Final Writeup: Botanimals

Project 2 Final Deliverables: Botanimals

by Miranda Diaz, Ember Fu, Ethan Huang, Jasmine Steele, & Gustavo Vegas

Design Process

Artist’s Statement

Botanimals hybridizes the classic farming sim with bullet hell-esque combat, all wrapped within an overarching narrative plot. It’s intended to deliver on an experience about having fun farming your botanimals, which are lovable little plant-creatures, as well as the experience of clearing waves with shooting and strategic purchase and use of your botanimals. By day, one is able to go through the story as well as grow your farm. By night, your botanimals assist you in defending the farm from enemies with their special functions, tower defense style. You as the farmer are also able to shoot water bullets with your hose to eradicate enemies while also staying alive from their attacks.

The objective of the game is to, of course, continue to defeat enemies and build a stronger farm with the resources you accumulate. This allows for virtually endless play following this day/night cycle and eventually pass through seasons composed of these days. In this sense, Botanimals strives to emulate the holistic farming sim experience, but is supplemented with shooting and tower defense as the combat mechanics. Finally, another strong objective is completing the narrative story revolving around your farm, these enemies, and the world of Alvery Grove.

Target Audience

Botanimals targets those that largely play games on PC and breaks outside the typical bullet hell audience. This game is aimed towards players who are looking to experience such fun in a more relaxing and less pressured environment, such as those with less skill in twitch games and those that value more narrative in even mechanically-based games. It draws more on the tower defense and farming sim crowd. Conceptually, Botanimals meets this goal well, as it maintains important features of those types of games while also bringing its own appeal in cute pixel art, wholesome story text, and unique Botanimal designs. These are all things that are featured in its current iteration. It does serve to note that they are however not all completely fleshed out, so at the moment the game may not quite entice audiences that highly prioritize deep narrative or are not particularly interested in the bullet waves mechanics.  

Game System Model / Map

Core Concepts

Formal elements

Botanimals is a single-player game that draws inspiration from the farming simulator, tower defense, and bullet hell genres. You play as a farmer who has recently moved to Alvery Grove, a small rural town full of helpful townsfolk. At the start of the game, you’ve taken over a fresh patch of farmland and are excited to start growing a variety of cute botanimals, animal-plant hybrid creatures.

Unfortunately, you’ll quickly find that blight-infested monsters are invading your farm every night. Can you defend your farm and put a stop to the monsters’ havoc?

In our vision, the complete game would consist of four seasons—thematically corresponding to spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each season is further broken down into five day-and-night cycles. The day and night both last five minutes respectively. During the day, the player is able purchase seeds from the town shop, plant botanimals, and strategize about how to make it through the upcoming night. Botanimals can help defend the farm at night by attacking monsters, healing the player and other botanimals, or acting as a barrier for the monsters. At night, the player needs to fight off waves of monsters without losing all of their health in order to progress to the next day. Each day-night cycle is zero-sum. If a player is not able to clear the waves of monsters in a particular night, they lose and will restart the day entirely—giving them a chance to revise their strategy and make different choices. The primary resources in Botanimals are coins and seeds. The player earns random seeds from defeating monsters. They can then trade the seeds in for coins at the shop or plant them. Seeds produce botanimals when planted during the day. Coins can be used to purchase seeds of the player’s choice at the shop. Thus, the player must strategically spend their coins on different botanimal seeds to build a proper defensive farm.

While Botanimals is primarily a game of skill, the true appeal comes from the fact that the game relies on a mix of twitch and strategic skill. Mastery of most bullet hell games depends solely on a player’s twitch skill; however, we found that this can be alienating for new/casual players who haven’t had time to train their twitch skills. We wanted to give these players an alternate way to play that relies on strategic skill rather than twitch. The tower defense characteristics of the game—planting stationary botanimals that defend the farm and supplement the player’s damage output—allow the player to set-up before the waves using a strategy. The shooting mechanic allows more twitch-inclined players to use their dexterity and control to dodge bullets and kill enemies themselves. Ideally, we want to encourage players to use a combination of both twitch and strategic skill, but they can ultimately play with whatever style that they prefer.

Botanimals offers fun through challenge, sensation, and fantasy. There is a challenge in being able to clear the waves of monsters, and the challenge gets progressively harder as the player progresses through each season. The sensational fun comes from enjoying the cute artwork, poppy sound effects, and soothing background music. There is also the physical sensation of needing to move your arm around and quickly left-click while shooting monsters. Lastly, Botanimals creates the fantasy of a world of fantastical creatures and immerses the player in the role of a farmer. Farming sims give the illusion of a country-side life that is especially attractive to people who live in the city and may not be able to spend much time in nature. Our game takes this illusion a step further because there is the additional fictional layer of animal-plant hybrid creatures and monsters.

Game architecture

While designing the game architecture of Botanimals, a big focus for us was having the space be dynamic and customizable. The original farmland that the player receives is entirely empty, and it is up to the player to shape the space by planting different botanimals. The game architecture’s primary function is to create constraints for the enemy monsters. Part of the strategic challenge is building your farm such that your botanimals block and inhibit the enemies that are constantly pursuing you. The secondary function is to create familiarity, convey atmosphere, and distinguish different seasons. Using the farmland setting allows us to leverage the player’s existing mental model that tells them that farmland is usually where one grows plants. The different spaces in the game are designed to be very colorful and lively, which creates a wholesome atmosphere. We really wanted the wholesome atmosphere created by the game architecture to intentionally contrast with the violent and hectic nature of the bullet hell mechanics. Lastly, as the player progresses through the seasons, we want the floor map of the farmland to change. Changing the game architecture with the season would help denote the player’s progress and the increase in difficulty.

Space and Narrative

As stated previously, our narrative focuses on a farmer that has recently moved to a new town and obtained a plot of farmland to grow botanimals on. At night the farm is invaded by blight-infested monsters that want to kill the farmer and destroy their crops. At the start of the game, the player is introduced to their farm and learns how to fight off the monsters; however, they have little context as to what is causing the monsters to attack. As the player completes each season, they get a short interactive cutscene that helps them learn more about the depth of their situation and acts as a reward for the season’s interaction arc. We want to have these cutscenes move the player into the forest that the monsters come from, and in that evocative space, they’ll be introduced to the Tree of Life. In an early cutscene, the player will see the Tree of Life in a deteriorated state, looking corrupted by blight. They will also need to kill a monster after seeing it spawn from the tree. From the interactive cutscenes, we want the players to take away that the Tree of Life has been poisoned, the tree used to create botanimals but now creates blight-infested monsters, and the player needs to cleanse the tree as the narrative ends. Botanimals mainly features an embedded story in which we as designers control when the player gains information about a predetermined story. However, it also tells spatial stories by moving the player through important evocative spaces and having the player fight over the contested farmland as a core gameplay loop.

Game Onboarding

In Botanimal’s onboarding process, we tried to incorporate many of the onboarding techniques that we learned in class. For example, we used visuals rather than words to teach. The player knows the radish rabbit botanimal heals, but they are never told within what range the rabbit heals. The player learns that the radish rabbit heals adjacent blocks by stepping within its radius and seeing the green visual effect that covers all adjacent blocks. Additionally, we leveraged what the player already knows. Many of our tools are intuitive in their function. The player knows that a hoe tills the ground, a hose sprays water, and a seed grows into a plant. We also have the player “do” rather than read. Our introduction has the player go through the steps of tilling, planting, and watering, rather than just reading about them. Our onboarding also contributes to our embedded narrative by setting up the premise of the game in the exposition. 


Main Design Elements

Core Loops

We have two core loops in our game. The first loop is for planting Botanimals. Players are taught to gain resources, buy seeds, till the ground, water the ground, and plant the Botanimal to use in combat. This loop would continue throughout the entire game. Every time the player is in a planting phase, they would go through this process of planting Botanimals. This loop is essential for the player to feel like they are farming!

Our second core loop is not implemented but is ideal for a full version of the game. We envisioned there would be a day/night cycle for our game. Players would plant their Botanimals during the day in preparation for combat during the night. This cycle would continue for every new set of waves of enemies. 

Player Relationships

As a single-player game, the player forges relationships with the characters in the game. The player is pitted against multiple enemies and develops a sense of hostility toward and fear of the enemies. With the farmers in the shop and tutorial, the player should be more favorable toward them, seeing them as guides in an unforgiving world. The Botanimals are the player’s closest friends. They are partners and help defend the player. We even noticed some players calling their Botanimals names!


We wanted to maintain a fun, bright, and both a slow and fast-paced environment for players. Players should enjoy planting very cute Botanimals that they want to fight alongside. The planting allows the player to slow down and enjoy the environment. The enemies should not be overly intimidating. The background music and sound effects contribute greatly to the faster-paced vision we had, where players should feel a sense of urgency when fighting. The 16-bit art style contributes to the simplicity of the game. 

Visual & Auditory Design

The visual and auditory components are critical to the game experience. From the onset of the game, we attempt to immerse the player into the world of Botanimals. As they take on the role of the farmer, the player begins to experience a variety of sensory effects that we have carefully considered during the design process.

We chose a 16-bit art style that fit the 2-D, top-down format very well. Players should feel like they are playing an arcade game with retro graphics. Since the mood was intended to be more fun, wacky, and light-hearted, bright colors were essential to making every element both pop and stay cohesive. For example, the red farmhouse contrasts well with the surrounding grass and the purple enemy spirits, but because they are all solid colors, work well together in a whimsical fashion.

Although we maintained the 16-bit art style, we also wanted a sense of realism. Every sprite we designed should be easily recognizable as the real-life object it represented. Everything from the green hose to the seed bag to the shop should be quickly identifiable. Moreover, for some key sprites, we added animations to contribute to the visual experience. The farmhouse has a rotating wind wheel that immerses the player in a windy farm environment. The enemies and plants each have their own attack animations as well to make it easier for the player to recognize their functions and when they are doing actions. We also animated the farmer to give the player a clearer visual indication that they are controlling and moving the farmer character. Smaller-scale animations included the hose water projectiles and enemy projectiles. The water circles actually change in size and shape slightly to imitate what a drop of water might act like! Lastly, one of the minor visual changes to animations we considered was for the Radish Rabbit which initially had blue healing particles (that looked too similar to the hose water), so we changed it to green which better aligned with the healing properties.

The final core visual elements were the background and dialogue boxes. The background with hundreds of trees constituting a forest guided the player to focus on the action in the center. The dialogue boxes were shaped with beveled edges and wood tones to represent signs that one may find at a farmstand. These details were subtle but contributed to the immersive experience by ensuring continuity of the theme.

Our auditory effects came primarily in the form of background music and minor sound effects. The initial tutorial and shop scenes have an arcade/chiptune-esque style background track. This music is upbeat and excites the player to dive into the game. Later in the actual fighting scenes, the music shifts to a faster-paced country-style soundtrack. This encourages a sense of franticness we’d like to see in the player’s actions while continuing to emphasize the farm environment. With sound effects, the projectiles make a splash sound when shot and enemies make a damage sound when hit. These provide auditory confirmation to the player that their actions have an effect on the environment. Finally, to further contribute to immersion, we added wind blowing in the background of the fighting scene. 

Playtesting & Iteration 

For each playtest, we focused on specific aspects of the game experience to test. With every iteration, we made incremental improvements based on playtester feedback. Playtesting was critical to achieving our final product!

Playtest 1

For our first playtest, we developed a barebones version of the game. We had a movable player, some basic artwork, shootable projectiles, and a pet companion. We also tested a plant growth mechanic for growing plants over time. We had one playtester at this phase, Alejo, from our in-class playtest session. Alejo did not have much experience playing either bullet-hell or farming sim games. After moving the playable farmer around using the WASD keys, he was curious about the farmer’s interactions with the environment. We had incorporated various obstacles such as rocks and hay bales that he expected to be able to run into. However, there were no collisions that occurred and changes in the terrain did not correlate to higher or lower elevations. This was not an intuitive experience. Alejo mentioned it would be interesting to have different seasons that corresponded to changes in the ground tiles and environment (e.g., snow, water, flowers, etc.). During the playtest, we specifically mentioned the possibility of the Botanimals dying during combat, and Alejo said he might feel sad about that idea if the Botanimals were not easily replaceable. Lastly, Alejo was interested in the combat dynamics. Since we had not implemented an enemy AI at that point, he was wondering if mechanics such as attack combos, Botanimal interactions, companion attacks, and combat upgrades would exist. Overall, he loved the concept and was excited to see how the game developed.

Playtest 2

From Playtest 1, we agreed with Alejo’s feedback regarding environmental interactions and incorporated it into our second iteration. We added colliders to all objects in the game that seemed like they should not allow the player to pass through. These objects included rocks, hay bales, and the farmhouse. We hypothesized that this would be much more intuitive for the player. We also added in plantable Botanimals, where players could press ‘E’ to till the ground and plant an Apple Botanimal. These Botanimals can be easily killed by enemies but they are also easily replantable. We hoped this would minimize negative feelings when Botanimals died.

At this stage, we had not yet implemented the enemy AI, so his feedback around that was not incorporated yet. We chose not to create terrain elevation and seasons for the sake of time. However, given more time, we agree that these aspects would increase the creativity surrounding the use of space.

Additional developments at this stage included: (1) updated graphics and animations, (2) enemy and player health tracking, and (3) Botanimal AI.

We had four players test our game in class for Playtest 2. These players also had minimal experience with bullet-hell, farming sim, and PC games.

Playtest 2 Observations

Positive remarks:

  1. The theme and premise of the game were enjoyable.
  2. “I love this! This is so fun!…I love this game!”
  3. The game feels familiar but different – it’s not hard to pick up.
  4. “Very cute.”
  5. “I love the pet. That was a fun addition.”

Aspects our playtesters were confused about or suggested:

  1. “Is there a resource constraint?” (on the number of plants we can plant)
  2. The game was a bit too hectic with all the enemies spawning at once.
    1. Introduce enemies and mechanics slowly
  3. The enemies seemed to be shooting very quickly.
  4. “Are there different types of plants?”
  5. “Does enemy behavior change/become more difficult over time?”
  6. It would be nice to have a health indicator for the player and enemies.
  7. “Does the barn have any significance?”
  8. “Will the rocks block projectiles?”
  9. The bullets are hard to see.
  10. The plants are overpowered.
  11. The controls are sometimes confusing or overwhelming.

Other remarks and actions we noticed:

  1. Players were very focused on listening to instructions on mechanics and controls.
  2. “I forgot I could shoot!”
  3. “Is it like Plants vs. Zombies?”
  4. “[The Botanimals] shoot different bullets. They seem much more efficient than my own bullets.”

Playtest 3

We gained significant insights from Playtest 2 to incorporate into Playtest 3. We continued to add characters, sprites, and details to further immerse players into the premise. 

How we addressed Playtest 2 suggestions:

  1. “Is there a resource constraint?” (on the number of plants we can plant)
    1. We added a shop and basic currency system. Players can now buy Botanimal seeds in a shop and plant only a limited number of Botanimals with the money they have.
  2. The game was a bit too hectic with all the enemies spawning at once.
    1. Enemies no longer all spawn at once. Enemies now spawn in 7 waves of increasing difficulty (more enemies per wave).
  3. The enemies seemed to be shooting very quickly.
    1. Reduced enemy fire rate.
  4. “Are there different types of plants?”
    1. Added three more Botanimal types
      1. Radish Rabbit: heals the nearby player
      2. Squash Cow: acts as a tank/wall
      3. Strawberry Cat: attacks nearby enemies with a circle of projectiles
  5. “Does enemy behavior change/become more difficult over time?”
    1. More enemies spawn per wave to increase difficulty. We did not add more enemy types in order to keep the slice simple enough for the player and not become overwhelming.
  6. It would be nice to have a health indicator for the player and enemies.
    1. Added health bar in the corner for the player. Added health bars for each individual enemy. Player health decreases when attacked and increases when near a Radish Rabbit. Enemy health decreases when attacked.
  7. “Does the barn have any significance?”
    1. The barn was to be incorporated into the narrative. However, due to time constraints, we were unable to change the barn’s behavior. Ideally, the barn would serve as a shelter or some other function.
  8. “Will the rocks block projectiles?”
    1. Objects that the player can collide with such as rocks now block projectiles.
  9. The bullets are hard to see.
    1. Increased size of projectiles. Changed player projectile color to a clearer blue and the enemy projectile to a brighter red.
  10. The plants are overpowered.
    1. Limited the number of Botanimals players could plant with the resource system. Decreased Apple’s projectile damage.
  11. The controls are sometimes confusing or overwhelming.
    1. Added narrative and onboarding system. A farmer guide shows the player how to plant plants before allowing the player to move into the main fighting scene.

Some other additions and fixes we made included: (1) enemy AI and targeting, (2) player rotations, (3) weird projectile interactions, (4) background music and sound effects, (5) updated tilemap system, (6) player and other sprite animations, (7) ability to navigate between scenes, (8) collidable game boundaries, and (9) simplified player controls. With regards to player controls, we simplified to using WASD for movement, left mouseclick for all interactions, and the ‘E’ key for swapping tools. This minimizes the number of controls that a more “casual farming sim player” might need to remember to enjoy the game!

Playtest 3 Observations & Fixes

Positive remarks:

  1. The artwork and descriptions are very cute.
  2. The narrative and onboarding experiences were cool.
  3. The sound effects were satisfying.
  4. The inventory was a nice touch.

Aspects our playtesters were confused about or suggested:

  1. The player movement was buggy in the tutorial and shop scenes.
    1. Fixed player control scripts to slow down the player and reintroduce animations.
  2. How do you access the inventory?
    1. We were unable to fix this issue due to time constraints. We would like to add an arrow/click indicator on the seed bag when we first introduce it.
  3. Do you have to water the planted Botanimals?
    1. Added clearer instructions in the tutorial, emphasizing the pattern of till, water, and plant.
  4. Player projectiles are too slow.
    1. Tested different projectile speeds and slightly increased player projectile speed.
  5. Enemy range is too large (infinite).
    1. Tested different enemy ranges and significantly decreased enemy range.
  6. The animals died too fast.
    1. We were unable to fix this issue due to time constraints. We would like to add health bars above each Botanimal so players have transparency around how quickly the Botanimals are dying.
  7. Confused when all Botanimals died.
    1. See point 6.


Explanation of Slice

Our game is a slice. We worked on cementing a robust and cohesive 16-bit art style that we feel embodies the spirit of our game as a very happy, light-hearted cross between farming simulators such as Stardew Valley and 16-bit bullet hells such as Enter the Gungeon. All of the visuals we use in the game have been created by our team and we’ve even implemented a simple audio soundtrack that complements the feel of the game nicely. Additionally, we’ve added sound effects for shooting and planting to further immerse the player in the gameplay and environment of Botanimals through their interactions with the in-game world. Gameplay-wise, we’ve worked to implement a tile system for planting and growing crops akin to many other farming simulators. We’ve implemented a variety of seeds/botanimals to choose from, all with their own different gameplay mechanics such as area-of-effect healing or spread-out, short-range attacks. There is also a shop from which players can spend their money and resupply, as well as a small tutorial introducing the player to the world at the start of the game. The player is able to switch between various tools to till, water, plant seeds, and attack. Finally, combat features a wave-based system for spawning enemies around the map who will follow the player and send ranged attacks toward them and any botanimals in their way. Botanimals will help the player defend the farm and may engage with the enemy if they are capable of attacking. We feel that this slice encapsulates the spirit of what we are aiming to accomplish here and is an accurate representation of the experience of the game as a whole.


The player is onboarded onto the game through a comprehensive tutorial at the very start that introduces them to all the mechanics of the game. This process includes talking to NPCs, learning how to use your inventory, visiting and buying items from the shop, and learning how to plant and grow seeds. Additionally, the shop and inventory provide information on the functionality of each Botanimal. This onboarding process assumes that the player knows to use WASD or the arrow keys to move as well as Spacebar to interact and is thus suited more for those with basic knowledge of movement and interaction keys in video games.

Other Resources

Unity Files Download Link

Video Link

Final Playtest Feedback

Miranda: I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend lecture on the day of the final playtests because I was sick. However, I was still able to play The Perfect Partner in section later that day. The Perfect Partner is a first-person exploration game that has the player solve puzzles in order to progress through the story. The controls of the game were very simple, using WASD to move around the house and E to interact with different objects. I appreciated that the game made it very clear what could be interacted with by displaying “Press E to interact” whenever you looked at specific objects; it was much easier to focus on the puzzles and narrative significance of actions when I didn’t need to spend mental energy remembering complex controls. I really enjoyed getting to look through my partner’s phone as a means of setting up the game’s story. It was a nice change of pace from the first-person gameplay without feeling jarring or out of place. Overall, I think that the way that this game used the house as a space of exploration and storytelling, moving the player from one room to the next, was one of its strongest points. I also think the visuals of the game added sensational fun and helped convey some nuances of the plot that they then didn’t need to reiterate in text. One issue that I had playing the game was that I got stuck on one of the puzzles, not knowing where to look to find my partner’s credit card. When I used the hint system for help, I found that the hint was a little too straightforward and made the puzzle overly easy by telling me directly where the credit card was. I know it can be challenging to create hints that are just the right amount of helpful, but I think it would make the game feel a lot more satisfying if it had a little more challenge and left more for the player to figure out on their own. Nevertheless, I enjoyed playing The Perfect Partner and was deeply impressed with what the team had created!

Ember: Moderated game during the final playtest session. Did also however earlier playtest “Heartwood”, which was a visual novel-esque narrative story featuring puzzle-solving and a bit of exploration. It was quite interesting conceptually and I enjoyed the gameplay of clicking through to explore the map and find pieces of the puzzle. I also thought it delivered on its spooky, confusing thematic well and the intentionally childlike initial ghost one encounters works well. My critique fell on a few light aspects of the game that could be improved upon. One, as exploring the location is done in a VN-style rather than having, for example, a 3D space, it is easy for the player to lose track of their location. Hence, having a minimap and/or more clear UI on directional pathing would be very useful. This combines with the second point that puzzles were a bit tricky, not out of wit so much as figuring out the mechanic and having to properly execute the solution. One would identify different map area silhouettes, but by memory without reference to the image and confusing spatiality; this was too much on the player’s mental plate. Finally, I would have loved to see much more narrative for a game that heavily centers on the story as much as the puzzling. Overall, I loved the atmosphere and experience “Heartwood” was going for, and thought the basic structures were all well in place, just needing some more fleshing out and attention to smoother player experience.

Ethan: Moderated game and asked questions during the final playtest session. Our final playtest yielded many positive results but also provided key insights for us to continue iterating on the game. Playtesters really enjoyed the design of the play area and of the individual sprites. The sound effects and music contributed greatly to players’ experiences. They found the plant growing and collision sound effects very satisfying! The narrative woven into the onboarding and throughout the game was a hit as well. In terms of improvements, we noticed that players spent a lot of time reading the instructions, descriptions, and flavor text. Though we wanted to be clear with our instructions and provide detail for interested players, the reading took longer than we would have liked and slightly detracted from the overall experience. With more complete mechanics, we had the opportunity to identify areas for balance changes such as increasing player projectile speed and decreasing enemy range. Lastly, some players had difficulty navigating the UI for the inventory and shop, so simplifying/giving more indicators of how to interact with those could be helpful. Overall, players enjoyed the game and had fun!

Jasmine: I was the notetaker for our final playtest. The piece of feedback most frequently received was that movement was difficult because of the player’s ridiculously high acceleration, but this was a bug we were already aware of, so we focused our questions on getting feedback on other elements of the game. We were pleased to find that the Botanimals themselves were very popular, with playtesters taking the time to read all of their descriptions in the shop and appreciating the artwork. However, the shop descriptions did not seem to stick with the players, as at least one playtester was confused about the purpose of the Botanimals on the battlefield despite the shop having described each of their battle functions. Of our three playtesters, only one was able to beat the combat section of the demo, and the others were not able to survive for very long, which indicated to us that some adjustments should be made to the combat to make it easier, especially early in the game when players are still adjusting to the controls. Playtesters were also surprised when their Botanimals and eventually the player themself died, indicating to us that we need to more clearly indicate the health of the player and their allies and when damage is being taken. The last consistent point of note was that all playtesters had some amount of trouble opening and closing the inventory and shop menus, needing to click around and press a few different buttons before finding the right one even when they had previously opened the same menu. To make this clearer and easier to remember, a pop-up reminder of the correct key would probably be helpful. Despite these points of confusion, playtesters largely seemed to enjoy the concept behind the game, as well as its visual and sound design.

Gustavo: Monster Mayhem was definitely an unexpected treat, one that did a great job of using “space” as a mechanic in its puzzles. Gameplay-wise, it was very reminiscent of those games where you have to navigate a marble through a maze by tilting the entire maze. Only here, instead of the challenge coming from tilt controls, it came from trying to balance two players on top of each other as they navigated through the environment. While it is a charming gimmick, I found that it made for a somewhat odd experience in gameplay. Either the player on the bottom could just put in small inputs that allow for slow movement while preventing their partner from falling off; or both players would have to constantly be in near perfect sync as they navigate through the environment, risking failure at the slightest mistake. Neither of these are extremely appealing to me personally, but I could see how it could be fun to mess up with a friend if you are both not taking things too seriously. But I would like to see more diversity in gameplay, especially for the partner on top. Co-op Games such as It Takes Two could be great for inspiration as much of its gameplay is based around two co-dependent partners. I kind of feel in a way that the challenge of balancing on your partner should be removed and relegated to a simple attach/detach button that could then allow for other mechanics to be brought into play. Another thing I would like to see more of in the game is narrative. There didn’t seem to be much if any at the time of my playtest beyond the idea of two small monsters disguised in a trench coat to make it past the humans. Which is too bad because I think there are plenty of hilarious directions to take this, Octodad expands on a very similar premise and could definitely be a source of inspiration. My final critique is that I wish you actually did have to “hide” from the humans. In my playtest, it appeared that you would lose not from failing a stealth mechanic, but moreso a “floor is lava” one. If you entered an area that was occupied by humans, you were under threat of “discovery” regardless of if a human was looking at you or nearby, simply entering the area put you under threat, as if you were stepping onto a massive monster-detecting pressure plate. This made the humans feel less like characters and more like props than anything. I think it would help in a ludonarrative sense to instead have the humans display a cone of vision or be alerted based on proximity such as in many stealth games like Octodad. If an entire area was to be of threat, there should be something more than a differently colored floor to indicate that, such as pressure plates, lasers, scanners, audio sensors, lava, gas, etc. I think another thing that could be good to take from other stealth games is having the “threat of discovery” level go back down after spending some time in a safe zone/out of vision. Overall, I think this is most likely meant to be a simpler puzzle/coordination game focused around levels and their design and I think what was presented in the playtest does a good job of representing that vision.

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