Robert Hornbek

Game Development & Exploration

Garden Dreams: Growing A Concept

Posted by rHornbek on December 17, 2009

For some time now I have had an idea for a puzzle game that has yet to fully take shape.  While mulling the idea over the other day, I thought it may be a great opportunity to share some of the ideas and my development process here on my blog.  This is only the first of many articles that will chronicle the development of the idea.

Old version of Insaniquarium.

My original idea was inspired by the Java game Insaniquarium, from PopCap games, where the user would collect valuable items that appear to purchase food, fish and other accessories for the aquarium.  I found it rather interesting how they fused a simple simulator with puzzle game elements, so I decided to design something within a similar genre.

Sample Flowers 01

The concept that emerged was a simple flower garden simulator that utilize the “connect three” style puzzle gameplay.  In Garden Dreams (working title) the user would plant seeds and cultivate them to fully matured flowers thus allowing them to be sold in clusters of at least three like colors.  The user could then purchase additional seeds and accessories to support further development of the garden.  I have come across plant simulators that work almost exactly like this, but that is OK.  What ultimately will make this game different are the puzzle elements.

Sample Flowers 02

Keep in mind we are simply developing a concept here, so there isn’t much more that some inspiration and general ideas.  Below is a list of features I would like to incorporate into the game in one way or another.  As time goes on we will venture each of these ideas and figure out how they will benefit the game and whether or not they should be present.

  1. The game’s controls would be simple, requiring the user only to use the mouse and the left-click function to perform all actions.
  2. There would be less emphasis on simulating a garden and more on the puzzle aspects.
  3. Item Store, allowing the user to purchase new seeds, accessories and other special items.
  4. Work Bench, where the user could store extra items like seeds and accessories for when they are ready to use them.
  5. Utilizing the seasons Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall to alter gameplay.
  6. Utilizing the day cycle to represent rounds.
  7. Earning points from collecting three or more like colored flowers in addition to bonus points earned from creating multicolored flower arrangements.
  8. Different color and type of flowers, in addition to bad plants like thistles.
  9. Popular garden critters that would appear to help or hinder the user’s progress.
  10. Fun items that can be purchased from the store to help the user’s progression.

Sample Flowers 03

The goal is to create a colorful casual puzzle game that has similar addictive properties to Insaniquarium.  Hopefully with a little time and feedback, I can finally complete the design for this title and eventually get it developed.  If you still cannot visualize what this game may look like or how it could work that is fine, each of the follow up articles will further describe the concept as it is developed and it should eventually take shape.  Lets see what happens!


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