My Videogame Idea

One of the coolest aspects of this “psychosis” I’ve been experiencing since the 13th Aug is that I came up with a concept for a videogame which I’d like to make.

I’ve since realised that it doesn’t really matter if I make it myself, I just want the videogame to exist so I can play it. It’s just my ego talking when I think about becoming a famous game developer or getting rich. In my heart, I know I’m not particularly interested in either of those things.

So, I figured I’d put my idea out into the Universe (via this blog). If I’m meant to make this game, I will make it. If someone beats me to it, that’s fine, I will play their game and still be delighted. Maybe by me making this post, it’ll be the start of me finding other game developers to collaborate with… I’m humble enough to admit that my programming skills and development experience are basic at best.

There’s a chance this game (or something close to it) already exists… but I don’t think so. And if it does, then I want to play it.

To help narrow down the genre, it’s a game about music. It has stuff in common with several existing games, including:

  • PaRappa The Rapper (PS1)
  • Rez (PS2 originally)
  • Guitar Hero (plus sequels)
  • … and probably many others

The concept begins with a question:

“Does music have a shape?”

Imagine a symphony orchestra. See the conductor waving his baton in your mind’s eye. Can you see the shapes it traces? Imagine it’s like a sparkler being waved on bonfire night, leaving traces of light behind it.

Imagine people dancing. See the shapes they make with their bodies and with their hands. Imagine lines and colours tracing behind their movements. You’ll have probably seen an effect similar to this in some music videos.

Recently, a VR kit was released which includes individual finger detection. Wow! So it doesn’t just track your hands (like previous versions), it now can make out the movements of your individual fingers.

When I listen to music, I often make shapes with my hands which follow the patterns of the music. Sometimes I’m following the pattern of the percussion (drums, symbols etc). Sometimes I’m playing the notes on an imaginary (and very forgiving!) piano. Other times I’m following the waves or pulses that it feels like the music is generating.

In my (future) game, you would play your favourite music, maybe from Spotify. Then, you would wave your hands around to the music and the computer would record your movements. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, it’s just what feels right for you… a bit like dancing.

Using the game, you can add glowing balls to your hands (or fingers). You can add traces of light following your movements.

And you can “layer up” visual effects, a bit like in video editing software… first you could start with percussion, then you could follow with the main melody (probably using slightly different visual effects). And the game (or maybe “software” is a more accurate term) would allow you to layer all these different visual effects over each other.

The result is a kind of home-made music video based on the movements of your hands and fingers. This means the result will feel deeply personal to you. Then, at the end, you can play back the results and just lie back and enjoy the show along with your favourite music.

There are no points, no leaderboards, no items to collect, no baddies to kill, no way to fail or die. Maybe it’s not really a game, but just an enjoyable experience.

To expand the software’s capabilities, you could collaborate with friends online… so you might make the shapes which follow the percussion, your friend might make the shapes for the melody. And the software could combine both in real-time. This might generate a feeling of unity, something a bit like playing in a band together or singing in a barbershop quartet.

You could share your “music videos” online, for other people to download and enjoy. Maybe they get uploaded to YouTube or similar video platforms.

The VR kit may prove to be a barrier though. It might severely limit the potential audience. So, I started thinking about how the software might work using existing peripherals.

Maybe you could use a game controller (like an Xbox 360 wireless controller) for percussive elements. And maybe you can use a mouse to generate the more flowing or wave-like movements.

It wouldn’t give you the same 3D freedom of movement as you’d get with VR, but at least it’s a start.

So, what next? Well, I have some ideas for a concept video. I could use that video to begin a KickStarter fundraising campaign. I do think I need to collaborate with other developers, otherwise this game could take me forever to make on my own.

Or… if someone makes this game before me, I won’t begrudge them. I just want to play this game, no matter who makes it!


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