Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Hohokum: Musical Feedback/Reward Augmenting Gameplay

In a similar fashion to games such as; Flower (Bluepoint Games, 2013) and Cloud (Chen, 2005), Hohokum (Honeyslug, 2014) is an experiential gaming experience, less focused on goal-orientated objectives, and more focused on interaction between the player and the game. Developer & Artist Hogg states in an interview with Lien that the aim of Hohokum is ‘relaxing in a space and just enjoying the experience and the music’ (2013).
    Lien (2013) continues to explain that the game has been designed around a ‘sense of playfulness and performance’ and that it is aimed around ‘exploration and being creative’. Each area ‘is accompanied by music that aims to enhance the experience’, with layers developing as the play moves from area to area or between sections of a single area. This works in tandem with sound effects that work as musical elements, for example when hitting objects within the level, the player will trigger individual tonally centred sounds, or short bursts of musical elements. Player movement through portals will also trigger entirely new environments, in which the music and sound will be different. 
Although less musical in the sense that the players controls do not bring in additional layers of instrumentation, as in Flower (Bluepoint Games, 2013), the player can however compose in the sense that they can trigger sound effects over a blank sonic canvas, in any rhythm they like, with some interactive elements being linked up as a scale, with the player triggering the notes in order. This is demonstrated in the video below (00:30 – 2:00).

Niederquell & Collins (2015) discussed Hohokum at GDC in 2015, titling their presentation as ‘Adventures in Music and Sound Design’. Collins (2015) explains further that the soundtrack to the game is made up from “music by artists from Ghostly Record’. They started from there and then they creating sounds, that aren’t as they say ‘see a dog, hear a dog’ sound design. Niederquell & Collins (2015) continues to explain that they ‘recorded instrument sounds and ‘pitched them to the music’.
    This is similar is a sense to what Stevens and Raybould (2015) define as ornamental form in music composition, as there is ambiguity to the music, leaving room for tonal sound effects.

The recorded instruments, animal calls, children’s toys and music in this game did not use any middleware in relevance to its integration. Instead the developers opted for static audio files that were triggered through scripting.

Returning to the music itself, rather than discussing the sound design and it’s ornamental form, the music was licensed from Ghostly Record, however, an example of how the music is used as reward/feedback to the player, Niederquell & Collins (2015) explains further that during an underwater level, every time the player enters a tide pool, a layer of music will be faded in and out or filtered in real-time. Allowing the player to almost ‘DJ’ the level. Each of the worlds are incredible different within this game, where as the art and design for each level is very different. Niederquell & Collins (2015) goes on explain that the sound design in the game is in essence a ‘MIDI synthesizer’ that the player triggers through out the levels, as you make things happen within the level.
This is demonstrated in the video below (00:00 – 00:30).

The last example of musical reward or feedback within the game that I will show is from the GDC Talk itself. In this footage, Niederquell & Collins (2015) explains that as the player turns the lights on within a level, the characters onscreen will begin to jam, until the player turns off the lights, which in turn fades out musical elements and layers. (26:00-27:30)

In conclusion, as an art game, Hohokum (Honeyslug, 2015) is focused on aural reward and feedback, as the player can transform the music in the game through interaction, while also triggering sounds that will fit into the music. The scope in the project was ever increasing, moving from a smaller project, to an increasingly more complex musical system. Hohokum (Honeyslug, 2015) also received a G.A.N.G Award for Interactive Music.

Chen (2005) Cloud [PC] USC Interactive Media Division.
Lien, T. (2013) Hohokum is a whimsical and soothing game about exploration and creativity [Online]. Available from: <http://www.polygon.com/2013/6/11/4421108/hohokum-is-a-whimsical-and-soothing-game-about-exploration-and> [Accessed 29th November 2015].
Niederquell, M,. & Collins, D,. (2015) Hohokum: Adventures in Music and Sound Design. GDC Vault. [Online] Available from: <http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1022043/Hohokum-Adventures-in-Music-and>  [Accessed 19th November 2015].
Richard919. (2014) Hohokum Water World Walk Through. [Online], 17th August. Available from: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88DjQRrqVYU> [Accessed 19th November 2015].

Sony (2013) Flower [Playstation 4] BluePoint Games.

Sony (2014) Hohokum [Playstation 4]. Sony.

Stevens, R., Raybould, D., 2015. Game Audio Implementation: A Practical Guide Using the Unreal Engine. Focal Press, Burlington, MA.

TheWalkthroughGuru. (2014) Hohokum Walkthrough/Let’s Play Part 2 PS4 No Commentary. [Online], 13th August. Available from: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EThyDkod5XU> [Accessed 19th November 2015].


Post a Comment