Countdown to the Zeebys: Alice Greenfingers

By Erin Bell |

Alice Greenfingers is in the running for Best Strategy Game of 2007 at the upcoming Zeeby Awards. We chatted with Daniel Zandelin at Arcade Lab about what makes Alice Greenfingers special and why it deserves to get your vote.

Can you give us insights or fun facts about the development of this game?

The story behind the development of Alice Greenfingers is quite remarkable.
The development started off in January 2006, with a concept that Ola Zandelin, the founder of Arcade Lab, had been thinking about for a while.

Initially, the gameplay was level-based and pointing more in the time management direction, while still playing very different from any other game on the market.
Starting a level, you’d see one or several trucks arriving, lining up at the side of the farm and shouting out the latest trends and market demands. Alice, having a prebuilt farm at hand (which would look different for each level) would have to keep herself busy by sowing out seeds strategically to use the available soil as effective as possible, while chasing away rabbits and putting up scarecrows to keep the birds away.

At this point the game didn’t have a foldable graphical user interface (GUI) as you see in Alice now. The shop wasn’t there as you were given all necessary items at level start, and the truck replaced both the market screen and the storage house, as Alice would basically just need to load up the trucks with boxes. When a truck was full, it would drive away and cash in the sales.

Ten months of development passed by, and when we had a beta of the game, we made a turn that would later prove to be successful. While the idea was original and fun, the gameplay didn’t give much room for creativity and free design. In fact, seeing the crops grow up and create a colorful garden created a desire in the player to keep on decorating and caretaking the garden. But with the level-based gameplay, you would be cut off and moved to a new scene just when your garden had bloomed out and got a personal touch.

So Ola made a drastic decision to throw away the pre-set goals, nagging pests (rabbits and birds), time limit and truck guys who told you what crops to grow. Being convinced that a gameplay where the player could set own goals and design the garden freely would be more fun, the gameplay set a completely new course, and after a 7 additional months of development, Alice as the world knows her today, finally saw daylight.

What makes Alice Greenfingers special, and why should people vote for it?

One thing that makes Alice special is the fact that it must be the only casual top seller featuring classic handpixeled retro style graphics. We are also very happy with how the gameplay turned out, and how it differs from other games at the market

People who like Alice and our take on bringing new concepts to the casual market are more then welcome to support us with a highly apprecieted vote.

Besides your own game of course, what other games impressed you in 2007?

I seldomly play games actually. It happens from time to time that I watch over my wife’s shoulder when she plays the latest casual games. I did spend some fun time in front of Peggle and Azada last year though.

If you win a Zeeby, how do you plan to celebrate (aside for going to Disneyworld, of course)?

We have a tradition of eating something connected to the theme of any Arcade Lab game that makes it big. So guess it would be another bowl of vegetable soup for me then.

Any final words for your fans?

Yes, be patient dear Alice fans. The girl with blond braids will return.

Voting for the Zeebys runs from now until July 5. Click here to vote for you favorite casual games of 2007.

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