guerilla seeds

Guerrilla Gardening: Seeds of Revolution

Project Indefinitely Shelved (╥_╥)

Guerrilla Gardening was planned to be Spooky Squid’s first commercial title. We worked on it for roughly two years, creating a reasonably polished prototype with around an hour of gameplay as well as several high quality pixel art mockups of what the final game would look like. It was an ambitious project combining some pretty complex AI with detailed high resolution pixel art.

To help fund this early pre-production work we had a grant from the OMDC (Ontario Media Development Corporation). Unfortunately we were unable to secure the funding we needed to go forward with production and eventually moved on to They Bleed Pixels which, unlike Guerrilla Gardening, was of small enough scale to complete without much external funding.

While we didn’t have the chance to complete Guerrilla Gardening there were a lot of interesting ideas and a ton of quality art created during that pre-production period. This page collects and preserves much of that work.


Original Trailer for Guerrilla Gardening from February 2010 created mostly using prototype footage.

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Original Trailer for Guerrilla Gardening from February 2010 created mostly using prototype footage.

About the Game

Guerrilla Gardening was planned to be a militant stealth gardening game, combining easy to pick up ‘sneak and plant’ gameplay with strategic arrangements of plants used to trick the cops and cheer up citizens. It played somewhere between a stealth game and a very odd tower defence game. The goal of each level was to cheer up enough of the local citizenry so that they would become rebellious and start protesting. You did this by planting flowers over government propaganda and creating Rube Goldberg like arrangements of plants to distract the cops and lure citizens toward your flowers.

Artificial Intelligence
Even in the prototype the police and citizens had pretty complex AI. On top of the standard stealth model, cops had simple emotional states and could be angered by various stimuli including irritating plants and protesting citizens. Once radicalized, citizens became active participants in the environment, telling uninformed citizens who passed nearby about flower arrangements they hadn’t seen yet or taunting nearby cops. All citizens also had a sense of smell that could be used to lure them toward pollen producing plants and a fear of loud noises useful for scaring them away. This was all built on top of a fairly sophisticated path finding model that allowed citizens and cops to learn about new paths created by the player and use alternate routes around obstacles planted in their way.

Plant guide from Spooky Squid Games promo material.
(GDC 2011)

An Arsenal of Strange Plants
The plants themselves ranged from noise makers like the Perennial Screamers and fields of Golden Bells to wind producing Heli-Vines and pollen producing Sleeping Poppies and Smells-so-Goods. Some plants aided in navigating the map in creative ways. Players could plant paths of Water Lilies or block off an area with a Thorn Bush. Hiding places could even be air dropped into the city via Tactical Tree Drops.

Many of the plants could be triggered by people walking nearby but they could also be combined with each other for extra effect. For instance pollen range could be boosted when blown by a Heli-Vine or a Heli-Vine could be used to disturb a field of Golden Bells, simulating someone running through them and attracting nearby cops.

We had other complex interactions planned for some of the plants that didn’t make it into our prototype. For instance surveillance equipment could be disabled by the electricity producing Tesla Pines and cops could be temporarily disabled by Venus Man Traps.

Mock Screenshots

These mock screenshots were created to give us a concrete sense of what we wanted the final game to look like and help us present that vision to potential funders.

Character Concepts

Working with comic artist Eric Kim we developed a wide range of quirky friends and enemies to populate the world of Guerrilla Gardening.

General Bauhaus – dictator and generally not a great guy.
Pencils & Inks Eric Kim, Colours Miguel Sternberg.

Molly Greenthumb – Protagonist and revolutionary.
Pencils & Inks Eric Kim, Colours Miguel Sternberg.

Minister of Public Privacy and State Intelligence

Minister of Trade and Contraband

The Minister of Truth and Entertainment

Minister of Research and Mental Health

Minister of the Environment & Chemical Weapons

The Kid – Guerrilla Gardening Version

The Kid – Street Urchin Version

Blog Posts & Development Videos

We heavily documented the early development of Guerrilla Gardening, including both lots of blog posts and a series of development videos. The videos start a little rough but get progressively more polished as we get a sense of what works.

Dev Videos

  • #9 CCTV Cameras
  • #8 Drawing Plant Sprites
  • #7 Game Balance and Tweaking the Screamers
  • #6 Influencing Citizens
  • #5 Happy Citizens
  • #4 Tactical Tree Drops!
  • #3 Perennial-Screamers
  • #2 First Basic Gameplay
  • #1 Intro and the Prototype Level Editor

Other Art Scraps

Here are a few of the last pieces of concept art created for the game. Originally intended for a print magazine article, this is the first time we’ve posted them online.

Will Guerrilla Gardening ever be released?
Maybe someday. We’d definitely think of coming back to it if one of our other games hits it big or another source of funding becomes available. It’s likely it would take a slightly different form. Several years have passed since we originally came up with the design.

Why don’t you just Kickstart it?
Pulling off a successful Kickstarter is a major effort. At a minimum it would take up a couple months of full time work for something that may or may not be successful. Our current feeling is that’s time better spent on game creation. That decision may change in the future and had Kickstarter been a viable option in Canada while we were in the thick of looking for funding we probably would have given it a try.

Can I at least play the prototype?
Unfortunately, the OMDC (Ontario Media Development Corporation) grant that funded the prototype and pre-production work makes it difficult for us to publicly distribute the prototype. Also, while it has a lot of polish for a prototype, there’s a lot that isn’t representative of how the final game would work. There are gameplay systems that don’t quite work in their current form and other similar issues. It also may not work on some machines as it never went through any real QA process. In short it’s a rough sketch rather then a final work ready for consumption.

Guerrilla Gardening: Seeds of Revolution Project Indefinitely Shelved (╥_╥) Guerrilla Gardening was planned to be Spooky Squid’s first commercial title. We worked on it for roughly two