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Event: Young Games Designer AwardsDate: Saturday 29 June 2019  Venue: BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, LondonHosts: TBC-Area: Game StillsBAFTA/Harry Petch/Louis Jackson

Tempo (GameMaker Studio 2) – Harry Petch (17 - Marden) & Louis Jackson (16 - Brighton)

“A top-down fantasy action game where all aspects of the gameplay is synchronised with the music.”

Tempo is a mix of a rhythm game, a 'Metroidvania' & bullet-hell. The game supports both Keyboard/Mouse controls, but also Xbox controller/XInput API controller support. You play as a silent wizard equipped with a magic staff and (in the middle of the game) magic boots: the staff automatically fires a projectile in time with the beat of the current music track playing, as well as the player being able to perform a dash by holding either SPACE or any of the shoulder buttons/triggers, unlocked partway into the game to provide a sense of progression.

The theme of using the music of the game to create interesting gameplay twists persists throughout other aspects of the game as well: enemy movement and attack patterns change to match the current music track’s rhythm. Another twist in the gameplay is that the player gradually heals over time, yet the player only heals in time in the same rhythmic pattern according to the music track! An original soundtrack was composed by Louis Jackson to satisfy the game’s needs, as well as visual shaders to enhance the graphics. To make the game appeal to all kinds of players with different difficulty preferences, depending on circumstances, the player can respawn with a second staff.

In making the game, we explored the concepts of using delta time to synchronise the rhythm of the track as well as various music-related functions available in GameMaker. Working as a team has proven a valuable experience to both of us, as it was incredibly important for us to both understand our limitations and strengths. Prior to this project, we did not know much about Shader Programming and the benefits post-processing effects could have on the visual output and style on the game. The application of visual shaders has greatly improved the quality of our game.

Louis' music was a key asset in ensuring the game was as good as it could be: catchy, interesting and varied music was essential to get right in a game focused around music, and through this project he has improved his composition skills, through learning techniques such as syncopation, prior to his Music GCSE exams.

To develop the game further, we would definitely like to add more content, such as potentially a desert-type world or a city landscape inspired by Scotland. In doing so we would be willing to explore new gameplay mechanics and twists relating to the synchronisation to the rhythm feature. We need to rework some art assets to allow for vibrant animation that would be keyframed in time with the beat as well.

In terms of technical improvements, we need to improve the system for tracking whether a “beat” has occurred more efficient and expand the functionality to multiple layers of the music track, such as backing, drums and melody.

In addition to this, it would potentially be interesting to explore the ability for players to add their own music and be able to play the game (or perhaps custom levels) with a custom soundtrack.