Flower Power

In the midst of 2 recently announced games involving cultivating vegetables in Japan or your own garden in France, I want to try to put together the recent ideas I’ve had of a massively multiplayer GPS mobile phone green game.

Let base the game here in Tokyo, where we have GPS mobile phones and an already very successful MM GPS game.

I want to retain some of the great achievements of Mogi
– ability to play on the move, for as little as a few minutes to as long as you want,
– makes you actively go out of your routine way to discover the city,
– dynamically links the real world with its virtual overlayed layer in space and time too (some object are only available in certain regions or during certain times of the day, phase of the moon or season.
– is not a battle.
– encourages community building.

…while avoiding developing too complicated a gameplay as a result of too many possibilities. As much as I think that Mogi is an amazing technology display and game, the gameplay has become way too dense and time-demanding for me. I wish the game had become 2 or 3 games rather than putting it all inside one.

Onto the game itself:
What?
A collaborative city-embellishment game.

Goal
A community of players working together to compensate the real pollution and eyesores of a city by planting and taking care of virtual flowers and other plants on a virtual data layer superimposed on the city.

Means
Seeds; each player gets given a batch at sign-up.

Tools
– A radar giving precise info on the location of the player and its surroundings (plants, pollution and eyesore details).
– A pollution console that monitors the city in which the game takes place.
– A communication interface to link players together.
– virtual tools to take care of the plants found or added to an area.

Gameplay details
Infos:
– The game monitors real-life rain, sun and wind indexes and reflects the results in the game in real time.
– Dynamic and real time updates of pollution indexes and ugly areas of the city. from official sources (city hall or relevant service) or players suggestions (“Oh, they started construction work near Almonds in Roppongi, let’s act“, “OK, let’s take care of the whole area then… 😉 “).
– Pollution or eyesore alerts broadcasted by players or game admins calling for immediate action. Players responding should be rewarded in some way.

Actions:
– players get seeds at sign-up time. Possibilities to buy (exchange?) rare flower/plant seeds from shops. Have to figure out how to pay… or how to actually get other plants… Nurseries…
– Players check their radar to see the pollution index and decide where to plant their seeds. (when standing near Roppongi Crossing, a player will probably plant seeds against both pollution and the eysores.)
– once a plant has been added to an area (many can be added to a same area), it must be taken care of, to allow for its normal growth from seed to fully developed plant. It will require daily or weekly attention (like would a real plant) to make sure it has received enough water, sun light, etc… The care part is a collective effort.
– From the game radar, the player can plant a seed, water it, give it a sun light complement (when it has not received enough sun light), fertilize an area, repair plants damaged by high winds or natural disasters (a real earthquake in Tokyo would have an influence in the game, plants around high building would probably need more attention as wind created by the high buildings would damage the plants on a contimuous basis).
– Wind has negative effects (damaging the plants) but positive ones as it could help with cross-pollinisation. Some of the plants in the game would appear in this natural way. If not enough wind blows, then players can hang around fields or planted areas for a few minutes while “virtually blowing” some of the seeds. They can also virtually walk through a field to make their clothe pick up some seeds that will automatically be disseminated throughout the city much like in real life. Once those plants grow, if they are in low pollution areas, players can pick them up and relocate them within a given number of days.
– some plants are more resistant to wind or rain or need less watering or sunlight but seeds are harder to obtain.
– virtual disasters (like flowers planted near a construction site damaged by an unloading truck driver.)
– 4 seasons make for different flowers and plants and techniques to protect what has been planted so that it doesn’t die. Tools and tricks will be available.
– The pollution radar allows for targeted action, giving landmarks, subway station names etc…

Evolutions (making the game too complicated or maybe too real):
– Some areas of the city or area surrounding the city could provide fresh plants and flowers to load and transplant.
– how to fight weeds and parasitic insects.
– while keeping the protecting insects much like in real life (spiders, ladybirds…)
– give colour to flowers by taking pics of that colour with the phone camera.
– possibilities to leave flowery Gifts for other players in given spots.
– can play god and genetically alter the DNA of some seeds to combine or create new flower/plant varieties with better resistance to wind etc…
– can choose a Home ground where you live, where you can grow some plants to be replanted somewhere else (home nursery).
– Only real life plants or imaginary ones? Carnivorous plants?

Special mention:
– As much as the game is influenced by the real-life weather and other indexes, I would very much like the game to have an influence on the real world… participating in tree planting programs to leverage city pollution might be an idea… Using some of the subscription fees… or sponsors…
– graphics will be important in this game. We need nice plant graphics, nice flowers, wooms, details on the nutrition needs of the plant etc…
– There would be no winner and if there must be a player classification, it would be calculated on a ration of the number of plants it has added to the city, the care it has brought to his and others plants, his response time when going on assignements, etc… (I was upset at how truckers and delivery people in Mogi were always the best people – to be honest, there were also addicted students doing a lot of talented tradings)

Any thoughts?

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  • Aka.me

    Based in Paris & Tokyo, Paul Baron is a senior product manager for hire. Ex-@AQworks. Co-founder of cultural platform Tokyo Art Beat.
    Service design, interaction design, startups, user research.
    Posts a few times a decade since 2003.

    Visit Aka.me for the full site.


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