Monthly Archives: February 2010

Divine Beats – Night at the Monastery [Game Outline]

Stage Background
A group of people bands together to transverse an isolated mountain area, and decided to spend a night at an abandoned monastery. Amongst them, a young drummer and a Taoist monk shared a room, when suddenly they found themselves being assaulted by their fellow travelers. The monk pointed out that malicious spirits were dwelling near this area, and has now taken possession over most of the travelers. It might also have been their luck that the monk by then lacked the ingredients and tools to perform a proper exorcize ritual.

There is still a way, though. The monk currently has talismans that are meant to expel the spirits from their host but are functionally dormant. However, these talismans’ power can be reactivated with sonic energy, which is where the young drummer comes in.

The young drummer, however, is not completely unconcerned. The talismans can only be reactivated correctly by correctly drumming on this part. Last but not least, the monk appears to be perpetually drunk. Will this duo be able to save their fellow travelers and survive the night?

This is a music game where the stage last as long as the music duration. In this game, the player plays the drummer who works together with the monk to expel the evil spirits possessing the travelers. The goal of the game is to free as many travelers as possible until the music duration.

The core mechanic and gameplay involved includes:
Button 3 – Hit Drum

During the gameplay, the monk and drummer transverse the stage, where the monk runs in front with carefree attitude while the drummer tries to keep up with him. The enemies will appear on screen based on the music’s rhythm and charge towards the duo. The monk can dodge them with ease, but if the player fails to perform by the enemy’s associated beat mark (hitting the button in time), he will be injured by the enemy.

In order to save a possessed person:

  • The monk first places a talisman onto the possessed person that passes his way. A beat mark should then appear above the enemy.
  • The player activates the talisman by beating the drum as indicated by the beat mark when the possessed person comes into range.
  • If the player hits too early, the talisman is activated prematurely, fails to expel the evil spirit, and essentially becomes useless. That enemy will later on attack and injure the drummer.
  • On the other hand, if the player hits too late (or missed it all together), he also gets attacked.
  • Regardless of where a possessed person is successfully freed from possession or not, he/she exits the stage through the left.

Concept Sketch of Gameplay
The timing between possessed travelers being stuck with a talisman and when the drummer is suppose to hit the drum is meant to be setup in a call-and-response pattern; the call here is when the monk sticks a talisman onto an appearing enemy.

Health Bar
The drummer health bar is affected by the player’s performance during the gameplay. Hitting a beat mark/defeating an enemy increases the health bar while missing it decreases it.
If the health bar reaches 0, the game ends prematurely.

Beat Map Gauge
The beat map gauge is mainly there for debugging purpose for now, though it’s possible for it to be used in the future.
The gauges consists of a time bar that indicates and suggest when the drummer should be the drum in order to defeat the enemy associated with the gauge.

Current Status
Downloadable demo will be coming soon~

Concept Statement as of Feb. 2010

My thesis is a music rhythm game, centered on the adventure of a drummer in a fictional Oriental world. A common aspect of music games is how the game informs the users the timing for when they have to perform a certain action. In this game, I want to explore how beatmap data of such can be implemented and incorporated into the theatrical aspects of the game (such as the character animation, narrative, and the music).

My motivation for this thesis stems from the different ways various music games handles theatrical elements. When beatmap data are represented, either as visuals or audio, they may either combine with one of these theatrical elements or compete for attention against them. For this game, I attempt for the first approach, which leads to several design questions, including:

  • What are some of the conventional and unconventional ways beatmap data have been represented in music games?
  • How much beatmap data can be represented yet still allow the users to pay attention to the theatrical elements of the game?
  • If beatmap data are to be merge with the theatrical elements of the game, how can it still present information clearly to the user?

The prototype I’m currently working on, tentatively named Divine Beats – Night in the Monastery, is inspired by the NDS game Rhythm Heaven and the Playstation franchise PaRappa the Rapper. It builds upon a call-and-response game mechanic, where the player has to repeat a previously performed rhythm. In this game, the drummer works with a Taoist Monk to evict malicious spirits from their possessed victims, whom stream in based on the rhythm of the background music. Having the enemies representing the beatmap data introduces challenges covered by the mentioned design questions.

The intended audience for this thesis mainly focuses on gamers who may have varying exposure to music games. The narrative context and music choice may also appeal to people familiar to Asian pop culture.