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.

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