Context

Kreskanta is a mobile video game for natural awareness inspired by the Eden Project. It is being created by the MetaMakers Institute of Falmouth University’s Games Academy in partnership with the Eden Project. As a part of MetaMakers Institute research project, it uses interactive evolutionary computation to simulate a garden. The video game Kreskanta is also an experiment on using video games for natural heritage valorisation.

Objectives

Kreskanta is seeking to raise awareness of young adults on nature, botanical and conservational issues. The aim is to create a game matching 18-25 years old interests, especially those with low interest towards nature.

Gameplay

In Kreskanta, players are asked to build and manage an extraterrestrial outpost inspired by Eden’s biomes and initial clay pit. They’ll have to develop and grow an artificial garden to create the most impactful and efficient outpost possible. The game is set in the near future, with an explicit Sci-fi setting.

In order to foster a sense of belonging and teamwork, players are divided into three competing factions. Each faction has its own identity and players will choose according to their taste and priorities.

Players use five categories of plants to build their outpost: food, fuel, construction materials, medicine and culture. A ranking system tracking players’ progression would also be implemented.

Main obstacle: resources would become increasingly hard to come by as the game progresses, until, eventually, players will have to obtain them by either waiting or “paying” by taking pictures of real-life plants and identifying them correctly. Rarer plants will provide greater rewards. Eden and specialised gardens have a more extensive range of exotic plants, and hopefully, this will be enough of a push for some players to visit Eden. We expect that the archetypes of similar games will push players to develop their ecosystem in an unsustainable way, to begin with, but by having them run out of resources, we slowly teach them to apply sustainable strategies.

In addition to taking pictures, real-life events will also be organised at the Eden project. During those, Eden staff will provide players with optional quests that would reward them with more plants and resources.

Core motivators of the game:

• Building and designing an outpost and comparing it to other players’.

• Seeing your plants grow, evolve and interact with each other as plants would behave: in a logical but slightly unpredictable way.

• Getting to know real-life nature and participating in real-life events.

• Gaining free access to the Eden Project when attaining a certain rank.

Research:

The experimental video game Kreskanta will be a part of The MetaMakers Institute research project. It will focus on the following research goals:

  • Explore the possibilities of increasing natural awareness through video games, with a focus on how people relate to nature.

  • Develop new gameplay mechanics to create meaningful interaction with the environment.

  • Experiment using procedural content generation (PCG) for the creation and representation of natural elements and their evolution in real-time 3D video games.

  • Optional: Measuring the impact of a video game in the development of a target audience in a cultural and educational site.

State of development

The game is currently in alpha stage. A first prototype has been presented to advisors and to Eden Project’s visitor on October 29th and 30th. It includes login and registrations forms, an introduction video, a plantable and savable garden using interactive evolutionary computation and visualisation for both plants and

Planning of the research project

August 2018: Game design

September 2018: Beginning of the development

October 2018: First prototype as an alpha version

December 2018: Beta version, with the first phase of public test and the game published on the Android play store.

February 2018: Final version.

Until April 2018: Analyse of the results.

Team

Dr. Rob Saunders, Director of the MetaMakers Institute: Scientific supervision

Dr. Edwige Lelievre, MetaMakers Institute Research Fellow: Team leader, game design, programming, graphic design

Tim Phillips, MetaMakers Institute Game designer: Game design, programming, playtesting

Giovanni Rubino, MetaMakers Institute Game designer: Game design, playtesting, graphic design

Dr. Joan Casas Roma MetaMakers Institute Research Fellow: Music, game design

Blanca Perez Ferrer, MetaMakers Institute Curator: Graphic design, playtesting, game design

Advisors at Eden

Dr. Jo Elworthy, director of Interpretation

Chris Bisson, policy development manager, horticulturist

Catherine Cutler, biome supervisor, horticulturist

Céline Holman, senior exhibit designer

John Porter, biome supervisor, horticulturist

Chris Jenord

Lucy Wenger

Gabriela Gilkes

Advisors at Falmouth University

Dr. Edward Powley

Phoebe Herring

Brian McDonald,

Heidi Ball

Terry Greer