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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kid Got Lost

'Kid Got Lost', click the image to play!
The Ludum Dare is an online game jam; a competition to create a game within 72 hours based on a particular theme. The theme for this 30th competition was 'Connected Worlds'. It is a fast, intense experience that really puts skills and workflow to the test. The friendly chaps at Paperbox Studios requested me for the weekend, to create some noises and music for their idea, Kid Got Lost.

The game has received many positive comments from other Ludum developers, and the guys at Paperbox and myself are very pleased with the creation. Many of the comments on the Ludum page praise the sound, how it creates an atmosphere fitting with the visuals, and something I'd like to expand upon in this post..

The most commended sound was that of the ghosts. These spooky little whines you hear from the ghosts are directional and proximity triggered. What makes them more frightening is that you can hear them in both worlds, which means they cannot always be seen. This means their sound plays a vital role in the game, and once mastered can make escaping from the mazes less frustrating.

The ghosts kill you. A lot.
Perhaps more frightening - for me, at least - is that the sound of these ghosts are actually me. I recorded myself whining into a microphone, to sound as pained, as ghostly, as dead and as scary as possible. They were then pitched, layered, and treated with various reverb and delays. And the result is creepy, unnerving and seems to give tremendous threat to these hovering little bastards that kill you all the time. Still, at least I'll be good at haunting people in the afterlife.

The music was an interesting challenge as game was aimed at a horror mood. I haven't written anything like that before, so to do so in such short time was tricky. However the result is a very inconsistent mash of piano and harp chords, set always against those two repetitive harp notes throughout. A tremolo violin floats over the top of both, culminating in a very inharmonic tune that makes you feel very uneasy.

Twinned with this is a second layer, which is heard only when the player looks into another dimension. This is in theory time synced, but even if that doesn't always happen the effects is similar, and with even more subtle variation. As this part is only heard under certain circumstances, Kid Got Lost actually has the fundamentals of an interactive score. Not bad for a game made in under 3 days!

It was a great experience working on this project. The short time scale was certainly a challenge, but I feel pressure can push you to other creative levels. I of course take no credit for actually putting the game together, but I am incredibly satisfied with the sound and music. The combination of both of those things match seamlessly with the visuals and create a successfully eerie atmosphere. Play it alone with headphones, in the dark. I dare you.

More info about the can be played from the games Ludum Dare page here, or direct on this link.