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Tecku Talks: Mushrooms

Tecku November 27, 2014 User blog:Tecku

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Hello, and welcome to Tecku Talks, a blog series where I give my anaylsis on some mechanics of the PzZ franchise. And to start us off, Tecku talks about: mushrooms!

A lot of people seem to be split about whether mushrooms in PvZ2 should have kept their PvZ1 mechanic, or if the new systems is better. In my opinion, they should have kept their old mechanic. To explain why, though, we should look at the purpose behind the mushrooms.

In the original game, the mushroom were meant to be a cheap resource for the nighttime levels. They would cost much less than the daytime plants, which let them serve as a staple defense where there was little to no sun. From a designer standpoint, using mushrooms was a brilliant idea. Although mushrooms are not actually plants, they were several advantages to this system:

- Mushrooms are often assosiated with shaded areas and darkness. The idea of mushrooms only being useable in the dark can be understandable to the player. Other plants, like cabbages and sunflowers, are not associated with night.

- By dedicating mushrooms to night, Popcap could dedicate plant species to certain conditions without over-complicating the name. Using the "shroom" suffix directly told the player a clear, consice message: this is one of those plants you can only use at night. If Popcap had been forced to make nighttime plants out of cucumbers or apples, they would have been added an out a place prefix, like "Dark Cucumber" or "Evil Apple". These words seems out of place, and generally don't work.

- Since most people aren't familiar with the categorization of mushrooms, Popcap had more leeway in their mechanic design. When you think about it, the name "Magnet Shroom" isn't very clever. However, we don't mind it as much as we would if we saw a name like "Magnet Celery" or especially "Dark Magnet Celery".

- The Coffee Bean system gave player a lot of new choices. Many mushrooms like Fume-Shroom, Magnet Shroom, and Hypo-Shroom were very potent, but would become very overpowered in the daytime if they kept their standard sun cost. By using the Coffee Bean, players were not only straddled with +50 Sun cost, but he use of another seed slot. This gave the players a lot of options, but they would have to choose wisely.

Now, in PvZ2, the mushrooms are treated as normal plants, with downsides slapped onto them. This systems does work, but it feels fairly generic. It also comes with a few problems:

- Sun-shroom now completely outclasses Sunflower. The first sun round it produces will be 25 sun less, but this is offset by the lower cost, and it will grow to 50 sun production immediately afterwards. Coupled with the 75 sun productions later, it literally outclasses Sunflower in every way. No other plant comparison can claim that.

- Some plants will not return, reducing the variety of the player's arsenal. Most notably are Scaredy-shroom and Coffee Bean (unless they are given a new mechanic). Freeze Shroom and Doom Shroom have the potential to appear, but have not.

However, are there advantages to this new system? Yes. Players can use mushroom without having to commit to the Coffee Bean. This not only frees up a sleed slot, but lets the players mix and match one or two mushrooms into their seed picks without dedicating too many seeds to their selection. ....And that's it, really.

Now, why this was done was fairly straightfoward. There are three reasons. 1) New players might try to revisit past worlds and use mushrooms immediately, and become confused. 2) The update was released in parts, and cramming Coffe Bean as a fifth plant would have crowded the level. 3) This made it easier to push Hypno-Shroom. However, in the long run, I am not conviced this was the best route to take.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Leave your comments below!

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