My interactive project is to play with time by creating some “ends” in an endless game in order to make time feel shorter than actual. I explored the characteristics of music and apply them in the endless game to create some “ends”.
I am indeed not a good game player, especially in complicated games like Dota or LOL, etc. Therefore games that have simple rules like endless running games, like Temple Run, are always my favorite. When I played Temple Run, it is true that the game is easy to master and also nervous. Within the first 5-10 minutes, it is an interesting game. However, after playing about 15-20 minutes, even if I have died at some point and restarted, the game became gradually more boring, because I have experience all the scenes for several times, and there’s not much to expect. The only thing that keeps me playing, is to break the record. But during the playing time, time seems to be longer than actual.
I did a small survey among my family and friends who all have experience in endless games. The majority of them also told me that they quit an endless game mainly because the record is so high that they can expect a long boring journey before breaking the score. Therefore, I am really interested in how I can make the process of playing an endless game more interesting so that time feels shorter.
My inspiration is a gradual process. I start from how I can make time feel shorter. We know that when we have a long way to go, milestones makes things better. In an endless game, theoretically, the game never ends. So I am curious what if I add some “ends”, setting up some “milestones” in an endless game to make the game more dynamic, and to make time feel shorter.
Then I looked for possible solutions to this question. I realized that I have also played a game called rhythm master, in which the player taps on the color zone according to the music rhythm, which is shown below. Because there are numerous music in the world, the game is always different. So if I also introduce such a big music library into an endless game, the time could be separated according to music length, in other words, set up the “milestones”.
TBD: Rhythm Master!!!!!!!!
Since there are more features of music than its length, I also dig into the music to see if other music features can also be used in my project.
To be honest, I have changed my project a lot during the making process due to idea iteration,technical issues and time constraint.
First, in terms of idea iteration, initially I only have a vague sense of what I want to do. I simply want to add features in Rhythm Master to Temple Run to make the endless game more interesting, but I am not sure what exactly such application would bring to me. Since there are so many different features in Rhythm Master and Temple Run, I spent a lot of time figuring out what features to keep and what to abandon. In fact I have been struggled with this for several weeks, though at the same time, I did started to make some technical progress.
During a meeting with Prof. Greenspan, she pointed out that what matters in my game is “TIME”. When I reconsider her words, I found that the music feature in Rhythm Master is the most important one to be used. So I dig into the music features and choose the ones that I can use. And finally I came up with a clear idea of what to do.
Then, in terms of the actually making process, I chose to use Unity from the very beginning, because Unity is the game engine of Temple Run, as well as a lot of other famous games, which indicated that the engine is mature enough. Also, I have some basic knowledge of Unity from my previous class. So I thought it may be easier for me to learn more about Unity. I decided to make 2D game, because I did not want to spend too much time on building up a 3D model for my game, which is not the central idea of my project.
The details of the game can be found here:
User Testing: I invited some friends to player test. After they played the game, they suggested that the game is a bit too simple with only three tracks. Therefore, I tried the simplest way to improve it: adding two more tracks to the game. It turns out that although the method is simple, it actually works! The users are getting into the game this time.
Lastly, due to time constraint, I was not able to finish everything I expected. This is mainly because I did not fully develop my idea in the first several weeks. So when I finalize my game, I did not have enough time to add more external stuff. Although I have studied a lot on technical problems like how I can generate in a 2D game a similar idea to “turning left and right” in a 3D game, I did not have enough time to apply it to my game. In addition, for the pictures I used the ones from Google, because I was not able to make my own due to time constraint.
The game aims to eat as many candies as possible and avoid the wooden sticks. If you fail to eat one candy, the music as well as wooden sticks speed up. If you eat the medical box, you can speed down the music and the wooden stick.
Here are my applications of music in the game:
- I used music of different length from 18 seconds to 4 minutes. This is to give the players a basic sense of the game. Later the length of the music would be the same as the actual music length. My idea is to make the music length move as a hill, that is, short musics at the beginning, long ones in the middle, and short ones later, and then long ones, and so on. This is to avoid fatigue.
- I also changed the pitch in the music. When you miss a candy, music pitch goes up as well as the obstacles. So when the player hear the music suddenly faster, they would be more nervous accordingly.
- I chose 2-4 musics of different music styles to avoid auditory fatigue. Between each two styles, I added a skippable 10 second break to 1. give the player some time to rest, and 2. prepare for such a change.
- Because of the big music library, it is easy to avoid hearing the same song again in one round, which makes the game more dynamic. Also, the game still keeps the simple rules, but have more difference brought by music as time goes.
- This time I did not use songs with human voice because of technical issues. I am not able to have time to change only the speed, not the pitch. But it would be better to have songs with human voice to allow the player get more interested in the game.
Evaluation and Improvements:
Overall the game is quite successful in using music as a tool to play with time by adding ends in the endless game. However, currently the quality of the music output is not quite successful. The disability to change only speed has brought the music to strange sound effect when pitch goes up. This has decrease the overall user experience of the game.
Compared to my initial goal, I think the core idea has been presented in the game. But I still need to have more features in the game, as my initial goal is to have a game that has the core of both Temple Run and Rhythm Master. I think one improvement would be letting the obstacle drop according to the music rhythm. Another approach would be adding more different obstacles and rewards in the game.
My very next step is to create a scene that looks much better. Currently the scene is simple and not so attractive.
In my interaction project I only used 4 songs to show the core concept of the game. However, eventually the game needs to get access to the whole music library.