Germination X: Secret mechanisms

I’ve made some graphs to document the underlying processes currently used by Germination X in preparation for the Pixelache workshop. These are not considered required for playing the game of course, but more as a description of how things work now, and hopefully a way to prompt suggestions on improvements and possible new directions. I’ve always found workshop participants very good for this once they understand the way things work.

Companion planting relationships

A key idea of this game is to treat plants differently to the monocultures encouraged by game mechanics used by other farming games. We are using a very simple model for doing this – the overall health of each plant is figured out by looking at the other plants in it’s local neighbourhood. The idea in the collection of plants we are starting with is that clover may be beneficial to most other plants as it mulches and creates good soil (green arrows indicate liking, red indicates not). Trees can’t grow too close together to each other, dandelions don’t mind too much what conditions they grow in, but don’t like aronia as the area around them will be too shady. Getting too literal and complex with this kind of simulation is not the point, but even with very simple relationships we aim to create an interesting world to play with, and hopefully bring out some of the wider issues from the groworld project.

Plant growth cycles

Perennial life cycle

Each plant grows according to another simplified model of plant growth, switching between states Lina has drawn for each plant based on the season and the plant’s health. Plants enter a decay process in autumn or at any time when their health is too low. In spring if their health is above a certain threshold they regrow and can go on to flower and fruit.

Perennials are plants that last for many years. They currently grow to an adult stage and then have a yearly cycle. At any time they can start to decay based on unfavourable conditions, if conditions improve (by players planting beneficial plants nearby) they will recover next spring, or if not, decay completely and be removed from the world.

Annual life cycle

Annuals are plants that regrow from seed to seed in a year or less, represented in the game as a plant or patch of small plants that regrows each year in a cycle.

Although in total this looks fairly complex, it’s all implemented in quite a pleasingly short section of clojure.

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