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Too Many Sounds

Posted in Tone Def by Shawn on January 20, 2012

While beginning work on Tone Def, I very quickly found myself going crazy with placing instruments on the grid, making crazy music, some of which did not sound good at all. I also found myself using only one type of instrument to do all the work for me. Not too much of an interesting musical experience. This was pretty disappointing, because while knowing that some people would actually try to make music and such, there would most likely be people who would just use the Hi-Hat to get the job done (which it probably won’t, since they’re not as strong as other things). Of course, not everyone would do this, but in short play test, there have been some who have, simply to do it, which does ruin the experience for me, since I want others to make something more interesting (which yes, is subjective, I know).

What needed to be done? There were two options I could have taken. Punish the player for overkill, or reward the player for using a good amount of instruments, but not too many.

I wound up doing both.

Why? Well, I like to think of this analogy for some reason. Imaging that you’re playing a guitar, and it’s a really cool song. Then your friend shows up with his own guitar, and he starts playing the song with you. “Hey, this sounds really cool with two guitars!”, you think. So you text another friend, and she comes over with her guitar, jumping right in with by playing the same song. It sounds even better now! It’s much more enjoyable playing this with two other people.

In Tone Def, if you lay down an instrument, then lay down another one, you’ll receive a Duplication Bonus. More of the same instrument playing the same thing at the same time potentially provides a ‘fuller’ sound. Thus, you get the bonus, your instrument gets stronger, or its base health stat goes up.

Back to you and your friends playing guitar. That weird guy from across the street sees the three of you jamming out in your garage. Seeing this, he grabs his guitar and runs towards you guys, ready to join in. Being a nice person, you allow him to pay with you. But now, something’s wrong. There are too many guitars playing this song. Maybe with another song, it would be alright, but not this one. A baby walks by and hears this. This overkill of guitars playing this song disturbs the baby, who then proceeds to cry. Guess what? You made the baby cry. Disregarding the fact that there’s a baby taking a stroll all alone, you realize you did something wrong. You stop playing, but allow your friends to continue. The baby stops crying! The balance of guitars has become much better.

Experiencing this in Tone Def would provide a better example. If you have a song playing, and too many bass drums in a row, the sound will be overwhelming, and sound unbalanced. Tone Def does not have crying babies (yet?), but you are punished with something called Overloads. Too many instruments in the same row will overload all the instruments in the lane, causing them to all lose attack power or health.

A better example would be a marching band. Marching bands don’t have 35 trumpets and 2 saxamaphones, because that would be unbalanced. Plus, saxamaphones are hard to play anyway.

Why am I doing this? To make sure that the player is actually paying attention, and not just laying down anything ‘willy-nilly’. I’m a fan of games that make you think a bit, and while this game isn’t driven by strategy, this adds a bit of brain power, hopefully. Things do get a bit more complicated with instruments that play musical chimes which alternate. InĀ  order to get the bonus, they need to match the same sound.

But that’s it for now. I don’t know how well this will work out. We’ll see when I eventually make the game playable to the general public. Oh, and I got my computer back in a semi-repaired state, so I’ll be able to actually do some more work. Hoping to do a lot tonight. Exciting way to spend Friday nights? I think so.

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