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There’s a Secret High-Tech Simulation Inside Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator is, you guessed it, a cozy gardening simulator. It’s a game about planting flowers, enjoying their growth and decorating the garden to your heart’s content. It all comes with a deep focus on non-punishing gameplay, a light story, and a stunning, anime inspired art style. But under that delightful exterior, you might be surprised at how much thought and processing power has gone into the simulation itself.

At Stillalive Studios, we take pride in our expertise in simulation games and their underlying technology. As we started fleshing out the idea of a gardening game, we realized it would be easy enough to create the basic simulation – some of our studio have quantum physics degrees. But the challenge we set ourselves was this – could we create a gardening game that hid all the simulation complexity under a coziness as pleasant as a cup of warm tea on a cold winter’s eve?

Our Producer Is A Florist

It all starts with Kay, our producer. She’s the one that manages the Garden Life project at Stillalive. Kay knows a lot about flowers, as she was a florist in her past professional life. Putting together flower arrangements for festivities and weddings, Kay won prestigious Gold and Silver medals at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show in London. This knowledge had to be put to good use in a cozy gardening game. With her on the team, we had one of the puzzle pieces down – next, we needed to conquer the tech itself.

Why Does Garden Life Need A Lot of Tech, Anyway?

Computers are not very good at randomness: the little quirks and irregularities that make nature so diverse and interesting. When artists create 3D models, the computer is always going to recreate those models exactly. We couldn’t imagine anything less cozy than a garden full of identical flowers, like a legion of Stormtroopers growing in lockstep. And this is where our tech department set out to find ways of breaking these patterns – adding randomness and quirks back into the cold determinism of computer processors.

Flowers often only play a background role in games. But in a gardening game, flowers are front and center. They need to look stunning. One of our design goals was therefore to make every flower look unique. So unique that a full garden of flowers would look natural, as in real life. No copies. No Stormtroopers. No tricks.

This Is Where Our Sim Background Shines

Every flower model in Garden Life is generated on-the-fly. This is our recipe:

  • The flower starts on the ground, where the first stem segment is generated and grows.
  • When the segment is finished, a new segment is spawned.
  • The growth direction for the new segment gets a kick in a random direction so the stem does not grow in a straight line.
  • At every new segment and depending on the flower, there is a random chance that a leaf grows out of the stem, or that the stem splits into two segments.
  • The more segments the plant spawns, the bigger the chance to produce the final flower at the top, finishing the growth process.
  • Depending on the flower type, the top gets another kick in a random direction for good measure.

This simple recipe allows for so much variation and produces organic, beautiful-looking flower beds. Every flower has leaves at different places. Some stems are shorter, some longer, with random variations in growth direction here and there.

To realize the variety of flowers we have in the game, every specimen has a slight variation of this recipe. How big and long are the stem segments? How straight, interwoven? How many segments can there be, determining the total height of a plant. And while sunflowers grow very tall and have one stem, Hellebores grow in small bunches, and Roses go all-in on the bushy, entangled structure.

As mentioned above, computers are not very good at coping with randomness. While there are tricks to make hundreds of identical models run smoothly, it was a long and winding road to optimize performance for on-the-fly generated 3D geometry. We’re very happy with the outcome! Together with our anime-inspired art style, Garden Life simply looks gorgeous and promises many hours of relaxing gameplay.

Garden Life is out today for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.

Xbox Live

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator

Nacon

$39.99

Using appropriate gardening techniques and your creativity, bring an abandoned plot back to life, and experience the joy and peace that cultivating your own garden brings. • ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES – In Garden Life, there’s no miracle solution: your plants will only flourish with dedication, the right tools and appropriate gardening techniques! • DESIGN THE GARDEN OF YOUR DREAMS – Using the grid free placement, sow the seeds of your choice and use decorative elements to bring your designs to life. Through the procedural growth simulation technology developed specifically for Garden Life, every plant is unique and adapts to their environment. • NURTURE YOUR GARDEN – Take care of your seedlings by identifying their individual care requirements; water, fertilize, and clip your plants to maintain their natural beauty and nurture them to health. • DISCOVER DIFFERENT VARIETIES – Unlock your creativity by breeding beautiful variations and discover the full potential of each plant. • MEET COLOURFUL CHARACTERS – Help your friendly neighbours by fulfilling their gardening requests and receive rewards such as new plant varieties, tools, and decorations. • RELAX – After a busy day, unwind and experience the calming ambiance of your garden in a soothing world with relaxing sights and sounds.

[This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire]

Xbox Wire

Posts by this account are syndicated from Xbox Wire.

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