Ubisoft’s Andrew Willans, the senior game designer at the company’s Reflections studio, recounted the intended gameplay of Grow Home in a post on Gamasutra today, describing that the aim of the colorful title is about the player growing an alien Star Plant in order to essentially return home, but to also collect much needed seeds at the end. Despite the game’s design changes, its principle remained the same: Grow an exceptionally tall “beanstalk” high into the alien planet’s upper atmosphere. although branching-off stems can lead players to nearby locales to latch onto Energy Rocks via Star Shoots. The end-game goal is to grow the Plant high enough so that its seeds can be harvested.
Players control the Star Plant’s Star Shoots (essentially the Plant’s roots) so that they can redirect energy to the Plant itself. In doing so, the Star Plant will grow a predetermined amount. The more Energy Rock that are connected, the taller the Star Plant will grow vertically until it reaches a floating island located far above the player’s starting position. While the airborne islands open up new places for the player to explore, the task of growing the Star Plant remains the same. Willans refers to attaching Star Shoots to nearby Energy Rocks as a “core gameplay objective.”
“The evolution of this plant growing mechanic radically changed during our short development cycle. These changes affected the minute-to-minute gameplay, the level design of the entire map, and the high-level game progression,” he explained. The Star Shoots themselves only grow in the “approximate” direction of where the play dictates. Before, there was a lot of climbing involved with traversing the grown Star Shoots, but the decision was eventually made to allow for Shoots to be completely player-controlled, which enabled them to “fly” the Shoot they’re riding on to a new location. The inclusion of a “parachute” also lets players explore more whilst also giving them a safety net, so as to not fall down too far.
Star Shoots won’t just grow infinitely for free either, as an additional fuel source is required to keep the Shoots extending: Pollen. Pollen can be collected from pollen-producing flowers that are strewn about the Star Planet (some of which are protected by giant bee-like aliens). “The central trunk of the Star Plant would grow along a predetermined spline and connect the larger floating islands which offered the horizontal gameplay,” Willans continued. “It was the backbone of the quest, a central climbable pathway between goals, and it had to be grown, because it would eventually flower to produce the very items need to complete the quest, the seeds.”
In Grow Home, players don the role of BUD, a Botanical Utility Droid who’s coined as the galactic gardener. BUD has one missing: To find a new, alien planet to bring back to its homeworld to help oxygenate it. However, considering the Star Plant grows to be unmanageably tall, BUD must instead bring home the seeds of the Plant. It’ll soon be available on PC via Steam for a yet-to-be-announced price. Grow Home was first unveiled in January, when it was described as a “journey to the stars.” Andrew Willans full post on the title’s gameplay can read in full on Gamasutra.