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[TINS 2020] Botanim
Tharro
Member #17,282
January 2020

Welcome to Botanim!

In Botanim you play the role of botanist and your goal is to cultivate flowers in an open landscape.

Flowers can only grow (well) in certain climates based on two properties: humidity and temperature. Watch out for existing vegetation to get an idea how humid the land is and check the appearance of the tile to see how hot it is. When well placed your planted flower will spread soon but an odd choice might kill your flower almost instantly. So choose carefully. When the flower spread significantly you can dig up flowers again to collect more money.

Controls:

H: Selects harvest tool
R: Selects research
Spacebar: pauses game
1: runs game at normal speed
2: runs game extra fast
Mouse wheel or plus/minus: zooms landscape
W, A, S, D keys or CTRL + left mouse button or middle mouse button: pans landscape

On screen

- On the left side of the playing screen you'll find several controls:
- Settings: disabled.
- Save: saves the game instantly, only single slot.
- Load: loads previously saved game instantly.
- New: starts a new game with a different terrain.
- Information: shows the intro/information screen (again, also accessible with the Escape key).

Binaries

Botanim 1.0.1
- Linux (SDL)
- Linux (Allegro)
- Windows (SDL)
- Windows (Allegro)

Screenshots

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Source

Latest code
1.0.1 release
1.0.0 release

TINS 2020 entry
Delta of 1.0.0 release with TINS 2020 entry

Have fun playing!

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
avatar

Alternate title: "RSI simulator: The Game"

Once I installed AutoHotkey to automatically click the shovel for me, this got a lot more pleasant. It's very interesting concept, it's very compelling to watch your flowers grow, harvest them and go to the next crop... is this how those Stardew Valley games work? No wonder people get addicted to them. It was very adrenaline inducing to try out new flowers as one mistake would cost you the past minute or two of money. I really enjoyed the phone dialing mechanic.

Once I got the final flower, I was madly shoveling my thousands of flowers and accidentally hit the load game button... RIP.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

I know another game that combines a clicking game with an investment mechanic - Insaniquarium. In that game you have to invest in fish instead of flowers, but it's surprisingly similar.

Botanim is a hard game to get into. There is not much happening in the beginning - the game requires patience - and could use a higher speed setting. Also because there is no sound and music, there isn't a whole lot to discover in the beginning. The world is very large, which also doesn't help. I first planted some flowers, then started looking around the map while I was waiting for them to grow - but I couldn't find my flowers back anymore (I always have the same problem in Minecraft)

But after a while the game gets going and it actually starts to get fun to try to make the map as colorful as possible.

Investments are risky. It takes 100 clicks to harvest enough corn flowers to be able to afford one tulip - and most of the time, you will only see it die immediately after planting. So that's a bit disheartening. One tactic that I found useful is to pick a spot, and try plants sequentially from cheap to expensive until one sticks. There is a hidden pattern underlying the map of where each flower will grow, and it requires trial and error to find out.

The game leaves you with the impression that there is a lot going on under the hood, but it doesn't present you with enough information to figure it out. There is a hidden pattern of hot/cold wet/dry spots, but I still haven't figured out how to know which is which. The icy/deserty/foresty patches seem to only loosely correspond to where flowers will grow. There are similarities to my LD46 game Exo Keeper (https://www.allegro.cc/forums/thread/618101) had similar problems. Ironically, it also has the same issues. on that game I also got the feedback that the game was too hard to figure out and therefore seemingly random.

When scrolling and releasing ctrl-key or middle mouse button while outside the map area (e.g. on one of the side bars - the game stays in scroll mode and the map sticks to your mouse)

I still don't get how the research dialing system works. The only thing I notice is that it takes many keypresses to get the code, and it seems random and unnecessarily hard.

The info button, as well as the ability to save the game, are really nice and welcome additions.

All in all, a difficult game with a lot of potential. But I feel that a few tweaks are necessary to make the game more fun: make it easier to discover where a flower will grow, so you don't have to risk it all to advance. And make it so you need fewer clicks.

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--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

Tharro
Member #17,282
January 2020

Thanks for your reviews!

My idea also borrows from idle games like Cookie Clicker (which has a farming mini-game as well). Where the idea is that you a) have to repeat yourself a lot and b) wait a long time. However I'm aware that the game mechanics need some serious tweaks. A desktop game is less suitable for the idle game genre I suppose.

It seems that mainly the number of clicks required seems to be hurdle for a lot of people. Therefore I've already implemented (in preparation of a next version) a bonus when harvesting flowers that are surrounded by three of four flowers.

Some other ideas I have to ease the "pain":
- Have bigger shovels (in the form of a research upgrade).
- Have some form of information on the properties of the tile (but I think this information will not be 100% exact, I like the trial part a bit as well).
- Some dialog with the information on all the flowers so you can quickly see which climate they like.

Still not sure how to balance speed vs. growth of the flowers: I don't want the map to be swarmed with flowers (your PC won't keep up with that) but you don't want to wait too long on a flower to grow as well.

On the dial: this one comes from the "make fun of something old". Which was the awkward rotary dial. The mechanic is based on the number of key strokes (but not random). The number to dial is random every time you open the dialog but is given in the text above. In a future version I'll make this rotary dial system optional (a setting) and I'll default to a key pad which will be intuitive (hopefully :)).

Another tactic to try out new flowers: save game cheat. You save the game before you want to try out, plant it, wait for it to disappear and reload your save game ;).

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

Tharro said:

On the dial: this one comes from the "make fun of something old". Which was the awkward rotary dial. The mechanic is based on the number of key strokes (but not random). The number to dial is random every time you open the dialog but is given in the text above. In a future version I'll make this rotary dial system optional (a setting) and I'll default to a key pad which will be intuitive (hopefully :)).

I don't think the mechanic itself needs to disappear. It just needs some tweaks to let the player know that he's on the right path, like sound effects and an animation on the dial.

edit: As you can see from the last screenshot, I did manage to unlock all flowers. Then I lost the game when I accidentally clicked the reset button while scrolling around. An "Are you sure?" dialog would certainly be welcome there.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

Tharro
Member #17,282
January 2020

I'm sorry for the pain! In the development version I've already added tooltips that also explicitly mention that behaviour (yes, faster development over UX :-/) but indeed a dialog for confirmation is on my wish list as well.

The reasoning about removing it (or hiding it behind a setting): there is little gain in keeping it. I thought it was a fun idea for the competition rules but obviously the puzzle is too challenging for most people. So either I can explain (parts of) the mechanic (but that removes the fun of discovering) or replace it with something everybody understands intuitively.

Still have to research to domain of audio! But indeed that would improve the experience. You'd get feedback on the first digit already (now you'll only get feedback on mistakes after you've entered the first digit already). Perhaps I'll revert the default to the rotary dial again after I've implemented that ;).

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

Tharro said:

I'm sorry for the pain!

Oh don't worry about it :) At least I managed to make a video.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

Tharro
Member #17,282
January 2020

There is new release available that addresses a few issues mentioned above.

Binaries

- Linux (SDL)
- Linux (Allegro)
- Windows (SDL)
- Windows (Allegro)

Changelog

Can build with Allegro as backend (see README.md for instructions).

New features:

- Can pan the terrain with W, A, S & D keys (D for digging has been replaced with H for harvesting).
- Added a bonus when harvesting a flower surrounded by more than two flowers.
- Added tooltips (menus & terrain indicators when planting).
- Added command line flag for extracting resources: --extract-resources.
- Mouse can be used for dialing.
- Added confirmation dialogs for loading, saving and starting a game.
- Added shortcuts for loading, saving and starting a game (Ctrl+L, Ctrl+S, Ctrl+N).

Bug fixes:

- Drag wasn’t handled properly when mouse exits window.
- Buy flower icons are properly enabled on load game.

Source

1.0.1 release

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