Final Project Initial Ideas

(I’m not sure how ambitious/plausible the overall idea is, but I jotted down everything I could think of…)

Concept: Lonely Cactus

My idea is to make a virtual cactus plant that grows according to its interaction with players. The aim of the players would essentially be to maintain a good environment for the plant to grow in. I initially planned to make two components – the screen that shows the state of the plant, and a physical model with which the players interact with the plant (all the sensors on this physical model, communicating with screen) – but if that is too time-consuming, I could make it all screen-based. I have several ideas for environmental factors and corresponding interactions:

  • Light: If I were to create a physical model, using a photoresistor would be the easiest and the most intuitive. If I go screen-based, I could make a source of light and implement color/brightness tracker through image processing.
  • Water (without using actual water, hopefully!) – If I go screen-based, I could put an IR light in a water spray for the screen to track. But I can’t think of a way to make this intuitive on a physical model – what kind of sensors would I use? I could maybe put a button that triggers “rain” on the screen, but I’m hoping to come up with better ideas.
  • Affection – With a physical model, I could put a pulse sensor to recognize touch. On screen, maybe another IR light and a glove that can be used to pet the plant?

Other possible factors…:

  • Temperature: using a temperature sensor to warm the plant?
  • Music: entertain the plant by playing specific songs, like a minigame maybe?

The player would win by seeing an ending where the cactus blooms a flower, or I could make it more intense by implementing competition somehow. More ambitious ideas would be “collecting oxygen” to set a high score, unlock new plant types, etc, or making a garden that shows the history of all players and their scores… I’m very far from having a concrete plan.

Fears to overcome

  • Coding: As ambitious as my plan is, not much is attainable with my current level of coding knowledge. I will have to teach myself a lot of new things, from setting up sensors to communicate with Processing to creating different scenes/frames and compiling them all to run smoothly. I will most likely spend most of my time researching and learning, so I should keep my goal flexible in case anything goes wrong – I’ll have to make sure there’s always a Plan B.
  • Physical model: I’ve become afraid of building anything physical after my disastrous mid-term project – if I do decide to make a physical model, I’ll have to make sure I manage my time extremely well. I’m concerned about not only building the plant model itself, but also how all the sensors will be joined and packed into a single space in a way that is intuitive for the players. I also have so much to learn about new sensors – would I even be able to have them all running at the same time? The more sensors I decide to implement, the more work I’ll put on myself, so I’ll have to make wise choices based on how much time I have.
  • Graphics: I’ll need to animate the plant, which will require many individual images – I won’t be prioritizing this too much, but I still can’t underestimate how much time creating these alone will take.
  • Making it enjoyable: after all, maintaining an environment requires a set of very repetitive commands, which might get boring after a while. Hopefully I could make my project not just interactive but more engaging at the same time.
  • Time: To manage all the above within a limited period of time will be overwhelming – as much as I’m excited, I’m also stressed.

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