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Trail: groworld



“symbolically attributes the properties of plants, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments”

“It is not the number of diverse things in a design that leads to stability, it is the number of beneficial connections between these components” Mollison 1988.

see also: VegetalTime,


Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies[1]
Guilds, as defined by Bill Mollison’s Introduction to Permaculture, are “a species assembly of plants and animals which benefit each other, usually for pest control.”
image: [2]

player types

  1. shrub layer (currants & berries)
  2. herbaceous layer {comfreys, beets, herbs) [3]
    The groundcover or herbaceous layer consists of grasses and forbs and ferns - non-woody plants without a perennial stem. 1 The light intensity reaching the herbaceous layer is very low unless the canopy is fairly open... Many of the plants in this layer are adapted to low light levels and flower early in the spring before the trees leaf out. They fade from the scene as summer arrives and broad leaves appear on the trees.
  3. vertical layer (climbers and vines)
  4. rhizosphere (root vegetables) [4] [5] (part of the soil)
    The Rhizosphere is the zone surrounding the roots of plants in which complex relations exist among the plant, the soil microorganisms and the soil itself. The plant roots and the biofilm associated with them can profoundly, influence the chemistry of the soil including pH and nitrogen transformations.
  5. soil surface (ground cover eg. strawberry etc.)
    The upper limits of the soil profile, for mineral soils, the upper limits of the highest mineral horizon (A-horizon), for organic soils, the upper limit of undecomposed organic matter.

community creations

  1. canopy layer (large fruit & nut trees)
  2. low tree layer (dwarf fruit trees)

The columns are labeled as “Sensors”, “Controllers” and “Actuators”. You can think of Sensors as the senses of a life form, the Controllers are the brain and the Actuators are the muscles.

the game starts in the ground as all seed do.
(in the future there may be different types of seed representing the different guilds. but for the prototype there is one kind of seed, something typical flowering type (look these up))

things that happen above are not the thing you actually interact with.
most of the “action” occurs underground. at the roots.
from the air the leaves gather sunlight and pollen and other nutrients. these travel down and are collected in the roots.
navigation with keyboard. action with mouse.
world of sand.

Plant game; how do we engage players? are they ‘authors’ of the garden?; a mixture of world-building and art-worlds - gardening a particular aesthetics; where is the cybernetic regulatory system of the garden?; how do you make things appear like stuff is moving all the time?; patabotanic garden “forcing” people to get into the vegetal mind (vegetable mind is specieist); role playing a plant, not gardening; how do you perceive different types of time in the garden?; playing a species, rather then a single entity. Start as a creature → resource management; bees - fertilisation (autonomous characters?); non-players can look at a garden through a window, e.g. from a website (can only watch, not interact); time-lapse movie could appear at the end of each day; autonomous characters are actual gardens & plants; game-play is a continuous finding of balance; game should have elements of sacrifice; discouraging monoculture; encouraging more sustainable behaviour through game dynamics; synthetic nature - algorithmic (mathematical, generative) + ornamentation (growing gothic, or art nouveau ornaments) - new hybrids, stylisation; evolution of the garden - through hybridisation; curatorpillars - preserving style and consistency; slow evolution through generations; cyclical nature of seasons - there is a particular time for particular things; time-based resource allocation; different geographic regions in the garden; what are different plant behaviours? (tricksters, seducers,…); can several players play one character (plant grows lopsided if a player decides to disengage); very large trees - a group of players has to become a community) - trees provide shadow for new plants (mushrooms, epiphytes…); parasites or disease for ‘ugly’ plants; cycles of high & old growth; computational resources - asking players to share their servers/processor time - stronger plants can grow; the game is not about wanting, but about being - competition (through persistence and slowness) & collaboration; plants in the game have ‘real’ origins, becoming more fictional as the game progresses; make players be like plants - not scientific visualisation; we’re all vegetal, just don’t know it; making the interface irrelevant; using different interfaces to engage in the game - email, cell-phones, wikis…; a slow game - you have to be there & persist; (internet) radio could broadcast weather reports from the garden (transmitted from a sentient eco-system); phone the garden and hear the weather (nick herbert, quantum typewriter); aggressive plants - do you have to pay to be a bramble?; distributed client game; who will be responsible for the maintenance?; which aspects can be commercialised - “grow your own player” kits, merch., voluntary payments, subscriptions by sms; moo-cards of plants (if you subscribe) - flip-books & time-lapse movies; how can we make sure that the garden is sustainable (not dependent on us only)? - opensource, community IRL & in-game; servers (back-end of eco-system has to be open for new clients), easily replicable; long term; inter-gardens communication protocol (things growing on different servers); each client as an incubator; how do you experience the world as a plant? - visual interface - stylised interpretation of plant perception; when playing a plant, you only experience one small part of the garden. when the wind blows, there are more pheromones in the air, some parts of the environment become clearer - ‘first plant shooter’?; what is the viewpoint?: how do we encourage emphatic connection with multiple plants; a generative database that can be visualised through different games - a window into the garden through “guest visualisers” - you can be in the garden, but can’t BE the garden; at night, in the game, consciousness descends underground - a different game is played; special moments at dawn and dusk; cycles of colours of flowers depending on the season; what kinds of games can you play online - passive multiplayer online games?; looking at the world from another species p.o.v. (cure for disease of human self-importance); do players need a potplant? - you either have to be a very good in lying, or (easier) get a potplant (see myfolia) - but we should make it not too easy to cheat; only humans start as seeds?; non committed players turn into compost; time and space in the game: fast processes - microscopic, the pata-aspects - only temporary effects - asymetric, shimmering, fantastic / slow processes - macroscopic, resource management, slow game based on plant decisions & neurophysiology –> does this mean designing two (or more) sub-games?; people should be forced to collaborate; stationary adventure - travel by moving earth; having a feeling that the system itself is alive; how do you choose to be a plant? perhaps all plants start the same, new player comes in, attraction to regions where they’re needed; playing a species - 5 types of seeds (based on guild functions), that grow into a variety of plants - depending on place, decisions, interactions; environment of the garden - complex - different types of soil & microclimates; no centre, two centres, infinite centres; plants create soil by activity (that’s how the garden grows); magic the gardening - change the rules & make simple interactions quickly - prototyping without a computer; what actually happens? - inputs & outputs - how do you keep 1 plant alive; history of neglect affect the shape of a plant; there should be no end; plants that are not managed die off - first sustained, but different weather conditions kill it over time; inhabited / non inhabited plants; what happens when you go on holiday? - autopilot that is slowly heading for the ground, the plant doesn’t grow, but sustain itself - gaia processes take over; how does a plant die? what happens to non-player plants?; logic and rules based on guild functions & layers;


1. These herbs include spring ephemerals such as, spring beauty (Clatonia virginica), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and purple trillium (Trillium recurvatum)...