Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Planned Features and support

Greetings!  First, I need to get it out of the way: if this game looks interesting to you, or if you like simulations, I'd appreciate any support (not cash, per se) in the form of comments, promotion, or just visiting the site, watching videos, or checking the IndieDB site (image below).  I'm planning on putting up the game on Steam Greenlight, Desura, and other download sites so having interested parties always helps.  I'm not begging, just saying: go check it out sometime!

Also, feel free to offer ideas, suggestions, and other feedback as I find it important to listen to what people think about something they'll be playing.

There are a few features I have planned that could be intriguing.  I'm not planning any type of social or multi-player networked stuff--not easy to do with programming and a whole 'nother set of headaches.  In lieu of that, I'm hoping to include some things for sharing.

One idea is to have an export button on any plant that the player has tested and knows the details (THC levels, climate, etc).  The export would generate a file that any other user of 'Growsim' could load into their game as a cloned plant.  I'd probably need some sort of hub to allow people to upload files, but I'm not too worried about that as a simple public dropbox link would suffice.

Simple features include screenshots, so players can share a unique strain or interesting plant they've cultivated, and hotkey saving/loading to not interrupt play time.

A new feature added recently is the Seed Designer.  By choosing this option with a new plant, you can pay to have a seed tailored to your desires--for a steep price.  You can choose THC level, plant size, life-cycle, climate, and humidity.  This goes with the standard seed choices and clones, offering even more flexibility and customization.

Also added recently is the ability to customize the environment for each individual plant.  I initially setup the game in 'rooms' which had their own environment, but allowing an unlimited number of rooms became very unwieldy at later stages.  Each room can have 8 plants, so 5 rooms means managing 40 plants!  During testing, even managing 3 or 4 rooms was burdensome.  I decided to go with 3 rooms, 8 plants per room, and the player can pay to expand into each room, starting with just 1.

More features are coming, along with screens and videos--stay tuned.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Overhaul Week

Just a quick update for now.  The last week has seen some heavier play-testing and a huge list of tweaks and changes from those tests.  Rather than try to band-aid and patch everything, I elected to overhaul the entire engine, incorporating the feedback along with some new ideas--particularly in streamlining some tasks.  Presentation got a huge upgrade, along with the interface and game menu systems.  Overall, I think the project is looking vastly improved and the overhaul still has some work to do.

Here's a teaser of the new groom room and interface

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Growsim" new features, screens, and information

Greetings.  This week, I added a bunch of new features to the engine and, so far, everything looks pretty good!  There's a lot of balancing to do, as play-testing (beyond myself) has been limited.  I'm sure when more eyes take a look at the alpha version, there'll be plenty of updating to do.

In the first screen below, the cloning system is displayed.  Each plant will produce a number of clones distinct to their particular strain, size, and growth rate.  These clones can be harvested for re-planting, as shown below.  Clones are, of course, a replica of the plant from which they are harvested.

In this second shot, the clones taken from the original plant appear in the seed list.  They do not cost money to plant (aside from bucket and medium) and they don't "veg" (waiting for seed to sprout).  When selected for planting, the clone starts as a sapling.

Another new feature implemented this week is displayed below: pruning.  Plants in juvenile or adult stage can be pruned (leaves trimmed) to encourage larger overall growth and yield.  Pruning does reduce the current size of the plant, so caution is recommended, but the long-term benefit can be great.  Also, the clippings from plants can be saved and sold to wholesale medical centers.  A feature planned is to allow players to use the clippings to make hash and baked goods.

The last new screen below shows the flowering picture of the plant with a prompt to click the image to test the strain.  Clicking on the colored flower will reveal test results including current THC levels (not potential of the plant but what the player has achieved), potential size and growth, and preferred climate.

As of right now, barring any setbacks, the first playable beta will be available by the end of October with a full release planned for December.  There will be a demo version that allows all the features to be used but will have some limitation in terms of length of play or something similar.  The full version is planned as a Windows program with ports available for Mac and Linux.  Channels should include standard download, Chrome version, Steam, and wherever else accepts indie games.  As said previously, the full version will not cost more than $10--I'm planning on $5 but some channels may have pricing restrictions.  Updates, add-ons, and so on will be free for anyone who buys the full version.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New screens and features

This week, "Growsim" saw the implementation of key grow room features.  There's a lot of balancing and tweaking to do, but the system enabling plants to respond to the environment, grow, and flower is now working.

Every single element of the environment is calculated to determine a plant's overall health.  As it grows the plant track changes and respond accordingly--everything is calculated in real-time as the game runs.  A new feature added this week is the feeding system.  You can set the type of nutrients used and whether or not you want to set an "auto" feeding cycle, allowing the simulation to feed plant without manual input on a set schedule of days.

The strain system now works, too.  When plants reach the 'flowering' stage, you can elect to pay for a test to know what strain of plant it is, how much THC is in the plant, and information regarding it's average size, growth rate, and preferred temperature and humidity.  The strain images appear in flowering stage, showing players a colorful image of what the budding flowers look like.

The goal is to have a working, playable alpha version by the end of October.  At which point, the game will need play-testers.  If that's something of interest to you, drop me a line and I'll pick a few people to test the game (and get free demo versions).

Here are some new screen shots (also added to the 'Media' page).

The first image shows the new grow room along with a couple of plants growing and the information available during growth.  The second image shows a strain that has been tested and identified.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Under the Hood with "Growsim"

Greetings.  This week has seen a decent amount of updates to the game, with a lot going into the engine itself--how the game works under the hood.  More screenshots and video will be forthcoming.  The game is still on track for a December 1st full release.

For anyone who's curious, I'll share some of what's going on under the hood.  We'll focus on the plants in this article.

Each plant tracks many attributes.  The two primary ones are size and growth.  A plant's growth determines how fast it reaches potential size.  Every plant, when the seed is started, has randomly generated attributes that determine its maximum size, growth rate, and THC potency.  How the plant is cultivated determines the actual growth rate and size.

The first choices that affect this outcome are the seed type, bucket size, and rooting medium.  All choices are worth exploring--there is no perfect option that works for every plant.  A plant with low potential size rating is finely suited for a small bucket, as it won't need to extra space (and cost) with a large bucket.  Plants that grow slowly won't benefit as much from using a rooting medium that encourages faster growth.

Each plant can be tested when it's in the flowering stage.  Testing reveals the name of the strain, the current THC potency (not maximum potential but current potency), and the plant's natural climate (temperature and humidity).  By testing one particular strain, cloning it, and keeping it going, players can watch the THC rating and determine if they want to keep the strain and try to maximize it or try a different seed.  There will be a lot of experimentation with configurations to find the ideal for a particular plant.  The most difficult challenge will be trying to customize an environment (grow room) to suit a particular strain while keeping down costs for having different rooms operational.

Every action has an affect on a plant's potential size and growth rate.  Pruning leaves can help encourage the plant to stretch out and increase potential size; feeding high-quality nutrients and water can bump up growth rates; every action and decision regarding plant care and environment control has an affect on how a plant develops.

The game will remember every plant strain you discover and any new ones you cultivate.  As of right now, every new game will reset the database and allow you to discover all new strains and re-discover ones you already found (with different attributes).

If there are any specific questions, please ask.  Thanks for reading.