Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Garden Game [UPDATE]

Much to my surprise I was given an invite to do something as a Second Life blogger. Fashion designers almost never send samples and major events tend to ignore me yet a folder with information for The Garden Game (SLurl) popped up so I had to look inside to see if it was a mistake.

Whether it was or not, I don't know, but I was given a chance to preview one of the most lush gardens in all Second Life and it actually is a HUD-based exploration and puzzle-sovling game.
The Garden Game is a clue-based puzzle that incorporates gathering, exploration, and logic. Your goal is to seek the seven Guardians and their Artifacts to collect clues and solve the current puzzle round by discovering which Guardian committed which Sin and what Penance they suffered for their actions.
Admittedly, experienced builders and explorers-in-the-know will recognize almost all of the elements used in landscaping as being from familiar sources, but the vision behind the design and the skill in the layout make the region seem to be endless. I flew up to get a bird's-eye view and looked at a map in the press kit and couldn't believe what I just walked through was just one region. Truly gorgeous.

And it really is a game. You can try a demo HUD at the entrance and then pay L$299 for the full HUD should you get hooked. This is a genius move as too many games make you commit before even exploring. There is no set lore to the game but it is instead loosely held together with a simple story.
The Garden is a mysterious respite full of whispers and secrets. Within its boundaries stand seven lost spirits, once charged with protecting and tending The Garden itself. Each of these fallen spirits committed a sin of betrayal against that they were bound to serve and each was sentenced to a penance for their transgression.  By discovering their fates, you can help lead the spirit Guardians toward peace and Forgiveness.
Speaking to a scarecrow (okay, clicking it) yielded a clue I could use to click various elements in the HUD to track my progress. It reminded me of the board game Clue (Web).
The Watcher:: My sin was not Pride or Wrath and my penance was not Pain of the Flesh. I know that the guardian whose sin was Lust suffered Weight of the World.
Not being much of a gamer I found myself concentrating on the landscape during this first trip but I was intrigued enough to want to visit again and soon, especially with my wife for the game can be solo or multi-player, either in partnership or in opposition. While I was confused at first, game play became much clearer once I watched the video tutorial (YouTube).

I can see myself getting lost in this landscape quite often and it may run the risk being run-over by non-players during the preview weekend. Afterward I suspect it will be open only to players, but I can't confirm that. Of course, the game can be played over and over as there are limitless variations. Once you gather clues, figure out which spirit committed which sin and which penance is required of them, you can offer forgiveness to only one. To help the other spirits you must play again. The clues and various artifacts to same will require new searches and new applications of logic.

The Garden Game's creator team consists of Grace McDunnogh, Trav Rexen, and Salome Strangelove. Whichever one is responsible for the haunting melody that occasionally pops up should be congratulated. Not many games use sound at all so this was a joyful surprise.

I had one problem, however. When I hid the HUD so I could better enjoy the views the button to again reveal the HUD was invisible and off-screen. I had to edit another HUD and zoom to see the game HUD and then bring it back. This happend with the demo unit and one given to me in the press kit so I don't know if the full piece have the same issue or not.

Now go visit or check out some tips for game play.

  • Upon entering the region you'll be offered a demo HUD and a note card that is will worth reading. It has a picture of artifacts important to game play if you miss the "physical" examples in the playing area.
  • Pay attention to the clues each spirt give you. They not only give information about themselves but they dish on the sins of the other spirits. Clearly a very dysfunctional family in this garden.
  • Don't click on anything unless you are within 10 meters of it as you may not "hear" the information the item imparts in main chat.
  • Your mouse pointer will turn into a hand for any item that is clickable, but not all items are worth clicking on. I can think of some candles that I found that proved to be very obstinate so I left them alone.
  • The female forest spirt appears to be wise but may not be of any help at all.
  • Keep an eye open for the randomly appearing artifacts.

The biggest tip is Relax! It's for fun even if you don't compete for scores, bragging rights, and whatever wagers you can make. It's a frickin' garden so enjoy it!!

I completed a game and it turns out that the whole thing is not a complicated as it initially seemed to be, but as I mentioned, I'm not a gamer. I play solitaire on my iPad and desktop (Web).

The Naiad is easy to not find so be sure to poke in the bushes.

Take advantage of the tally function of the HUD. Once you know the two important bits about each spirit, "x" out the unimportant ones. That will make it easier to see what you don't know.

Visit each spirit a few times, but you can't just keep clicking on them. Once they talk to you go find another and work your way around.

Additional resources:

The Garden Game Website
Honour McMillan's blog post about her visit

Note: All pictures taken with Lighting and Shadows enabled with region Windlight defaults.


Honour McMillan said...

Oh sure finish a round - you overachiever you :) Maybe we'll run into each other there!

Salome said...

Thank you for the lovely write up!

One thing: I suspect you mean the Sorceress can be hard to find. The Naiad is near the waterfall ;) The Sorceress requires a little bit of poking about.


Uccello Poultry said...

@Honour I hope to see you there!

@Salome Actually, I found the Sorceress fairly quickly. I guess I was dense in not finding the Naiad as fast.