Drive Any Track Will Powerslide Through Your MP3s

Drive Any Track [official site] will look instantly familiar to anyone who’s played Audiosurf or its sequel, and you’d not be wrong for thinking that. DAT is also a music racing game that constructs its racing tracks based on your personal collection of MP3s (and OGGs and WAVs). Developers Foam recently unveiled it, and are currently vying for votes on Steam Greenlight.

Where Drive Any Track most obviously stands out is in its use of semi-realistic looking cars, which also means that car-based things like power slides are in the mix. So too are gaining air via ramps and performing tricks. I don’t own a car any more but when I did, performing mid-air tricks is exactly the thing I did to make the M25 less boring.

The song in that trailer isn’t to my taste, but opinions vary wildly on music and I can’t expect developers to use Kid Dynamite or Fucked Up tracks when promoting their games. What is to my taste are Drive Any Track’s luscious visuals and the idea of feeding my music into Drive Any Track to make sweet obstacle courses. About the only drawback I can see is that like many others, I’m increasingly streaming my digital music via online services.

I’m also intrigued by the idea that there are different cars for different genres of music. I see many opportunities here. A hearse for goth, a coffin Cadillac for the psychobillies, a foreign car no one’s heard of for the indie kids and a cruise ship for the genre of “Jimmy Buffet”. Who knows what the future may hold if DAT passes the Greenlight finish line.

(Drive Any Track. Oh my. I’m sorry about this, but whenever I look at that title I think of the ghastly old UK TV ads for WeBuyAnyCar.com. Don’t click that link: you’ll regret it. It contains a song far worse than any game trailer I can think of.)

35 Comments

  1. Sp4rkR4t says:

    The first game of this type that links up with a music streaming service like Spotify or Play music will instantly get my money.

    • yhancik says:

      You can run some sound analysis in realtime, and the more CPU power, the better the realtime analysis. But for example if you need to draw the track ahead of you, the game needs to know what’s ahead in the music track.

      • povu says:

        Yeah for this kind of game streaming would be hard.

        Beat Hazard is a different kind of music game that lets you stream radio channels. No Spotify support though.

      • Slabs says:

        Just have the stream buffer for the required time to process the details, disguise it with loading/intro/flyby of the starting line and you’re set!

        • LionsPhil says:

          Indeed. Nothing forces the game to play audio the millisecond it recieves it.

          If the streaming service permits it (and presumably they support prebuffering if only just for buffering’s sake) you can preprocess a few tens of seconds of audio while introducing less than a few tens of seconds of startup delay.

          • Haxton Fale says:

            But the likes of Audiosurf require the entire track generated to produce necessary score goals, and – at the very least – the course map. And there’s the whole idea of being able to complete the entire track even in the event of disrupted internet connection, instead of having to render the entire run invalid. There would need to be some limitations on the tracks (as in, the racing tracks, not the music tracks) if one were to allow streaming and take everything into account.

        • trjp says:

          Less posting – more coding – or , wait ……

          It’s nowhere near that simple for a RAFT of reasons, the main one being that services like Spotify won’t LET you do that for most of their subscribers (anymore than those subscribers can’t download the music in most cases)

          It’s only 2014, I suspect most people still have their music in “local” form somewhere – hell, the usual complaints around here are that something ISN’T available in offline/DRM-free form

          • Vandelay says:

            This is actually incorrect. If you subscribe to Spotify, it allows an offline mode, where you can listen to music that has been downloaded and stored in a encrypted format. I don’t see why a game could not just download the track in that format and use that to create the level, for those that are Spotify subscribers.

            As for most people still having music in a local form, you are possibly right, but that will continue to change as more people start subscribing to such services and figure out that there is no reason to copy their music onto a computer or to buy anything from iTunes. And when you say that people complain about DRM, do remember you also say “around here.” For most people, they don’t care/notice/understand.

            As for me personally, I am in the don’t notice category, when it comes to music. I can use Spotify on all the devices I want, having access to a wide range of artists and the quality is equal across all of them. The only element that does disappoint me is that that quality is not that great. Even that is something I have only recently really noticed since getting a semi-decent sound system, so I imagine that a lot of people will be content with the quality they are getting. It is also not a complaint that can be leveled at the concept of streaming music, as there is no reason that a service couldn’t offer the higher quality audio.

          • RARARA says:

            “It’s only 2014…”

            It’s… 2015.

          • trjp says:

            “If you subscribe to Spotify” – which would be “some of the ” users I talked about – but the files downloaded are DRM’d of course – not useful to anyone else (and they’re not about to release the means to make them useful I guess)

            Developers of games which use “your own” music have run into copyright issues in the past just for putting track and artists names onto screenshots – never mind getting whole music services integrated.

            and you couldn’t just do one – if you did Spotify someone would want Pandora – then Play and iTunes and so on – and the cost of covering them all (and getting them all on-board) would be more than developing the game cost.

    • Kitsunin says:

      It’s really too bad Spotify is so horrible for musicians, it’s definitely a good system for music-delivery. If only they were throwing their manipulative business model at a profession which isn’t full of people willing to settle for hobby-work, but then, I guess Netflix would be just as bad if most TV and movie producers were willing to settle for almost nothing.

      • yhancik says:

        Obviously platforms are still not entirely to blame link to techdirt.com but yes it’s still shitty.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Spotify itself does’t allow artists to independently use Spotify, and they partner with labels to ensure that absolutely no musician who isn’t fully independent can avoid having their music on the service, (even being partnered with ASCAP, a nonprofit and in many ways a must for independents, means your music goes to streaming services without your consent, in that case, you can at least get a larger % of the revenue if you go through the hassle, but you still have no choice) so for the most part, Spotify itself ensures that the labels receive such a large share. Though yes, it’s largely the whole music culture which makes music artistry almost impossible as a profession, with labels in turn abusing their contracts to the fullest, there’s little doubt Spotify isn’t taking as much advantage of that as they can.

          Unfortunately I think that, even with the outright problems of where the revenue goes fixed, Spotify is simply too consumer friendly for musicians to flourish. It’s a service designed for people to use instead of purchasing music, so it just doesn’t work unless it charges amounts similar to what people spend on music. If people can’t afford that, piracy is still an option, because frankly as it stands, it is far better for musicians if you pirate and buy an album every second month or so, than to subscribe to Spotify.

          I’m not really sure whether Spotify is itself “evil” or whatever, but it’s beyond a doubt true that listening to your music through them in virtually no way supports musicians themselves.

        • GameCat says:

          For me Spotify is the worst thing that happened to music since piracy.

  2. yhancik says:

    But.. wouldn’t it have made sense for a trailer to actually show how the game reacts to music, instead of making a cut of various gameplay scenes with an unrelated music on top?

    (also -10 points for the Inception Horn :p)

    • MaVmAn says:

      Yes that’s crazy, trying to sell a game about interactions between action/level design and music and showing nothing to actually prove the concept…

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Also agreed. I watched the trailer and came away with thinking that footage didn’t look as if the game had made the track suit the music being played.

        • Shadowcat says:

          This isn’t the first time I’ve seen that with a music game trailer, either. Very weird. Of course this kind of analysis and synchronisation is a hard problem, and maybe the developers don’t want to appear misleading by using a contrived example which wouldn’t be representative of the purchased game; but when we don’t have the luxury of playing through multiple songs to see how the tracks respond, it’s pretty much up to the trailer to make it clear what the game is capable of.

  3. Brinx says:

    Personally, I think it’s very reasonable to expect developers to only use Kid Dynamite And Fucked Up songs to promote their games from now on.

  4. Mrice says:

    I like the look of it but, (im trying really hard to be delicate here because i obviously haven’t played it and don’t really know, this is just a gut reaction to the trailer and im happy to admit im wrong) it feels a bit derivative of both Nitronic Rush and Audiosurf. That’s not to say that those ideas are exclusive to those games for some reason, i’d love to see them reused creatively. But i feel like there aren’t actually that many unique ideas in this.

    Still, if it takes those good ideas and makes something excellent with them. Ill buy it.

  5. liquidsoap89 says:

    I’m having a hard time picturing how the game will change based on different songs/beats. Also, it looks slightly too involved for a game in this genre. I like Beat Hazard and Ninja mode in Audiosurf because I can turn off part of my brain while playing, and actually enjoy the music I’m listening too. I don’t have to focus on drifting and not hitting walls and collecting too much, which takes away from me actually listening to what I’m playing with.

  6. aldo_14 says:

    I would like to see one of these things with semi-realistic graphics. sort of like an Outrun-meets-roadtrip vibe. Not even necessarily as an arcade racer, just trying to capture the simple existential joy of driving a good car on a good road on a good day.

  7. TechnicalBen says:

    Dat car, dat base, dat tune!

  8. Frye2k11 says:

    I hate to be that guy. But this game’s main selling point is obviously the sync between gameplay and the music. And they’re hiding it in that video.

    It has never been done well by anyone, because frequency spectrum analysis of unknown audio is really really hard. Even Audiosurf hardly managed to identify an electronic beat. Let alone plucking a single guitar string with frequencies all over the place.

    Humans are so good at identifying patterns that it is easily forgotten how hard it is for a computer.

  9. Pich says:

    Gah! music generated games, my only weakness!

  10. David Bliff says:

    All my friends play Audiosurf and all the long-term appeal of the game is beating their scores. Unless everyone jumps over to this or it does something really different from Audiosurf, I doubt I’ll feel the need to give it a try.

  11. Freud says:

    I never saw the point of games like this. Why wouldn’t I just play a proper driving game while listening to my music?

    • yhancik says:

      You can already do that. Therefore some people are trying to create different kind of experiences :p

    • Strangely Brown says:

      I’m hesitant to call things like DAT and AS games, but rather a different way of listening to music. Sure, many may come for the game experience, but for me it’s about the music. But then, I prefer my Audiosurf (I’ve only played the first) a bit… minimalistic. Ironmode Ninja, simplest graphics possible, textures removed/blacked out, all colours except the highest set to an only marginally brighter shade of grey than the actual greys.
      No pointless distractions – it’s just me, the road and the flow of the music. And that, my dear Freud, is what games like these are about for me.

      So yeah, I think I’ll stick with AS1 unless DAT gives me a very compelling reason to switch.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Because people want to feel like they’re interacting with music without actually having to learn anything about music.

  12. April March says:

    I’m going to find its limitations, find a track that it can’t run (because it’s too long for instance) and then sue the creators for misleading advertising.

    Seriously though – they should have shown how exactly the track processes the music, so we’d have some idea of what it’s like. I find the original Audiosurf to be really good and Beat Hazard to be essentially pointless. But I’m also in the side of any game about futuristic neon cars in which one of them is clearly a 90’s Fiat Uno, so I’ll wait and see what becomes of this.

  13. machineageproductions says:

    I tried playing this one. But all the Nickleback levels were just poorly recycled and repetitive. Didn’t devs learn from Dragon Age 2?

  14. SuicideKing says:

    I clicked the link. Catchy song! :D

  15. The First Door says:

    Le gasp! It’s the game I wished Audiosurf was! I was really hoping someone would do a game where you got to drive a car down the rollercoaster tracks, rather than play high-speed Klax.