Game Design: Daily, calming routine
Nature conservation organizations encourage people to make gardens butterfly-friendly. But the “how-to” they provide has only a limited reach. I wanted to develop a game that communicates some of this knowledge to people unfamiliar with conservation.
Inspired by games such as Viridi and Neko Atsume I wanted to design a mobile game to return to daily. The flowerpot acts as peace of calm in the daily routine of the player.
A big advantage of the daily routine - beside the calming effect - is that it allows me to repeat info to the player. The main learning outcome i wanted to achieve are the names of the 3 common butterflies and plants in the prototype. The game allows me to show this info many times to the player, so that they remember. Learning trough repetition is what I’m doing here.
Plants growing in real time
Players plant seeds which take time to grow into full adult plants. Once a plant flowers it attracts butterflies. This mechanic was inspired by Viridi, but also other gardening games I played. The main idea behind the real-time growth is that it requires the player to check in daily with the game.
Yet, if plants would only grow over time, that is not reason enough. The player could then wait a bit for the plants to grow by themselves.
Watering as daily routine
That’s where the next mechanic comes in. When the player opens the app, they check if every plant has enough water. If plants are not watered, they don’t grow. So to progress with the game you need to come back regularly and water them. This is inspired by real-life gardening, where you often establish a daily routine too.
The player is rewarded for checking in with:
progress feedback/ plant growth
currency from attracted butterflies
Buying new seeds
The currency the player collects on their check-ins can be spend to buy new seeds. Plants that attract very common “low-value” (less currency) butterflies grow quickly and need less points in the shop. And if you want to attract more rare butterflies (which bring in more currency) you’d need more expensive plants.
Interacting with butterflies
In the game design it was important to make butterflies feel special. They only appear once a plant has fully flowered. This turns butterflies into rewards for the player’s effort to grow the plant.
As I mentioned, they are the main way for the player to get more currency. On app-startup the player is prompted to collect "gifts” - new currency - by the butterflies. This is a way for me to show the butterfly names again and again, as I want the player to remember them ^^
There is also a butterfly “diary” where you can look at all the butterflies you found so far. Here I also show which plants they like (which is based on real life) :)
So to sum up - I created a game design that encourages the player to come back daily. It’s both calming and enjoyable & also teaches butterfly and plants names, as well as butterfly needs.