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Post feature RSS Art of an Indie Game - Episode 3: The Plants

Hey everyone. In the last video I covered some of the creatures of Bloom, so this time let’s take a look at an easily missed part of the world….the plants.

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-- Transcript --

Hey everyone. In the last video I covered some of the creatures of Bloom, so this time let’s take a look at an easily missed part of the world….the plants.

From the start I knew that I was going to be adding plants to the game, but for the longest time I didn’t quite know where I was going to go with it. Loosely the idea was to have plants serve as abilities in themselves…. Allowing for magical effects, without forcing the world into a heavy magical setting.

Essentially, I wanted the world to make a bit more sense, and I saw plants as a way to do that.

But creating them was a big challenge.

To begin, there is the art side of things. Plants generally have a lot of different tiny pieces, thin leaves, and require all stages of their growth to be animated. Creatures tended to be a lot more straight forward in that respect, just organic forms with various numbers of eyes and limbs.

Then there is the issue of matching the plant to an ability effect in a way that made sense. Especially in Bloom where the focus isn’t necessarily about damaging enemies to advance.

The first one I actually made was a seed with wings that you could set on a path. Kind of like a paper airplane. The purpose was to lure creatures away from locations as they chased it….or to have it fly through or over obstacles that the player couldn’t navigate ...to run into a switch or something like that.

Though when we moved to the new engine, that plant was dropped. It still helped get me thinking in the right direction. That plants would play off of creatures various senses and offer more options in how to meet challenges.

So starting off, I created the easy ones. A plant that would give energy regeneration to everything around it….or a mushroom that would suck energy from things around it and then explode when it took too much.

Fairly simple on the surface, but actually the giving energy plant ended up having a lot of back and forth on how it was implemented. For example, if each plant gives energy, couldn’t you set up a bunch of them close together to make yourself immortal? Or what happens if an enemy comes near them? Do they get the energy also?

Eventually I settled on an effect that wouldn’t stack with itself, avoiding some of those edge cases and simplifying the mechanic a little to not be abused.

But I still needed a lot more plants. So I sat down and created just a range of them with loose ideas of their abilities….using some real world inspiration.

Though some were eventually found to not really fit in too well, either with the backgrounds or in terms of abilities….I was still able to keep quite a few.

So let’s run down some.

First off are the easy ones, the stuff creatures eat. Berries, fruit, melon, goards….and even a little onion type top, though that one got cut fast as it was too hard to see.

Originally I was thinking I’d have only a single edible, but since the creatures were categorized into predators or prey ….it made more sense to divide the food types as well to appeal to different creatures.

Fruit for herbavors. Melons ended up becoming a meat like plant for carnivors and are cookable if set next to something burning. Goards float for water creatures to eat (And gameplay wise to control where water turtles swim to)....and berries, well, those are still in the air for if I’m keeping them in the game.

The goal was to offer enough variety to make gameplay interesting, without cluttering the inventory with redundant items. And each food type would have gameplay applications in luring their corrosponding creatures or to pacify an aggressive creature looking for food.

Next up are the senses plants.

These are the ones that play off the sense mechanics in the game. So a large flower that overwhelms and masks the smell of creatures around it….making you essentially invisible to creatures that rely on their sense of smell for location. Or has the effect of scaring some creatures away while attracting others.

Or reeds that make music to scare creatures, mask your footsteps, or to lure other creatures...depending on their mood and curiosity levels.

Then there is the quick growing moss that sticks to your feet to make you silent….while also slowing you a bit. Though, unlike other plants, you don’t find it growing randomly. Instead this is collected from a moss slug in the game which uses it to mark and inhibit targets for a larger damaging attack.

And for visual masking, the fog plant creates a cloud of spores which cling to anything walking through it for a short time.

I was pretty happy with how those plants turned out, they made sense and had some basis in reality….while also offering up a lot more gameplay opportunities and experimentation with creatures or other plants.

For example, another plant is a popping fungus….which behaves like the real world fungus in that vibrations (or noise) causes it to fire a cap at amazing speeds. So, if you use the moss that silences your footsteps….you can walk through extremely dangerous patches of these plants with no problem, even harvesting them for your own use later.

And that’s really the goal. To create a world….with rules that make sense….and letting the players sort out how they want to navigate through it. It rewards experimentation and allows for discovery far down the line….essentially the world becomes an obstacle or puzzle in itself to overcome. No need for weird pushing block puzzles.

Like coming across a patch of thorn vines, how do you get past it without dying? Or a coldsnap plant creating a freezing area around it that you can’t stay in for long….

Overall, that’s generally how I approach the plant design...and it seemed to become progressively easier as I went along. Since new plants could play off of other plants or creatures ….or could become creatures in themselves!

I also wanted players to be able to use what they found. So if a creature was throwing moss at you, you should be able to pick some of that up and throw it at something else later.

Anyhow, that about covers it for the plants. Hopefully players have fun discovering the full range of them and playing with what they can do.

Thanks for watching, and if you like what I’m doing and want to follow along, hit that subscribe button. Or check out the patreon to really help out development and get these videos early.


Very nice article. Thank you for writing it and giving some insight on your thought process of foliage design that also plays within the gameplay mechanics.

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StudioFawn Author

Thanks :) Glad you liked it. It's great to finally be able to show some of the stuff that has gone into the game.

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