(2019)

STATIC

'STATIC' is a computer game. But not in a traditional sense. It is a surreal experience that is made up of two distinct parts:

- Part I; a non-hostile adventure through a progressively abstract island in search of phone-booths

- Part II; an endless void with oblique machines in which you must decode incoming audio messages

The project began as an experiment between myself and indie developer / programmer Elijah Cauley, and has since flourished into a small-scale indie project that has been nominated for an Indie game award, been highlighted in games publications such as EDGE magazine, and been accepted as part of the games label 'Ice Water games'.

Since the beginning of 2018 I have been taking part in events known as Game-Jams. These are 48-hour events where people interested in game development get together to form small teams and make a small game within the given time period.

My interest in this area grew because games (certainly the ones I enjoy) are increasingly becoming non-linear. Therefore, composing and designing sound for a fully interactive space, filled with freedom of choice, meant the potential for a completely different approach to sound design.

Immediately I knew that sound/audio would be an integral part to the gameplay - both in locating the phone-booths, and in decoding incoming audio messages. To me, this meant that any other use of sound - music, composition, environment, etc. - unless essential, would be distracting and potentially aurally exhausting for the player. Also integral; as the game itself borders on the surreal, it was important to me that the player felt the world was 'real'.

It made sense to move away from traditional ideas of BGM (back ground music) and instead find ways of bringing composition into the sound design in novel ways. Could I use melodic sounds in unexpected ways? Should they be introduced through objects in the game world? What musical sounds could I use that would not clash with any of the important gameplay audio elements (such as the phone ringing)?

 

All these thoughts in tandem helped direct my approach to treating sound design as composition. In this way I could play with the environmental sounds in ways that created a sense of a 'real-world' whilst also giving me enough room to blur that reality into surreality.

In the game there are 2 main environments:

- The Island

- The White

If any environment required full aural attention of the player it was 'The White'.

 

In 'The White', the player needs to decode incoming audio, therefore BGM is non-essential.

In order to heighten the contrast between the two spaces I decided to add very small melodic elements to the environment. The sound of wind - breeze flowing through the grass, rustling the trees, etc. - was the main audio aspect of the island that provided the most contrast to 'The White' (which is devoid of all sense of nature). The idea to have melodic swirls carried on the wind was my starting point and so I begun creating various short musical swells.

The swells were separated into six groups or 'pools'. And from each of these pools, only one swell (randomly selected)  would ever play at a given time. The swell would be triggered by an event or after a certain zone was reached by the player.

 

For example: Once a player crossed a bridge it would trigger a random swell from pool 1. And form this point onwards, at randomly generated intervals, random swells would be played to the player from pool 1, creating one track of melodic audio. Once the player reached a certain tree (for example) pool 2 would be triggered and now a swell from pool 2 would be playing over a swell from pool 1.

In this way, the compositional aspect of the music is almost entirely random. And no 2 play-throughs of the game would produce the same music.

STATIC is currently in its last stage of development.

It is due for release in SEPTEMBER 2019

To find out more please visit: crawlspacestudio.itch.io/in-static

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 © 2019 Amit Rai Sharma