January 18, 2009


Maestro is a crappy tech prototype.

What it will be is a music game that is designed to let you dance with your mouse cursor. I should explain. Audiosurf is a game that takes your mp3s and creates a game level out of them that functions as a sort of action puzzle rhythm game. I like Audiosurf, but I'm upset the fact that I can't hit all the notes and succeed. The player has to strategize frantically on most game modes, and even with the simpler ones you can't just groove out in the game. Maestro is an attempt to create a game that also uses your mp3s to procedurally create levels, but simply asks you to move the mouse around in a way that matches the music.

Another source of inspiration for me was the strange phenomenon of dancing. I hate dancing as it's most often described, depicted, and seen. But I love drumming my fingers, bobbing my head, tapping my foot, and singing along to music. If I really really get into a song, I'll gesture with my hands, moving them around with the action of the song. So I figured that I could just have the player move the mouse in a similar fashion and get the feeling I was going for.

I've had this idea banging around in my head for a while. Now that I've finished Meridian, I figured it was time to see if I could pull together a fun prototype.

So far, I'm just working out the technical details. I can load up a WAV file and display the volume in synchronization with the song, and I can measure mouse movements and graph them in real time. I'm currently experimenting with different systems for smoothing out the different waveforms.

This is a picture of one of the earliest working prototypes. The top line is mouse speed data, the middle is a smoothed version of the top line, and the bottom is mean volume data for the WAV file. The song is Girl by Beck.

Here's a slightly more developed prototype, a few hours later, using the same song. Blue is smoothed audio data, light red is mouse speed data, light blue is adjusted audio volume data, and the last line blends the previous two.

As is mostly evident, I have a lot of work to do before this gets to a satisfying state. If I can make Maestro work well, then I'll redo it as a full production, with fancy particle effects and changing colors a la Audiosurf.

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