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Want to see if old idea is worth anything


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#1 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:15 PM

Below I am posting a copy of something I wrote my sophomore year in High School. I was into HP Lovecraft pretty heavy, so my writing was rather verbose, but other than the fact that you'd have to cut through some of my wording with a machete, I liked the idea.

I have recently gotten into doing music for video games. I was tossing around ideas earlier for a game (maybe a platformer or side scroller) that is based heavily on music and art as a story telling piece.

The idea is a character who finds themselves in a cavern of crystals. The crystals resonate to a specific frequency producing notes and aurora-like colors. These are calming and melodic. The character will soon discovers all forms of life, including a humanoid form, bugs, and large creatures. All of these creatures contain some crystalline element (for example, the bugs' wings may be coated in it) and it's discovered that they react to the vibrations in the cave. As the cave vibrates harmoniously, so does their society and way of life. If things don't work, and dissonance (a clashing of two notes is created) it throws them off and can lead to instability, anger, and violence. Think something similar to a rash of hormones.

Naturally, the problem comes when something is off. I am thinking each level will be about a key signature. For non musicians, a key signature is a guideline as to the center of a piece of music. It dictates what notes, chords, and scales are used. We will start the first level, C, which has no sharps or flats in the key signature and is the introduction level. As the problem is exposed (dissonance in the world), the character will have two options: sharps or flats. They will follow a progression of keys so that one sharp or flat is added for every level. For example, if I took the sharp path, I would enter the key of G, which has one sharp. The dissonance happens when the sharp is not applied to the G, so the G and G# are clashing against each other. Some object must be achieved (perhaps simply traversing the angry enemies) to fix the crystals (maybe at an alter) to raise this G to the G# and create consonance.

As the levels increase, each one will add a sharp or a flat. Level 2 in the sharp path would be D, which has two sharps. In this case, the sharp is missing in the F# and C# of the key signature, so these crystals must also be fixed. However, because there are two cases of dissonance, the world is more hectic. Colors flash at weirder intervals and with angrier colors such as red instead of blue. Enemies become more agitated, so they are more powerful and more likely to attack.

The emphasis would be on the art of the crystals and the music achieved. I am thinking a song would be written for each level, played the right way and the wrong way on top of each other so the dissonance can be heard by the player. As each crystal is righted, so is that note in the melody, so that it slowly falls into place in the player's ear.

Other challenges, of course, may be added. For instance, say you get to a level with 5 sharps and 5 crystals must be fixed. A new enemy is introduced which thrives off of dissonance and will attempt to increase it. After you fix 3 crystals, these enemies will impede your path and can even potentially return a crystal to its dissonant state, giving multiple things to juggle. The music and scenery would react accordingly, becoming more frantic as the enemies achieve their dissonance.

I know that was a bit long winded, and obviously, a lot of thought will have to go into explaining all of these musical terms in a way that a non-musician would come to understand them. Introducing the concept of sharps and flats one note at a time will help this, I believe. As they react to dissonance and consonance, NPC's within the game can introduce these as concepts of "magic" or "power" that actually exist.

I'm working on a project now and will be for a while. I only do music and writing, so I haven't the faintest idea how to pull together a project like this. However, I figured while I had it, I'd throw it out to gamedev to see what anybody had to say.

Also, I wasn't sure if this should go under "Game Design" or "Writing for Games" but figured it could benefit from either.


I. ( C )
I awoke suddenly in the cavern, uncertain of where I was or what circumstance would bring me to this place. The ground pressed tightly to my skin, hard and smooth, so that my body protested movement after the indeterminable length of my curious slumber.
I sat up slowly now to get a look at my surroundings. I felt a sudden spark of exhilaration that should have turned to fear, but would not allow itself. I should have been terrified, alone in this strange place with no sense of area or direction, but no fear could find its way into my consciousness. The source of this strange calm, I imagine, was the faint melody of which I was now acutely aware. This music seemed to come from no single origin, but resonated tirelessly throughout the length of the cavern.
The entirety of my enclosure, I observed, was made entirely of some sort of crystal, save for the rocky floor. This crystal was illuminated with a soft purple glow that seemed to come from nowhere, but exist in any direction it pleased instantaneously. It danced and flickered with the rise and fall of the melody playing through the air.
Subtly, almost imperceptibly at first, the melody grew louder, and more numerous in tone until the first chord was struck, igniting a purple flash in the crystalline walls. The notes rang out, louder still, each time growing more complex, until full chords of every octave (and, I fancy, those imperceptible to me) were playing through the cave, rich and sonorous. The lights in the walls of the caves flashed and shifted, dancing their delicate dance, writhing to the beat of this ethereal song.
I watched this strange procession as it carried on for what I judged to be roughly half an hour, until the final chords rang out in a frenzied crescendo, igniting the walls with an almost blinding light. Then, as the sweet fundamental note held its song, the rest faded into obscurity. Through the course of this, I had felt myself hypnotized, and now I felt as though awakening from a trance, although feeling refreshed of mind and soul.
Picking myself off the ground, I realized that I was not entirely satisfied. Although feeling quicker and stronger, I burned with an extreme thirst. Without any conscious thought, I felt guided to follow the twisting hallway that seemed to be the only exit from this apartment. After a short walk, I found myself in a much larger room, where I could see the reflections of water swirling across the ceiling. I drank enough to satisfy my first, and found a softer plot of land that afforded me a more comfortable place to sleep. That room is also the first place I saw signs of life.



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#2 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:23 PM

I guess what I'm looking for:

1. Is it a game idea that's worth anything? Would you play it?
2. What platforms and type of gameplay would you suggest? I am thinking a 2D side scroller targeted towards mobile, computer, and online marketplace.
3. In your opinion (or preferably experience) does a game this reliant on art and music go over well with people? I really want something unique and artful but I'm afraid I'll lose people if it goes too far.
4. Would a rhythm based mechanic be fitting to fix the crystals? Something where the piece of music must be played (somewhere between Tap Tap and Patapon) correctly in order to be successful?
5. What else do you want to tell me or ask me?

#3 Songbird   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:48 PM

The first thing that came to my mind was the old LucasArts game "Loom." I remember the music scale being integral with that game, but its been a long time. Might be worth looking into for inspiration.

As for your overall idea, it is very intriguing, but I still don't have any impression on how the game plays. You mentioned it being a side-scroller, but how does the musical scales feature in it? Are they an integral part of the gameplay or just the setting? A Mario clone would be less interesting than a more tactical game, where you use music as an ability to overcome the obstacles. For instance, if you are in the land of C, calling a C (perfect consonance) would give you one result, while calling an F (perfect fourth) would give you another, and a G (perfect fifth) would give you a third. Perhaps all the perfect consonances would be defensive, imperfect consonances would be distraction/illusion, disonances would be aggressive, etc. (My music theory is real rusty, sorry). Start the player off with a few notes and as they progress they open new ones. Plus, as you advance in the world to the lands of F and G, your current notes would no longer have the same result since the key changes. So your perfect C might become a minor sixth in the key of E or a dissonant note in the key of C-sharp.

Just realized I didn't answer any of your questions. So...
1. Yes. Yes.
2. Mobile puzzle.
3. Yes, I think people would be able to get it.
4. Depends on the gamplay, but I would get frustrated.
5. Figure out what type of game it is. You could get vastly different games from the same idea.

#4 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 12:11 AM

The first thing that came to my mind was the old LucasArts game "Loom." I remember the music scale being integral with that game, but its been a long time. Might be worth looking into for inspiration.

As for your overall idea, it is very intriguing, but I still don't have any impression on how the game plays. You mentioned it being a side-scroller, but how does the musical scales feature in it? Are they an integral part of the gameplay or just the setting? A Mario clone would be less interesting than a more tactical game, where you use music as an ability to overcome the obstacles. For instance, if you are in the land of C, calling a C (perfect consonance) would give you one result, while calling an F (perfect fourth) would give you another, and a G (perfect fifth) would give you a third. Perhaps all the perfect consonances would be defensive, imperfect consonances would be distraction/illusion, disonances would be aggressive, etc. (My music theory is real rusty, sorry). Start the player off with a few notes and as they progress they open new ones. Plus, as you advance in the world to the lands of F and G, your current notes would no longer have the same result since the key changes. So your perfect C might become a minor sixth in the key of E or a dissonant note in the key of C-sharp.

Just realized I didn't answer any of your questions. So...
1. Yes. Yes.
2. Mobile puzzle.
3. Yes, I think people would be able to get it.
4. Depends on the gamplay, but I would get frustrated.
5. Figure out what type of game it is. You could get vastly different games from the same idea.


Calling upon the different intervals of the scale is an awesome idea. In that manner, as you resolve dissonance, you could then gain access to that "power". In fact, every time you resolve a new dissonance (First one being F to F#) you could gain a new power permanently and then have to resolve that same dissonance to regain that power every time.

Or you could use your idea of the intervals changing per scale. Your intervals could be different start on any note and then progress up the intervals, using the root third and fifth as main points to modify the scale, and the 2nds, 4ths, and 6ths as passing tones (to recharge a chord) or perhaps to modify the chord type to an add 9 or something.

Different chord types (major, minor, sus, etc.) could have different effects.

Indeed there is a lot to think about.

I was thinking a sidescroller like an Indie game my brother played for a while. Blink? A small boy wanders through a world of shadows and dark silhouettes. No dialogue that I remember.

#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9479

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 12:26 AM

Also, I wasn't sure if this should go under "Game Design" or "Writing for Games" but figured it could benefit from either.


If you're seeking feedback on the game's story, that's a writing question.
If you're seeking feedback on the gameplay, that's Game Design.
Best not to mix both questions into one (you get better answers if you split your questions).
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#6 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 12:31 AM


Also, I wasn't sure if this should go under "Game Design" or "Writing for Games" but figured it could benefit from either.


If you're seeking feedback on the game's story, that's a writing question.
If you're seeking feedback on the gameplay, that's Game Design.
Best not to mix both questions into one (you get better answers if you split your questions).


Understood. While feedback on the story is great, I would really love the video game to be the media that portrays the story and I have the story (for the most part) taken care of. So I suppose it is a question of how best to represent it.

#7 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7121

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 02:03 AM

So I suppose it is a question of how best to represent it.

A book ? Honestly, if you have a great story there's no reason to press it into a game. When you want to create a game, think of the game play first. Story is important, but a game is made by game play not by story telling. It would be sad to waste a good story by putting it into a medicore game.

#8 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 02:12 AM


So I suppose it is a question of how best to represent it.

A book ? Honestly, if you have a great story there's no reason to press it into a game. When you want to create a game, think of the game play first. Story is important, but a game is made by game play not by story telling. It would be sad to waste a good story by putting it into a medicore game.


Originally, that was its intended form. But upon really thinking about it, it seems that an interactive visual medium would be the only way to do it justice.

As I said though, I have other projects and I have a lot of learning to do. I will probably put this on the back burner for quite some time so I don't, as you say, waste a good story by putting it into a mediocre game.

#9 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17964

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 06:59 AM

Just to throw out a possible alternative for you, there is a middle ground if you're wavering between writing a book or making a game with your idea: "interactive fiction". Essentially these are (potentially very) sophisticated digital "choose your adventure" or "pick-a-path" books, potentially with nice still or animated graphics included, or "visual novels", which are exactly what they sound like.




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