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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.

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Adam Smith

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