GX: soil conditions, glowing plants and empathic spirits

Along with setting up interactive installations, the last week has been a fairly intense code sprint on Germination X, based on feedback from the second focus study by SICS/mobile life in Stockholm.

In order to get a more interesting world, and shake things up a little, soil conditions now vary quite dramatically. Some areas are friendlier to plants, and some very much harder to grow in than before. We’ve talked a lot in the design process about having different types of plants for different soil types or whole regions, this is a step in that direction.

The feedback from both the focus groups in Stockholm agreed that the little star sprites used to signify plants you’d planted were confusing as they looked like flowers. I’ve removed them and added a little glow around the plants instead.

The biggest change this time is probably with the plant spirits. The FAtiMA AI system has been upgraded and as well as a bunch of fixes on my end to improve responsiveness and message wording, I’ve focused on a whole range of emotions called “fortune of others”. The OCC-model (Ortony et al., 1988) defines them like this:

I’ve attached actions to each of these four emotions which cause the spirits to react with empathy to events in the world that don’t concern them directly, depending on how much they like each other, or if the events are good or bad for the plant spirit in question. This starts to more effectively exhibit interesting properties of the FAtiMA system.

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