safe to throw away because you can breed another from what you've kept, if necessary.

#15 markm   Members   -  Reputation: 98

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 11:10 AM

How big is a seed? How many types are there?

It boggles the mind to think a farmer or even a gardener cannot find room to store a few thousands or millions of seeds, though maybe all the labelling overhead to track which is which would magnify the space requirement vastly.

This brings to mind "Fallen Sword", which claims to have vast numbers of players yet is one of the most pathetic games I have ever tried.

How essential is it that the kind of game you have in mind stand alone bereft of billions of galaxies in its sky potentially populated by gosh knows what, and bereft of all the other niches of an ecosystem?

I realise though that you are not wanting to provide the food for the food chain but rather to produce small quantities of plant matter. Maybe some kind of herb lore would work well with that though, so the pharmacies and hospitals might like the rare products you are able to grow?

Little mini-games like this sound to me like lovely little modules to add in to a game universe or multiverse. If it is desired that the horticulturalists not be harassed by griefers and murderers and thieves and bodysnatchers from the stars and so on surely somewhere among the galaxies some nice safe little Shire^H^H^H^H^Hplanet could be protected where such folk could ply their trade?

#16 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4986

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 11:29 AM

Quote:
Original post by markm
How big is a seed? How many types are there?

It boggles the mind to think a farmer or even a gardener cannot find room to store a few thousands or millions of seeds, though maybe all the labelling overhead to track which is which would magnify the space requirement vastly.

This brings to mind "Fallen Sword", which claims to have vast numbers of players yet is one of the most pathetic games I have ever tried.

How essential is it that the kind of game you have in mind stand alone bereft of billions of galaxies in its sky potentially populated by gosh knows what, and bereft of all the other niches of an ecosystem?

I realize though that you are not wanting to provide the food for the food chain but rather to produce small quantities of plant matter. Maybe some kind of herb lore would work well with that though, so the pharmacies and hospitals might like the rare products you are able to grow?

Little mini-games like this sound to me like lovely little modules to add in to a game universe or multiverse. If it is desired that the horticulturalists not be harassed by griefers and murderers and thieves and bodysnatchers from the stars and so on surely somewhere among the galaxies some nice safe little Shire^H^H^H^H^Hplanet could be protected where such folk could ply their trade?

If you're asking about Plant Tycoon, it has approximately 400 types of plant, and approximately 150 storage bins which only hold one seed each.

I haven't played Fallen Sword - what about it are you reminded of?

As a writer, I personally like to build a fantasy world; I find that one planet is more than enough space for all the content I could possibly design. But certainly a plant-breeding system, much like any other resource gathering and crafting minigame, could fit into pretty much any MMO or RPG.


#17 markm   Members   -  Reputation: 98

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 12:34 PM

In Fallen Sword I have I think a three-item backpack and maybe ten or fifteen herb/component slots. I cannot remember how many survey companies I would have to sign up for in order to get another item slot in my backpack but the number I did manage to sign up for wasn't enough or maybe its just enough for one slot but its not clear slots are really any use anyway so I havent bothered to buy one. (Mostly I have to keep throwing crap away that gets into my backpack, seldom do I seem to have any reason to retain anything.)

That very limited storage was what I was reminded of. The general horribleness is weird stuff like being hundreds of stamina points from anywhere in the middle of gosh knows where yet between one webclick and the next some person from some guild somewhere somehow tracked me down flew or teleported to my location without my seeing them, fought me beat me and took some gold from me yet left me alive, presumably so they could gloat. Which they do, they get points for this. So its a kind of weird hybrid between those old BBS door games that had no geography at all just pick someone from a rankings list to attack without having to march through everyone in-between, and more modern but very similar systems in which a map does at least make it cost points to traverse the distance even if for all practical purposes you are not really traversing the points in between. (Astro Empires, Zorg Empire, etc.)



#18 MeshGearFox   Members   -  Reputation: 158

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:43 PM

As a gamer who also has a collection of approximately a hundred plants of varying species, I can probably give you some tips and then point you at a bunch of people substantially more knowledgeable than I am on this subject.

Also if you're looking for a realistic plant-growing simulation, I'm pretty sure none exist, and if they do I'd be really surprised if they got anything right.

That being said, I liked how the ecological aspects worked in Creatures 2 and 3.

Basically actually growing plants is sort of... not a hugely involved process unless you're doing it commercially, I guess. The only really time-consuming parts are, I guess, preparing soil mixtures, pruning, and re-potting. And you only really ended up doing that once a year, generally. And if you're watering often enough that it takes up a lot of you're time, you're watering too much.

Things get more interesting when you run into problems. Pests, for instance. You start finding out what a lot of pesticides are and how they function. Same for specific nutrient deficiencies, as well as other cultural conditions (not enough light, low humidity, poor soil inducing rot, etc).

Actually a plant pathology game could be really interesting.

---edit---

Okay played the plant tycoon demo. Some areas it could be improved in:

- Soil composition. Soil composition is PROBABLY the single most important part of container culture and plant tycoon really just simplifies this way too much. In PT you just have three soils which are, apparently, basic, better, and best, in terms of how they affect plant health. A more interesting solution would be to provide the player with a number of soil components (bark, perlite, pumice, gravel, baked clay, Turface, etc), and let them mix their own soils, then determine, from the player's mix, various properties, such as how quickly they drain, how quickly they dry down, how much oxygen they'd hold, how much water they'd hold when saturated, how organic v. inorganic they are, how acid v. alkaline they are, etc.

- Fertilizers. Same thing. You have various flavors of growth tonic and plant food. This is boring. Plants, generally, need nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate (NPK) in different proportions. And overfertilizing can fry the plants. Additionally plants need various micronutrients (iron, copper, boron, etc.) or you run into more exotic problems. Iron deficiencies in particular cause chlorosis.

- Watering. The danger of overwatering really isn't stressed enough. You're far more likely to kill a plant by overwatering than you are by underwatering, generally. Underwatering will cause wilt and defoliation and will slowly kill the plant, but in the short term doesn't tend to cause problems they can't recover from as long as you don't let it happen too often. Overwatering induces rot which is quite fatal, quite fast. Can be mitigated by using more inorganic soils.

- Pests. Plants tend to get afflicted with different pests, for different reasons, and with different treatments. Plant tycoon only seemed to have one (which were little black flies. Little black flies on houseplants are typically fungus gnats and are typically harmless though often indicate your soil is bad). Also pests can build up resistances to various insecticides over time, so you need to cycle stuff.

- Humidity and light. Also play a big role. Don't seem to be considered at all. Although presumably plants are being grown outside so this wouldn't be much of an issue.

- Pot size. This actually matters a lot too. Small pots cramp roots and impede growth. Big pots have more soil and stay wetter longer and can induce rot.

Basically it abstracts away all the really interesting parts about growing plants which is sad.

[Edited by - MeshGearFox on December 14, 2010 11:43:12 PM]

#19 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4986

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:18 PM

Quote:
Original post by MeshGearFox
As a gamer who also has a collection of approximately a hundred plants of varying species, I can probably give you some tips and then point you at a bunch of people substantially more knowledgeable than I am on this subject.

Also if you're looking for a realistic plant-growing simulation, I'm pretty sure none exist, and if they do I'd be really surprised if they got anything right.

That being said, I liked how the ecological aspects worked in Creatures 2 and 3.

Basically actually growing plants is sort of... not a hugely involved process unless you're doing it commercially, I guess. The only really time-consuming parts are, I guess, preparing soil mixtures, pruning, and re-potting. And you only really ended up doing that once a year, generally. And if you're watering often enough that it takes up a lot of you're time, you're watering too much.

Things get more interesting when you run into problems. Pests, for instance. You start finding out what a lot of pesticides are and how they function. Same for specific nutrient deficiencies, as well as other cultural conditions (not enough light, low humidity, poor soil inducing rot, etc).

Actually a plant pathology game could be really interesting.

I do grow plants for real, but generally I find plant-growing games a lot more fun because I don't have to mess around with realistic problems like fungus gnats, grape moths, chlorosis, blackspot, and seeds that just decide not to sprout, all of which I've struggled with this year. The part that really interests me is the experimental breeding of new shapes and colors of flowers, but the amount of time required to do that for real drives me crazy. I keep wondering if I should have taken up breeding guppies or bettas instead.


#20 Programmer16   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1932

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:28 PM

Rune Factory is a decent game. I haven't played very far into it, but it' kind of like Harvest Moon with more of an RPG-esque battle system.




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