Gardenscapes™: Behind the Scenes
Interview with Playrix’s VP of Production, Igor Elovikov
September 29, 2009 by Dasha Kobzeva

We are excited to let you know that our brand-new game, Gardenscapes™, is out now, available exclusively from our website. I decided to sit down and chat with Playrix’s VP of Production, Igor, to give you an inside look at how the game was created.

What’s the idea behind the game? How did you come up with it?

It struck us that there are lots of people who love caring for and decorating their gardens. And this is not just about planting flowers and growing vegetables, but about design and imagination. So we decided to give them a chance to get creative and use their outdoor decor skills, while hunting for hidden items. At first, we were thinking about creating Fishdom™ but with butterflies and flowers. But it seems that we strayed from this initial concept…a lot.

Please tell us about Gardenscapes™ gameplay and its storyline.

Well, one day you receive a letter from your grandfather’s butler saying that you have inherited his gorgeous mansion together with its garden. (Wouldn’t that be nice, eh?) The enclosed photo shows a beautiful garden, so you hurry to the old man’s place. When you arrive, you discover that the garden has gone to ruin, and you’ll have to work hard to restore it to its former glory. To earn money for its renovation, you decide to organize a jumble sale, because the house is jam-packed with old things. As you progress through the game, you become an integral part of the city’s community, receiving letters from its citizens, reading articles from the local newspaper and competing in the “Best Garden” contest.

To be honest, the game’s storyline has been revised a few times. Initially, there were characters that are no longer part of the game’s story, including a corrupt lawyer, a warm-hearted city’s mayor, and representatives from the Gardeners’ Club. You can have a look at their sketches below. But this is what creating a game is all about – mulling over some ideas, giving the green light to some while turning down the rest, finding the perfect blend of story and gameplay, having all the components and tiny parts pleasingly or appropriately combined.

Lawyer MayorRepresentatives of
the Gardeners’ Club

Gameplay-wise, Gardenscapes™ is a mix of three different genres: hidden object, time management and sim. You earn cash as you progress through hidden object levels and spend it to buy garden accessories to customize it to your taste and compete in the “Best Garden” contest.

Players hunt for hidden objects in different rooms of a huge house and get money from the customers for every successfully found item. The environment on the hidden object levels is fully interactive. For instance, the clocks in the rooms show real time, you can turn on and off all electrical appliances – fans, TVs, radios as well as play with butterflies, etc. This creates a very lively and fun atmosphere.

Austin, the butler

How did you come up with the character of Austin, the butler?

It just struck us at some point that a beautiful mansion and formerly stunning garden should have a butler. Once we thought of this, we didn’t hesitate. At first we weren't sure what Austin should look like, but eventually we settled on the image of a tall, sophisticated butler. His entertaining character is a big part of the game. There is a lot of comedy in what he says and how he interacts with the player. He's just a funny guy to watch. You can easily get Austin involved in any activity – playing with the dog, watering the flowers, pruning, etc. simply by clicking on him.

What about the name? Why Gardenscapes?

As usual, we faced a number of tough choices, as there were several things to consider. We were initially reluctant to use the word “Garden” in the name, because we were afraid players might think it was another time management game where you need to plant and collect vegetables and fruits to progress. After a number of brainstorms we came up with the name “Cutting Hedge Design”, which we lived with for a while. But it felt wrong because the garden is the central part of the game and we felt the name should reflect that. So in the end we settled upon the name “Gardenscapes”. It's a very pretty name, and evokes associations of decoration and design.

Do you think there will be a sequel to Gardenscapes™?

When we began the work on Gardenscapes™, we were sure that a sequel to the game would follow. Our artists even came up with a couple extra backgrounds for the hidden object levels. But later, as we progressed through the development process, we decided to increase the number of levels, and to incorporate as many twists and fun features as we could. But even now that the game is finished, we still have plenty of great ideas left over! So, we'll have to just wait and see.

Watch the game's video

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