Ideally, how will players know when/where to prepare for the light to change?



Using musical cues will work best for our game, especially since the theme of our game is a disco battle.



Super Mario 3D World – Beep Block Skyway:


What it does well:

This game uses clear signalled beeps for when something is going to change, hence the namesake. Everything operates on beat, but the lead in on the beeps is important for the change. If the game wanted to change the timing of when things would spawn the beeps would be the most important signal. An action only has to happen every 8 beats, allowing the players to not be ruled by the beat, but cautious of it. The way this is signalled visually is by subtle light flashes on the colored floor panels.


What we can learn from it:

Our game can use the clear beeps to signal to players that the light is changing. As for the floor indicators, if we end up rendering a dance floor in our game, we can also do something visually to the beat to help keep players informed. For example, the floor could slowly switch from red to green when it is time to change the light.

Crypt of the Necromancer:

What it does well:

This game does it’s entire movement on a grid based system. It is very clear, from enemy movement to the UI, that every action is timed to the beat. This is signalled visually, by the floor alternating colors every beat, the enemies and player moving on beat, and the health subtling bouncing to the beat. This game has a number of different songs with different tempos, so in order to cue the player in on when a beat should be, you can see lines coming in at the bottom to a heart. Each line represents a beat so it’s very clear when the beat is coming.


What can we learn from it:

This game is very centered around beat level actions, for what we are trying to design, a lot of these cues might lead to sensory overload, but the subtler cues like the UI heart bouncing in the top corner might be something we can implement.

Super Mario Bros. (NES):


What it does well:

Though the game is not rhythmic, players are still able to tell when something is about to change due to the music cue that time is almost up. The game also shifts the music in high gear when time is almost up to help up the tension of the gameplay. This is only conveyed visually through the time counter in the top right corner of the screen. Naturally this indicator would get visual changes with each iteration of the mario series, but as it stands, players learn that <100 seconds means urgency.


What can we learn from it:

This game only needs to indicate something to the player auditorily only once per level. The idea of a music sting is a great indicator because it can almost work completely devoid of extra UI clutter. That being said, it is not a mechanic we can lean on too heavily as it might also lead to sensory overload. Ideally this sort of idea can be used when we players to know it’s the last round or something that infrequent.


Mother 3:


 What it does well:

Though not a core mechanic to the game, if players time their hits to the music, they can score higher damage on their enemies. What makes this game unique is that the hits aren’t always the beat. Each song has a set pattern of beats that need to be hit in order to get the hit combo. Learning the pattern for each song is key in order to do well.


What can we learn from it:

This mechanic is a little far out of what we want to do musically, but it is nice to explore how music is used in other genres to help understand what we can do in our own game. The best thing that we can pull from this is that timing your own actions to the beat can make for a good incentive. So far the only action that players can act upon voluntarily is placing a mirror, so thinking about possibly placing a mirror on beat leading to benefits could be a direction we could explore?



From the games researched, we can conclude that in order to get players to know something has changed, it’s not enough to hit them with an audio cue right beforehand. It’s important to be redundant with the information. Whether it be bouncing UI elements, a visual timer on-screen or game elements that bounce along to the beat, the more we inform the player the better. At this moment, the amount of time between light spawning is not set in stone, but if we want it to be locked somewhat to the music, we will probably have to change that.


What we currently have implemented is a timer at the top of the screen that indicates when a mirror should be placed, with no indication of when the light is going to change. Ideally for our final version of the game we would like to have both of these mechanics tracked by audio cues, but different from each other so as to not cause confusion.


Solutions include:

  1. The light changes every 16 beats.
  2. Lead in beeps that doubly inforce that the light is about to change.
  3. Music tracks that have special time shifts.
  4. UI elements that bounce along with the beat of the music.
  5. Music cues to tell you when a mirror should be placed.
  6. A music cue/shift for the last round of the game or a game point?
  7. A floor that subtly reinforces when the light will change.


At the end of the day, we are only trying to make players aware that there is something timed to the music. We aren’t trying to make a rhythm game. All of the solutions listed are aiming to keep the player informed, not dominate the gameplay. It’s still mostly about aiming and dodging.