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October/November 2011

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Game review

As the date for my garden open day approached, it was all hands on deck - even my eldest two children were drafted in to help with weeding. Working nearby, I overheard much of their conversation as they tried to break the monotony of weeding the bank. To pass the time, a review on the weeding process, as though it were a new computer game, began to emerge.

The initial impression was that the ‘Weeding Game' must be an arcade-style game. With arcade games, you pump your money into the slot and get thrown into the action straight away. This is what happened with the Weeding Game - given gloves and trowels and told to eliminate all signs of life on the bank. On the positive, it was noted that the Game did not come with an elaborate tutorial and instructions were brief, specific and easy to understand. On the negative, it was noted that this Game had a pretty non-existent story line.

But there was one aspect which was deemed excellent - the graphics. My son noted that he could focus on the smallest details of any part of the weeding environment without encountering any weak rendering. Weak rendering would be quite common in computer games, especially when the part of the environment under scrutiny is not central to the plot and sometimes appear fuzzy.

However, this was not at all the case with the Weeding Game and the minutiae of individual weeds or any part of the terrain had flawless resolution. My son put this, coupled with the startling physics, down to an excellent gaming engine, known as Terra, Despite the excellent graphics and powerful gaming engine, my kids were somewhat disappointed with the lack of activity and reward system at play.

They thought that there should have been some built-in means of acquiring better tools to complete the task - thicker gardening gloves or a stronger trowel. The game was lacking in this respect and players continued with the same inventory all the way through. In addition, while most games have difficulty curves, starting at zero and progressively mounting to culminate in a ‘boss fight', this game brought you in half-way up the learning curve, where you remained indefinitely.

In conclusion, and after a hard day's work, it was reported that although it had excellent graphics and required minimal loading time, there was so much more that could have been achieved with just a little more imagination and forethought. I guess next time I should let them in on the gardening master plan!

 

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