Balls – A Sound Lead Game

I felt inspired by the likes of Untitled Goose Game when I started my design process. I enjoyed the feeling of having the music lead me through levels and react with my every move. After hearing of John Cage’s ‘4’33’(Cage. J.1952) I knew what direction I wanted to take my work. I wanted to create a music/sound lead game that does not focus on music as much as it does the sounds around the article.

My game is a twist on the classic Roll-a-Ball unity demo game. The game should feel like you are the ball and you are experiencing all the ambient sound/music around you. I wanted the game to be as atmospheric as possible so I recorded audio using a sound-proofed room. In retrospect, this was overkill but was inspired by the images of Cage and wanted to learn from the process. The volume of sound effects such as rolling or collisions are affected by the velocity of the player – e.g. if the ball is getting faster, the SFX gets louder. I wanted to challenge myself so I included some quite unique terrain that tied into the idea of the player being inside a piano. Iannis Xenakis creates tension using violins and I like to think the way I tackled how strings sound when the player rolls down them is similar. I used a guitar string and the metal handle of a knife I had nearby to record the SFX for this

I initially wanted to write my own piece of music using my keyboard and Ableton – a program introduced to me by a guest speaker Professor Paul Chapman – however, the distortion was too unappealing (This still piece remains in the game files). The solution to this distortion would seem to be MIDI. I started programming a MIDI after Brian Eno’s “By This River” but ran out of time, this process was new to me and took much longer than expected so I used a demo song for demonstration instead.

Each collectible will have an ambient sound as you approach with a drop-off zone when you get far enough away. Unity’s ability to blend sounds together in such a dynamic environment is impressive to me and Eno’s stuff included a lot of ambient sounds similar to my collectibles. The result of my work is that the speed at which the user plays the game largely affects the mood, which is precisely what I wanted.

The sound effects are all my own however textures were taken from freestocktextures.com and are all under fair use.

Eno, B., 1983. An Ending (Ascent). EG.

Cage. J.,1952. 4’33”.[Live performance]. Performed by David Tudor. [Maverick Concert Hall, New York, 1952]

Xenakis, I., 1956. Jonchaies. EG.