For the interactive music video project, we were to create a game for a student client whom was an audio student in this case. Matt and I were assigned as project partners and Taylor as our audio student client.
Taylor already had a vision in mind for how she wanted the game to act and look. She wanted the final result to deliver an experience rather than an interactive game experience. Her vision included the following elements:
- Casual on-the-rails (or track in this case) game that a 80s sci-fi vibe
- Pastel color scheme
- Needed to be able to “play” on its own and allow the player to interact with it if they choose too
- Transition from Earth to Space
- musical track is on a loop meaning the game never pauses, it keeps playing until the player quits the game
- Camera is in third person, behind the vehicle
She had the general vision, Matt and I just had to ask her to get the little details finalized such as what will act as the transition from Earth to space and specify what she meant by “third person camera” as simply saying “third-person camera” was too broad for us.
The game is meant to deliver a relaxing and casual experience to the player. Think interactive screensaver and you’ll be pretty close. Players can move sideways using the A/D keys or allow the game to play on its own; where the vehicle will automatically follow the randomly generated road if there is no player input. The idea is while the music is slow and building up, players begin on Earth and approach a road tunnel which acts as a wormhole. Exiting the wormhole, players will find themselves in space: this is where the music changes into the main musical track. Objects related to space (e.g. asteroids, planets, comets) will spawn randomly in time with the music beat, they can appear beside the track or shoot over the player. As the music is in a loop, the game continues to randomly generate a road to follow and the objects will keep spawning randomly in the environment. Theoretically, it should keep playing till the player chooses to quit the game.
We wanted the space portion of the game to be the highlight and core experience of the entire game. The reason why we chose to focus on the space portion of the game as it was the core of the entire experience, the part of the game players will see and play the most.
I used Audiosurf 2 as my game reference during this project. I felt Audiosurf 2 was the closest game title that fit Taylor’s vision in terms of how it plays and looks visually. Below you can see the
(slightly glitchy) gif of Audiosurf 2 on free-mode with a custom retro-wave skin. On free-mode, if there is no player input, the game will play on its own with the car automatically collecting the collectibles on the road. The road and collectibles are randomly generated by the selected music track tempo. However, in our game, there are no collectibles as it is meant to be relaxing, with players enjoying the music accompanied by the visuals.
I believe the project progressed rather well, in the beginning. It was towards the final stretch of the project that we began to experience a lot of snags.
We had wanted to use FMOD unity plugin to spawn objects to the beat of the track. Taylor herself was unfamiliar with FMOD studio. Taylor had major trouble in exporting the track using FMOD so we could use it with the FMOD unity plugin. Neither Matt nor I were experienced with the FMOD plugin, although Matt delegated this task to himself, I still wanted to see if I could figure the plugin out with no success.
Our communication started off strongly in the beginning, but I felt we lost much of that towards the end. I was completely unaware of Taylor struggling with FMOD for over a week till I had asked Matt about whether Taylor had succeeded or not. Communication seems to be something Matt and I need to work at harder. As while we communicate extremely well in class, it falters when we are out of class. This is partially my fault, as I was trying to save my allocated data credit so was usually offline when Matt needed me the most. I did rectify this by being online more often once I had confirmed I could buy more data credit. However, it did not change the frustration I had felt with how long it took Matt to reply to me. His response times vary from several minutes to hours. It made me less willing to talk to Matt as I did not feel like waiting for over two hours to get a response. Once he was online, however, we were able to communicate relatively well and keep track of what the other was doing.
Minus the roadblocks we had hit, there were positives to the experience. I got to experience what it was like working for a client, a completely new experience for me. We had a student client who had a clear vision of what she wanted and was willing to communicate with us to clarify any questions we had. I had a chance to do some minor coding, even if my code was not used in the project. I got to refresh and refamiliarize myself with ProBuilder while creating some low poly assets, even learning to use different features in ProBuilder.
I did have moments of feeling rather unhelpful as Matt took on the programming/technical side of the project, as I am still not confident in my coding skills. I did feel helpful while creating mock-ups of different transitions and assets since we did not want to rely on using the Unity store assets. The biggest things I feel I need to work on is communication, being more proactive in asking project partners for news on what is going on so I am not left in the dark, touch coding more and finding new tasks to work on rather than relying on asking someone for tasks.