Patterns Of Thought: Music Of The Spheres Goes Free

Music of the Spheres is a contemplative puzzle game that combines bouncing bullets, serene music, glockenspiel notes and Islamic art. I wrote about it in early last year, won over by the deceptively simple surface, which is a fine delivery for the precision of the design. Although the minute-by-minute process involves measuring angles, and mastering the timing and trajectory of projectiles, the music and careful geometry make the game soothing rather than leaving me seething. Designer Hamish Todd has now made the game free.

The worst thing about being quoted in trailers is that it draws attention to the fact that I’m repeating myself in the text around that trailer. So instead of digging out the thesaurus and trying to another bunch of words that mean ‘contemplative’ (an online dictionary just suggested ‘in brown study’, a phrase I didn’t recognise at all) I’m going to share a little background on the game and the work that Todd is doing now.

Todd’s descriptions of development sound like science.

“…what I actually do all day, which is think about bullet trajectories. What trajectories are interesting? What trajectories are beautiful? How can I encourage you to use this trajectory? How can I discourage that trajectory?

I have to stitch two pieces of glass together by constructing each shape with the circle and line tools. It’s time-consuming but kinda fun constructing specific shapes with just circles and lines. It’s the way that ancient and medieval architects and mathematicians used to do everything!”

Those ancient and medieval folks made some incredible things, and I suspect that any kind of working knowledge as to the processes involved would blow my mind into tiny pieces. I struggle to colour within the lines with my crayons.

Todd has taken his brain to other fields for now, studying virus shell patterns and working at the International Rice Research Institute. Indeed, he tells me that it was initial studies of virus shell patterns that led him to Islamic “girih tiles” that are at the foundation of Music of the Spheres. The world and its connections are fascinating, strange and wonderful.

You can download the game here.

3 Comments

  1. B.rake says:

    Always meant to check this out after reading some of Hamish’s posts on maths and level design in Castlevania, Portal and whatnot (believe they can be found on gamasutra or somesuch)… guess there’s no longer any excuse not to… maybe it’ll make a nice pairing with Rollers of the Realm.

  2. elderman says:

    Oh, I was planning to pay for this game! I didn’t realise it was out. What a nice and somewhat guilty-making surprise. I’ve been looking forward to playing this.

  3. Noumenon says:

    There are no walkthroughs, so I can feel smart that I beat it! I got stuck a couple times, even though he was so careful to set things up as training for the next puzzle. Portal has this going for it — the first-person running around spaces out the puzzles which also spaces out the frustration and the feeling dumb.

    Awesome articles that guy has on his site!