Making a rhythm game that anyone can enjoy

We’re back with a new post! This week was another busy one for us as we continued implementing the core mechanics of the game. A lot of time was spent fleshing out the features of the map, adding the key stat changes associated with it, and re-designing the way that paths generate. We’re still not 100% with it yet, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

We have movement!

Joni spent the second half of the week creating a method for the player to import their own music library for the rhythm game sections. He was worried that it would take a long time but we’re sat here on Friday afternoon with all the key functionality complete. Joni remains the smartest idiot on the team.

Joni is very pleased with himself.

We thought we’d take a moment here to discuss why we are opting to base the rhythm game on the player’s own music library, and how this decision fundamentally shifted the design of the game. Earlier this year, when we were planning the project, we had initially planned for the rhythm game to use bespoke music which would come with the game. We began searching for a potential genre that would suit our needs. After a lengthy trawl through 100s of Spotify, Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages, we quickly realised that there is no genre of music that everyone loves (duh), but more importantly: it would be tough to find music that would be accessible to a wide range of players that also fitted the tone we were hoping to achieve with the game. Needless to say, things were not looking great.

Like with most problems in life, sometimes you have to look at the problem from a different angle. It seemed like a crazy idea, but what if instead of providing the music ourselves, we let the player choose their own songs? It could mean that everyone has their own perfect soundtrack to use in the game!

We knew other games have achieved this: Audiosurf is wildly successful and allows people to put in almost any track (including the entirety of Bee Movie). This is all well and good, but could we actually build something that could do the same? It seemed pretty outlandish, or a task that would take months, but thankfully we were early enough on in development that we could take the risk to try it out and see if it was possible. And here we are, with our own procedural rhythm game generator 😀

Adding songs into the game.

This change in the way music would appear in the game ended up having a large effect on the rest of the game’s design. Yellow Rock Road was initially planned to be a linear narrative game in which the player would occasionally play a rhythm game as they followed the story. Shifting to a procedural rhythm game meant that it was now technically infinitely replayable. Being the lazy game developers that we are, we of course wanted to take full advantage of this, so we started brainstorming on ways that we could create a replayable story. That’s how we ended up with the current structure of the game. We will almost inevitably talk about how we went about designing a replayable story in a future post, but that’s all for now! Thanks for giving this a read, have a most excellent day!