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  • Inside the IGF 2009: Sneak Peek at Resonance

    - staff

  •  Doug Macdonald: I think that directly tying the character's special attacks to the player's skill with the music really adds a lot to the game. It's always neat when music games show you're doing well by flashing the screen or pulsing the controller. We just take things a step farther and make your guy throw fireballs.

    Keith Gunning:
    We are also thoroughly convinced that Resonance has the most suave and debonair final boss of any game in IGF.

    GCG: What games (or non-game things) influenced Resonance?

    Doug Macdonald: We studied as many existing music games as possible to try to figure out exactly what makes a rhythm game fun. My biggest influence was Space Channel 5, but we were definitely affected by Dance Dance Revolution and just about every Harmonix game. The actual brawler mechanics were heavily inspired by some of the greatest games of the genre: Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.

    Nick Raines:
    The improvisation of jazz was a large influence on the gameplay style. And we tried to make the battle system as smoothly flowing as the battle system of Baten Kaitos Origins.

    Jason Hamilton: On the beat-'em-up side of things, inspiration came from classic games like Streets of Rage and Brawl Brothers. I loved playing those games as a kid, and I still do. Even though you only had a very limited set of moves, taking out each wave of enemies was extremely satisfying. We wanted that same kind of feeling in Resonance.

    Can you share with us one thing that got cut from the game?

    Doug Macdonald: All the levels were originally about twice as long, but we ended up trimming them to make the game flow better. We also originally planned to have more special attacks and minibosses in every level, but there just wasn't enough time to implement those.

    Keith Gunning:
    We were going to allow both the first and second players to play simultaneously, but due to the rhythm-action nature of the gameplay, it was not feasible.

    Tell us one interesting thing that you learned in developing the game, technical or otherwise.

    Nick Raines: Composing music that has a very strict set of requirements really limits creativity. Since the player's "voice" has to blend perfectly at all times, the game was stuck in major chords or different modes of major chords. And to keep the game easy enough, the music was always restricted to 120 beats per minute.

    Doug Macdonald:
    You have to be willing to accept that every single aspect of a design is up for debate. I fought the rest of my team tooth and nail to try to keep certain things that I felt just had to be in the game, but now I'm glad that they had the sense enough to put their feet down on certain issues.

    Jason Hamilton: One of the bigger things I learned while working on Resonance was how important focus testing is when exploring new ideas. Without testing, all sorts of assumptions are made about how the player will react and what the player will do: some right, some horribly, horribly wrong. There were tons of things in Resonance that had to be changed, dropped, or drastically reworked because our assumptions had been off-target. Having people play the game gave us a ton of insight we simply wouldn't have otherwise.

    GCG: Since making this game, have your opinions or assumptions about game development changed in any way? If so, how and what were they before?

    Doug Macdonald:
    I now understand just how important it is to focus test continually throughout a game's production. I used to feel that with enough planning, you could design a game from start to finish, code it, and be done with it. It was a real shock the first time we showed the game to a new player and saw that he had absolutely no idea how to play it.

    Nick Raines: It's a lot of work. And if you love it, it's a lot of fun.

    Development Team
    Keith Gunning, producer
    Doug Macdonald, designer
    Jason Hamilton, technical director
    Nickolas Raines, product manager


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