Pilgrim's Progress Through This Fleeting World
part 1 #Variation #Depth

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To beat Starseed Pilgrim, players must conquer each pilgrim’s three-key challenge. The doors to these challenges appear as three-star blocks in the fleeting word and three-key doors in the flip world, while the keys appear as one-star blocks in the fleeting world and floating keys in the flip world. In the flip world, players must collect three keys to open these doors. In the fleeting world, navigating and connecting platforms to the one- and three-star blocks requires players to move through the game world. Because the void is always catching up to the player and seed resources are constantly being consumed, the player's first objective involves moving through the fleeting world efficiently.


Block resistance to void absorption, from slowest to be absorbed to fastest, is as follows:


• purple

• tan

• light blue

• green

• dark blue

• red

• orange

• pink


The following are notes explaining the strategies for efficient seed placement according to sub-objectives players may set while navigating the fleeting world. The sub-objectives are stalling the void, moving horizontally, moving upwards, and moving downwards. The lists are ordered by seed usefulness or efficiency. Efficiency is determined by the use of fewer seeds, the increase in the distance between the player and the void, and the increase in the time it takes the void to reach the player.



Moving Horizontally

(from left to right)




Orange seeds: PLANT farthest to the right, on an end block to ensure horizontal growth. This simple strategy maximizes horizontal movement as orange seeds grow 6-10 blocks long.


Purple seeds: PLANT farthest to the right. Purple is one of the most valuable seeds since it has the strongest resistance to the void. When exploring, avoid DIGGING into and overriding purple blocks as much as possible.


Red seeds: Because red seeds override other blocks and are the third fastest to corrupt, PLANTING farthest to the right to gain three blocks of horizontal movement isn’t always best. Try to PLANT in an area that will only override orange blocks. By overriding purple or tan blocks, you are likely to decrease the time it takes the void to reach you. If you can’t find a good place to PLANT a red seed, destroy it by DIGGING out the block you PLANT the red seed in before it fully develops.


Green seeds: Because of the random growth, green seeds have a chance of growing quite far horizontally. PLANT farthest to the right to try your luck. However, if you want to preserve the embedded hearts for the flip world and avoid having to override or DIG out any green blocks in order to continue horizontal progress, then do not PLANT farthest to the right.


Tan seeds: If PLANTED farthest to the right, tan seeds will only extend horizontal movement by two blocks, when you include the plus shape the growth ends in. Tan blocks are typically more useful for replacing blocks to stall the void in your wake. As a stalling tactic, DIG up any non-purple blocks to your left and grow tan blocks in their place.


Light blue seeds: At most, light blue seeds extend horizontal movement by one block. Place at the rightmost ledge unless the ledge is made of purple or tan blocks, since doing so will lessen the time it takes the void to reach you. Light blue seeds are better used to stall the void by icing up to three orange horizontal blocks.


Blue seeds: Useless for horizontal movement.


Pink seeds: Useless for horizontal movement.




Moving Up


Orange seeds: To ensure upward growth, PLANT into blocks that are surrounded by blocks on both sides (left & right). Orange seeds provide the fastest and most reliable upwards traversal (6-10 blocks).


Red seeds: Red seeds explode, extending upwards travel by four blocks. Unlike orange, pink, and green seeds, red seeds create five blocks of horizontal room, which is great for growing other seeds from. Consider the type of blocks the explosion will override so as not to lessen the time it takes the void to reach you.


Purple seeds: Since purple seeds are the best seeds for stalling the void and tend to grow outward in all directions, they are helpful when moving in any direction. Purple seeds grow three to four blocks high and can be DUG out to create different kinds of surfaces.


Green seeds: Because of their random growth, green seeds are not reliable for moving upwards, but they can potentially provide the most upward movement of any seed type. It’s best to ride on top of green seeds as they grow. Otherwise, they can crush you or grow in a way that you cannot JUMP on top of it. When surrounded on both sides, unlike orange seeds, green seeds will prioritize downward growth. If there’s no room to grow downwards, then they'll grow upwards.


Pink seeds: Because managing and harvesting pink block towers are necessary for successful play, players have to deal with their verticality. The slow growth of pink blocks means that they are not good for escaping immediate pressure. However, with enough available time, players can sit on top of growing towers to take advantage of the gradual ascent. Green and orange seeds are the only seeds that begin growing in a direction other than up. While riding pink pink towers, these seeds can be used to create platforms that branch out.


Another strategy is the double pink staircase. When growing multiple pink towers next to each other, players can dig out a “ladder” by staggering the harvest of pink blocks while moving downward. This staggered ladder can be used to climb back up to the top. As the pink block towers continue to grow, players can PLANT other seeds inside the “ladder steps” to further stall the void.


Blue seeds: Dark blue seeds are the worst seeds for creating platforms, but they're good for aiding vertical movement, e.g. PLANTING a dark blue seed next to a small but growing pink block tower. This strategy gives players more time to work elsewhere before having to return to the growing pink block tower.


Light blue seeds: Light blue seeds only provide one block of upward movement. Don't override purple or tan blocks.


Tan seeds: Like light blue seeds, tan seeds only grow upward one block. Because tan seeds shorten the pilgrim's JUMP height, they're not good for vertical movement; however, they tend to create flat surfaces of at least three blocks wide. Such surfaces are ideal for growing orange block towers from.




Moving Down


Because of the gravity dynamic, moving up creates different challenges than moving down. Furthermore, Starseed Pilgrim features a design space with unevenly distributed properties. The result is a separate set of strategic considerations when moving down.


Tan seeds: These seeds allow for the most efficient downward movement strategy since they first grow up, then horizontally, and finally downward, ending in a convenient plus formation of blocks for a reliable platform you can stand on. Because tan blocks are the second best block for stalling the void, moving downward with tan blocks is the best single seed strategy for moving in a direction and stalling the void.


If possible, check your seed queue before falling down to the plus-shaped platforms. Because you’ll likely be forced to use your next seed while standing on the edge of the tan platform, it’s possible to get stuck there. If your next seed is red, setting off the explosion will override many of the tan blocks and ultimately lessen the time it takes the void to reach you. If your next seed is green, you'll have to be careful to ride on top of its growth so as to not get trapped, crushed, or put in a position where the embedded hearts block your progress. If your next seed is tan, or a dark blue and then a tan, you’ll be stuck since dark blue seeds turn tan when planted in a tan block, and you can’t PLANT tan in tan.


Green seeds: PLANTING green seeds into blocks surrounded on both sides but not below will always result in an initial downward growth. Despite the random growth, using green seeds in this way will likely result in downward growth players can utilize for downward movement. Keep in mind that embedded hearts can render green blocks unusable as seeds cannot be PLANTED into these blocks.


Purple seeds: The omni-directional growth gives purple seeds some potential for downward growth of up to about three blocks. It's best to PLANT purple seeds on an edge or on a lone floating block with open space around it so that it's able to grow downwards unobstructed. To utilize downward movement with purple seeds, one has to DIG into the purple blocks. Doing so, however, is generally bad because purple blocks are the best blocks for stalling the void and should be preserved if possible.


Red seeds: These seeds have a three-block radius, but since the first “detonator” block grows above the block the red seed is PLANTED in, the net downward block movement is two. To utilize the downward growth, players must DIG down through the red blocks to create a lower platform. Once again, consider the block types the red explosion will override, to avoid decreasing the time it takes the void to reach you.


Light blue seeds: These seeds grow in a plus shape, so they have up to one block of net downward movement. Be sure not to override purple or tan blocks unless necessary.


Pink seeds: No downward movement.


Orange seeds: No downward movement.


Dark blue seeds: No downward movement.







Understanding how to efficiently move up, down, and horizontally is the foundation of the depth in Starseed Pilgrim’s gameplay. By balancing the sub-objectives of stalling the void and moving in a direction, players can earn more time to harvest seed resources. Every seed type in the game is not only unique, but the properties of these seeds are assigned unevenly across all eight seeds. Typically, creating a design space of gameplay elements like this helps create deeper gameplay of interesting choices because for any sub-objective, every option has unequal pros and cons that also change the pros and cons of other strategies as the game progresses; this design space unevenness makes comparing options more difficult.


In the strategies detailed above, the eight seeds shift in their usefulness depending on the direction of travel. You may initially think that such a design creates varied gameplay where each seed becomes useful in context and as the player moves around so too do the strategies. While this is true to a large degree, the strategies (moving up, down, or horizontally) are not equally useful. And understanding why requires understanding pink seeds and how random elements are integrated into the gameplay.


Every pilgrim starts a fleeting world mission with at least 13 seeds. With these seeds, players can only get so far moving through the environment. By using all the seeds, players have a low chance of reaching a one-star block and virtually no chance of reaching a three-star block to eventually enter the three-key challenge. 13 seeds is simply not enough to beat the game. The only way players can regain precious seed resources is by PLANTING and harvesting pink seeds. These seeds grow vertically, slowly, and each pink block can be harvested with DIG to gain a single starseed.


Pink seeds are only guaranteed to appear in the seed queue once out of every seven seeds, though they generally appear more frequently than that. Because pink seeds grow the slowest of all the seeds, to get the most out of them, players generally have to PLANT them as far away from the incoming void as possible. Furthermore, the need to maintain and harvest pink seed blocks punctuates player movement by slowing or stopping what would otherwise be a steady effort to explore in a particular direction. In other words, you can’t PLANT a pink seed and leave it. You have to stick around or return to it to reap what you sowed.


Pink seeds constantly grow upwards, so it’s very easy for the pink block towers to grow too tall for players to JUMP on top. There are a few ways to keep this from happening. Players can PLANT multiple pink seeds next to each other with staggered timing so that they create a rising staircase. This strategy depends on a bit of luck as getting pink seeds can be somewhat uncommon. Players can PLANT other seeds good for vertical movement near a growing pink block tower to climb higher. Green and dark blue seeds are good for this strategy as they're not the most useful for moving in any direction. Orange seeds are probably better spent moving outwards than used for surmounting a pink block tower. In the end, the most effective strategy is to simply stand on top of a pink tower as it grows, so you’ll be on top of things no matter how high it grows. Riding pink block towers costs no extra seeds. The biggest drawbacks to tower riding is that the area below will eventually shift out of view and riding towers adds a significant amount of waiting to the experience.


Standing on top of pink block towers as they grow is a strategy that ends once players DIG the tower back to the root level. This part of the pink seed design, including the necessity of harvesting pink blocks to progress, makes horizontal movement the best strategy of the three movement directions. In general, when moving horizontally there are 4 seed types that provide good, increased movement: orange (6-10), red (3), purple (2-5), and green (0-5+). Moving horizontally is best done with four out of the eight seeds. Compare those odds with moving down, which has one reliable, efficient seed type (tan) and a wild card (green). Despite the camera design that keeps the player in the center of the screen, encouraging exploration in every direction, moving downward is the most ineffective strategy. Moving upwards is similarly limited because orange is the only very useful seed, with green as a wild card.


Another benefit of horizontal movement is that players can more easily move back and forth (compared to moving up and down with vertical movement strategies). Take the orange seed, for example. If an orange seed grows 10 blocks horizontally, players have 10 spaces to PLANT seeds. This gives the player the freedom to PLANT orange or purple seeds on the edge to maximize movement, PLANT green seeds out of the way, PLANT less useful seeds for horizontal movement (tan, light blue, red) somewhere in the middle, and even PLANT pink block staircases and dark blue blocks to make harvesting easier.


If the player rides an orange seed 10 blocks upwards, they will then have 1 block of space to work with. In this scenario, the next block must be PLANTED at the top. In addition to this limitation, the player has no easy way to see how close the void is or travel back down to replace the orange blocks with different seed types. Any trip down will cost at least one seed to return back to the top of the orange block tower. And with so few seeds that are good at vertical movement, any trip down can be costly to return back up.











A key part of the strategy thus far involves stalling the void with resilient blocks to gain as much time as possible for growing and harvesting pink seeds. The formula for how much time players have to do so can be expressed as:


(blocktype1 # * corruptionspeedtype1) + (blocktype2 # * corruptionspeedtype2)... = Time before void reaches pink tower.


The above formula is based on the most quickly corrupted path between the oncoming void and the nearest pink block tower. How to determine when to start harvesting the pink block tower can be expressed as:



Time before void reaches pink tower - (pinkblocks# * harvest/DIG rate) = how long to wait before harvesting











In terms of the strategies and complexities of DIGGING and PLANTING seeds, the movement strategies detailed above are the most efficient strategies for seed placement. When exploring the open white world of Starseed Pilgrim, there’s little reason to deviate from these strategies. It is not uncommon for action-puzzle games to feature dominant or optimized strategies such as these. Simply detailing these strategies doesn’t cover everything. In most games, the decisions players make have consequences, good or bad, that ripple forward in time. Even when aiming to execute on a perfect strategy in Starseed Pilgrim, mistakes, random variation, and star blocks will change the context and therefore the viability of even the best strategies. Depending on the situation, you may have to mix up the strategies outlined above or improvise.


Touching star blocks in the fleeting world can shorten the time it takes the void to reach the player because touching a star block starts a corruption reaction. In this way, touching star blocks is a necessary step in pursuing victory that comes at a cost. In general, it’s best to touch star blocks in a way so that you do not decrease the time it takes the void to reach you. This usually means PLANTING starseeds in your wake that will touch the star blocks, and then moving away. Clearly, this is easiest when moving horizontally.



by: Steve Johnathan


March 3, 2014

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Pilgrim's Progress Part 2
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