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Author Topic: Form  (Read 11236 times)
increpare
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« on: February 10, 2010, 11:54:57 PM »

Musical form applied to interactive works is something that has always appealed to me.  One can take a work (or a number of works), look at it as a concatenation of sections.  Basically, to take up the standard 'sections' that make up a game, to take them out of their original context and treat them as things in and of themselves.  So the parts of a game might be the tutorial, levels, cutscenes, and maybe some boss sections.  Why not have a game that has a tutorial half-way through?  Maybe it's teaching you things you already know, maybe very obviously covering things that you had to toil over to work out yourself in the beginning, but the section might still fulfill some artistic purpose.

I'm not sure what other 'parts' of a game might be treatable in this manner, though.  I can't think of any other possibilities for interesting abstraction right now.

I mean something here more than talking about the patterns in which events occur (if one approached this from a position of interactivity I imagine one could do a lot with generating hierarchical forms for games as they progress (decide at run-time which sections should follow which others with a view to the overall structure and patterns that that various sections have to one-another, and how these will be interpreted by the player)), but the ways in which sections can be decoupled from their context and treated as formal entities.
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2010, 12:22:19 AM »

There's many different musical forms. And I'm certainly not familiar with all of them. But I'm pretty sure that many of them are far from rigid. And I wouldn't be surprised if some already match up with some games.

Can you give some examples of musical forms you are interested in?
And what exactly you feel you can accomplish by applying them to a game?

I do think it would be interesting to play a game that is composed as a pop song: intro - first verse - chorus - second verse - chorus - instrumental variation - chorus - outro, for instance. It could be an interesting way to move away from linear narrative towards something more poetic. And rhythm is definitely an under-appreciated quality in game design.

Maybe this a good theme for a future contest?
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Thomas

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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2010, 12:36:26 AM »

I have thought a little about this too, especially when it comes to themes and how these can used to create complex songs. For example by using fugue,  canon, etc the theme is repeated and changed in various ways and a very beautiful songs can be built up from this. What I know this I pretty much read in GEB, so I am not expert on this.

I have thought about using the idea when creating levels, but never gotten very far in to it. Still, it feels like there could be something into this, so hoping to explore it more. Another idea was that you could take some core mechanic and then by repeating and changing it build up an interesting experience. But I guess one can say that is already done in games Tongue
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increpare
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2010, 12:41:19 AM »

Can you give some examples of musical forms you are interested in?
It's not quite so much any one form or another, but the constructive approach that comes from thinking in terms of sections, from taking things and interchanging them around, or from having a work come across as a formal collection of sections.  [there are some musical forms I'm particularly interested in, but it's not been a while since I thought about them, and discussion about them might lead things a little off-track...].

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And what exactly you feel you can accomplish by applying them to a game?
My ideal is to have more critically constructed works, where people think about the large-scale construction of works, so they don't say "Oh this bit doesn't flow properly into this bit", or "such and such bit didn't quite feel like it fitted in right", but rather "There is an interruption in flow here, this might be a conscious decision of the artist's, this is an element of my language, it's something I note and speak about, I am aware that there might be something desirable and meaningful in the architectural arrangement of a work beyond seamlessness, transparency, and submission to dramatic/ludic goals, that there might be artistic worth in bringing these elements into the foreground".
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 12:48:12 AM by increpare » Logged
Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2010, 01:11:28 AM »

Do you think games constructed as music would feel like music when interacting with them?
I mean in the sense in which music can feel very comforting and communicate on a less than conscious level?

Because you seem to be talking about more disruptive applications. About juxtapositions, rather than harmony. Or am i mistaken?

I am definitely very attracted to the idea of repetition in interactive experiences. I guess that's why we made a game with six Little Red Ridinghoods instead of just one. Smiley
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increpare
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2010, 01:42:57 AM »

Do you think games constructed as music would feel like music when interacting with them?

I mean in the sense in which music can feel very comforting and communicate on a less than conscious level?
People construct music in very different ways.  I find it hard to think of a generalization in my mind that would have a smooth translation.  I think that games already do communicate on a very primitive (and necessarily subconscious) level, in that the formal psychology a lot of people use for game design are manipulative - rewards constitute an appeal to the primitive, as does pulp literature, say.  But in a different way than I think you are speaking of with music.

When I think of being comforted by music, what springs to mind is an image of having myself brought to think of (previously uncomfortable) matters while the music is playing, or having them at the back of my mind and somehow being comfortable around them (though there are other images as well that occur that are very different).  The space for contemplation seems somewhat opposed to the notion of pace, I think, and engagement (though I would happily be proven wrong).

As an aside, I would like to be comforted by a game sometimes, to find solace or consolation in a game.  Thinking about it, I think I had this sort of relationship with Glum Buster.

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Because you seem to be talking about more disruptive applications. About juxtapositions, rather than harmony.
I guess I would have more interest, in this case, in, to extend the metaphor, the range of possible qualities of juxtaposition rather than focusing on those of consonance as desirable.  I guess beauty, say, and comfort aren't things I want to strive towards or privilege in my work, they can be just things like other things (pixels, images, notes, words).

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Or am i mistaken?
No, I think you're quite perceptive on this matter.

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I am definitely very attracted to the idea of repetition in interactive experiences.
Repetition is something that interests me a lot, though I am at the same time somewhat averse to it.  This is what one terms a healthy relationship, right? : )
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Alejandro

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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2010, 12:42:56 AM »

Why not have a game that has a tutorial half-way through?  Maybe it's teaching you things you already know, maybe very obviously covering things that you had to toil over to work out yourself in the beginning, but the section might still fulfill some artistic purpose.

'Memento' (as in, the film) game. First you see the credits, then fight the final boss, then the final stage, etc. Wait... this was done already, in a way; there was this 'Mario clone', but I forget who made it, or what it was called...

I remember now: it was Hempuli's Jump on Mushrooms (video). It's more 'reverse playback' than 'Memento', though.

I'm not sure what other 'parts' of a game might be treatable in this manner, though.  I can't think of any other possibilities for interesting abstraction right now.

I imagine that a linear 2D game's level could be assembled from randomly selected pieces, according to how they fit against each other in the way that two sections of a composition may fit in succession or not. But this is pretty crude, as an extension of your idea.
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God at play

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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2010, 06:25:48 AM »

I do think it would be interesting to play a game that is composed as a pop song: intro - first verse - chorus - second verse - chorus - instrumental variation - chorus - outro, for instance. It could be an interesting way to move away from linear narrative towards something more poetic. And rhythm is definitely an under-appreciated quality in game design.

I can speak to this.  This last summer I created an interactive music video that I played in church on a screen while my friend Paul played a song.  The game had an intro that matched his first verse, and then from there I could switch scenes at will.  I had 3 scenes to switch between, one specifically designed to match up with his chorus.  Within each scene, there were a number of elements I could interact with.  A video is here if you're interested: http://www.godatplay.com/2009/07/branches-interactive-music-video-prototype/

It's a pretty crude prototype, though.  I'll be working on a slightly updated version of this idea using a Wii remote that's due Feb. 27th.  In my application, it will be used for a VJing gig, but my intention is to eventually allow for a multiplayer experience of playing visual instruments with the music.  I'll post something about it here once I get it more completed; it'd be great to get feedback anyway.  It might be more rhythm game oriented than you're wanting examples of increpare, but the structure itself is centered around the modern pop music structure.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 06:30:29 AM by God at play » Logged

Kaworu Nagisa

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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2010, 08:52:00 AM »

This is really great, Josh!  Cheesy
Any chance for a video that simultaneously shows what happens on the screen and what you do with the pad? I'm most curious of this part.
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Víctor Marín

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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2010, 04:24:34 AM »

Music forms come from poetry and literature. Music for voice is still the most developed and worked, and it use to get it's form from the text directly. This has been this way from greek times Cheesy.

On most instrumental works, wich I think might be more interesting as they have no references, those forms are inherit and used but matching the game of tension/relaxation, exposition/development of the music.
Most common forms are binary and ternary (A-B or A-B-A). Those can be reworked on hundreds of ways, specially the ternary form,  but basicaly still the same. A form that could be very interesting for a game is the Rondeau, A-B-A-C-A-D-A... wich pretty similar to pop songs and baroque arias, with the difference that those usually are more like A-B-A-C-A-B-A.

Also there are plenty of very strange forms in the XX-XXI centuries, some very interesting, that try to fly away from sections and make something unitary, like a one scene film. This happens when instrumental music starts to be considered on its own, from about the second half of XVIII (Mozart, Haydn) to today. Vocal music is still the most worked one.

EDIT: Forgot to say, I really enjoyed your video, God at play (Josh?)! I think it's an awesome idea being able to interact with music as it plays. Maybe we could even modify music as it plays, wich would be a bit more complicated but stil doable Smiley. This remembers the "musical massages" that I gave to my ex-girlfriend: We started a symphony and I interpreted it over her head with my hands, following the flow of music Smiley. Pretty enjoyable on both parts!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2010, 04:29:05 AM by Víctor Marín » Logged
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