Monday, September 9, 2013

Early Details on "Grow"

The UI has been re-worked to be friendlier and include as much information as possible in a concise format.  I want to avoid drilling down through menus or navigating spreadsheet-like data, so the use of visual indicators and related information on the same page is important.  

I'm working on the mechanics and presentation for starting a new plant.  There is a tough balance between getting too granular or keeping it too loose.  I'm aiming for something in the middle, which brings me to the next point--and a question I was asked the other day.

"Will this be a hardcore simulation or more of a game?"

Gameplay is incredibly important.  Hardcore simulations, in my opinion, aren't very fun or user-friendly, but I also don't want to fall into the trap of making something too friendly and not realistic at all.  I'm aiming for a balance of playability and realism.  A simgame in the truest sense.  The old sim games like SimTower, SimEarth, SimCity, and so on all had this balance.  It was fun to play but there was enough information to manage that it felt real, it had a weight to it.

The goal is to make "Grow" easy to use but deep enough to challenge.  

One example from the stuff I'm working on now is the process of starting a new plant.  Players pick from 3 seed types, 3 bucket sizes, and 3 different rooting mediums.  There are different costs, benefits, and caveats with each choice and combination.   There isn't really a right choice, as different strains of marijuana prefer different environments to reach their full potential.

There is a nice visual presentation in place for this process and it takes place all on one screen.  One element I'll need to fit in somehow is a tooltip or explanatory text when the player chooses an item.  If they click on "premium seeds", what does that mean?  

There should at least be some heads-up about what to expect.  Sounds easy, but space is a commodity on the screen.  There's already a visual representation of the plant in it's growth stage, stats about the plant, feeding times, and so on--adding another element runs the risk of crowding the screen.  My current idea is to change the displayed stats and information about the plant to a context-sensitive help text, using the same visual field but alternating the information.

If I can make some significant progress by the end of this week, I'll get a screenshot or quick video up.

Did I mention I'm running this operation solo?  Yeah, it takes a little while.  Thanks for reading.

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