The following is a list of terms and definitions used throughout this website. They are broken up into three sections: Starseed Pilgrim Elements, Starseed Pilgrim Techniques, and General Game Design Terms. Many of the items in this list have alternate names. The most used or “official” names are presented first. Droqen, the developer of Starseed Pilgrim, has checked and verified the Starseed-specific terms. The game design terms and definitions mostly come from the Critical-Gaming Glossary--which also references terms from other works, including Jesper Juul’s Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds.
block. A solid square object in the game world (24x24 pixels). Measurements are made in block units.
BUBBLE. In the flip world, when in the air, pressing the spacebar will produce an anti-gravity bubble (at the cost of one starseed). This bubble captures the player’s momentum, allowing for vertical traversal. The bubble pops after making contact with a solid surface.
corrupted air. When the void touches gray air, it quickly turns into corrupted air. Though the pilgrim can pass through this air normally, blocks cannot grow into corrupted air spaces.
DIG. When positioned close enough to most blocks, pressing into the block with the arrow key will DIG it out. Cannot DIG upward.
dirt. The brown blocks that all fleeting world challenges start with.
door. (single key door). Only one door is present in each flip world. It’s at the start of the level. In the fleeting world, the door is represented by the star that starts the void at the bottom center of the dirt blocks. Players can enter the door after obtaining at least one key. The door returns the player to the over world.
fade. The gradual fade to white in the flip world. When the fade is nearly complete, the player movement slows. When the fade completes the player is sent back to the overworld.
fleeting world. The initial gameplay challenge area featuring a white background, a door, randomly arranged stars and triple stars, and the spreading corruption.
flip world (dark world). The black and white area carved out of the seed blocks grown in the fleeting world. The slow fade to white eventually kicks the player back out to the overworld. To stay in the flip world, players must enter a door or grab hearts.
fruit. (heart block. green heart block). The pink heart icons randomly embedded inside green blocks. These fruits prevent seeds from being planted in the green block. In the flip world, the fruit turn into hearts (black) which, when obtained, add a seed to the player’s seed count.
gate. The blocks on the overworld that indicate where to enter the fleeting world challenges.
germinate. When a planted starseed finishes growing its first block.
gold seed. golden seed. light. The markers inside the gates indicating the triple key challenge has been conquered.
gray air (the gray, gray space, remnant space). After DIGGING away a block in the fleeting world, gray air is left in the block’s place. This air and all connected air blocks are corrupted by the void almost instantly. Blocks can be grown back over gray air. Gray air is not present on the overworld.
heart. Floating pickups found in the flip world from green seeds planted in the fleeting world. When picked up, hearts add a seed to the player’s seed count. Hearts are also the goal pickup for beating the triple key rooms. Though the icons look the same, they function differently in these two areas.
island. The stone gray formations on the overworld that typically feature a pilgrim and a gate.
JUMP. Variable-height jump via the up arrow key. In most conditions, minimum height of 1.5 blocks and maximum height of 3.5 blocks.
key. Floating pickup required to open doors. Only three can be carried at a time.
MOVE. Basic horizontal movement via the left and right arrow keys. MOVE has no momentum.
overworld. The area of the game containing gray stone islands, pilgrims, and poems. Pink seeds are unavailable in the overworld. DIGGING into blocks does not produce gray air. The overworld doesn’t contain any void elements, so all seeds grown are permanent, allowing the player to build up the overworld over the course of the game.
pilgrim. The avatar or player character of the game. The pilgrim can MOVE left and right, JUMP, DIG into most objects, PLANT seeds, and BUBBLE.
pink block tower (pink pillar). A growing pink seed.
seed count. The number of seeds players have stored up, as displayed by the number underneath the pilgrim. This count doesn’t include seeds currently in the seed queue.
seed queue. The line up of seeds indicated by the HUD above the pilgrim’s head.
seeds (starseeds). Gameplay elements that can be planted into blocks beneath the pilgrim. There are eight varieties of seeds, commonly referred to by color.
seed. Grows a single red detonator block upwards. Activate the detonator block by PLANTING a seed inside, DIGGING into it, or letting the void corruption touch it. After a brief ticking sound, the detonator block explodes into a 7x7 large, round formation of red blocks. The explosive growth can override most types of blocks including dirt, fully corrupted blocks, and star blocks.
blocks. Consumed by the void third fastest.
pilgrim. DIGS out a four-block hole instead of a one-block hole. The four blocks are in a plus shaped pattern.
orange (sometimes referred to as yellow)
seed. Grows in a straight line either horizontally or upward 6-10 blocks long. Only grows upward when there is no space to grow horizontally.
blocks. Consumed by the void second fastest.
pilgrim. Causes orange seeds to grow almost instantly. Growth overrides existing blocks (including star blocks).
seed. Grows sporadically, with each block sprouting out in a random direction. Green seed growth ranges from 6-19 blocks.
blocks. Consumed by the void fifth fastest. There’s a one in eight chance that a green block will include a fruit (with no back-to-back occurrences).
pilgrim. Green seeds have higher and faster growth potential ranging from 6-59 seeds! Five seeds are displayed in the seed queue instead of the usual three.
dark blue (blue/jump)
seed. Grows only one block. Dark blue blocks are like spring pads, extending the pilgrim's JUMP from three blocks high to five.
blocks. Consumed by the void fourth fastest.
pilgrim. JUMPS four blocks high.
seed. Grows in a unique symmetrical pattern (6-17 blocks) that looks like the top of a medieval castle.
blocks. Consumed by the void eighth fastest.
pilgrim. Cannot dig. The void spreads more slowly.
seed. Grows straight upwards; though slow, if unobstructed, the pink seeds will continue to grow forever.
blocks. Consumed by the void the fastest. DIGGING into a pink block yields a starseed.
pilgrim. Only one seed is displayed in the seed queue. Can harvest all touching pink blocks at once.
seed. Grows outward horizontally until there’s a space to grow downwards or the chain of block reaches its approximate limit of 24 blocks. The end of the tan seed's growth often expands into a plus sign pattern.
blocks. Consumed by the void seventh fastest.
pilgrim. JUMPS a maximum of 2.5 blocks high. JUMP height is unaffected by tan blocks.
light blue (cyan/ice)
seed. Overrides like-colored blocks in a plus-shape pattern.
blocks. Consumed by the void sixth fastest. Cannot be fully corrupted.
pilgrim. When using ice seeds, all subsequent blocks of like-color become light blue blocks. Can only see two seeds in the seed queue.
seed sandwich. An arrangement of seeds in the seed queue where a seed of one color is followed by a seed of another color, which is then followed by the seed of the first color, thus creating a sandwich. This term is particularly apt for describing potential game-ending combinations like Tan-Dark Blue-Tan.
seed surplus. The number of seeds a player has stored up beyond 10 seeds. With a surplus in the overworld, players can enter a fleeting world challenge starting with 10 + “the surplus amount” seeds. With a surplus in the triple key challenges, dead players will respawn in the same room with 10 fewer seeds, thus avoiding a game over.
star (star block). An object in the fleeting world that represents a key in the flip world. This block spreads the void to anything that touches it.
stone. The gray islands on the overworld are made up of this material. This material cannot be overridden by other seeds.
triple key challenge/room. Special gameplay challenges that are only accessible by entering the triple key doors. Each room features a fixed arrangement of obstacles. There is one room per pilgrim. The goal is to reach the floating heart. Doing so marks the gate for the corresponding pilgrim with a golden seed. The goal of the game is to collect all 10 golden seeds.
triple key door (three-key door). A special door that leads to the triple key challenge rooms. Three keys are required to open this door. When the door transforms from a triple star, it slowly falls until it lands on a black block, where it then turns into a door icon embedded in a block.
triple star (triple star block). An uncommon to rare object in the fleeting world that represents the triple key door in the flip world. Triple stars spread the void to anything that touches it.
void. The spreading darkness in the fleeting world and triple key challenge rooms. Corrupts blocks at different speeds.
bubble boy. The final technique that allows players to traverse any flip world obstacle entirely inside a single bubble. After BUBBLING and landing without breaking the bubble using the bubble reverse technique, players can leap back into the air with the bubble intact without consuming another seed. To execute, rapidly pump the spacebar with the same timing as a bubble reverse. In between spacebar presses press up to JUMP.
bubble reverse (b-reverse/b-verse). A technique that allows the player to reverse the pilgrim’s horizontal direction while BUBBLING at the cost of some upward momentum. No additional seeds are consumed in the process. This technique is useful for grabbing multiple out-of-reach hearts in the flip world as efficiently as possible.
crush. (trap). When a seed grows into the space where the pilgrim is standing when the space is blocked off on all other sides. Results in a “death” pushing the pilgrim into the flip world.
detonate. Manually activating a red detonator block using DIG.
harvest. DIGGING pink blocks to gain starseeds.
moon walk. A technique where the player can fall onto a horizontal surface while bubbling without causing the bubble to burst. By controlling the fall speed and direction with bubble reversing, players can preserve horizontal momentum while sliding across the ground. After doing so, simply walk in the opposite direction of motion for added effect.
pink stairs. A technique for maintaining multiple pink block towers. To prevent pink block towers from growing too high to jump on top of, pink seeds can be planted next to each other with greatly staggered timing so that as they grow, they maintain a jumpable three-block height between them.
pink ladder. A technique for maintaining vertical maneuverability using two adjacent pink block towers with staggered growth. As the towers grow, DIG pink blocks out from the sides of the tower careful not to DIG the top most block and to skip every few blocks.
prune. DIGGING blocks of a seed as it grows.
to ride, riding. Standing on top of a pink block tower as it grows.
waste. DIGGING out the block a seed is planted in before the first block of that seed germinates.
balance. All design elements within a game are in some kind of balance. A game can be balanced for different effects. When we talk of video game balance, we generally refer to the balance of gameplay or even a sub-system of gameplay. And by balance, we generally mean designing systems to create and sustain gameplay of interesting choices.
chord. “Any harmonic set of two or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes [can] be understood as chords”. ~Wikipedia
design space. A design space is a way of organizing and understanding the various elements that gameplay and levels are composed of. It outlines a game’s potential as well as its functional/creative limitations. "Design space is best described as the canvas that the designer can paint on”. ~Damion Schubert
DKART. An acronym for the five core types of skill: dexterity, knowledge, adaptation, reflex, and timing. Each of these five types can be broken down into six sub-types for even more precision in describing skill-based actions. As a pun on René Descartes' "Cognito ergo sum/I think, therefore I am," the DKART system is rooted in the fundamental concept of video gaming. Being a uniquely interactive medium, players have the power to influence the game state. This act of influencing is our agency. To act we must use some facet or combination of our skills. Therefore, we can express the idea of selfhood or agency in a virtual environment as, "I DKART, therefore I am."
game. "A game is a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome... and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable." ~Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, Jesper Juul, 2008 (see A Dictionary of Video Game Theory)
grouped mechanics. A mechanic that shares the same input as another mechanic for a particular game mode, level, or challenge.
high level play, expert level play. A general term for playing with an uncommon level of skill. The level is relative to the player base. Consider the top 20% of players as high level players.
hitbox. Along with the visible forms of objects and characters in games, there are usually invisible shapes that define where contact-based interactions begin and end. Hitboxes are the names for these invisible shapes.
individual mechanics. A mechanic that is mapped to an input device (usually button) that is not mapped to any other mechanic or function.
mechanics (gameplay). Player-initiated actions from controller inputs as designated by the game designers. These actions have effects on the gamestate in terms of the variables and dynamics of the gameplay system. In other words, the actions you can make as a player to win the game.
Plantformer. The subgenre of puzzle-platformers that applies to games where the player creates or grows platforms to access new areas or solve challenges.
platformer. A sub-genre of action games, featuring a player-controlled avatar moving through a typically continuous 2D or 3D space. Challenges are engaging because of how gravity affects movement. Maneuvering is the primary challenge as players overcome enemies or obstacles. The most common anti-gravity movement mechanic is jump.
puzzle (game genre). The puzzle genre uses a game's core puzzle/gameplay system and features challenges with very limited solutions. The purpose is not to give the player the freedom to play around with countless, emergent, and divergent possibilities while exploring the results of their choices. Rather, the purpose of the challenges in a puzzle game is to limit the player in such a way to test their knowledge of the puzzle engine and their logical strategies. Puzzle gameplay typically deemphasizes real-time, action-based skills (timing, reflex) in order to completely test the player's knowledge skills (logic, deduction, analysis). This means that many puzzle games are turn-based.
puzzle challenge. A level or challenge made using a game’s puzzle engine that incorporates some element that stresses real-time DKART skills (timing, reflex, and even dexterity). The point is the challenge is no longer entirely focused on stressing knowledge skills. Endless puzzles and randomly generated puzzles are usually puzzle challenges.
random, randomness. “A process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen”. ~dictionary.com (In video game discussions, “random” is often used to refer to a choice in a set featuring weighted probabilities).
scaffolding. A wide range of tools designed to help a learner, including models, guides, explicit instructions, exposure, and careful difficulty management.
skill. The control/agency players can express.
strategy. A specific plan of action typically for the purpose of obtaining an advantage. The more specificity in terms of mechanics used in context, the more of a strategy the plan is.
tactic. A general plan of action typically meant to gain some kind of advantage
trial and error. A general method of problem solving, fixing things, or obtaining knowledge. The learning doesn't happen from failure itself, but rather from analyzing the failure, making a change, and then trying again.
tutorial. Tutorials are explicit instructions or exercises. These instructions are usually interactive and strict, forcing the player to perform a sequence of actions in a specific way in order to convey skills and concepts. Tutorials are a kind of guide or model, which means they are a type of scaffolding. The difference is most scaffolding is organically integrated into the core gameplay challenges, while tutorials are more compartmentalized and enhanced with additional rules and instruction that isn't found in the normal game.
weighted probabilities. In respects to randomness, where one (or several) outcome has a higher probability of being chosen over another (or others).
well-rounded. A small, efficient set of gameplay elements that don't overlap and clutter each other in function. Can be thought of as touching as many “corners” as possible or being as spread out as possible within a game’s design space, considering the number of elements in the set. Generally used to describe mechanics of a gameplay system.
wrinkle. In general, "an ingenious trick; a clever innovation”. ~dictionary.com
For design spaces, it is more useful to think of wrinkles as design choices for gameplay elements that help interesting choices emerge or DKART skills to be stressed in a more complex way.
#summary general feelings and overall assessment
#mechanic controls, player actions, and their properties
#minimalism pared-down design elements. simplicity.
#variation the differences between game experiences, challenges, or options.
#designspace gameplay and game experience potential. balance.
#depth the degree of meaning from understanding game elements.
#leveldesign the constructed challenges or environments in a game.
#random chance and probabilities
#difficulty tough challenge
#skill player control
#fun player motivation and desire
#tutorial explicit instruction and scaffolding
#feedback presented data to inform players
#respect “esteem for a sense of the worth or excellence of a person” ~dictionary.com
#patience quiet, steady perseverance ~ dictionary.com
#features “something offered as a special attraction” ~dictionary.com
#sound music and sound effects
#theme ideas and concepts
#story a series of events of a character in a place and time; or the elements that make up a story
#experience a general term for what a player feels as they play
#game a general to specific term referring to the goal based interactivity in a system
#discovery discussion on finding secrets and learning new things.
#spoiler discussion of sensitive game content or talk of keeping such content secret.
#discourse discussion about or referring to comments made by others