Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Emergent Music Games

There are literally tons of music games coming out this year, thanks to Guitar Hero and Rock Band convincing everyone that lightning does indeed strike twice. The runaway success of Audiosurf also helped, leading to a lot of the upcoming games gambling on innovation. Ones that adjust the level to the mp3 you picked, new ways of mashing buttons to reproduce songs, and hopefully the KORG DS-10 will see an expansion soon. Given how many damn buttons are on the average controller these days, it’s a wonder someone hasn’t tried to just turn it into a musical instrument.

I rounded up a bunch of music games and broke them into two categories: linear and emergent. Then I focus on how instructive these can be for crafting non-linear stories and responsive games. It was a bit like the tarot card essay in the end. People say that you can’t tell a good story that’s non-linear and my response is that pretty much all the good ones are non-linear. Does it matter what order you tell the events of The Iliad? The Bible? Technically, the order or sequence of events is the bullshit part of the story to begin with, an artificial concept imposed to make it easier to follow. So I keep noticing examples where people produce stories on their own from utterly random systems and just point them out to people as constant proof that linearity is not a necessary component.

The piece actually ended up not going as far as I wanted it to. Being aware of your limits has a lot more to do with imposing them than any kind of self-awareness and in this case I don’t know enough about music to finish the job with this essay. I can explain the broad stuff that’s occurring but the nitty gritty will have to be handled by someone who can compose this stuff.

It ought to get the ball rolling at least.

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