Gang Beats Postmortem

Prompt: Can we make a multiplayer game where a player’s rhythmic action directly affects other players?

Prototype Goals

  • We found that most multiplayer rhythm games simply had players competing in terms of score – there wasn’t much competition, as the two players would play as if it were single-player and have their scores compared at the end. We wanted to try a game where player’s rhythmic accuracy impacts other players in the game.
  • We also thought it could be very interesting to make a real-time fighting game using rhythmic accuracy as a method of combat.


Platform: PC

Players: 2-4

Controllers: Gamepads or Keyboard


Gang Beats is a 2-4 player fighting game where players hit each other on the beat in order to be the last one standing.


Be the last player standing!

Move using the left stick/movement keys.

Use the action button to punch players who are within your circle.
Damage other players by punching them on the special beats. A special beat sounds like a clap. Being as on-beat as possible increases your damage!

When two players punch each other on the same beat, the player who is more on-beat does damage, while the player who is less on-beat is pushed back. If both players are equally on-beat, both players get pushed back.

Punching on the special beats when no one is inside your circle, causes your circle to grow in size. Use this to your advantage!

However, if you punch off-beat, your circle shrinks. Don’t be off-beat!

You can also press the Dash button to dash on any beat.



Players attack each other through punching. This is done by simply pressing the “A” button on the Xbox One controller. Punches aren’t directional, so all players within a limited area around the punching player are affected.


Depending on how close players punch to the beat, the ring around them will change colors. Green signifies that the player was very close to hitting on the beat, while yellow shows that they were somewhat close. The accuracy of the hit on the beat will determine whether the ring turns green or yellow. If the timing of the hit is offbeat, the ring will turn red. 

Expanding/Shrinking Ring

Players may notice that the ring around their character changes size over time. This ring shows a player’s area of effect – any other player in that ring when an attack action is performed will be affected. When a player gets either a yellow- or red-colored ring (meaning their accuracy was low), the ring’s size will decrease. However, players can increase the size of their ring by performing the punch action to the beat of the music away from other players.

Dealing Damage/Pushing

During gameplay, players’ accuracy to the beat will affect how they attack other players. If an opponent is inside the player’s ring, the player can attack them. If both players attack each other at the same time, their accuracy will determine what happens next. If the players have the same ring color (both yellow or green), the players push each other back. If the rings are different, the player with better accuracy will damage and push back the less accurate player.

Iteration Thoughts


  • In one of the earlier iterations, determining which player “won” a combat (e.g. if players hit each other on the same beat) was resolved on the beat itself, which meant that players that hit early would always have an advantage over those that hit late. We later realized that the only way we could resolve conflicts fairly was to wait for the next beat to decide. This, along with the playing of a sound effect to signify a successful hit, created a pretty cool off-beat rhythm that was surprisingly pleasant to hear.
  • While we designed the “clap” audio cue to be extremely prominent, it became clear during playtesting that players desired more visual feedback. We added the floor flashing effect in a later iteration, which players responded positively to.
  • Stalemates became very common once people were used to the beatmap. In order to accommodate more skilled players with a good understanding of the song, more mechanics would need to be implemented.


  • We decided to compose a rock music track, as it is catchy and provides a sense of movement.
    • Cues are tied directly to the rhythm of each musical phrase. This offered a nice variety of cue rhythms to keep the action moving, but required extra thought to ensure the cue was not overshadowed.
    • Playtesters wanted the Cue Announce to be more noticable and had confusion about when to perform actions. Music/phrase content was adjusted to compensate, following a sort of “simon says” mechanic.
  • Claps were difficult for players to distinguish, and some thought that the cue that played before the claps were also beats they needed to hit. Cues were also not super apparent, even with flashing background. Guests had a hard time when first starting out.
  • Despite this being less of an issue the more players got comfortable with the game, this was still something we needed to work on.
  • A greater emphasis on visible/apparent feedback will help the correct input time be more understandable.
  • When sharing sonic content between the soundtrack and the cue sound effects, it is important to focus additional energy to make them as different sounding as possible. The more apparent the divide, the clearer it is for the player to know when to act.
  • Shorter, loop based musical sections are repetitive, and cause errors in timing during looping with beat accuracy. A song-based soundtrack was created to circumvent looping issues. (this was prior to FMOD integration).
    • Having a song based soundtrack for a game with no definitive time-based end state brought the issue of players exceeding the song length and being forced to endure the slower pace of the loop beginning. 
      • Either the song length needs to be longer, a time limit be imposed (highest health wins), greater ramp up of difficulty, the addition of environmental damage towards the end of the song, or a “sudden death” scenario were experimented with, and could alleviate the issue.

Lessons Learned

  • Discrete feedback is necessary for players to know how well they’re doing — accuracy had to be categorized into grades, we needed the colored rings to inform players which grade they were given
  • In a game as busy as this one, audio cues alone are not enough to get players’ attention, especially first-time players. Visual feedback is incredibly important.
  • Conflicts on a certain beat had to be resolved on the next beat in order to equally prioritize early and late hits
    • Should early and late hits be equally prioritized? We can investigate this in a different prototype.
  • Music needs to be less dense, “soundtrack like”, and more heavily focused on the cues (and cue leadup). Extraneous information that could be interpreted as a cue (i.e., the “cooler” drumline) should be minimized.