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The growth pitch

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Mariam Asad, Matthew Drake, Tom Gibes, Brian Hertler

The GROWTH Pitch

Nutshell Pitch:

GROWTH is a puzzle-platformer whose core gameplay mechanic is the manipulation of plant growth. The player proceeds through a collection of single-screen levels, each of which requires plant growth to create platforms and break barriers. But the plants’ growth must be carefully monitored, as they can grow dangerously out of control if left unregulated.

Game Elements:

1. Plants.

There are many types of plants in the game, each with a different set of functions and uses:

- By default, plants will grow straight up.

- When a light source is present, most plants will grow towards it. Manipulating light sources is therefore key for directing growth.

- Most plants can break certain environmental barriers.

- When a plant touches most light sources, it can become “cancerous”: it begins to grow rapidly in multiple directions, and can no longer be cut with the machete.

2. Player Avatar.

A tiny figure equipped with a comically-oversized machete and a flamethrower. The player is many times smaller than the plants, which will dominate the screen. There are four main actions available to the player:

- Jumping. Most levels with contain solid platforms; additionally, most types of plants will sprout leaves that the player can climb on.

- Planting. When standing on the right type of soil, the player can start a new plant, which will immediately begin growing.

- Cutting. The player can regulate plants’ growth by lopping off sections with a machete. This is frequently required to clear pathways (as the player cannot move through a plant’s main stem) or prevent a plant from reaching light sources (see Light Sources, below).

- Burning. The player can burn plants with a flamethrower. This will destroy the plant entirely, releasing carbon dioxide and reducing the plant to a seed packet on the ground. This is also the only way to destroy plants that have become “cancerous.”

3. Lights.

All levels will feature light sources, which the player may use to direct the growth of plants. Some of these lights will have on/off switches, and others will not. Additionally, some light switches will be stationary, and others may be moved (directly or indirectly) by the player. Finally, some light sources will cause plants to become “cancerous” upon contact; even though plants will be attracted to the light, it is advisable for players to prevent them from actually touching it.

4. Seeds.

Seeds for various types of plants may be scattered around levels, and collecting them will be necessary before starting new plants.

5. Carbon Dioxide.

Each level will have a certain allotment of CO2, which plants will use up as they grow (the rate will depend on the type of plant). When the CO2 level reaches zero, plants will not be able to grow further. Upon being burned, each plant will release the amount of CO2 that it has consumed.
Art Style:

Initial art assets are still under production. Research to date has included Lucidity, Braid, and Machinarium, which are likely to inspire our style.

Lucidity has been our biggest influence thus far with respect to its tone; both the colours and the art style are soft and subtle. They are simple, yet do not come across as too childish. Machinarium mostly influences out colour palette as it is fairly muted and matches GROWTH's thematics. The art style, however, is too detailed and more suited to point-and-click games. If implemented in GROWTH, it will probably just serve to distract the player and detract from playing the game.

We’ve walked through a small number of possible levels, taking different game mechanics into account, and are currently working on early Flash code for our plant growth. When we have a digital model, we’ll be able to further playtest with variations on growth speed, size, types of plants, etc.

From what we have done so far, one of our biggest challenges is pacing: we need to ensure that the player will be able to balance the attention needed to quickly respond to plant growth while avoiding an overly frustrating play experience.

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