Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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September 17th, 2006

Game Idea #38: Green Thumb Gardening

Fall is upon us in Chicago. You should come visit to see the leaves change before we’re knee-deep in snow.

High Concept:

Green Thumb Gardening is the ultimate online gardening experience. Take a small plot of land and grow it into a beautiful botanical wonderland. It’s up to you to pick the soil, rocks, and seeds, then water, pick and prune your plants to create the garden of your dreams.



Why it needs to be made:

Gardening is a relaxing hobby that humanity has pursued for thousands of years. But not everyone lives in a climate friendly to gardening, or in a climate right for the kinds of plants you want to grow. Green Thumb Gardening lets you experience the joys of botany in familiar or exotic locations year-round.


Green Thumb Gardening begins with you picking a plot of land. Is it a flower-box outside your apartment window, or the abandoned lot down the street? Then you get to play with the garden designer tool, picking plants that not only look good together, but grow well together. Pick out your soil and seeds, then get to planting. Visit the garden store for some solid tips and advice

A seed needs four things to grow: soil, water, sunlight, and time. Time is a major component in Green Thumb Gardening. How you manage your garden is up to you: do you play in real-time mode, spending a few minutes in your garden each day, watching it grow bit by bit? Or do you play in fast-forward, where it only takes those few minutes for a plant to go from a seed to a blossoming flower? It’d be like watching a time-lapse nature film, except you can interact with the plants as time passes.

It’s also up to you how to play with the weather. Do you play in local mode, where your zip-code’s climate is simulated, or do you play it on random mode, where a realistic-yet-fictious climate is generated by the game. Sick of drought killing off your plants? Rewind time and change the weather forecast!

Why it will be fun:

It’s really fun to build things, and it’s also fun to protect and care for things. Tending a garden lets you not only be constructive, but also creative. Once you’ve grown your garden you can freeze it in time, send snapshots to friends, or have people over to admire it.

Final thoughts:

I could really see this game being a hit with the laptop crowd. Tired of working on your thesis? Switch over to the zen garden you’ve got growing in the background. Sprinkle a little water, shoo away a couple bugs, and then it’s back to the books!

Thanks to Patrick and Mason who both helped with this idea at different stages. :-)

3 Responses to “Game Idea #38: Green Thumb Gardening”

  1. Thores commented:
    posted September 17th, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    The zip-code climate idea reminds me of something I’ve been wanting to see for a long time: a handheld game that heavily relies on a GPS function for gameplay. I know that a game like this was in works for the Gizmondo platform before being promptly cancelled along with the system. This dissapointed me greatly and I’d really like to see the concept revived for either the DS or PSP, preferrably the former.

    Anyways, this idea is pretty solid, but it’s not for me and I don’t think I’d ever play it myself. However, I have a couple of friends that would LOVE something like this, and I’m sure I would be more than happy to watch them toil away at their virtual garden.

  2. Erin commented:
    posted September 19th, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    I know a couple folks who are working on a thesis and I can totally see them playing this while working! And personally, I like the idea of choosing where to garden — the apartment box, vacant lot, etc. I would take my students outside to grow sunflowers in front of the elementary school!

  3. Fletch commented:
    posted January 7th, 2007 at 1:29 am

    My Mum would play this - that’s awesome. And you’re right, I’d like something I could crank up for fifteen minutes while I take a break from thesis writing.

    The idea of being able to take a virtual tour and walk around other people’s gardens is nice. A properly functioning weather system would also be sweet, but historically speaking, difficult to pull off.

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