What is your favourite flower?
When I started working on Botanists with Pedro (the illustrator), we had a slight miscommunication at the very start. Because Pedro had illustrated Zura the year before, and he knew that we were going to expand that universe, he thought that Botanists was going to be part of that world. To my mind, any game that we would be publishing in the future, would only be part of the World of Zura, if specifically stated so by myself. In Pedro’s mind, all games were going to be part of the World of Zura, unless specifically stated otherwise.
Since I didn’t specify anything… well you get the picture. So I was quite surprised when I saw the first drafts of the flowers for Botanists. They were fictional! We started discussing the flowers and I explained that I would like a selection of actual flowers for this game. We clarified the rules for when a game is meant to be part of World of Zura and chuckled at the miscommunication as we both thought it was funny…
Anyways. Shortly after I met with Violaine to show her the first draft of those flowers, just so she could get an idea of size of the tiles and color scheme we were going for. We started looking into what flowers we should be using for the game and as we browsed through flowers she kept naming flowers she wouldn’t want to see in the game because she thought they were overused or she had a personal dislike for them. A serious problem arose from that flower-picking session… It’s going to be really difficult (impossible) to select 5 flowers that every player will like!
In theory that isn’t really a big issue. However, I was reminded of a similar experience with another game many of you will know: Arboretum. I don’t know if you have experienced something similar but in my games, there are a few tree species we never play with unless we are playing 4 players, in which case we have to play with all the cards. This is because someone always says: “I don’t want to play with those trees. I really dislike them.”
If you can leave them out, then it’s not an issue, as they don’t bother anyone. But I was thinking about the flowers in Botanists. The five flowers will always be there and if anybody has a personal dislike for a particular flower, then that might actually be an omnipresent thing in that player’s mind when playing Botanists? Will it be distracting to such a player? What if they are trying to focus on the market’s layout and the only thing they can think about was: “I really hate daisies… I wish they had used sunflowers instead!” That could cause some serious Analysis Paralysis, a major detractor for a nice game flow.
Suddenly those fictional flowers weren’t looking so bad anymore…. So I called Pedro and talked him through my concerns and we agreed that it should be his original flower designs rather than actual flowers… because to my mind, whilst someone, when playing Botanists, might think “I don’t like that flower.”, they most certainly would not add “I wish they would have a different fictional flower”… I think!
Making games can be really hard sometimes!…