Sound Shift Sets High-Speed Racing To Your Own Music

By John Walker on January 29th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Yes, Audiosurf. But Hexcells creator Matthew Brown Games says his next game approaches a similar idea in a different way. Where Audiosurf was about the music, Brown intends Sound Shift to be about the racing. That your tracks come from the music you’re playing is a bonus.

But what’s most striking here at a very early stage is the emphasis on design. Take a look at this early footage:

The most obvious details are the lovely use of graphic equalisers both below the track and in the centre of it. Beyond that, it’s the finesse that struck me. While track times and laps take up a fairly typical position top right, they’re clean, neat and well placed. And the speed you’re travelling is written on the back of your mouse-like vehicle. Clutter is reduced to a minimum. But what you won’t see much of in that video is the way the game reacts to touching the sides. Bump a wall and all the written information on screen tears as if on an old television going out of tune, while the music itself reacts, turning tinny like it’s coming through poor headphones. Having the interface react, rather than attempting to portray that through the vehicle (or god forbid, shaking the screen), becomes a really interesting way of feeding back, and puts a bigger emphasis on wanting to succeed.

It’s hard to justify that with words, but I’ve had a play of a very early prototype of the game (just a single pre-built track at this stage), and it’s enormously effective. I can also attest that if that’s Brown playing the game himself in the video, then he is some sort of racing guru, because trust me – it’s not that easy. With an emphasis on speed, this isn’t a game where you can just put your foot down and screech around the corners. You’re almost immediately going over 300kph, and that’s not a realistic turning speed. Acceleration needs to be carefully managed.

Clearly this is very early days, and the prototype doesn’t yet offer the game’s key feature: building tracks according to the music you’re playing. But the dude made Hexcells, so I’m plugging whatever he’s working on next. You can keep up to date with the project on its TigSource page, and hopefully soon on the game’s own page.

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13 Comments »

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  1. Pich says:

    What happens if the song ands before you’ve finished the race? does it loop?

    • grom.5 says:

      It seems it’s more like a Trackmania kind of race. You have the duration of the songs to improve your time and it’s over.

      (In the video, it the same three laps again and again, with a better time at some point)

    • Shadowcat says:

      Having watched the video, I can inform you that the song never ends. It just goes on and on and on and oh god, it never changes. Why won’t it end. WHY?

  2. Niko says:

    Why do they use such boring music though? I mean, it might be good for drunk dancing or whatever is it that young people nowadays do, but here…

  3. Prolar Bear says:

    I want this to be good, it’s basically Audiosurf: Wipeout Edition. Zone mode please!

  4. The First Door says:

    Oh! OH! This has me very interested indeed. This looks exactly like the type of game I wished Audiosurf was. I’d much rather play a Wipeout style futuristic arcade racing game based on my music than the (for me) slightly dull core mechanics of Audiosurf.

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    sonofsanta says:

    This could be the best music game since the specific subset of Audiosurf that I actually enjoyed. I never got on with the puzzling bits of Audiosurf, always played as Mono, but never got tired of the electric thrill of coasting over the crest of a mountain as the beat dropped and beginning a plummet downhill towards the crescendo. I think the ascending/descending aspect of that algorithm was the most genius part of it.

    So I’m hoping that this has an easy mode wherein the track is 50% wider and the vehicle is 50% slower for when I just want to switch off and engage with some excellent music in a new way.

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      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      never got tired of the electric thrill of coasting over the crest of a mountain as the beat dropped and beginning a plummet downhill towards the crescendo

      Preach it!

  6. Beernut says:

    As nice as this looks, I’d rather have another hexcells with as hard or even harder puzzles than in hexcells plus. Loved those games. :)

  7. SominiTheCommenter says:

    So, a worse version of Distance?
    Hell, even Nitronic Rush seems better.

  8. YourMessageHere says:

    I was so excited by this. Like Audiosurf with steering. Like Permutation Racer with my music.

    But wait. Laps? LAPS? How does that work?