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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsEiwee - play and learn music
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utkiupe
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« on: June 29, 2017, 06:38:30 am »

Hi guys

My name is Utku and I make games at Kiupe, a little studio in which we make game (mostly) for kids.
We are currently working on a new project: Eiwee, a game about playing and learning music.



So there is this village, a festive and welcoming place, with these cool people hanging around. And there is you.
You are there with your instrument, and play with the friendly people you meet. There is always someone ready to teach you or show you something.
And when you feel ready, why don't you give a concert on the central stage?

In a few words it’s Parappa the Rapper meets Animal Crossing meets Rythm Paradise



(By the way these visuals are from the prototype, they are not what the art will look like in the game Smiley )

About the music
We want to make a music game you play by listening to the sound, not by looking at a visual indicator. It’s all about the emotion that playing music gives you.
It must be a simple game to play (we are probably going to spend a lot of time on the UI/UX of the player instruments), with simple enough music tracks to play.

We also want to let people be creative, not have them follow a strict music score : you can play patterns you have learned, but you are not punished if you don’t play those, it’s more like a guideline that the game will understand.

Patterns?
So each track has a bunch of patterns you can play.
You can learn them when meeting the NPCs.
In this activity  they show you a pattern and you try to repeat it.

 

When you are confident enough, you can play the patterns you have learned for a music track on a small concert.

In concert mode, you choose the music and the NPCs start to play. You can either play the patterns you have learned, but you can play something else. There is no scoring in this mode, just cool feedback from NPCs and the crowd (cheering, light effects, animations, etc.).

For that, we have developed a pattern engine. It listens to what you play and detects when a pattern is being played. Of course since this is done in realtime (and on a mobile phone…) this has to be well optimized. We have something quite nice for now but it might need some tuning later. This part took us some time and I will cover it on a later post.

Other activities
We have planedn to create many activities with the NPCs, focused on learning music concepts (rhythm, harmony, notes, ...) musical discoveries (playing with sound filters, discovering the pentatonic scale, ...), and creative music playing suc as jam sessions with the NPCs

Some words about kiupe
We are a small studio base in Lyon, France
We make games for learning
We have been working on a game series about Maths (it’s called Math Mathews), and now we want to create a new IP about music.

There are 4 main members, and co-founders: Vanessa (producer), Charlie (lead artist), Seb (lead dev) and me (game designer).

What's next?
We are starting the production phase now the pre-production is done.
We have a little prototype which is good for us.
We are currently working the characters and BG design. I hope to show you some stuff really soon.

cheers!
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bynine
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2017, 07:27:43 am »

this is a really nice idea! i think it'll be a great way to get people into music, and i love the visual style, even though it's not finalized.
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joey4track
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2017, 09:21:27 am »

Wow, this is going to be great for my son!
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justincavenagh
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2017, 02:42:09 am »

Very cool idea! Always great to see new ways to get people into and learning music Smiley
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utkiupe
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 07:38:20 am »

Hi everyone,

We are going on with our prototype to have a more complete experience:
- hanging around in the village
- meeting a few NPCs
- making a musical challenge with them (keeping the beat, play the note with higher pitch, etc.)
- learning musical tracks
- playing them on stage in a concert

I am not sure how much content we can put in our prototype, but we have planned 3 more weeks, before starting over with a clean code, and doing everything for real.

In the meantime we are working a lot on the art.
I'll share some work on the backgrounds later.

Here are some work on the NPCs. I hope you like them









 
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DuskedSky
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 01:06:53 pm »

This is a brilliant idea. Animal Crossing & Rhythm Heaven are two of my favorite games, so to say I'm exited is putting it mildly.
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utkiupe
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2017, 12:05:28 am »

thanks Smiley

there is something we are not really sure about the NPCs is having them all as animals
I think maybe they can be anything, like a tomato, a kettle, or whatever

there is another thing I am not sure : we have "masters" in the game which are the NPCs that teach you music tracks. So if you want to learn to play a particular music you have to go to their special place and learn patterns.
the other NPCs are just living there, in the village, and with them you can do all the other musical activities (so challenges, jams, etc.)

in the character designs above I am not sure which one are charismatic enough to be "masters" and which one could be regular NPCs
and I guess we probably need something special for these masters.
I thought also the regular NPCs could be human, but then it can become confusing if the player avatars are human as well (maybe in the future I would like 2 player playing music together, either in real time or asynchronous way)
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Xorglord
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 10:12:00 am »

This looks so dang cool. I am so into it.

Which ones look like masters to me:
King Zion, Barry, Young Pug, Moon, Old Sam & Cake.

I've noticed that that is mainly just the bigger characters, but those are the ones that I looked at and thought "those look like masters".
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Penguinoccio
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2017, 10:16:47 am »

I like the non-animal designs. They feel more original.
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Xorglord
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2017, 10:18:52 am »

I'm going to weigh in on this too - I think both are good. No reason to not have Animals & non-animals.
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utkiupe
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2017, 01:38:47 am »

yep. you are right, maybe a mix is ok
The thing is you always need to find explanations for everything in your games.

So Charlie (this is the lead artist at kiupe) is going on with the character design
he made a couple of them and is also working on some animations.

first, here is some research we make before working on the details of a character.

It's important since music is often associated with style and you need to have characters and settings that will evoke this style.



So maybe for this guy being a master, we need more stuff around him, that will give you you the feeling you have entered his "temple"

I'll come back with more animated stuff around these guys soon.
And I will definitely talk to you about the tech a bit because it was more difficult than we thought!
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utkiupe
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2017, 01:43:54 pm »

Hi everyone. I’d like to talk more about music now.

It’s a music game so you want to play with some kind of virtual instrument.
The tricky part here  is the UI, since we want the game to be playable on mobile, there is not much space for your fingers.
We also want to leave some room for the stuff such as characters playing, the stage, etc. and having big fingers on the screen doesn’t help.



We have made a try with landscape mode but it was definitely not adapted. We’ve decided to go on portrait mode, and leave something like 1/3 of the screen for the instrument UI.
Since we want to have many kind of instruments we will have different UIs : keyboards, string to pinch (like a guitar), something that mimics a trombone, etc.



As you can imagine, the limited space on screen forces us to have a limited number of notes. I think 8 notes is acceptable. Of course it will impact the music creation but it’s enough to produce some cool music.
An important thing to know is that the actual notes you will play will depend on the music you have chosen. you can have a regular C major notes on a music, and in another one, notes from A minor with a couple of notes on the upper octave because the music need them.
At least this is how we imagine it for now.

When a note is played (e.g. the player presses a key on the keyboard) we play the associated sound file. We can have different sound files for different velocity (like in the midi standard). I also imagined that we could split the sound, on some instruments. We can have an attack sound, a looping sound (while you hold the note) and a release sound.

Right now we have this working quite well with a simple keyboard.

Playback
We really wanted to use midi, but it seems you don’t have midi on every devices. We use midi format though as a technical description of the music to play : tempo information, playing a note, stoping a note, defining the beginning of a pattern and a fragment with meta data, etc.
We can play music from the informations stored in midi file with this system.

However, but the sound it produces can be a bit cheap. So we kept playing the musical background (what the other NPCs are playing) as an audio file, thus having a good quality feeling.

We actually use these data to detect if the player is playing a pattern from the current music. For example, you want to make a concert, you choose a music and and your band starts playing. You play with your instrument, and there are many patterns you can play. When you play them we can measure if you play them right (and compute how good you have played it) if it was the best moment to play them, etc. and set some reaction of the environment : public applauding, the other musicians cheering, playing some fireworks effects on the stage, etc.

This is also working not bad at the moment, but probably will need some optimisation later on.
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M4uesviecr
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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2017, 03:40:14 am »

Man, the idea of playing and having to change pitch as well? Dude, such an awesome concept. I also understand the cheapness of using midi, although you can somewhat placate that based on the midi soundfiles you choose to use (there are different soundbanks). Have you guys thought about taking the soundfont approach? It would probably be a ton more work (and I'm not even sure if it would work with the program/system you have installed), but the gist of it is, you record an instrument sounding different pitches, program it as a soundfont, and the playback sounds realistic. Well, more realistic than a midi bank.

It is a similar approach taken to produce virtual instruments like East West Quantum Leap or Vienna Symphonic, but on a low budget. Here is a program that is used for attempting this kind of thing: http://www.synthfont.com/

It may even be possible to create your own GM (midi) bank, that uses higher quality sound samples, rather than relying on the default. Of course, I am talking with limited knowledge, but I am sure it is plausible!

Anyway, this looks awesome! If you guys ever need play testers...  Well, hello there!

... Beg
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utkiupe
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2017, 07:48:16 am »

thanks.

The midi file format is just used to describe the music score. We use the data to play the correct sound file then.
For the sound themselves we mix different instruments and effect to create something specific. Well, this part is still in progress, we have tried things that work well, and others not so good so we'll see.

We have discussed recently with a lab (called Grame) that make research on computer music
they have talked about soundfont and a few other stuff.
since we want to go on mobile, I think it's not really possible, huh ? Or maybe requires some work. I know we have looked at sound fonts after we met the guys at Grame but there was a bit of work we don't want to do right now.

the guys at Grame also created Faust, which is an incredible coding language to generate sound and instruments.
the cool thing with faust is that it's quite easy to make a plugin in Unity after you have made something working in C++
I'd like to test it some day, maybe create an instrument with it later for our game.
There is an app from Smule (https://www.smule.com) that uses faust : the one with the guitar
When you know it's totally computer generated (not based on samples from real instrument) it's not bad, right?

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