Whilst playtesting and programming the new plant breeding mechanics I've run into some design issues that I want to solve.

One of those design problems is that currently there is no restriction or limit on how many plants the player can place or how fast they can place them. There is no negative impact on placing too many at once.

So far there is only the reward of breeding a new plant which expands the player's collection and allows them to unlock decorative items. But what is stopping the player from spamming plants onto the floor and very quickly unlocking everything? At the moment, nothing is stopping them. OH NO!

No biggie, let's just figure out some possible solutions and test them out 👍

^My face when I noticed this problem during a playtesting session.

^My face when I noticed this problem during a playtesting session.

Timered solution

This is one that I want to avoid but it would solve the problem: the player has to wait for plants to breed and cant place another one in the radius of a plant breeding while they are waiting. The reason I want to avoid this method is that I am unsure what the player would do while they wait for plants to grow; it could be quite boring for the player and I would have to fill that time with something else.

Limited solution

Limit the number of plants a player can have. This would involve the player having an inventory of seeds/clippings that they can plant, and in order to get more, they would have to breed more of the same plant. This solution has a reverse effect on the game where I would have to give the player significantly more Primary plants and they would have to spend their time repeatedly breeding Secondary plants. This sounds tedious and boring.

Directed solution

Take away some of the freedom from the player by giving them random plants to place in the order they were given (similarly to how board games like Kingdomino and Carcasonne work).

I like this solution because it still allows the player to design the garden how they want it to be, but it gets them to think about placement strategically. It could become a very addictive gameplay loop that players actually enjoy.

I want to playtest this one on paper (as that is easily do-able) to see if it works.

Update 19/04/21: This solution didn't really work as intended after playtesting. It took away too much freedom from the player and made the game into a strategy-based plant breeder which doesn't fit the essential experience of Gardeners Grove.

Objective Solution

Give the player plant objectives to complete in order to create new plants instead of just having no prompts. This will hopefully spark some strategic thinking rather than just randomly placing plants. This solution would require limiting the number of plants the player has in order to balance the game.

Objective Solution Mark 2 (With Growing Time!)

Plants take time to grow and breed, but while the player is waiting, they can complete objectives to get decorative items.

Decor objectives are separate from the plant breeding system. The player can breed plants as they please and they gain decorative items by completing objectives such as "place a statue" or "plant 3 plants".

I think this solution works the best and solves the problem with the original timered solution idea that I had before. I will be going forward with this design.