We just wanted to share with you a short video of the build of our game that we displayed at our halves presentation. Currently we are working on adding more features such as train movement, conversion to sheet music, finalized UI, and additional level designs.
Here is an introduction explanation of the story of our game:
Along with creating a working prototype of the application, we’ve been developing both our artistic and musical “style.” Through our play testing, we found that people really enjoyed learning about and adding different accompaniments to their melodies. We wanted to share some examples of level layouts, where users will draw the tram line between the people to create a melody, along with samples of what the music could sound like. The idea of pre-built levels may have risked users creating similar melodies to each other, but we found that not to be the case. People liked how choosing different accompaniments vastly affected the final song output, as you will notice by comparing two different audio files created from the same level design.
These are two different melodies created in the level, with two vastly different styles. The building structures (trees, balloons, mountains) represent the chords in the accompaniment Though the styles of the accompaniment are different, the chords progression of each are the same.
This example features a longer level and a different chord progression. The Piano Pop style was also featured in prototype 1, but now it’s contrasted with a Classical Virtuoso style. You can see how much accompaniment style changes the feel of the song as both examples actually have the same melody!
As we’ve moved past our quarters presentation, and the design of our experience is becoming more concrete, we’ve decided that what it was lacking is a theme and story. We got together and came up with a world to base the application in, and we decided to add an objective for the user that goes beyond just creating a nice melody.
Our story begins on an unnamed musical planet in an abstract world far away from earth. The inhabitants of this planet live in different apartment structures and all like to sing certain notes. The higher in the sky they live, the higher the notes they like sing. They all need to catch the magical flying tram to get to work, and when the trip is complete, everyone sings their notes to create a melody. You’re job is to lead the tram through all the buildings and pick up the inhabitants whose notes make up the melody you like best. Some of the inhabitants are stuck on clouds in between the buildings, too. Be sure to listen to them, as their notes can make your melody even more beautiful! You can even go back and change the tram’s course if you don’t like your melody.
The tram company needs more help from you, as they are looking colonize a new part of the planet. Now you can create the melodic tram line with your voice or finger first, and then create apartment buildings that fit around it. Only certain buildings and people fit with certain tram lines, so find the one that works and sounds best to you!
We wanted to fill you all in on some of the design directions and ideas that we’ve been discussing. As mentioned in our newsletter last week, we pitched four different design ideas to our client and faculty advisor, Jiyoung Lee. These ideas included a user friendly voice-to-sheet music digital audio workstation (DAW), a ball dropping game utilizing physics and time to connect to music, a maze-like line drawing activity exploring elements of musical harmony, and a node based design where the distance between shapes creates musical input. The team and Jiyoung were interested a design direction that combined the DAW and maze ideas.
As our goal is to allow anyone to create music, we wanted as little barrier to entry into our experience as possible. While some people may want to use their voice to share melodies in their head, some people may be more comfortable using their hands or a musical instrument. We want to accommodate both of these input methods, allowing our guests to sing or draw on the iPad to control a pitch graph line of their melody.
We are considering two different modes for our application. One of which is a structured level-like experience where preset chordal patterns and level designs guide a user to create their own melody that fits within these harmonic constraints. This mode will be used to introducer users to our way of visualizing music, and have them see how melody fits into larger harmonic structures.
Pictured above is a sample “level” and melody using the first mode of the maze design. The y-axis represents pitch of the melody (note: the number on the left side is the scale degree, though the guest may not see this). The x-axis is time, so as you can see, our level design is essentially a pitch graph with obstacles. Those obstacles, colored by their musical function, are the constraints of a harmonic structure we chose for this level. The above design represents the most basic classical harmonic paradigm. If the guest creates a melody that goes between these obstacles, it will sound pleasant to the ear .
The above mode is definitely limiting, especially compared to the original DAW pitch idea. So for the second mode, we want to make a sandbox style interaction space, where the user is not constrained by the maze shapes and harmonies we decide upon, but can avoid them all together or create their own. Though they’ll still be restricted to notes within a certain key, they can now sing or enter any melody they like and choose the appropriate chord/maze structures. They’ll be able to do all of this without needing to know a single thing about music!
Above is a possible basic flow chart of the experience. Another feature included are the ability to pinch and zoom between small parts of the song/level and more macro level parts. Also, play back in both modes will be accompanied by sheet music for the melody that they have written. The guest will be able to see the connection between the line that they drew and actual music being written on the page. Additionally, automatic audio accompaniment will be generated to fit the melody and harmony to further enhance the experience.
An important final note about design, is that none of these ideas are set in stone. As you may know, things change down the road based on technical requirements, play testing, and the possibility of new and better ideas entering the fold. While the experience described may be an effective one, it is only a broad template for what we are trying to accomplish and is open for change. In the end, we want to create a musical application for guests ages eight and up encouraging them that composing music is something that they can do and be proud of.