'Sound Shapes' Creators on Making a Video Game With Beck and Deadmau5

Programmers tie music to video action

beck
Douglas Mason/Getty Images
Beck
By |

Last week, Toronto-based Queasy Games revealed their long-awaited Sound Shapes game for the PS3 and Playstation Vita. The brainchild of Shaw-Han Liem and Jonathan Mak, Sound Shapes is equal parts Pac-Man and GarageBand.

"We wanted to give players the ability to remix and mash-up their favorite music, meanwhile having a good time playing this game," Liem told Rolling Stone. "As a musician, that was the ultimate pay-off." Liem is best known as the indie electronic artist I Am Robot and Proud, and his songs are also featured on Sound Shapes.

Mak, the game developer behind the Everyday Shooter title, first met Liem while working on display algorithms to stage live show projections. In late 2007, they decided to use their computer programming skills and shared affinity for music to make a video game that was as interactive as an instrument. Almost five years later, Sound Shapes now features music from Beck, Deadmau5 and Jim Guthrie.

"These artists get how video games work; they have an interest in the industry and coming up with cool new ways to release music to their fans," Liem said. "Beck sent us stems from his personal sessions; every time you play the game you get to listen to a different arrangement."

The creators agree that getting a distribution deal from Sony's Playstation helped lure big artists to contribute to Sound Shapes, but they personally bid to Deadmau5 and Jim Guthrie while in the recording studio in Toronto.

"Guthrie was so involved in the process, he became partly a game designer," Mak said. "We were just sitting in the studio staring a blank screen and trying to figure out what to do."

For now, Sound Shapes is not looking to venture into the mobile gaming sphere. The creators claim that the Vita makes it easy for players to enjoy traditional gameplay with the joystick, while the touchscreen component is used for editing levels and sharing tracks.

Queasy Games is planning, however, to release additional downloadable content for the game. Although the creators weren't able to give more details, we expect that more artists and songs will be added to the catalogue within the next year.

x