We spent a long time discussing what should happen when you hit a bad note. Maybe if you hit move onto a bad square, you are immediately sent back to the starting square and forced to start over completely. Or maybe attempting to hit a bad square plays the bad sound but automatically bounces you back onto the square you just tried to leave, so you never truly leave the path. In this situation, the “walls” of the maze would be real barriers. We ultimately rejected both of these ideas because we wanted to allow the user to play around with the bad sounds. Even if a user is not following the path and playing the intended sound, they can make music by combining both good and bad notes in their own way. Although this makes it harder for the user to complete the objective of following the path and hitting all the good squares, it allows for much more creative freedom and interaction by the user!
When we made this decision, we also decided to make the “bad” notes clearly differentiable from the “good” notes but not necessarily horrible sounding so that a sequence of both good and bad squares would still sound reasonably pleasant to the ear. So, while we started with accordions and pianos as the instruments for the bad notes, they were very abrasive and we felt that they hindered our idea of being able to go anywhere without the sound being too discordant. So the bad notes were re-composed using the organ.
Once we had the basic rules of the game down, we came up with a progression of levels. We wanted our final product to be pretty minimalist, without explicit instructions. We came up with two tutorials that slowly introduce the idea of a maze that must be navigated with sound feedback. Then we wanted to have three levels of increasing difficulty, plus a super challenging bonus level. After all of this was implemented, we also decided to add a free play mode, where there is a grid with not specified path where the user can just move around to play random notes and compose a piece that way.
Next we had to design each level, which involved making a decision about the intended path and the number of good notes. Once Emilio drafted a path, Sophia would create a clip of music with the correct number of good notes. Then Janine would cut it into individual sound files for each note. Then these could be incorporated into the code so that the appropriate sound played for each square.
Then we discussed the aesthetics of the game. We wanted it to be really pretty, and we took inspiration for the rounded boxes and the color schemes from existing games and images online, like the ones shown below.
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