Sprout

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Project Description

Sprout is a single-player puzzle-platforming metroidvania. Gameplay involves learning musical patterns and playing them on musical platforms while exploring the world. The player gains companions that give the player new abilities and assist in the playing of songs.

The game was developed over a 4 month period by a 4 person team as the capstone project to my college program.

Role

I acted as Sprout’s co-game designer, world/level designer and lead tester in charge of bug tracking.

Through these roles, I drafted game and level design documents, created paper layouts and diagrams, developed a metrics test level, grey-boxed puzzles and progression for the entire game, performed collision and optimization passes, tracked and prioritized all known bugs/issues.

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Above: Metrics level created for player-character tuning.

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Above: In-editor view with the game’s collision layer visible.

Design Summary

Sprout had a short pre-production period, during which I worked alongside the project’s other game designer to develop a GDD and an LDD, while also working with our programmer to create a rough prototype.

I planned the game’s systems, developed diagrams for the overall progression of the game and created a mockup of one of the games earliest puzzle rooms.

Progression

Sprout has a metroidvania-esque progression to its world. Learning a new song (used in puzzles), gaining a companion (new ability and helper in puzzles) and solving puzzles all act as gates to this progression.

I laid out each of these gates to allow the player to figure out where they need to head next without outright telling them where to go. This kept the desired feeling of exploration intact and empowered the player by allowing them to make discoveries of their own.

With each gate planned, I could then balance the game’s overall pacing.

Puzzles

Each puzzle in the game requires the player to play a song (a pattern) by jumping on or using a companion to hit musical platforms. Because of how simple the system is, I was able to create complex puzzle rooms that challenge the player.

The puzzles combine the initial solve of the puzzle and the execution of the puzzle to create their overall difficulty. By learning more heavily on one aspect of a puzzle (such as a difficult platforming execution) it is possible to create two entirely different feeling puzzles using the same system.

I was also able to use these 2 variables to make the puzzles rewarding to more players by making sure that there was something rewarding about both solving and completing each scenario.

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Above: A puzzle that is completed using 1 companion, and again using 2.

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Above: Chimes that teach the player a new song.