Romain working on our app's code.

This Week
This week, the team has made steady progress on all aspects of the project, from design to art to code. We have entered our first production cycle post-Quarters and are pushing forwards to have a testable prototype in two weeks.

The team discussed our design direction last week and, early this week, confirmed it with our client, Jiyoung.

Up to this point, we have been explaining our app analogously as a maze-like experience that funnels players towards “correct” notes. However, this negative reinforcement does not fit well with the message of creative freedom that we want our experience to have, and our new design reflects positive reinforcement. The line-drawing should occur in an open environment but with attractive “goal areas.” We also know that to engage our primary demographic of young kids and non-musicians, the experience should also contain an interesting visual story. That concern combined with our new line-drawing mechanic has led to our current experience design: As a visual side story to the musical and audio feedback, the experience will involve a flying train that must pick up passengers; the passengers will be waiting on different types of tall structures that signify the different types of chords in the music. The player can harmonize their melody with those chords by drawing the train-line to pick up those passengers. The premise is straight-forward, and we hope that it will add that extra layer of engagement to our app.

However, the visuals for our story are not the main focus of the experience and should not detract from the musical learning. The team has also therefore decided to create a very clean art style like in Hohokum or LocoRoco by using solid colors and shapes. Meng has begun drawing concept art for possible structures and we are in the process of defining the visual universe that the music inhabits.

Unfortunately, there is still not much to show visually for our tech progress unless readers want to look at code. However, our programmers ARE making good progress on things that will eventually become showable.

Romain has done a lot of work within our Sparrow framework, writing code for creating an on-screen keyboard as well as for our uni-directional line-drawing mechanic. Cheng worked on midi file-parsing for our audio data, Mike worked on the timer, and Pei Lin has been investigating data structures for our sequencer. Together, they hope to have not only something for everyone to look at but also to listen to next week.

Looking Forwards
Next week will be very exciting for the team. As we refine the work that was begun this week and moreover, begin to put all of it together, we will have a lot to demo even at a basic level. We plan to have concept art for our visual aesthetic, and more importantly, to begin deploying our audio line-drawing tool to devices. Next week will be an important stepping stone to a complete prototype of Bravura’s eventual app.

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!

The Bravura team presenting at Quarters.

Quarters and Onwards
This week, the team prepared thoroughly for our quarter-semester presentation on Wednesday, which went very well. Then, we began looking forwards to discussing the visual and experience design for our first prototype.

The team was very anxious about our quarter-semester presentation and about making sure that our vision for the project could be made clear in 10 minutes. Rehearsals with our advisors showed us that many changes and revisions needed to be made to our presentation on Monday and even on Tuesday, the day before Quarters. However, all the feedback from Carl and Jiyoung that we did receive meant that we ended up having a strong presentation and that the team was able to feel confident on Wednesday. The audience, which consisted of over 30 EA employees, asked insightful questions about features and decisions we had made, and the team was able to answer them clearly. For example: Why do we say iPad and not just iOS devices in general? The answer: We are leaning towards a larger screen for more precise line-drawing, but this does not technically exclude building out to the iPhone. Quarters went well, and the team feels better for all future presentations as well.

The team met on Friday to solidify design directions. The wireframe of colored blocks that we have used to explain our experience up to this point will hopefully soon be replaced by more accurate images of what the experience will be like. In terms of art direction, the team has discussed the pros and cons of concrete versus abstract art styles, and has looked at things like Eufloria and Hohokum for inspiration. In terms of the experience, the team has discussed the appeal of having a visual “story” that happens as an added dimension to the auditory story of melody creation. We have some new concepts that we are excited about and are looking forward to discussing with our client.

Looking Forwards
The programmers are continuing with implementation of important systems such as a basic sequencer that we can begin prototyping with. With our new found design direction, though, the team is looking forwards to our weekly client/advisor meeting next Tuesday. We would love to get feedback so that we can begin production of a rough prototype of the experience – a prototype that we hope will help show us what may need further iteration and also what is possible.


Investigating and Prototyping

The team has been pushing forward with more setup and confidence-building with tech during the past few days. We plan to have basic functional components to show for quarters next week before we begin integrating everything together into a single plan of design / execution.


The team had a big design meeting this week to help solidify our direction as we head in to quarter-semester presentations next week. With the help of this meeting we outlined an ideal experience that we want users to have. However, there are of course decisions that can’t yet be made until we test with the tech, and we have been working hard to get to that point. Continue reading


This week, the team finalized branding and began laying down the foundations for the project.  The programmers are in a comfortable place in terms of knowing what can be achieved this semester and we are preparing to finalize our design around the tech’s capabilities.

In terms of branding, our color scheme, poster, half-sheet, and general branding elements have all been finalized.   Moreover, if you remember our old logo, the G-Clef was on the wrong line of the staff, and that has been fixed.  The team cares about music and it is important that we know that it is important to show that in all the things we create. Continue reading