A returning sum up of game jam stuffs from the recent past. The first half of this is a continuation from here.
Broadcast Botany – Global Game Jam 2018 – (playable here)
I designed the different plant types by breaking down their key diffentiations: how they grew/shattered, and what was their corresponding victory condition. For a spatial, puzzle game patterns were the obvious solution that had a large design space. It made sense superficially, but didn’t seem interesting to play. I would still use this, but as a secondary differentiator. I ended up focusing on what the role of each plant would be in a puzzle, and trying to create roles that conflicted with each other. I also wanted to create at least 1 whose role meant the player should be cautious about triggering 1 unintentionally. This adds importance to the way your beam can shake and grow multiple plants at once. I’ll call these “hazard” plants. The shortened list of simplest, most distinct plant types that made the final cut were:
This plant grows a lot, destroys others it grows into, and blocks others’ growth. Its victory condition is for every unit to be part of at least 3 of its kind in a row (no diagonals). It would serve as a placed, or dynamically created hazard that could cut off parts of the level. Because it could be a barrier, it could be a hazard plant.
By contrast, the purifier doesn’t need a pattern itself, and can’t overtake any other plants. But there are gas vents (cracks in the planet’s stained glass surface) on the map that you must reach with purifier plants. To be successful, each vent must have at least 1 purifier adjacent. Thematically the idea was this plant would grow roots or a webbing over the vents that filtered out checmicals harmful to other plants.
A pure hazard plant, the exploder simply destroys itself and any plants adjacent. This can cause chain reactions of exploders. No additional exploder plants can grow.
For all of the plants, at least 1 must be alive for success, representing preserving the ecosystem. The intended play for further puzzles was for the expander to be an awkward, but slightly shiftable barrier. The purifier would be a navigator that the player had to guide its growth through the terrain, and hazards of the other plants to each gas vent. And the exploder added delicacy to the system while also offering a way to dig through the expanders.
Each puzzle was designed to quickly introduce the basic concepts for the game. I had more planned out, but in the rush to complete on time, I jumped to a more complex/complete puzzle as a demo. The order, and goals were:
Text: Introduce game’s premise, tone, and controls.
Setup: 1 Expander, using it wins
Intent: let the premise, and basic controls sink in
Text: Explain rule behind Expander, and success on level 1.
Setup: 2 Expanders with 1 empty space between them
Intent: Another easy one, either plant will complete the mission. Demonstrates the rule does not need to be exactly 3, but 3 minimum. (expanding either plant results in row of 4)
Text: Enforces that didn’t need to be exactly 3. Also tells player that not all expanders need to be connected.
Setup: 2 Expanders 2 apart in a 1-wide hallway of barriers, and 1 Expander completely separate.
Intent: Demonstrate the stated fact that not all Expanders need to be connected. Also introduce barriers which inevitably block the 2 nearby Expanders along 1 axis to demonstrate functionality.
Text: Reminds that mode of interaction is a recurring wave pattern, and can activate multiple things along its axis. Challenges player to hit both at once.
Setup: 2 Expanders set apart vertically this time.
Intent: All previous puzzles laid out horizontally to avoid confusion over unusual mode of interaction. Now introducing slowly.
Text: Mentions that new plant (Filter) will stabilize the atmosphere if placed by the holes.
Setup: 1 Filter placed diagonally from 2 holes. 1 Expander above Filter.
Intent: Introduce new plant in easy setting, but also enforce how easily and quickly the wave pattern can cause unintended side effects with Expanders.
Setup: 2 holes, 2 Expanders, 2 Purifiers, a set of 1-each separated by a barrier. On one side the Purifier is already adjacent the hole, and Expander is adjacent the Purifier. On the other side the Expander is between the Purifier and the hole at a distance.
Intent: Show how the Expanders can become hazards to be planned around. On the side where all are adjacent, using the Expander immediately will destroy the Purifier and make the level impossible. So the Purifier must be expanded away first so it can return on another side. The other half more simply shows that Expanders can be accidental barriers to the Purifier’s growth.
Setup: Expander wall between Purifier and hole. Part of the wall has 2 separated lines of Exploders against it.
Intent: Introduce Exploders, and show their use for clearing Expanders.
6 (last level in jam / implemented)
This was just implemented as a more complex, intermediate challenge to demonstrate the possible design space of the game. It had no specific teaching objectives, nor an intentional space in the learning progression.