Everybody's a Critic

A defense of Garden Defense—from its co-creator

Gardengames
Icons for some iwin garden games

We got some interesting comments on my post about iwin.com’s new game, Garden Defense. Because I could not access a free trial of the PC-only online game, I could only imagine from the description what a game that featured gnomes with rocket launchers killing insects might be like, so I was a bit dismissive. Many commenters followed suit, but a couple who actually did play it said that it was clever and fun to play—and, after all, just a game. Finally, one the inventors of the game, Andy Megowan, had this to say (excerpted):

Hi Everyone, I’m Andy, the Creative Director and one of the major designers of “Garden Defense”. As a child, I eagerly studied entomology in my mother’s gardens and in the countless books on insects and spiders that my parents got me. … In my day-to-day life, I will not squash an insect if I can easily catch it and release it outside where it can live its life without bothering me.

…I was disappointed to see “eliz”s dismissive comment that depicted developers as incapable of making a game without violence. The truth is that the bestselling games in the world are Sims, Flight Simulators, and other equally nonviolent games.

… I’ll take a moment on the soapbox to make a few observations to encourage you to enjoy the game.

…* The game’s protagonist is a college Entomology student who loves insects and spiders. Her name is Charlotte (a nod to a famous spider) and her pet Black Widow’s name is Merriam. I’ll let you in on a secret: the spider’s last name is “Webster”!

* A third of the way into the game, we introduce good bugs. The message of the game was NEVER “destroy all bugs,” but rather, “these bugs are somehow different, and are a threat to your garden.”

* The reward for keeping your gardens safe is a hundred times the reward for killing any pest. I wanted the feeling of reward to not come from any act of violence, but from keeping helpless plants SAFE from violence.

… P.S. There are gardening games out there. I played ’em all while researching “Garden Defense”!

So there you have it. I must say I am still less interested in this, as it is probably too fast an action game for me, but I did love playing SimAnt, which I am sure many of you recall.

I wonder if it’s been updated?

Posted by on December 5, 2007 at 5:00 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.
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3 responses to “A defense of Garden Defense—from its co-creator”

  1. firefly says:

    I downloaded the game on DSL. Took 45 minutes. They don’t tell you it installs more than one program (definitely two, possibly three) with desktop icons (you don’t get just Garden Defense, you get loaded with “access” to all the iWin offerings). Then, lo and behold, it doesn’t render properly on a 17-inch LCD screen, so I got two overlaid game windows, one small, one large. Couldn’t play it. Had to uninstall all the programs.

    Thus, I can’t comment on the the game itself, except to say you guys need to hire some QA staff. My office PC is a year old and runs Windows XP; it’s not some discount DOS dinosaur.

    Technical problems like these do not make friends and influence people.

    Also, iWin needs to warn people about how much extra crap they’re downloading. With a PS3 at home, I’m not all that interested in playing mouse-pointer games on a PC.

  2. LOL says:

    What problems do you have? One of you can’t find a free demo, one of you can’t install games on her PC and all of you don’t recognize the differnce between game and reality.

    You should learn more about PCs and Internet instead of posting funny things about the “world of games” you obviously don’t understand.

  3. Andy says:

    Hi Elizabeth–

    Andy here again. I’m hard at work on a new game that you can expect to see in 5-6 months!

    You mentioned “I must say I am still less interested in this, as it is probably too fast an action game for me”

    I suspect that the game just won’t get a fair trial, but I will take the stand once more :)

    While a radio has a volume knob that lets you find the noise level that suits you, our game prominently features a speed control. You play the game at whatever pace you like. Indeed, one reviewer at the site “Upon Further Review” raved that adjusting the speed of the game is one of the best features in a game he has ever seen!

    Garden Defense is not a reflex game. Games are, to me, a series of choices in which you are interested in the outcome. It’s not a glamorous, sexy take on entertainment, but the core of the game is thoughtful experimentation with the arrangement of flora, fauna and kitschy statuary.

    – – –

    As for firefly’s comment: I am disheartened by the experience that you had, and relayed your experience to the web team at iWin. I urge you not to shoot the messenger i.e. hold the game responsible for the faults of the distribution mechanism, and encourage you to give the game another chance. As of today, Garden Defense is also available from RealArcade, Big Fish Games, and WildTangent. Perhaps another portal’s launcher will not give you any difficulties.

    Best regards,
    Andy

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