Monday, February 25, 2008

GDC '08: Audiosurf, if you love music, this game is for you

Why listen to your songs, when you can play them?

These days beat-based gameplay seems to be becoming a popular outlet among developers who take their love for music to the level of an interactive experience, pairing audio to visuals, triggered by the players button input. It's an experience for the senses that famed game developers such as Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Rez) have attempted to achieve. No where is this trend more apparent than with independent games and their creators. Music and slick pixel-shaded-vector-art usually makes for a nice combination, from Everyday Shooter, Synesthete, to Audiosurf.

This years Independent Games Festival saw the arrival of Audiosurf by Dylan Fitterer (BestGameEver). Giving the player a choice of any song stored on their PC, or Laptop, the generated environment tracks, and difficulty are determined by the tempo of the song. "Mellow", the road goes up, "intense" the road goes down. It's quite simple, and highly accurate to the music. If you've ever driven (or imagined driving) a car while listening to a favorite song on a long road, or fast freeway, you'll notice that music can influence the way you drive. Speeding up, or slowing down, or swerving to the music. Or maybe thats just me. Other examples that come to mind when describing the tracks of Audiosurf are: roller coasters and water slides. It's that sensation of speed that comes to life visually with Audiosurf. It's amazing. But this isn't a racing game, in fact it's a hybrid beat-based, puzzle game. It's like F-Zero and Wipeout, meets Lumines.

Playing the game at the IGF, and then on my home PC to tracks The Wrath of Marcie by The Go! Team, Object of My affection by Peter Bjorn and John, and the Arcade Fire's Anti-Christ Television Blues, you get a good sense of the highs and lows of music, which make for a great environment to play on. The last bit of Object of my Affection is certainly fast, and I definitely suggest you try The Killers Mr. Brightside, and Sum 41's Walking Disaster. Audiosurf these songs, you won't regret it!

Players can also upload their scores for specific tracks to the scoreboards. Now that may sound very typical of games today, but it's great to see who shares your taste in music, especially if you play some obscure song.

The multiple awarding winning title which is currently downloaded via Steam for the price of $10, most likely will appear on the home console distribution platforms like XBLA or PSN. When asked if he was planning on working on another music-driven game after Audiosurf, Dylan was amused, but said nothing more. Here's hoping he creates more music driven titles.

Tetsuya Mizuguchi, and Jeff Minter (Tempest 2000, Space Giraffe), should be happy see other game developers pushing the boundaries of music-driven games. Dylan Fitterer has opened up the possibilities of the genre giving the user control over the soundtrack, in turn controlling the level design.

Daft Punk never hurts either.

Personally I think this game is incredible. With so many decades of music history to draw from, the possibilities are endless.

Download Steam and Audiosurf HERE

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