Mendel Wednesday - Designer Genes

As seen on the Static Games blog.

The last couple of weeks I've been working on completely revolutionizing the genetic database in Mendel's Farm, and how it tracks and uses genes as the player progresses. Previously there was merely one gamemode, everything unlocked and a huge wave of information for the player to process automatically. Mendel's Farm can be deep and complex at times, so we don't want you, the player, to turn away because you don't understand what's happening in game. Now there are two game modes, namely 'Campaign' and 'Freeplay'. In the 'Campaign' game mode you assist Mendel is reviving his farm business and help it grow into an expansive agricultural utopia, whereas in the 'Freeplay' mode there are no objectives to dictate your behaviour and everything is unlocked for you so that you can tweak and experiment to your hearts content!

At the start of your Mendel's Farm journey you'll only see standard and, quite frankly, dull genes on your existing chickens and in the market, but don't think it will stay that way for long. As you build, expand and mutate so will your encyclopedia of genes which in turn expands the mutational range for the market etc. This essentially means that the game gets progressively crazier as you advance. It's not just pot luck however, as you will be able to research specific genomes in the new laboratory, as well as a few exclusives for those scientifically minded enough to invest in enough research. In the market there will also be the 'Mutant Box' which contains, well, almost anything! It could be a pig hybrid with wings that hovers around or the chicken with wings too short for it to scratch it's face. Anything goes.

In the encyclopedia itself you will be able to read into which genes you have encountered, with small hints on the genes you haven't. There will also be shedloads of information on the other genetic aspects of our game like pleiotropic effects and co-dominance for those interested in the science behind the game. This also means that if and when we release additional content with an expanded range of animals/mutations it will be so much simpler for you to see what the new content is, and how to find it.

This all plays into the collect-a-thon aspect of Mendel's Farm wonderfully, and offers another endgame criteria for you to decide to strive for or not. As an avid player of games like Pokémon and Animal Crossing I've always wondered why collecting in-game items to fill a tally was so satisfying and so my research for Mendel's Farm let me to this article by Chris Davies on The Escapist and this article by Max Seidman on Most Dangerous Game Design, both talking about the psychology of collecting and rewards in video games. They both make for fascinating reads, so I'd recommend reading them, but the gist is that if a game is fun, collectibles serve as a mental 'excuse' of sorts to keep playing. Here's hoping you won't need an excuse to play Mendel's Farm! Until next time, stay wonderful gamers.