Making games is hard, but creating something new is more difficult. A thread about the many iterations and ideas we've gone through to reach the current version of Musical Range which you can try next week. Let's start!
Musical Range started as a very basic idea. There are some targets, you shoot at them, they make a music note. Back in 2017, I saw a video, ‘Firearm Symphony’ which inspired this new idea. It seemed fun and so I did a quick proof of concept.
Then, in late 2018, Rockhopper Studios was born and now with a bigger team and a few projects under our belts, the Musical Range itch came back. We were prepared to rebuild the game from the ground up and create a world full of action better than ever before.
The first new iteration consisted of Targets (now spheres), that changed heights to add verticality. And you could hold the note, which gave that amazing feeling of power and creativity after finishing a song. The game was going great but it had a problem: Static hands.
1st idea: We designed a bomb that would come out and you'll have to grab it like a lasso and fling it to one of the hexagons on the background, which will result in a big musical explosion. It worked well for moving the arms and felt unique but there was a massive timing problem. Either the hand movement would be on time or the bomb hit. It messed up with the timing, which was and is extremely important for the game. So, we had to scrap this idea.
There was a massive timing problem. Either the hand movement would be on time or the bomb hit. It messed up with the timing, which was and is extremely important for the game. So, we had to scrap this idea.
2nd idea. What if we could drag the target notes and that would change their pitch? The Note Bend system was born. It allows you to modify the pitch of the note and makes vibratos natural. It also makes you move more to bend the note and change the way the game sounds.
We felt we needed more still, so we created Combat Blocks,. Fired at you, you had to punch them to the rhythm and direction. An exciting feature that we felt worked. Our thinking was that shooting the notes was the musical instrument and the combat blocks the percussion.
Now the players are moving, but what if they could move even more? We can have a "Laser Block" that comes at you and will grow in a direction, forcing you to dodge it. It was at this moment that the team felt divided on the gameplay. It was feeling kind of cluttered…
Still, we found out the feature the players enjoyed to the fullest was the simple Target Note shooting. And after watching a player truly feel the music and enjoying those parts we knew we had to go back to the true roots of the game.
Musical Range is at the core an immersive instrument. One that could not be made before VR. Our current goal is to make the player feel like they own the music, just like how Jimi Henrix can make his sound his own, vs other guitar players. Thus we are removing all clutter.
On the demo on Feb 22, there will be no Combat Blocks and no Laser Blocks. With no option to play with them. We feel that this new focus will drastically change how the game is played and how you enjoy the game, the music, and your sound.
That's like 4 ~ 5 years of work summarized very quickly. But the point is, it took longer than expected. But the game feels right currently, the player is immersed in the music, and you can express yourself through the music. We are really excited to see what players can achieve!