As a commission from the Media Sandbox scheme, Blossom Bristol uses real world locations to allow users to plant virtual crops and watch them thrive or wither based on open source weather and pollution data provided by Bristol council.
I spent most of my time designing a system to allow the players to interact with this real word data in a fun and engaging way. This included; The effect real world data has on crops, how players are encouraged to physically travel to different locations and ensuring the game is simple yet engaging. I also spent time balancing the in game items, for example, crop yield and the market value for certain crops and how each piece of real world data effects these.
The following is an extract of my notes on the mechanics design. The full article can be read here.
Each plant will have “Grow Points” which will be affected by the “Total” value of a geographical area (as seen under the ‘Location’ tab in the below image):
Using the example above a crop planted at this location will gain 25 Grow Points after at time based intervals (yet to be decided) e.g. every 24 hours. The plant will have to reach a certain number of Grow Points to determine the outcome. However if the player waits to long to harvest their crops, they will rot (e.g. 4 days in this example)
0 – 49 Grow points – Fail
50 – 99 Grow points – Poor Harvest ( – 50% sell price)
100 – 124 Grow points – Good Harvest
125 – 149 Grow Points – Great Harvest ( + 50% sell price)
150 – 175 Grow Points – Award Winning Harvest (+ 100% sell price)
Using this method players can still plant and yield crops in locations with average scores. It does however quickly reward players who look for better locations with higher total scores.
The game itself can be downloaded for free onto an Android device here (currently the game in only playable in Bristol due to the real world data needed).