Idea Bash – 2009/10/05

After doing some reading on fandom creation, I came to realize that fan creation is anchored on how the fans are both consumers and creators. Many activities in the fandom has something to do with exploring and expressing the self, some of which can be rather private and less likely to be shared willingly by the creator. Some education theorist argued that youth involved in fan creation can in fact have an accute understanding on design concepts, artistic techniques, and collaborating with other artists.

There are also some essays written for fan videos, including Anime Music Videos (AMVs). There are two key points that draws my attention.

  1. Copyright is always an issue within the fandom community. However, as long as the fan creators don’t gain profit from their work or detriment the commercial distributor’s business, distributors, for the majority of the time, won’t press charges for these fan creation. Given how Anime started off as a cult product in the US, such fan work even serves as free advertisement.
  2. For AMV, what happens a lot is the original clips from the original show becomes “decontextualized”, where the video clips are given new  meanings, and are compiled to create a narrative that is either different from the original or has different emphasis.

Given these, and the fact that I like music rhythm games, I decided to put less emphasis on fandom creation, but keep the underlying idea of disembling and recontructing context. Meanwhile, Paul Robertson’s work also invited my thoughts in blurring the line between animation and game machinima.

So here’s the deal:

This thesis is about a music rhythm game which plays with the idea of mash-up, remixing, and using game as a form of expression and performance. Two elements will be used for that purpose: the sound/audio elements, and the character animation. For the gameplay, the game consists of Mini-games where rhythms functions to serve different purposes. These mini-games will also host some of the elementary audio and performance elements which can later be used for remixing.

The stage setup follows how Rhythm Heaven sets up its stages: for each stage (other than the Remix stages), player plays the game with one or two input methods, which is each associated with a different character actions. For example, in a stage where the player plays a rallying fanclub member in a concert, a tap will be a clap, and flicking after that will be jumping up. Parappa the Rapper has something similar when the player gets to play in free-style mode. Different buttons are associated with different word phrases and actions.

So there are two parts in this game: The games of rhythm puzzles, and the remixing of the sound and performances from these stages.

Each stage should utilize one or two simple input mechanisms, each evoking different animation or character performance. The player has to play a given rhythm pattern  well enough to clear the stage. After that, the performance in this stage, which includes the sound and character animation, will be available in the remix mode.

Each stage will have its own narrative. There will also be “remix” stage where elements of more than one stage will coming into play. In essence, the stage layout is similar with Divine Beats, except now I’m not constricting the narrative and gameplay interactions to drums and Chinese culture anymore.

Audience

Since part of the impetus behind this game is remixing game elements as a form of creative expression, audiences for this game can belong to one or both of the following: players interested in playing a music rhythm game, and/or players who are interested in creating machinima with games.

Platform

Given the internet is where most  machinima and fan creators distribute their work, this game should either be playable online, or be downloadable online as a playable executable on personal computer.

Interface

I’m tempted to experiment with the Wii controllers (Wiimote, Nunchuk, etc) for the wide possibilities of interactions. However, since not all gamers online might have such, I will have to make the game playable by mouse, keyboard, or a joystick game controller for the least.

Thus, the core mechanic for the gameplay will involve one or more of the following actions which the player has to do according to rhythm:

  • Pressing/Holding down a button
  • Moving the joystick
  • Clicking/Dragging with the Mouse
  • Pressing/Holding down a key on the keyboard

Stages

Examples and Ideas for the stages include:

1. Boat Race Marathon

The aim of this stage is to have players listen to a rhythm and beat along with it in harmonic sync.

The player is part of a boat/kayak crew who helps pacing the crew’s paddling by drumming. The faster the drumming, the faster the paddling, and thus the faster the boat goes. Of course, the crew’s stamina dimishes as they paddle.

During the gameplay, the boat travels along a river with varying current speeds. For the race, they have to travel towards the river’s source, meaning they are traveling against the river’s current as well. While some parts of the river is tranquil and easy to travel upon, there are also sections of the river that are faster; in these areas, the crew have to paddle faster to sustain moving speed. The player can choose to have the crew paddle fast in areas where the current is slow, but this might also drain the crew’s energy before they reach the fast-flowing area.

For the aim of the stage, the river’s speed current at different sections should be determined/layout according to the background music.

2. Basket Ball Drill

As a new member of the basket ball club, one of your training is on dribbling. As the captain dribbles by a rhythm, you are to repeat that rhythm as well.

3. Whistle Drill

The context could either be the player being 1) a marching band/cheer team member who ques the other members performance with different whistling patterns, or 2) a canine trainer who gives commands to his dog using different whistling patterns.

Either way, the idea here is about rhythm patterns.

4. Maracas Drill

This stage will emphasize on beating a rhythm in corrdance to left and right. This is similar to practicing sticking for drumming, where the same drum pattern have to be played out by different sticks – left or right.

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