Can you Beat the Rhythm? Punching orbs with your hands, deflecting projectiles with laserblades, or shooting drones with guns, using songs produced for this game, player created osu! beatmaps or any song from your local music library - in the most advanced VR rhythm game.
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Fall 2018
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Notice: Requires a virtual reality headset. See the VR Support section for more info.

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June 28

Devlog 1: A new kind of "Orb" - The OctaDrop

We have already been working on Beat the Rhythm for quite a while. Some of that work already went into Holodance, so if you were following the release notes there, some things in this posting may sound familiar - but not quite all of it. So here is a first devlog:

Music is Done - Beatmap Design in Progress

Just yesterday, Billy Mello finished the last song for the Beat the Rhythm original soundtrack. It's called Eternity and is a marathon (full 12 minutes). All of the music for the game has been produced in a very close collaboration between Billy and me, and I think this initial set of six built-in songs will give you a good start into the game.

The songs are composed and produced with a progression in difficulty: It begins fairly easy with a short, almost tutorial-style song, and gets longer and more intense and complex with each track.

Time, the fourth song, switches meter a few times, so there are 3/4 sections as well as 4/4 sections. It's the most experimental song we have in the game. The Singularity, our fifth song, is about the Singularity, so the obvious thing to do is play with tempo-changes - we go from a relaxed 64 BPM up to 256 BPM in the finale.

We call the style Gamestep - so there is obviously quite a bit of Dubstep in there, but also 8bit-elements, trance and house. The idea is to have music that is intense, for intense gameplay. As you can also use osu! beatmaps, or your own music, you get a huge variety.

We have also already done a bit of experimental beatmapping for our built-in songs - but the core game elements are currently getting a fairly major upgrade, so that's what this devlog really is about:

Orbs are becoming OctaDrops

When I started developing Holodance, which was originally called "Holodance Episode 1: Dancing with Dragons", after a few early prototypes, I fairly quickly moved into what is now called Story Mode and then, a lot of time went into building environments, modeling and animating dragons, voice-acting, making it all work together. The orbs were designed as "magical orbs" that the dragons were throwing at you, so you could catch them, so you could "tune into their rhythm". It was all about "playing with the music".

I was very careful to always speak of "catching the orbs" to maintain a non-violent atmosphere, even though the game actually always did give you a higher score the stronger you punched them. Also, while we've had the idea to have specific orbs for specific hands very early in development, I decided to let players catch any orb with any hand (or your head), at any time - so players could invent their own choreographies based on the given mapping.

Going from Catching to Punching

During a recent meditation retreat, I realized that Beat the Rhythm (and as an option also Holodance) might become much more interesting if we allow beatmappers to define orbs for specific hands (as it was introduced by Audioshield), and specific directions (as it was introduced by BoxVR).

This is a surprisingly big change - punching things creates much more intensity, and that's a really good thing. And of course, it fits the title Beat the Rhythm. We could have called the game Drum the Rhythm - but we want some real punch here.

Obviously this doesn't mean that we'll drop our orbs that you can take with any hand, in any direction ... but the "new thing" is not even an orb anymore. It's modeled as an octagonally shaped drop and I'm calling it OctaDrop:



While we may still polish the design, the idea should be quite obvious: Due to the drop-like shape (which has direction), which is emphasized by the outline, the direction is immediately obvious without needing arrows or anything like that.

Also, if you have followed the development of Holodance for a longer time, you probably noticed that we eventually added outlines around the circles because we had visibility issues in bright environments.

This shape doesn't have those issues - by its design.

Furthermore, we have 5 well-defined colors, so head, hands and feet can be "assigned". For head OctaDrops, we will only use only the outline without the main metal-body - no one wants to have a metallic drop bump into their heads.

One thing you don't see here, yet, is that we can also place symbols for 2x, 3x, 4x, long combo, almost full combo and combo. In Holodance, those were represented as text. In Beat the Rhythm, they will be very simple symbols: Two dots, three dots, four dots, like dice, and a more or less filled square. We will place them depending on the direction so that they are always inside the dark area (and with the same color as the outline).

Obviously, we will design the beatmaps for our native songs to properly use these features, and our upcoming beatmap editor will let you do the same.

But we will also have osu! support, of course, and with osu! many maps, there are a lot of very short, straight sliders that never really worked well in Holodance (they were basically just orbs in terms of gameplay). Those will automatically be converted into directional drops. The others will be straight (like the center one).

Building our own Tools

Long story short, for Beat the Rhythm, I'm kind of going back to the drawing board - with almost three years of VR rhythm game development (and playing ;-) ) experience. What I'm striving for is figuring out the most fun ways to interact with the music - and building the design and visual effects (and later also audio-effects) around that.

Sometimes, when designing effects, it's quite helpful to build tools to be able to quickly test something, iterate on it, tweak it, try something else, rinse repeat. You could, of course, do the same thing in the game - and that's how I quite often approached it with Holodance. But sometimes, this makes iterating on the design too cumbersome and time-consuming. So here's what I'm currently using to design the spawning and punch / slice / shoot animations for the orbs:



I hope you enjoyed this little (yeah, right ;-) ) devlog. Stay tuned for more!
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About This Game

Are you ready to Beat the Rhythm in the most advanced Virtual Reality rhythm game?

Which rhythms will you play with?

  • Music produced specifically for this game, with gameplay handcrafted by the developers - always perfectly on the beat
  • Any osu! beatmap, which means: High quality player generated content and a huge selection of music to play with (12K songs)
  • Play with any song you like, from your local drive or YouTube, with our procedural beatmapping (supported file formats: mp3, mp4, m4a, ogg, flac, wav, wma, opus)
  • Create handcrafted maps for your own music, and share with other Beat the Rhythm and Holodance players
It's up to you.

And how will you Beat the Rhythm?

  • Punching Orbs? Following Sliders? Spinning them Spinners?
  • Deflecting laserbeams or fireballs with your forceful laserblades?
  • Shooting drones (or balloons if you prefer) with heavy laserguns?
  • Rhythm Archery - for the clubbing sci-fi elves amongst you.
... until you master them all!

Audio-reactive Environments

We call the engine we're using for Holodance and Beat the Rhythm Synesthetic VR - because we want to create an experience of Synesthesia. So the environments visualize the music.

Trippy Game Modes

Whether you want to enter a psychedelic experience with color varying color saturations, hue-shifts, strobe-lights and special combo Bullet Time events, or you want to control time altogether with your movement in Time Dilation - there simply is no other Virtual Reality rhythm game that offers this kind of flexibility. Well, except our own Holodance, of course - but with Beat the Rhythm we focused on just the rhythm and left the dragons to those who really want to dance with them.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: 8
    • Processor: i5
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GTX GeForce 970
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 5 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: 10
    • Processor: i5
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GTX GeForce 1080
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 8 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: 10.11.6
    • Processor: i5
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 580
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 5 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: 10.13
    • Processor: Intel Xeon
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 8 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Ubuntu 16.04
    • Processor: i5
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GTX GeForce 970
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 5 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Ubuntu 16.04
    • Processor: i5
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GTX GeForce 1080
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 8 GB available space
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