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The Origins of The UnderGarden for PSN

Antonio Santamaria's Avatar + Posted by Antonio Santamaria on Jan 20, 2011 // Head of Engineering, Vitamin-G

One of the questions that people often ask is where the idea for a game comes from. For The UnderGarden it was a bit of a journey, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the whole idea came together, but there are really several different influences from other games, art and music that played a role.

UnderGarden for PS3 (PSN)

The UnderGarden started its life as a simple physics-based platform puzzle game. Using the term “game” perhaps was a bit of a stretch: it was really just a bit of a physics playground. Back in those early first prototypes, there was no real goal or purpose, and the game was really just about knocking things around and seeing what happened. As is sometimes the case, the fun comes out in ways you never really planned on, and that’s what started to occur in the early days of The UnderGarden.

The more the team played those early demos, the more we realized how satisfying it was just to move things around and hear them make different sounds as they collapsed or bounced off each other. As we added more colorful graphics and sounds,one thing we noticed right away is that people would often get “zoned” while playing. They kind of got absorbed in watching the little things sparkle and make sounds as they flew through them, and after a few minutes just got lost in the whole experience. When someone described it as “popping bubble wrap,” we knew we were onto something.

UnderGarden for PS3 (PSN)

Adding the plants and flowers that you grow was something we had experimented with in the past (there are screenshots of something called “Eden” on our site). We’re not sure whether the flowers came before or after the environments, but definitely adding color to an otherwise dark world as you play, and having them all make different musical tones, seems like a pretty natural effect that definitely enhanced the overall experience. People really liked the way the world seemed to come alive the more you played.

The UnderGarden was designed around the idea that a game does not have to be overly difficult or tense, but can also be a relaxing experience. We’re fans of all kinds of games, but certainly some of the exclusive PSN titles like Flower, flOw and some of the PixelJunk games played a role. There is a nice simplicity to these titles, and playing a game to relax can be a much different and very fulfilling experience in itself. Of course we all love our shooters too, but sometimes you just don’t want the tension. Sometimes you just need to unwind.

UnderGarden for PS3 (PSN)UnderGarden for PS3 (PSN)

Co-op play is also worth mentioning again. The inspiration for this was simple: how many times do you wish you could play a game with a friend, family or significant other, but they aren’t at the same skill level as you? A lot of coop games assume both players have the same skillset, but we’ve found this often is not the case. Nothing beats sitting with someone in the same room and being able to enjoy a game together, so we purposely made the coop play the kind of thing that a second player could have fun with even if they don’t usually play games.

For the environments, there are some obvious influences from nature in coral reefs and exotic plants, for example, but there also some artistic influences that have come into play. Once you have grown alot of flowers, levels they tend to take on a bit of a 1960′s counterculture feel to them. It is definitely not as trippy as some of the works of the period, but the whole idea of growing plants, adding vibrant colours, generating different sounds and becoming more and more relaxed as you play certainly lends itself to some obvious comparisons with that era. These are of course mostly coincidental. And then there’s the character itself…he’s a little harder to explain!

As for the music, our music director has created different tracks that not only work on their own, but can be layered together with each other as you go near the different musicians in the levels. His thoughts and inspirations for the music will follow in another article.

Overall, while we’ve drawn inspiration from a number of sources, we’ve also tried to create something unique that stands on its own. We hope you will enjoy the experience we have tried to deliver on PSN.

//Add Your Own

21 Comments   4 Replies

1

+ LRGKING on January 20th, 2011 at 10:06 am said:

This actually looks pretty darn cool! Ill have to check it out!


2

+ Killer_Mangos on January 20th, 2011 at 10:14 am said:

I love games that implement music and art with the game play. I’m definitely looking forward to checking this out. =)


3

+ Shaelyn on January 20th, 2011 at 10:26 am said:

This looks awesome and the bf and I can play together!


4

+ plaztiksyke on January 20th, 2011 at 10:48 am said:

I love the look of it, and the local co-op has me totally sold.

Hopefully my questions can be answered this time, though:
-does the game render in 1080p natively? or at least 720p with some kind of AA?

-are the audio assets in HD (24-bit, losslessly compressed) or are we getting the same MP3-sounding assets as the 360 release?

-does the PSN release take specific advantage of the PS3′s HD video, HD audio, or multi-processing capabilities beyond the other versions? if so, how?

-will a soundtrack be available for download?

Looking forward to the game and the answers,
Thanks!


    Antonio Santamaria's Avatar

     

    + Antonio Santamaria on January 20th, 2011 at 11:21 am said:

    The UnderGarden displays in HD at 720p. It most definitely takes advantage of PS3 hardware for multi-processing, to help out with things like the physics, and audio. We also think the game is quite fun, too! :)

    A soundtrack is a possibility, but the audio is dynamic and reacts to what the player does, so this might be a bit tricky.

    We hope you will enjoy it.


5

+ eyesofreality03 on January 20th, 2011 at 10:48 am said:

this is another gem in the psn exclusives line-up, cannot wait for this! any idea on price and release date yet? what about us plus subscribers, early access?


6

+ Elvick_ on January 20th, 2011 at 10:50 am said:

Love the game on the 360, if you add Move support, then I’ll gladly buy it again on PSN. Since throughout my time with the game on 360, I just imagined how much better it would be with Move.

PixelJunk Eden and Flower also came to mind while playing it, not that it’s a ripoff of either, it’s still it’s own thing. It just shares similarities that will remind players of those games.


    Antonio Santamaria's Avatar

     

    + Antonio Santamaria on January 20th, 2011 at 11:25 am said:

    Move is something we’d like to think about if enough people request it.


7

+ hush404 on January 20th, 2011 at 10:55 am said:

I checked out the demo for said game on steam and it’s pretty nefty. Not ground breaking but for a few bucks prob worth the purchase.


8

+ theMADster on January 20th, 2011 at 11:57 am said:

@6 & Antonio: I’m another person whose interested in having Move as an option for controls. ;D


9

+ laivindil on January 20th, 2011 at 1:00 pm said:

Don’t have much to add other then that I would also be moved to purchase with said move support. :)


10

+ rmartinez10 on January 20th, 2011 at 1:08 pm said:

@5, as Elvick_ already stated, this game is already available on XBLA. Looking forward to this version.


11

+ NotoriousGamer on January 20th, 2011 at 2:28 pm said:

put up a video of it so ppl can see the gameplay and stuff.


    Antonio Santamaria's Avatar

     

    + Antonio Santamaria on January 21st, 2011 at 7:36 am said:

    There is a video up on the first article last week: “The UnderGarden coming to PSN This Winter’


12

+ Marquette1993 on January 20th, 2011 at 2:50 pm said:

I Already have it for the Xbox 360 , I’m not going to re-purchase it.


13

+ Permafry_42 on January 20th, 2011 at 2:58 pm said:

@6
PLEASE add move support! this would be a great game for move! I’ll post the idea on the blog so you can see a lot of us would love optional move support (though of course not mandatory so non move owners can play too).


14

+ Permafry_42 on January 20th, 2011 at 3:04 pm said:

note: i’ll have to post the idea tomorrow since i already posted 1 (unless someone posts the idea for me)


15

+ Sephir007 on January 20th, 2011 at 5:05 pm said:

I vote for move support!


16

+ GAM3R_16 on January 20th, 2011 at 5:35 pm said:

Yup move support would be nice!


17

+ D1crzydzzy on January 20th, 2011 at 6:18 pm said:

yes yes need MOVE support with this


18

+ Neil on January 20th, 2011 at 8:07 pm said:

I enjoyed this post. I’d like to see more about the development of a game on the PS Blog.

Also Move support would be nice.


    Antonio Santamaria's Avatar

     

    + Antonio Santamaria on January 21st, 2011 at 7:45 am said:

    Glad you enjoy these types of articles.
    And we are paying attention to all the requests for Move support, so keep them coming!


19

+ rupeeboo on January 21st, 2011 at 9:37 am said:

I quintriple the move request! I have yet to see something I really want to play with my Move and I think this would make great use of it!!


20

+ challen on January 21st, 2011 at 3:40 pm said:

I am interested in Move support if it works well.


21

+ Chuckbait on January 23rd, 2011 at 8:13 am said:

Add Move and i’ll buy. (as long as move is done the right way, as opposed to auditorium.. Thank you and good luck with sales.)


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