Victor Wynne

YarnBuddy developer is making a game for kids

Becky Hansmeyer:

My son has been really into gardening/farming games recently. There’s one called Montessori Nature that he’s been playing on his iPad for years, but unfortunately it’s buggy and hasn’t been updated in ages. It also has several other points of frustration: namely, there’s not enough room to make a super gigantic garden, and the garden requires too much up-keep (plants wilt quickly, get eaten by pests, etc.). Charlie’s more interested in the design aspects of gardening–making something that looks cool, spelling his name in flowers, etc.

He has since downloaded and tried every single farming game from the App Store (I am not exaggerating). They are all either A) riddled with ads, B) super buggy, C) infested with IAPs or D) all of the above. Games like Stardew Valley, which are actually good, are too advanced for a 5-6 year old and include gameplay elements that he’s not interested in.

So, here I am, making a gardening game for kids. It will be called Charlie’s Garden, and it’s going to be the most chill, relaxing, do-whatever-you-want gardening sim. You’ll see different animals at different times of day and in different seasons, but the day/night cycle is quick enough to catch all of it in 30 minutes. There’s no experience levels, just in-game money (which will be easy to come by), so everything is unlocked from the get-go. There will be an element of exploration, maybe even some light crafting (what happens if I combine these items? Let’s find out!). I’m tossing around the idea of including a few mini-games. Scope-creep is real though, so I have a clearly-defined MVP that I will release first, before adding other stuff.

I have noticed the rampant bugs in these sorts of games and I have to wonder if maybe that is partly due to a user base that doesn’t flag them for the developer. Plans are to release the game as a paid upfront offering thank God. The vast majority of games designed for children are nothing more than a slot machine begging for more money to be spent. Becky has experienced this first hand so I look forward to seeing how this project progresses with that knowledge in mind.