I had an interesting idea for a permaculture/nature simulator that could be used to learn a lot about nature, permaculture and human impact on our ecossystems. I wrote my initial ideas about it in this draft page: http://thetaoofnature.neocities.org/ where you can read about its purpose and way of functioning.
Would love to get your feedback on it, and see how you think it could be improved and made more useful. I'll be updating soon with a few more thoughts.
I really admire what you're doing with this project. Some people might see this as a contradiction, which I'm sure is something you've acknowledged but decided to continue anyways. I think that's really great. As for actual advice, I have a few points:
1. Health Bars. You could use different colored bars to track the conditions of the system. For example, you could have a green bar that tracks the amount of nitrogen in the soil; a red one for the amount of pests; blue for water; gold for soil organic matter; black for soil contamination.
2. Floating Numbers. In a lot of RPG games, whenever you do a certain action that either causes damage, or gains experience; this is usually expressed with numbers that float from the action to the top of the screen. This sounds a bit silly, but it offers a lot of mental stimulation which I think is what makes otherwise slow games feel fast paced and plays a big role in making RPGs addictive. For example, when a player plants Cow Pea, there will be a floating green +2 to symbolize the amount of nitrogen that has been added to the soil. When the plant grows a bit, it will give off a floating +4, then a +8, +16, +24, and so on. Finally, when a player chooses to chop and drop it, it will give off a floating +100 to symbolize the nitrogen bloom that comes after the death of the rhizobia. It would also give off a gold +20 for the addition of soil organic matter.
3. Beneficial insect habitat combinations. You can create certain combinations of earthworks and plants that when are created by players, beneficial insects are added to the system. For example, if a player were to plant dill and Queen Anne's Lace near a water source, lady bugs would be introduced. They would then eat the aphids, reducing their population, and shorten their health bar indicating that the aphid population can no longer reach the same heights.
4. Story Mode. This would be a game type in which players are tasked with designing systems for various environments increasing in difficulty. For example, a player would first be tasked with designing a backyard food forest. They will then have to design an abandoned urban lot, then a small farm, an established forest, a sand dune, and so on. This would also give you the opportunity to create a preface that would express the necessity of these kinds of systems, and alert them to real world crisis.
I look forward to hearing updates from this project, and hope these ideas are of some use to you. I think this is a great project and be happy to share it with other people.
A berm makes a great wind break. And Iwe all like to break wind once in a while. Like this tiny ad: