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The Shifting Saga Of Sound Shapes
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The Shifting Saga Of Sound Shapes

September 21, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

And simultaneously you're going for like a simpler visual aesthetic but also one where the shapes have to communicate what they're doing -- like whether you can stick to them, whether they're bouncy, or stuff like that.

JM: That's the main thing, right? When you look, it's not so much that the game itself looks cool, but it's when you see what's happening, like when you can see that, "Oh, this guy's making a high-hat sound" or "that stompy thing is making the beat," and, "these little things are making the notes," that's what looks really cool about the game.

In order to play the sounds, they're actually playing in a sequencer. There's an invisible bar that comes through and plays the sounds after you've activated them, which make a lot of sense in terms of making music sound good.

But in terms of knowing right away that there's a one-to-one correlation between your actions and the sound changing, the the feedback is not quite as strong. Did you consider other ways of doing it?

SL: There's a bunch of things happening musically, but the basic underlying system is that this game has a sequencer built into it, right? So this game is basically music sequencing software, and it has a bunch of different interfaces to interact with that sequencer. So one of them is what you just talked about -- where the grid sequencer, or a drum machine, that goes left to right.

That kind of tool is really good for when you're doing something more deliberate, or you want to create a certain musical phrase, or you want a certain musical phrase to correspond with something visually. But there's other ways of interacting with that sequencer that are built into the game.

For example, these drum lasers here operate independently of the grid, right? So you can place them anywhere, and also change the sequence by the player interacting with them. There's another more direct way... There's another entity which is basically a blank one note sample, right?

It's a blank one note sampler that responds when the player touches it, so basically depending on your movement, every time you play it, you're going to get a different phrase, because it's based directly on how you interact with it.

So these things will record one note based on when you hit them. Basically, if I recorded a phrase into these things, into these that was directly timed with what I did, now I go into this beat, these drum beats are added on top of that. And then I can also add those notes on top of it, so they're sort of like there's one master sequencer underneath that's controlling all the musical logic, and there's all these different ways of adding music to it. The notes are just one of the ways.

You know how people do those ridiculous Super Mario World sequences where everyone just straight bouncing through the world and doing a song? You could do that.

SL: We're looking forward to seeing what people make. I think that would be super awesome -- where you have to beat this level at a certain pace in order to keep up with the song. That's pretty hardcore, because then you have to do all the platforming.

But we like the fact that you can make sort of slow exploratory levels where the music sort of evolves at your pace, but you can also make more hardcore things where you're trying to keep the pace of the song and keep going.

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