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Recently I've been designing floor 4 which takes place in Engineering. On this floor the player will need to use a Starbelly stellarator to restore power to the station, and repair a giant centrifuge to separate harmonies from melodies. Here are some development sketches.
The second floor is set within a garden environment. The music for this floor functions a little differently than the first floor.
Jessica came up with the idea of creating layers of music which can play continuously, with specific layers being turned down and up as the player moves from room to room and zooms in and out on objects.
This proves to be a great way for maintaining consistency within the rooms and also for creating more musical content. If the same piece of music always starts from the beginning when you enter a room it can become repetitive. The overlapping layers work together to create the impression of a more varied melody and extend the time the music feels novel.
From a technical standpoint, as you enter the floor via the stem room, three separate layers of music begin to play at the same time: a base layer, a captain layer and a cloud machine layer. The captain layer and cloud machine layer are initially muted so that only the base layer can be heard. As you enter the pond room the captain layer is turned up and plays over the top of the base layer. Since the two layers begin playing at the same time when you enter the floor, they will always play together correctly.
When you zoom in on the Captain the base layer is turned down so only the captain layer can be heard.
This also happens in the cloud machine room. The base layer continues to play but a new layer plays over the top of it, adapting the melody. When the player zooms in on the cloud machine the base layer is turned down so only the cloud machine layer can be heard.
There are two instances within the stem room where the player can zoom in and out on objects. The first is on the water machine and the second is on the head gardener. For the water machine I turned down the base layer to about 70% and played a mechanical fan noise to represent the water machine. For the head gardener Jessica created a mystical looping melody which plays whilst the base layer is turned down.
Controlling the volume of layers helps focus the player’s attention and also emphasises mood and emotion. Being able to leave and re-enter a room without the music restarting from the beginning feels important to gameplay too, as it helps preserve immersion by maintaining flow.
Finally, there's another area linked to the story of this floor, set inside the Captain’s mind. During this scene, the audio is a mixture of haunting music and ghostly sound effects. These become more sparse as the Captain becomes aware of their crystaltonic state.
Once the player has solved the puzzle within this room a short uplifting cutscene serves as a relief:
A longer and more substantial cutscene plays once the player has completed the cloud machine puzzle:
The atmosphere and emotion she creates in her music is perfect for the game. Her background music enriches gameplay and her cinematic/cutscene music enhances the story.
One of my favourite tracks is this background piece for the player's bedroom. I love how Jessica has incorporated the light sprites' sound into the music:
In the opening scene of the game Nara explains how the light sprites kept her up all night with their static song. It's a small detail, but Jessica created a short melody to go with it and it helps to make the world and its inhabitants feel real.
As you move from the bedroom to the kitchen, the music shifts first from melancholic to light and adventurous, and then when Starbelly enters it moves again to something more fun and mischievous. Even though the music regularly changes and supports the player's exploration, I love that it maintains the underlying themes of apprehension and isolation.
Here’s the background music for the Kitchen along with Starbelly’s theme. I’m in the process of re-recording Starbelly’s voice in a deeper tone:
In the hallway beyond the kitchen there is a door leading up to the garden which is locked. The player needs the permission of the Chief of Security to enter. Thanks to Jessica, Wee Ted now has a drum roll to accompany his march:
The final room on the first floor is the Captain’s study. There Nara can equip herself with a number of useful items such as a Brainapilla, who serves as a hint system within the game. I love the wistful and nostalgic mood the music brings to the room with its sparse piano notes and old vinyl crackle. It serves the game plot well as Nara has been cut off from the Captain and her peers.
The only cutscene on the first floor plays at the beginning of the game, and describes the location of the world and reason why the player is there. I’d already created the sound effects for it prior to working with Jessica, but she was successfully able to weave the music around them. She also developed new and unique sound effects which enhance what was already there, my favourite being the eerie sound of the crystals growing around the station.
You can listen to more of Growbot’s music on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHDbWNYt8KucyykVVld0dnQ and on our Soundcloud account: https://soundcloud.com/user-548253191
This is the opening cutscene to Growbot, which aims to give players more context of the world before they begin playing.
"This is the asteroid Kew, home to a small population of Growbots.
Tonight a young Growbot named Nara is leaving home for the first time to begin her Captaincy training on board the Ventral Space Station.
Ventral is one of 6 stations which together protect Kew.
Nara is moving there to learn how to tend to the Power Flowers which grow at the core of each station.
After Lieutenant Kino has shown her to her room, Nara drifts off to sleep, unaware that outside the station another visitor is arriving."
Growbot’s second level takes place within a garden environment. The puzzles on this level are more challenging and can be solved out of order to help support a more personal approach to exploration. An unknown crystalline force continues to attack and infest the station, threatening to destroy the garden’s ecosystem. Nara must repair the strange machinery on this level in order to restore and protect it.
Hello! My name is Lisa and I'm making an adventure game called Growbot. I'm an illustrator with a background in children's picture books. I began Growbot as a way of learning new skills, and out of a love of world building.
Growbot is a 2D point-and-click adventure game being developed in Unity for PC and Mac. You play as Nara, a student growbot on her first day of training on board a space station. Before you can begin learning about your new home's ecosystem of alien flowers and strange creatures, an attack by an unknown force infests the station with large and quickly growing crystals. With communication cut off, you venture out of your room in search of help. Along the way you must make new friends, fix the station's strange machinery, and discover the origins of the crystalline force spreading throughout the station.
Level 1 and 2 of Growbot have been completed and I’ve made several rounds of bug fixes and adjustments to puzzles following playtester feedback. The latest build takes most people around two hours to play, and represents about half of the planned content.
Work to be done:
I have two levels left to complete. Level 3 takes place underwater within a coral reef, and level 4 within engineering.
A selection of screenshots from level 1 and 2.
I have a playable build of Growbot available for Windows and MacOSX if anyone is interested in testing the game and giving feedback. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a download link, or you can sign up to a mailing list here if you want (very) occasional updates with new builds or news when the game is finished: http://growbotgame.com/mailing... Thanks for reading! :)