Projects 2010 > Blossom Bristol > Journal
One of the key gameplay features in Blossom Bristol is the ability to interact with the locations around you - to plant crops in the locations you visit around Bristol every day. As one of our design aims is to get people to explore the city, comparing locataions, we need restrict the ability of players to plant all their crops in just one location. One of our first design challenges to overcome was how we define a 'location' in the game - we highlighted a number of different options:
- Postcodes - From an Android device we can work out the approximate post code of the user. For privacy reasons Google only give access to the first half of the post code (for example the PM Studio would be BS1 5). Although fairly simple the downside of this would be that the areas would be larger than we liked (and would also contain a wide range in real world data).
- Wards - Bristol is split into a number of wards by the council, we could use these as discrete location 'blocks'. Unfortunately the wards aren't organised in a simple manner, a boundary between two wards might be within the same postcode. Added together with the fact we wouldn't have access to exact post codes we dismissed this option.
- Cells - GPS enabled phones give access to a device's current latitude and longitude. By rounding these figures to a certain number of decimal places we could create a grid of cells across the city. The advantage being that each cell would be the same size, but the overwhelming disadvantage is that it's all a bit impersonal and doesn't mean much.
- Wikipedia - Using a service such as geonames.org it's possible to get a list of locations nearby that have Wikipedia articles associated with them. This means the player would be able to plant their crops at named locations across the city, the downside being it's restricted to locations that are famous enough to be featured in Wikipedia - leaving a cluster of locations in the city center and not much outside.
- Facebook Places - A new addition to Facebook, Places lets you 'checkin' to locations from their database. Barring the duplications of some locations its actually fairly comprehensive, containing everything from landmarks to local shops.
In the end we've opted to go for Facebook Places - the quantity and accuracy of the location data it provided outweighs the downside of requiring users to have a Facebook account to play. So now players can look forward to planting strawberries in the Watershed, cultivating their cabbages on the Suspension Bridge and harvesting carrots in McDonalds.