The Garden Plot is a photorealistic virtual reality gardening experience app that allows users to cultivate their own garden within the virtually simulated world. The experience is designed to provide a meditative virtual space for users to enjoy the outdoors virtually, planting herbs, tending to delicate seedlings growing in the plot’s raised beds, or simply enjoying the garden, a semi-cultivated paddock filled with tall grasses and wildflowers and surrounded by crops, meadows, and forests in each direction.
The Garden Plot is designed to provide multiple modes of engagement with the users. The basic simulation involves an evergreen sunny world in which plant-life grows as if in a paradise. Temperatures are ideal, the user’s watering habits always produce happy fruits and vegetables, and the life cycle of each plant is altered to maximize plant growth within the simulation.
EDUCATION & SCIENCE
Alternative game modes of The Garden Plot range in difficulty. There is the general “real-world” mode which calculates correct growth times, and sun and water needs of each plant. Over- or under-watering affects the plants, as does not weeding frequently enough, or failing to check for aphids. Most challenging is the localized “real-world” mode, which allows a user to select a given location almost anywhere in the world and then connects the simulation to the contemporaneous temperatures, rainfall, and weather data of that location. A late summer simulation in the Northeast might naturally take care of the plot’s watering needs, for instance. However, planting too late in the fall might risk submitting the plants to a fatal first frost.
In the most challenging mode of The Garden Plot, the virtual world responds to the weather changes, with additional pre-production rain, cloud, and snow animations altering the scenario depending on that real-world data. The simulation also provides interactive user interface support with details about each plant available in the app, and helpful real-time tips about how frequently the user should water, weed, or cultivate the specific plants they have chosen to grow in their garden. Additionally, the simulation provides suggestions at the outset of the game about which plants grow best in specific climates, where they are happiest in relation to others, and which plants require more frequent rotations from crop cycle to crop cycle.
The Garden Plot exploits the meditative benefits of gardening while also providing educational information about plant-life and cultivation. It is, of course, also an entertainment experience at its core.
The Garden Plot is a virtual reality simulation intended for Oculus Quest 2 and requiring two controllers for head and hand tracking. Additionally, the simulation is intended for a 3 x 3 meter space, allowing the user to physically walk around and throughout the garden plot. Immersive audio through the display headset also allows the user to receive auditory feedback from actions and activities like digging, shoveling, planting, stepping over twigs and leaves, etc.
The simulation is currently in development in Unreal Engine with no release date yet set.