Videogames Killed The Video Star: Reset

By Kieron Gillen on December 1st, 2008 at 3:00 pm.

RPS-reg Roburky has written an interesting if minor experimental game. It’s called Reset, and is available here. It’s inspired by and based around “Rest to Reset” by Trash80 (who you’ll know as the creator of the music for Darwinia). Roburky loves it so much he tried to turn its structure into a videogame – the best comparison is an alternate-dimension music video, with a game instead of film being used to illustrate and provide secondary-stimulation to the music. Its five megs, will take less than five minutes to play, and you can get it from here. Some thoughts beneath the cut…

It’s simple as hell. A space-ship takes off. You can only turn left or right. You speed across the galaxy, facing threats and trying to dodge them. Their intensity builds alongside the song, before a sudden fade into its quite poignant denouement. Perhaps its most memorable there, in that it leaves space to muse exactly what was going on and why someone had to go into space anyway.

Generally speaking, the best comparison is Everyday Shooter, in that it elevates basic material through tight attention to music. It’s less successful than Everyday Shooter in terms of mirroring the work, admitedly, but it comes at a different angle – rather than the straight abstract action of that, this is more of an illustrative work. The pop video comparison isn’t spurious, and it’s that angle I’d like to see someone expand on, working in more aspects which make their entrance alongside the auditory elements.

(Hell, if a band want to spend their marketing budget on something a bit more interesting than paying some film school oik to do a load of jelly-cuts or whatever, this would be worth pursuing.)

Its main failing is when it actually steps away from the visualising experience thing. While the collision damage on your ship’s well done, the few seconds you lose control after an unfortunate crash takes you out of the game – and away from the music. It’s the same failing as Audiosurf - in a game based around musical immersion, a hard jerk back to reality is painful. A softer approach to punishment which doesn’t separate you from the gameworld would be worth pursuing.

But conceptually fascinating, and certainly something I’d like to see developed further.

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33 Comments »

  1. Ginger Yellow says:

    I’ve often wondered why bands don’t do interactive music videos more often. I mean, obviously it used to be because you can’t put them on MTV and all those crappy digital channels, but in this modern world of YouTube and flash games, you’d think it would be a pretty good way of getting people’s attention, let alone being creative .

  2. Brian Carnell says:

    Anyone else having a problem with RPS not updating in Google Reader? Hasn’t updated for me since Nov. 29.

  3. Ging says:

    Brian, try resubscribing to the feed.

  4. Pags says:

    An enjoyable five minutes, even if it did turn into a little more than five minutes due to the number of times I failed. Lovely ending though.

  5. Kunal says:

    Interesting stuff (esp. the ending).
    I’m not sure if this is so similar to Everyday shooter which (like Rez) had a layer of procedurally generated music on top of the fixed background music. This game just seemed to have the fixed background music.

    Offtopic, but does anyone know of PC games that are the ‘opposite’ of this ? Games like Electroplankton, where the music reacts to user-initiated events (rather than the user reacting to music events).

  6. BooleanBob says:

    The ‘air remaining’ counter that comes up at the end is nice, creepy touch.

    This isn’t the first time RPS has linked a game which comes as a self-contained executable with a circular red icon. Anyone know what program is being used to put out these games? Might be interested in seeing what I can make of it.

    (By which I mean download the necessary files in a flurry of excitement, pace the room during installation with barely-contained enthusiasm, then look at the boot screen with its various windows, menus and fragments of code and lose all pretence of interest within milliseconds.)

  7. Kunal says:

    @BooleanBob – I think it was made using Gamemaker.

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    It’s GameMaker, I believe. Its mentioned on Roburky’s page.
    http://www.yoyogames.com/

    KG

  9. Alexander says:

    BooleanBob; It is linked on his website, he used the Game Maker software http://www.yoyogames.com/

  10. roBurky says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Kieron. That’s some really useful criticism.

    The game elements working with the music did not come out nearly as well as it did in my head. I ran into difficulty actually working out the precise rhythm of the really fast beats, just working from an mp3 opened in audacity as my guide. And also just general difficulties implementing the things I wanted to. I finished this just four weeks after writing my first Hello World program and starting my first Game Maker tutorial.

    I see what you mean about the spin from being hit by a missile taking control away from you. My intention starting out was to have no punishment and no fail state, only the illusion of them. Hence lots of feedback from being hit, even though you can never take enough damage to explode. I guess in trying to make the missile hits feel worse than the laser hits, I made a mistake and took it too far.

  11. roBurky says:

    Game Maker is a fantastic piece of software. I was continually surprised realising just how many of my favourite freeware games were made using it. I recommend anyone with a game idea goes to try it out – it has some excellent tutorials.

  12. Alexander says:

    My comments are well misplaced!

    roBurky, this is really interesting and overall I disagree with Kieron on the player feedback (however I have been influenced by both prior listening (to the song) and reading (of the above article, although quickly without giving it much or any thought). Actually the article gave the impression I could lose the game, which would be a turn of, but the game just showed it didn’t like me hitting a missile or getting shot, having any less ‘consequence’ the game would fail to maintain the super tense 5 minute experience.

    The only thing bothering me would be inconsistency in visual appearance, but I am just a big sucker for pretty games. Also more more more variation (enemies etc or environment), maybe to keep the ‘flow’ of information going.

    Great thing!

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    You can have a consequence – ship going haywire without total loss of control.

    KG

  14. MarvintheParanoidAndroid says:

    @Kunal: (RE games where the music reacts to user-initiated events)
    I spotted a link (on VGCats, to my shame) to a rather nice game called Auditorium which does this, to a certain (fairly basic) extent. The game itself is pretty good fun, it kept me up last night to complete the demo, and it seems that there are some interesting-looking and more ambitious ideas for more puzzles.

  15. BooleanBob says:

    Thanks folks. Not sure this will unseat Klik’n'Play as my toolset of choice. Having said that if it can manage more than 16 global variables, it pretty much will by default.

  16. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    @ MarvintheParanoidAndroid: For shame!

    Also, nicely done roBurky. Love the way the rocket motor splutters to life in time to the beat.

  17. Elyscape says:

    The Most did something similar: see Fire and Forget.

  18. StalinsGhost says:

    I love the concept – all too often is music developed to suit a game. A game developed around the music is genuinely interesting. You could argue that Audiosurf did it first – but I would say that crafting set pieces and challenges to the music is not something that can be done procedurally. Kind of like music videos – you dont create a music video mathematically (despite what MTV would indicate), it’s done from the heart, as all good music is. A game based on this idea is a genuinely interesting one.

    TheReticule bigged it up first though! :D
    http://thereticule.com/2008/11/29/off-and-on-again/

  19. Kunal says:

    @Marvin and Elyscape – Danke. Will check those out.

    I’d think that these music-games will always have to involve a simplistic element of play. Shooters, avoiders, basic platformers etc. The play element will have to be something that most people have already learnt (by playing previous video games).

  20. Andrew Milne says:

    That was interesting, really liking the way the game play and music integrated. Putting a score at the end was cruel though as I’m now obsessed with getting a distance over 100,000.

    One thing that I thought interesting: I was on my 3rd play through and I’m thinking “That’s nice, quite fun but I guess I’ve seen everything it has to offer” when this giant white particle fountain appears on screen. Kind of looked like a big black hole but, you know, white. Haven’t seen it again though.

    Makes me wonder what else may be hidden in there.

    Wonder what would happen if I left it running long enough to run out of air?

  21. Stuk says:

    Very nice, I had fun dodging the blue rockets. It’s an interesting concept, and I imagine very difficult to create a game where the player feels free to do as they wish, yet still able to experience the musical “narrative”. I’d love to see this done again, there’s definitely plenty of scope here.

    I want to leave it running as well, to see what happens :)

  22. Dorsch says:

    For a first attemt, zhis game is really amazing. You seem to be really motivated and talented. Good for you and for us players.

  23. sbs says:

    It kind of feels like a dance. On third play, I mostly went straight forward until the beat kicked in, over to serpentine lines timed to the beat and by that, the enemy shots, then sidestepping the first missiles followed by elaborate(read: completely panicky) loops to evade the heavy fire.

    Good work.

  24. eyemessiah says:

    Awesome!

    I really liked it. Also, I quite liked the spinning out of control. For me it only happened once or twice, and went very well with the music.

    More levels please!

  25. Dylan says:

    Cool game! I enjoyed it even more the second play when I tried to get as far from the planet as possible. With that as my goal, I could definitely see a little semi-permanent steering loss as enough consequence for damage.

    I tried to lead a rocket into an asteroid to get it off my tail, but didn’t pull it off. Is that possible?

  26. An Innocuous Coin says:

    I liked that, really. It was definitely quite engrossing evading shots and such in time to the music, and I’d personally love to see more of this as well. I’ll have to try and get farther though – maximixing one’s distance traveled while avoiding all that seems like it’d be tricky. Replay value!

    …the “remaining air” timer at the end seems a bit morbid, though. Anyone know what happens when it runs down?

  27. MarvintheParanoidAndroid says:

    @Man Raised By Puffins, KG:
    Haha, thanks. I somehow completely missed that, despite clearly recalling the PongOut post above it and the RPS t-shirt post below it. But yes, as far as this game goes: fun! I’m a fan of Trash80 but I hadn’t heard this track, it’s pretty awesome.

  28. Jody Macgregor says:

    Yes, but what’s a jelly-cut?

  29. Bobsy says:

    The game elements working with the music did not come out nearly as well as it did in my head. I ran into difficulty actually working out the precise rhythm of the really fast beats, just working from an mp3 opened in audacity as my guide.

    See this is why all music ought to be at 60 / 120 bpm.

  30. Mr Pink says:

    Boolean Bob: Wow, I remember Klik n Play! Made my first game (A space invader clone, but with invading Lemons) on that when I was about 12 I think. Can you still use that? Pretty limited wasn’t it?

  31. ian says:

    Has anyone gotten this to work in Wine? The game works, but there’s no sound… Bummer!