Creating a sense of change
When I was very young and the weather had warmed up at the end of spring, I spent the afternoon's after school at a creek in a small wood. During that time of the year, while the melted snow from winter was still adding its volume to the streams of the Mid-Atlantic, the creek was swollen with water, offering almost three feet of depth at the most. Our spot was no more than that in width, and we decided on one sunny afternoon to build a bridge of stacked stones to the other side. With a crew of four, we spent the next two weeks gathering large stones from anywhere within a half mile radius and piling them into this little stream.
What we ended up with was nothing at all like a bridge, looking more like the washed-up debris from a collapsed building, but we couldn't help it. We were proud. So we crossed that bridge every day for as long as the season's heat could dry our shoes when we slipped.
That story may seem out of place here, in a devlog, and probably is, but its a kind of foundation for the one of the game's core features. Since the beginning, I have wanted to create that experience for the player- one in which the player can interact with the environment is a useful way, and then can see the fruits of his or her labor permanently.
An original demo of grass growthThis was the game I wanted to play. One in which the world changes as long as the player lives in it so that there is a real and evident change taking place as you progress through the game. This sparked the simple idea- grass grows where the player walks- but has snowballed into much more.
Grass growth in its current form- grass grows almost everywhere
Now, grass grows where the player walks, flowers grow where trees can be planted, trees serve to brighten a level to beat back darkness while also serving as a functional bridge, and vines create a permanent, living ladder, If all our wishes come true, we will also be able to add a lot more to this, including bushes that serve as springs.
The light changes with each tree grown. The total number of trees in a level effects the amount the light changes with each growth.
What this effectively does, is that by the time the level is finished, it looks much, much different to the way it started. And to me, that's beautiful.