Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Escape The Factory" is My First Sound Shapes Level

We're going to do something a little different tonight thanks to me finally, finally finishing a project that I claim I will actually finish.  Funny thing, that.  The level that I have been working on in Sound Shapes, "Escape The Factory" is a thing that is done and published and you can queue it up to play with this link the next time you open Sound Shapes, sign into the community (It -works- now!) and bring up your favorites, since that is where things get queued apparently.  Perhaps a subtle hint, hm?  Anyways, if you have a copy of the game, go ahead and do that if you will to at least listen to what I've put together since that's the one thing I'm a bit incapable of offering with my blogpost here about the level.  As promised, and this is sort of what I was getting at in saying music is the only thing I can't give, I'll go ahead and show off all the screens of the level here so you can at least take a look at the style and see if you dig it.  As is probably obvious because of that, this will be a picture-heavy post, so I do apologize if that causes problems.

The first screen of the level, as seen above sets you in what I have styled as a factory which I assure you looks a little more like a factory (or at least a warehouse, perhaps I should've called it that...) in the later screens.  Our little crab buddy offers a little maraca sound to give us a baseline for this screen where the first establishing notes are laid.  They are, as most of the notes in the whole level, fairly easy to get to, as I didn't want to throw -too- much challenge in, because I preferred to have a nice little level to look at, which seems to follow the mood of the actual game itself really well, if I do say so myself.  Which isn't a knock, of course, simply a statement and a preparation for you in that you won't find the challenge you might be looking for with Sound Shapes here.  So, after grabbing the notes, it's a simple enough matter of just...going right to the next screen.

I was trying to go for a sort of derelict look here, what with the shelves almost all knocked over and product laying here and there everywhere, not to mention the faulty wiring in some of the lights that offers quite a bit of danger.  This probably offers the first of two really really not tricky but tricky jumps with the top, right-most note, which requires you to dash and jump pretty near the edge to actually get it.  Again, no real issues and you probably won't even get hit by the electricity jumping for it, but it at least poses the possibility for danger.  For flavor, I have the two coffee-sipping dudes who are obviously people who work in the Factory without hard hats or appropriate attire or anything because nobody -cares- about OSHA, alright?  Anyways, to the right is the next screen, again.  This is a theme, you see.

Once again, we carry over the run-down look with more shelves and product in disarray (I'm not sure what the boxes are actually supposed to be, but short of including sprites for cardboard boxes, I couldn't ask for better) and bring in one of the more notable pieces from "Cities" as well as a dude with a laser because who cares.  I just liked the sounds they offered and there has to be a little bit of separation in justified aesthetic and musical focus.  They offer what I want with the latter, so that's all that matters.  I didn't see fit to add any notes here as the ambient sound of the laser and the Beck vocals did most of what I could hope to add in for this phase of the level.  They're only here for this screen of course (well, in a way), but it makes a difference, I think.

And here is the exit to the factory itself.  I found that I had used the shelves for all my obstacles starting with the second screen and I wanted to bring back the aesthetic of the first screen, if only so that it didn't seem completely out of place.  I'm not really sure what those boxes are supposed to be, to be honest, but they are mechanical whatsits or what have you, and this is a factory, so just go with it.  As you might have noticed on the first screen, or at least do now, I used an outline of sticky material over non-sticky material so that it wasn't that abysmal grey with the red, but also served as something you can traverse.  Also added to keep with the mechanical theme are the two arms that, presumably pick up and sort the various product that seems to be, thanks to the background designs I was able to slap down, all mish-mashed and just fitting the theme of the whole factory itself.  You use these to get up the pipe on the far right, above the second and last piece of music terrain from Cities and above the janitor who has quite a job to do.  The 'flow' machine allows you to get right up to the left-most arm or you can skip it and just roll up the box.  Obviously, you just get to the pipe to get outside.

If there's anything I want to impress upon you from my experience with the editor and with making a level, it's that, if you care about the aesthetic at all, you have to consider the scale of it when you're doing it up.  As you can see, I've got the outside of the factory here and have it basically sheer, with the trashed product and shelves serving as a junkheap to stand upon.  Basically, I picture the Factory itself on the edge of a cliff so that they can dump all the excess right off into the screen below which I will get to in a moment.  And, as you can see in the background, the trash has piled up regardless of what's below, which I think is the primary reason for -why- you wanted to get out of it.  It's all a bit esoteric, I realize, and I'm not trying to sound a snob or anything, but with these types of games where you're only really allowed the minimum of expression, things are left open to interpretation, so I'm giving mine.  Being that I made the level, I think it matters a bit.

This is where the trash sort of ends up when properly dumped - a place to be slagged.  This is where the above clouds come from (which you can traverse) and, despite there being two clouds here, you aren't really going to get anywhere from here.  In fact, if you're on the cliff where my Blobby Guy is, you might just have to throw yourself to the molten metal below to get back up where you're supposed to go.  The proper developers did this type of thing too, so I don't want to hear complaining now.  Still, as I said, this is not where you want to go and instead want to jump off the cloud from the screen before this to the one on the right.

With any luck, jumping off the cloud will land you on the left-most cloud here.  They conspicuously make a path that leads up and to the right and you just jumped a screen to get here, so, that's pretty much the case here as well.  You might notice that in the background, the rubbish has subsided a little, and that's because it's the edge of the hill of crap, so it's tapering down from there.  Replacing it as the pretty background is the clouds and wisps with some sparkly stars at the top because it's nice.  Really sort of sells the whole "You're free of the factory" aspect, which is what I was going for.  Of course, it's pretty easy to land on that cloud that you're supposed to land on, so before checking out the screen to the right, let's take a look below.  Obviously if there's clouds here, there must be more slag, right?

Right.  Once more, there are clouds here and once more you're kind of delaying the inevitable by relaxing on them as I'm doing here.  The slag goes off somewhere underground which may or may not be a -thing-, but much like the other portion of it, you have it bubbling a bit and steaming, but not a whole lot else.  The hill of rubbish does still taper off here, which isn't entirely noticeable, but is enough, I think.  So, dead end, let's go back up and to the right for the penultimate screen of the level.

Proper jumping will land you here on this patch of rather dry looking grass (thanks to the colors, but I liked the sky, so I went with it) along with the only real signs of nature you've seen in the level in the form of some ambient sound creating flowers.  There are no notes, and you might have noticed that I never really repeated any of my notes, so it's about this point that I started letting most of it taper off.  It's a different sound throughout the level that way, but I think it makes for a progressive song as well, if you can call it that.  I'm no musician, however, so it might just be noise.  Regardless, it seems fitting for the nature screens to let that sort of thing sort of drift down.

And here's where it ends.  Much like the screen before, it's just a tranquil looking bit where even more of the notes have faded away, leaving you with just a few stray things that, I think, sound pretty fine.  It's a pretty simple concept, I admit, you escape a Factory and end up in Nature which is....kind of obvious, or at least thematic enough that it seems the obvious place.  It's not ground-breaking or anything, nor am I willing to say that it's awesome, but I'm proud of it regardless.  I think it sounds pretty good and looks pretty good, so that's all that matters for me.  For going on with little more than a crash-course and messing about with the creator, I think I did pretty good to establish something clean-looking at the very least.

Thanks for checking this post out if you read to this point and really took a look at the pictures and such.  With any luck, it plays decently to people who aren't me and hopefully, showing off this here might have interested you in checking it out.  By all means, if you did, let me know!  I need feedback so I can get better as a maker in preparation for LBP Vita.  Again, sorry if all the pictures were a problem, but, well, I wanted to show them off.  And at least they were a little better realized than my first attempt with it that you can see here.  I messed with that damn screen for about a third of the time as I did the whole level, I swear.  But that's the one that gives you the first impression, so that was the point of it.

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