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Dylan Karas: MIDIval Gaming

(Title Approved by Sheryl!)

Quotes: "I love capstone already!" ~Dylan Karas

Music in Games:

For the purposes of my Capstone, I consider two aspects of music in games:

As far as gameplay is concerned, there are three main ways that music is utilized:

Of these types, only the first and second are commonly used in conjunction with a musical control mechanism. Examples of the first are such fabled classics as Guitar Hero and Synthesia, the latter of which is not so fabled, but does make use of the MIDI protocol.

Games of the second type include the DS game Electroplankton, which uses the touchscreen to interact with several "levels" to create music, and the terrible but exemplary Wii Music, which employs the WiiMote as one of a variety of imaginary instruments.

The aim of my Capstone is to use such a control device to create a game of the third type. In this way the music that is input to the game becomes itself the background music, and must meaningfully match the effects in the game world that it produces.

Lo! As one might suspect, there have been almost no games utilizing instruments as control mechanisms where the object of the game is not simply to play music. As it stands, the only game I know of to use such a mechanism is Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Research has also turned up an intriguing article which I cannot access.

I have also discovered a company creating educational games utilizing recorded musical input.

Prospective Goals:

Create a game controlled solely by MIDI input implementing features influenced by tempo, the chord quality of triads, the size of two-note intervals, and the note class of single notes.

Specifically, given any series of n MIDI events { I(j) : 0 < j < n }, the game should be able to determine:

  1. The average tempo of the events.
  2. Which subsequences were played within an arbitrary time window ϵ so as to be considered simultaneous.
  3. Whether a given simultaneous subsequence constitutes a chord or an interval, and of what quality or size that chord or interval is.
  4. What (if any) key it was played in.
Secret Land

The game will feature one or more levels satisfying each of the below constraints:

  1. In order to succeed, the input sequence must match a second sequence K(j) so that for any j, |I(j).time - K(j).time| < ϵ, where ϵ is chosen to be some arbitrary specificity.
  2. The desired input sequence is independent of time, but consists of several subsequences which are themselves dependent on time. Any disparity between the desired sequence and the input sequence will not result in failure.
  3. Success is entirely independent of time. There are many (or infinite) input sequences that result in success, and as such there is no sequence that results in failure.

Other Unusual "As Different As Chalk From Cheese" Input Devices:

  1. Peregrine Gaming Glove
    • Marks of Preeminence: Comfort, Intuitiveness for Certain Applications
    • Marks of Deficiency: Moderate Learning Curve, Registers Contact but not Motion
  2. Nintendo Robot
    • Marks of Preeminence: Lovable Appearance
    • Marks of Deficiency: Underutilized, Usefulness Limited By Slow Movement
  3. Various "Unitaskers" (Steering Wheels, Guns, Swords, Railroad Controls, etc.):
    • Marks of Preeminence: Provide Excellent Control for a Particular Game Type
    • Marks of Deficiency: Don't Make Sense Outside the Intended Game Type
  4. Emotiv Epoc
    • Marks of Preeminence: High Potential
    • Marks of Deficiency: In Practice Sensing Ability is Highly Inaccurate

Further Research:

In theory, an exciting Youtube clip from the Modal Kombat experiment waits below:

MIDI Apparati

Java MIDI and Sound Packages


Final Presentation

Source Code

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