Substream is an abstract 3D shooter, synchronised to music. Every level in Substream is individually crafted to closely follow a piece of music. Enemy attacks are choreographed to the sounds of individual instruments. Your weapons move to the rhythm. The ground below you vibrates to the melody and reforms when the mood changes. Substream aims to bring a new degree of synchronicity to gaming. Substream will feature a variety of music from metal to jazz, and hip-hop to chiptune. It's due to be released sometime in 2011 for PC, and maybe some other platforms.
Substream is now in Alpha! I have a small group of testers who've been kind enough to take a look at the game. Some other local indie developers have also had a play and feedback has been really enlightening. Seeing the way each new player approaches the game always shows me something unexpected. It's hard to predict how new players will react, simply because I play the game everyday and am so accustomed to it. Players wanting better visual feedback on when they'd been hit or had landed a shot on an enemy was a common concern, so I've spent some time adding in several new features to help with this.
I’m at the stage now where knowledge of how long the average level takes to build would be really useful for future scheduling (and motivation). So for June I had a plan: to attempt to make a complete level in a month. That’s a new set of animated environments and all the enemies it contains, synced to eight minutes of music.
Did I succeed? Kinda!...
Essentially I built half of the level in half of the month. So my prediction of how long it takes to build the average level seems to be accurate, in this case at least. That’s reassuring.
But then I went crazy!… One problem with working on a game that’s synced to music is that I need to listen to that music over and over again. I need to listen to each small section carefully to get inspiration, figure out the melody and patterns, and then check that everything is syncing correctly. So I don’t think I’ll be assigning “month X for level Y” in the future. I'll need to swap level every week to stay sane.
I probably have enough new game content to put out another video now, but I’m not creating that immediately as I’d like to have a preview build I can send out to journalists at the same time, so it may be a little while. A preorder-with-beta-access is still the plan after that, later this year.
Call for Testers
I could do with a few more testers to take a look at the game. If you're interested in helping beta test a music based shoot-em-up for Windows PC, you can let me know by sending me a private message via IndieDB. A paragraph or two about yourself would be useful. Let me know if you've tested any games before or how you'd be able to help and I'll get back to you!