Red Leaf

A proposed project to act as a counterpoint (and homage) to FarmVille, a game by Zynga. FarmVille is a free to play game on facebook designed to raise money by purchasing “FarmCash” or “FarmCoins” for use in the game. Most things in the game are free if you play long enough, but players pay to get ahead quickly. This is important because you can see all your friends playing too, and things get competitive.

There are currently more people playing FarmVille than using Twitter, and it's probably the most popular computer game ever made.

There are a few issues with FarmVille's depiction of the world that we feel we should be able to poke fun at, these are very well expressed in this blog post by Funny Buzz Farmville: What is it teaching people?

  • No changes in weather - bizzare plants can live side by side.
  • No pests, crop failure, or disease to restrict your earning power.
  • No blood - animals are raised entirely for dairy, wool, hair, eggs, truffles (pigs!).
  • Any cooperation in the game is rewarded by instant cash, the reason you can see your friend's farms (and for instance, fertilise their crops) is really to foster competition.
  • Space is your only real restriction, so factory farming is the logical method.


The fact that Zynga can make a farming game that is this popular while being so wildly divorced from reality is a sad commentary on both the company and its fans’ level of agricultural ignorance.

Zynga are not ignorant, but they have to please most of the players most of the time. We do not have that restriction, so we can explore some of these issues more deeply:

  • No monocultures - a simple, but complete model for nutrients in the soil, nitrogen fixers, permaculture layers - all based on fukuoka gardening.
  • How much of one type of plants you can grow? (5 bush of tomatoes or 100 or 500)
  • What would be the healthy balance between the plants or animals?
  • Where the MONO culture begins?
  • So what happens if you get 300 bushes of tomatoes, will the bugs attack it?
  • What do you do if your garden or some plants get attacked by bugs:
  1. look for the insect protectors plants
  2. get the other type of plants which will attracted wasps to eat the bugs
  3. get the lady bug hotels:)

(will help looking at the Companion planting)

  • The use of native species of plants based on your physical location.
  • Geographical Locations:
  1. would be nice to some how have possibility to have different perma-guilds in different geographical places., so u cant start growing bananas in Norway.
  2. maybe to set up 5 to 7 different type of guilds, like: Eu, Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, Japan.

as we don't have enough information about the guilds from other geographical regions, would be interesting to contact or find some other people from different places to help us with it.

  • Animals as part of the ecosystem.
  • Animals have a full life cycle - we deal with the death issue.
  • We start from:
  1. Seeds
  2. Seedlings
  3. Existing Plants
  4. or mixture
  • Choice of plants:
  1. General
  2. Local
  3. Forgotten/Old/on the edge of extinction.
  • Where and How do we get it:
  1. Collecting from plants(seeds) (Having possibilities to collect your own seed for the next year)
  2. Getting from friends(exchange: seeds seedlings)
  3. Buying from Local Bio shops (seeds seedlings)
  • Can we have seasons, natural disasters?
  • Can we use the real weather in the game?
  • A cooperation model for players - collectivization, players share the means of production - where it exists.
  • In this way, the idea of socialism needs to be explicitly obvious.
  • Space is not an issue, you can roam freely.
  • Size of the garden or farm:
  1. would be interesting to find information on what size and volume the garden should be in order to feed one person.
  2. Is there any statistics?
  3. could we use it for game?
  • Tools:
  1. What tools do you need to start gardening or farming?
  2. Where do you get it?
  3. Can you DIY?
  4. Shops?
  5. Friends?
  • The whole thing could also just be a dissemination strategy for more intelligent information about food production.

The capitalism in FarmVille (and most games containing an economy) is not discussed explicitly at all as part of the game, it's just a kind of assumption. The idea here is not to promote socialism, but to promote some sort of awareness that this assumption exists. Is a particular economic model a requirement for a good game?

Current stupid version

Use cursor keys to move around and space to plant a pata-seed. You can move around the world by walking to the edge of the current tile.


  • Plants will be lost when you move out the current tile. We need a server program running for the world to be persistent for all players.
  • For the same reason, your name doesn't matter for the moment.
  • Plants are not drawn in the right order, so overlap badly.
  • Need to be able to choose what plants to grow
  • Needs a permaculture model
  • All the graphics should be considered placeholder, particularly the robot!

The source code is currently at this location:

Farmville critique / commentary

“if Farmville is laborious to play and aesthetically boring, why are so many people playing it? The answer is disarmingly simple: people are playing Farmville because people are playing Farmville.”


Work needed

redleaf game design

Game design

  • Player collaboration - I have an idea where each player starts with one thing they need, and have to ask for help from people in their collective before they can start - ie. “Joe starts playing and has to borrow a spade from Phillis and some seeds from Frank to get started”. This needs more fleshing out.


  • Description of the layers and functions for this game - could be a simplification of the plant guilds.
  • Various plants for each layer X function - need a lot.
  • Each plant needs frames representing growth through different stages from seedling to full grown, also for decay and disease.
  • red_leaf.txt
  • Last modified: 2010-06-01 15:52
  • by davegriffiths