“Mixed Beats“ Postmortem

Time: on and off over 6 weeks- probably about 15-25 hrs total

Team: Me, Quentin Jouret, Philippe Birgy, Pwikmasta

Link: heavenstone.net/three/

Well, time is definitely up for my contribution to Runaway Parade. On the theme of “Three’s a Crowd”, Quentin and I had brainstormed a bit and came up with idea of having simple machines that make repetitive sounds. The idea being to synchronize them to make looping music. Think Stomp, if you could click on people to start and stop them.

Well, time is definitely up for my contribution to Runaway Parade. On the theme of “Three’s a Crowd”, Quentin and I had brainstormed a bit and came up with idea of having simple machines that make repetitive sounds. The idea being to synchronize them to make looping music. Think Stomp, if you could click on people to start and stop them.

This reminded me of my few (and always poor) attempts at mixing records, where the challenge is matching tempos as well as times. I thought that by fixing the tempo, mixing would be a lot easier. I also imagined that by quantizing it (like in Ableton Live) so that the player could only start a machine “on the beat” rather than slightly before or after, it would make something easy to play with.

What’s the link to “Three’s a Crowd”? Something about trying to make several people play/work/live together nicely…

1st Try

By the 1st attempt, it became clear that we were no longer trying to have little machines, because making them and finding appropriate sounds could take a long time. Instead, we went for imitation drum machines, with little markers that move down the screen to show where the beat should be (à la Guitar Hero) . Except that you need a second set of markers to show where your own beat is playing.

Quentin did the graphics, which have a nice hand-drawn feel that I love. We opted for a single play/pause button, and a little light that showed when the beat was matched correctly. When you got all three beats correct, the level was over. We made a menu and credits screen, and a volume slider, and we were on our way.

Meanwhile, Philippe was nice enough to do the music on very short notice. He split up the rhythms into 4 sections, each in their own mp3.

Conclusion

When I finally got the 2nd attempt working and had ironed out most of the bugs, I had the feeling that it wasn’t perfect. But when I watched other people trying to play it I realized that it was really far off! First of all, its not obvious to people how to use it. Second, it’s hard to line up the beats using just the audio, and yet lining up the beats is ridiculously easy just by clicking the play/pause button a lot until things line up. Finally, the music is fun but not challenging in terms of the game, mostly because I had trouble finding time to meet with Philippe or Guillaume to show them exactly what I wanted.

Had I more time, I would take this thing apart and do it again, having the player just do one instrument at a time. This would be simplify the controls (only one instrument at once) as well as make it easy to coach the player (“too early”, “too late”, etc.). The sound would always start playing at the same point, and it would stop automatically after playing once if the beat is incorrect. You might also need a button to hear what the sound is supposed to sound like. Finally, it would be a nice touch to have sounds when the beat is correct or not.

 

 

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