‘Audio Tree,’ a Game for Music Makers

By Created: June 18, 2012 Last Updated: June 25, 2012
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A song being built in the upcoming independent game, "Audio Tree." (Courtesy of Lewis Pearce)

A song being built in the upcoming independent game, "Audio Tree." (Courtesy of Lewis Pearce)

“Audio Tree” is meant to be more than just a game. It plays a tune and challenges you with recreating the same sound using the in-game audio tools. After each stage you’re scored based on how close you were to the original.

This branches upward. Each section of the game is a song, and each level is a rhythm within that song. To beat a full section you’ll need to build a full song yourself. “The aim really is to create a fun and rewarding game, but to also give an arena for people to gain a little understanding of composing in a comfortable environment,” said Lewis Pearce, developer of “Audio Tree.”

The game, Pearce said, teaches players to create their own music. “I believe that games should always be developed to give players as much freedom and control as possible, so I started to create all the tools that I would use within the game itself, players can create their own levels and songs and share them with their friends, or play them themselves as levels,” he said.

There have been many attempts at making games that can create music—and many long-time gamers may shiver when remembering some of them—but Pearce is giving plenty of thought into making the game fun enough to use while still having the power to create something useful.

What you’ll have at your fingertips (when it’s finished) is a synthesizer, not just pre-created audio files. This is presented as a branching tree with sound bites hanging off them as leaves. Colors are also modifiable. The idea behind this, according to Pearce, is “to make it easier for people to create their own content solely within the game itself.” He added, “Staring at a browser looking for free samples is a painful experience, [but] synthesizing them is much more friendly.”

Taking this route took a lot of thought. “It actually took me a while to decide on the tree layout of the songs, originally the game had no synthesizer and was based in a hexagonal grid with connections and sounds being associated with lines and differently colored hexagons,” Pearce said. “I realized after working on that for a while that as well as being a lot more confusing to look at the hexagonal setup was limiting me and players to six connections to a hexagon, in a drive to remove as many limitations as possible started looking for ways to fix this and redesign the game (then called ‘Hive’).”

He added, “Another idea about creating songs in the shape of trees to make music production as creative as possible, and removing some of the technical knowledge that a lot of other programs use, soon became the idea for the new game design and so ‘Audio Tree’ began.”

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Martha Rosenberg