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August 13, 2022, 07:40:49 pm

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Author Topic: Missed opportunity in Botanicula  (Read 7814 times)
little robot
Posts: 2

« on: May 26, 2012, 06:31:25 pm »

I am a forest mycologist in the US and was very eager to play Botanicula. But it didn't take long for me to be quite disappointed with the concepts of the game. Especially from people who seem to enjoy the forest and the organisms that live there, who even call their group Amanita design, I am disappointed that very little to no real biological principles were incorporated into the game. There was an opportunity here to use the same idea for the game (a group of four different creatures that solve puzzles, learn about all the life that occupies their tree, and save it from destruction) but do it with actual (or homologous) biological interactions. Instead we get a mushroom character who's only ability is being a spring, frankenstein with electricity, and a guy riding a hoverfish.

I can understand the desire to use the groups unique artistic style, and even have all the creatures be alien. But most of the puzzles and most of the little stories are inspired more from LSD hallucinations that anything biological. The group had an opportunity here to use some of the truly fascinating interactions of our world in the game. I could imagine this game would be popular with educators as well as gamers if that were done. Instead, most of the puzzles didn't require much thought, didn't relate to any living systems, and were basically a drug trip taking place on a tree.

I can't recommend Botanicula to anyone because of this. To me it was a big disappointment and a missed opportunity.

Global Moderator
mayor robot
Posts: 665

« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2012, 06:50:56 pm »

The Road Not Taken (or as you would probably call it: "A Missed Opportunity" ;~)

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,   
And sorry I could not travel both   
And be one traveler, long I stood   
And looked down one as far as I could   
To where it bent in the undergrowth;           5
Then took the other, as just as fair,   
And having perhaps the better claim,   
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;   
Though as for that the passing there   
Had worn them really about the same,           10
And both that morning equally lay   
In leaves no step had trodden black.   
Oh, I kept the first for another day!   
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,   
I doubted if I should ever come back.           15
I shall be telling this with a sigh   
Somewhere ages and ages hence:   
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—   
I took the one less traveled by,   
And that has made all the difference.           20

Robert Frost (1874–1963)

little robot
Posts: 2

« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2012, 05:49:55 am »

That reply would be pertinent if there were many Botanicula style games out there that actually did have strong biology ties, so choosing a drug trip path would be new. In this case, choosing either path is a road less traveled. Why not choose a road that offers more?

I posed a similar argument to Spore, which claimed to incorporate many biology themes but instead represented evolution by finding meteorite parts, bone piles, and singing to other species. The game design itself was a road less traveled and a great concept. But the execution failed miserably and was, like Botanicula, a lost opportunity to make a great game with ties to biology.
space invader
Posts: 142

« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2012, 01:48:43 pm »

I think the missed opportunity, if any, is the use of the five characters' different abilities together to solve some of the puzzles, instead of just picking the "right" one for a given situation.
Still I have had some clean fun Smiley
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