Today marks the release of my newest app: Grove! Here's a brief description of the app from the product page:
Grove is an augmented-reality game where you plant virtual trees in the real world! Collect the various kinds of trees, learn about them, and earn achievements all while getting outdoors and enjoying your virtual garden.
Grove is part game, part educational app, and part wellness app! In Grove you care for your trees and tend to your garden, and in turn, you stay fit and healthy.
If you're at all interested in the app, please do give it a try, and let me know what you think. I can't wait to hear your feedback (and see some of your trees)!
What is Grove?
At its core, Grove is part game, part AR-wellness app with some educational bits sprinkled in. The player plants virtual trees in real-life locations and builds out their virtual grove. Each tree is unique and randomly generated. Trees can be of several collectable types, each with their own unique artwork and animations. Players tend their grove by regularly watering, fertilizing, and harvesting from their trees and well-tended trees grow big and strong.
Each tree has a unique name, fun facts, and secret stats that determine the bonuses it gives when harvesting. Harvested resources can be sold at the market for coin that in-turn can be used to expand the player's grove and help tend their trees.
Grove is also a social app. Players can invite their friends to play with them and visit each other's trees. Lonely trees drop fewer seeds, but trees with friendly visitors are happier and more productive.
The app also includes some optional in-app purchases that can provide additional boosts, or unlock a secret Developer Diary and custom avatars to show off to friends.
As players tend and grow their grove, they earn achievements for their progress and rewards that help them advance further.
Where's the Wellness?
In Grove, as in real life, trees need space to grow; they can't be too close together. In order to plant trees, they need to be spaced apart and trees can only be watered, tended, and harvested from when the player is nearby. In essence, think of Grove as an app that encourages uses to go on a daily walk to tend their grove. Trees need to be spaced at least 30 meters (~100 ft) apart so there's plenty of walking to do when you've built up a full size grove. The app also awards bonuses and rewards for completing daily step goals.
And then there's Climate Change
Yup, you read that right. Climate Change is a gameplay mechanic.
Trees in the real world naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into wood, leaves, and branches. One technical name for processes like this is Carbon Capture and Sequestration, and tree planting is one technique that can be used to mitigate the effects of Climate Change in our world today.
In Grove, your trees capture carbon too! (virtual carbon that is) As your trees grow they capture carbon at the rate of real trees using data collected by the European Environment Agency. This helps players get familiar with this crucial emerging technology and get a feel for just how much tree planting can do to help the environment. Also, there's achievements for capturing lots of carbon.
A New Challenger Appears!
I've been working on Grove for the past six months and it's been a blast to build. I've never built a game before and while Grove is technically more of a wellness and education app than a game, there are certainly game-like components.
Grove is also the first iOS app I've built that heavily relies on custom assets. Usually I try to stick to drawing simple things in code or simply structuring the app to focus more on textual content, but for Grove that approach simply would not do. It needed to be cute, and it needed to be beautiful. I'd like to thank Grove's designer Victor Teles for everything he's done to give Grove a unique and adorable feel.
If you'd like to learn more about how (and why) I built Grove, give the app a try and unlock the Developer Diary. I've written a deep-dive there that goes into exactly why and how Grove came to be.
I'm sure I'll be going into more detail on various aspects of Grove in due time, and especially on my podcast: Indie Dev Life, so be sure to stay tuned for updates.
As always, thanks to all of my beta testers and to everyone who contributed to Grove. This launch would not be possible without you.