Laserfade Postmortem

Prompt: How can we create a game focused on testing players’ internal sense of rhythm?

Prototype Goals

  • The goal of this game was to explore the idea of testing players’ sense of rhythm by removing the music, while still having them perform actions to the beat.


Platform: Oculus Rift

Players: 1

Controllers: Oculus Touch


In this game, players are tasked with shooting targets that appear in the wireframe-styled world around them. Players must charge their shots to destroy targets; however, doing so removes the music from the world. Since shots must be charged for a certain number of beats, and targets require different numbers of beats to be destroyed, players must internalize the beat in order to succeed.


Aim and shoot at colored targets by holding down the trigger and releasing it after a certain number of beats.

To successfully shoot blue targets, hold down the trigger for three beats before releasing.

To successfully shoot red targets, hold down the trigger for one beat before releasing.


Charged Shots

Players must hold down the trigger for a certain number of beats in order to shoot. This “charges” up a shot, allowing it to destroy a target.


Targets appear in different patterns in a ~120° arc in front of the player. There are two types of targets for players to shoot. The first is a red target and the second a blue. Red targets require the player charge their shots for one beat before firing. Blue targets require the player to charge for three beats before firing.

Fading Music

As players hold down the trigger to charge shots, the music fades. This forces players to internalize the beat of the music and act accordingly. Players’ shots are not snapped to beats, so as long as a player can keep a steady beat, they’re not required to attempt to act on the music’s beats.

Iteration Thoughts


  • There were several experiments as to what sonic signature the “held” state should be for the player. 
    • Complete silence while charging gave negative feedback, as it was initially assumed that the game broke.
    • A fade out of music, coupled with a held last beat (achieved by automating an infinite reverb send in Fmod) helps match the “neon” environment, and gives the guest some ambiance to listen to while they count beats in their head.
  • A repetitive musical leitmotif helps ground the player into the groove of the music, particularly if it occurs at the start of the measure. 
    • Playtest data found that, despite having the freedom to shoot objects at any time, players tend to gravitate towards starting to charge their shot at the beginning of each measure/phrase because of its distinct and recognizable theme.
    • Regular spawning of targets at the beginning of each musical phrase provided additional motivation for this.
  • Initially, the “charging” of the shot had a continuous buildup sound effect that led to an “overload” condition. Because there wasn’t any additional visual feedback on the gun showing when to release, playtest data showed that players would want to keep holding their shots longer to hear the buildup sound, causing them to miss shots and be late.
    • Several iterations of the “buildup” sound effect ultimately led to it being shortened substantially, only being heard when the shot is overcharged. This helped players recognize when they are too late to fire.
  • Having 3 beat targets and 1 beat targets available to display allows for some unique rhythmic possibilities when creating a beatmap. The duration of a 3 beat target is the same as two 1 beat targets. Different combinations of simultaneous 3 and 1 beat targets breaks monotony and gives higher replayability. 
    • For lower skilled players, this gives more choice at which targets to shoot at. 
    • For higher skilled players, multiple targets allows them to test their rhythm across multiple instances at the same time (dual wield, simultaneous target shooting). 


  • Aiming needed to be as easy as possible
    • Laser pointer

Lessons Learned

  • Rhythm is already a hard concept. Manual aiming would have added unnecessary difficulty and concept to keep track of.
  • Players like aspects of repetition and predictability