Apple Arcade's Garden Tails: Gaming that helps you relax and de-stress

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“When we developed the game, it was intended to give players a very relaxed and peaceful experience.” This is maybe not what you expect to hear from a game designer. But this is exactly what Sandra Honigman, Game Designer and Game Lead for Garden Tails: Match and Grow, had in mind while working on the new match-3 puzzle game.

In Garden Tails, the player is a gardener helping to restore an abandoned garden and filling it with cute animals is the ultimate goal. As you finish restoring one garden, you move to the next level

Garden Tails stays away from the school of thought that games need to be competitive to be interesting. Instead, it helps you escape daily stress, making you relax and find some positivity.

“If you want to cool down after a stressful day with something simple and easy to consume, Garden Tails is for you,” Sandra tells in a video interview. Sandra took a lot of inspiration from the gardens and parks she visited in New York City with her team. Eventually, that helped shape the game and introduce the idea of serenity and relaxation that’s ingrained into gardens, especially in an urban environment.

The work on Garden Tails started in late 2018, way before Sandra came on board. Initially, a small team worked on the prototype and the game was in a development phase for a long. “From the beginning of the development, we felt this game was about relaxing and gardening. It changed a little bit once we started adding the animals and noticed that making those animal characters became the central focus,” Sandra said. “We went from something that was storyless to something with a story around these animals,” Sandra added.
Each garden in Garden Tails is unique and animal characters change from one garden to another garden but there’s a central character that always moves with you and keeps you within their world. Once you renovate the garden and complete matching puzzles, you earn seeds and in-game coins that you use to unlock the story.

“There’s not a hard message but it’s more like a story of seeing someone’s struggle, and then overcome that with the garden as a central place of conflict,” she said.

Exclusively available on Apple’s Arcade game subscription service, Garden Tails is a free game with no ads and no in-app purchases. Pay Apple a monthly fee and it promises access to a hundred titles that won’t be available on any other platform, plus cross-platform play lets you pick up and play the game on your iPhone, your iPad, or your Mac.

Garden Tails is a match-3 puzzle game aimed at casual gamers with friendly gameplay. Match-3 games don’t get the same attention as battle royale games like PUBG despite drawing millions of casual users. “We feel that the market is, of course, pretty big since any type of player can always sit down and play and engage with a game that is within that casual puzzle space,” she said.

Playdots company photo (includes team that worked on Garden Tails; Sandra is in the middle with the blue hair). Image credit: Zynga)

It’s been only a week since Garden Tails made its debut on Apple Arcade, the developer is already planning to roll out multiple updates in the coming months including new gardens, new characters, new stories, new levels, and some new fun features.

Garden Tails has been developed by Playdots, developer of the mobile games Dots, Two Dots and Dots and Co. In 2020, Take-Two – the gaming behemoth known for publishing major franchises like BioShock, and through its Rockstar Games subsidiary, Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption bought the mobile game developer Playdots. Post-Take-two’s acquisition of Zynga for $12.7 billion earlier this year, Paydots is now a part of FarmVille mobile developer.

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