After a seven months production cycle we were finally able to present Tevi to a public more familiar with games. More specifically: experimental, serious games or games that attempt to do more than just entertain in traditional ways.
Tevi is a mobile management game we developed in collaboration with the Eden Project. In Tevi players are asked to sustainably grow a garden on Mars by planting seeds, taking care of them, and managing the way they interact with one another. We use data provided by the Eden Project botanists and cellular automata algorithms to accurately simulate plants behaviour. And when players run out of items, they can use their device’s camera to take pictures of real plants to find out what plant it is, and get in-game rewards. This thanks to integration with the plant-identifying technology from Pl@ntnet.
We had a chance to present Tevi during London’s EGX Rezzed after being selected for the Leftfield Collection, as well as Berlin’s Amaze in their Open Screen exhibition.
For this purpose it was useful to have done some showings in more controlled environments. Specifically a week directly at the Eden Project and Falmouth University’s Game Academy exhibition at The Poly in Falmouth.
EGX Rezzed is probably the biggest indie games conference in the UK. While this means that it features a big show-floor filled with the full range of experiences the modern indie game landscape has to offer, we were showing more specifically in the Leftfield Collection, a curated selection of games that attempt to approach the medium from experimental and innovative angles. Focusing on their artistic values or just generically interesting and different.
Throughout the three days of the conference, we had an estimated 250 people try Tevi. One thing we noticed quite soon was how they tended to either to approach it in an exploratory manner, playing as much as possible, trying to discover all of the game’s systems and unlock everything they could. Or they would give it a peak, maybe only play if invited to do so by us, and politely leave after getting an idea of the game.
This is both because some people prefer trying games more deeply at conferences, while other prefer just getting quick ideas of the game and play more comfortably at home. But also because of the wide range of public the conference services, making Tevi not necessarily every attendee’s cup of tea.
Contrarily in Berlin, at that wonder of punk experimentation that’s AMAZE, we had a substantially different experience. For starter because we were not in the main selection, but in the open screens, where we get to showcase our game in one three hours slot, albeit still in the main show-floor. Here we had far fewer players, but much more dedicated ones.
I identify a couple of factors influencing this:
- We showcased only from 18:00 to 21:00 the last day of the conference, when some people had already left and the people that were still there had already played everything else, making them more willing to spend a long time on the few games they couldn’t have tried before.
- People attending AMAZE are often professionals and academics, as opposed to the more general, costumer-oriented audience of EGX. This means people are more willing to engage with a game critically, give it more of a chance by deeply exploring it, and give more constructive feedback.
While in the 250 Rezzed people, we had a handful of interesting feedback from some particularly engaged people that tried the game, at Amaze, we had interesting conversations with every person that did, and even some that didn’t.
All and all, we were lucky enough to get to showcase Tevi in what are possibly the two games conferences and festivals in Europe where Tevi would have belonged more cosily. Which gave us a lot of valuable feedback and helped us realise how much work it’s still needed to create a game able to engagingly encourage sustainable gardening and address plant blindness.