Press play on Charles Bardin’s A Musical Story, and also you would possibly end up touring again in time.
“It’s all concerning the freedom of ‘70s music,” says Bardin, the French composer/developer who created the Apple Design Award-winning sport together with Alexandre Rey, Valentin Ducloux, and Maxime Constantinian. “We have been impressed by the sense that, again then, something may occur.”
These preliminary notes of inspiration led to the harmonious mixture of music, narrative, artwork, and novel gameplay current in A Musical Story. The rhythm sport explores the primal, highly effective connection between music and reminiscence, following the protagonist as he displays on moments from his previous. It’s straightforward to identify the spirit of the ‘70s within the story’s dreamlike visuals: There are classic guitars, trend, and hairstyles aplenty, painted vividly in neon-splashed extra and washed-out colour. There are scenes that defy comprehension (at one level, cackling cartoon birds make an look). And there’s lots of nice music.
Whereas A Musical Story was Bardin’s first time designing a sport, he’s had lots of expertise with the style. After learning on the Conservatoire de Musique de Lyon, he spent greater than a decade creating (and overlaying) music for video games. “In a single sport, you possibly can combine every thing. You’ll be able to have digital music with Japanese devices and African drums,” he says. “I like altering issues up like that.”
Take heed to the soundtrack to A Musical Story
In 2014, he launched a YouTube sequence referred to as After Bit, by which he and his longtime good friend and collaborator Ducloux interviewed distinguished online game music composers about their craft and catalogs. Simply three years later, the 2 started exploring a special partnership — the as-yet-untitled mission that may turn out to be A Musical Story.
As longtime followers of rhythm video games, the crew knew their strengths — however wished to discover a mission that put extra emphasis on the music itself. “In most rhythm video games, the notes come down on the display and also you play them once they arrive,” Bardin says. “I like that, nevertheless it’s additionally one thing you possibly can play with none sound. I wished [to create] a sport that basically relied on listening.”
With that in thoughts, the crew started prototyping scenes the place the participant would play quick sequences of music utilizing an intuitive two-button system. The simplified controls helped gamers concentrate on the music, moderately than placement of their palms or bodily patterns they wanted to recollect.
These explorations additionally helped outline the core narrative of the sport for Bardin and the crew: What if its mechanics may play into the story? “We thought: Let’s dive into a personality who’s making an attempt to recollect one thing,” he says.
Rhythm video games aren’t historically identified for his or her storytelling prowess — there aren’t many locations to insert dialogue and exposition exterior of tune lyrics, and it’s all too straightforward to tune these out when making an attempt to perform a tough combo. As a substitute, A Musical Story makes use of visuals, musical motifs, and the occasional vocal second to specific an vital second or pivotal scene.
I wished a sport that basically relied on listening.
Charles Bardin, composer/developer
For instance, early on within the sport, you play a tune referred to as “Her,” by which the protagonist “goes to a pub, sees a woman enjoying music, and immediately falls in love together with her,” says Bardin. “It begins with only a Rhodes piano and a few bass and drums, however as you progress nearer to the stage, you hear increasingly of the music. If you get shut sufficient, you uncover her face and her voice.”
That voice belongs to singer Priscilla Cucciniello, and the scene marks the one time vocals seem within the sport itself (although they reappear within the credit). “We wished this second to be highly effective,” Bardin says. “That is the voice of an important character within the sport.”
Take heed to “Her” from the soundtrack to A Musical Story
Every scene has its personal distinct mixture of music and visuals to maneuver the story ahead, however one interface component stays constant: the round bubbles you play to create the tune in every scene. Throughout their preliminary story explorations, Bardin was reminded of a French phrase — “bulles de memoire,” or reminiscence bubbles. “I at all times discovered that time period actually charming,” he shares. It resonated with the remainder of the crew as effectively, and its visible illustration turned a core a part of each gameplay mechanics and the general really feel of the sport.
As with the interface, mechanics, story, and visuals, the songs required a little bit of a rethink on the normal buildings of a rhythm sport. “Musical video games are likely to depend on digital or techno music, the place the beat could be very clear,” Bardin says. “We wished to show that we may do it with extra natural music — one thing that wasn’t fairly so thump-thump-thump-thump.”
Bardin and crew spent a superb little bit of time shuffling by way of genres. “We wrote one thing like seven tales for the sport,” says Bardin. “We had one model that was extra fashionable, a classical model with extra piano, and one which felt a bit extra like (the French duo) Air.”
In the long run, Bardin merely went again to his personal file assortment, drawing inspiration from ‘70s heavy hitters like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, in addition to the endlessly creative sound of Radiohead.
To deliver that vibe to the sport, he recorded every thing however drums on analog devices: a Fender Rhodes keyboard, Hammond organ, and guitars with massive, crunchy sounds. The songs have been assembled in Wwise; the remainder of the sport was inbuilt Unity.
Whereas the music of A Musical Story is designed to inform its story greatest in live performance with the visuals and gameplay, when performed back-to-back, the 26 songs type an hour-long idea album. “In case you hear straight by way of, it by no means stops,” he says. “It’s one massive piece.”
Take heed to the soundtrack to A Musical Story
However although it was conceived as a complete, the soundtrack has moments that stand out for Bardin and supply the backdrop to particularly significant moments, like “Her.” It’s the one tune within the sport to function vocals — albeit vocals in an invented language, mixing collectively French, Spanish, English, and Esperanto.
Even when the lyrics are obfuscated, they’re nonetheless vital. “[They] imply one thing,” Bardin smiles, “although I’d by no means inform what. However in the event you take the time to know the story, and what occurs while you take heed to the voice on the finish of the sport, you’ll get it.” For the file, we didn’t get the reply from him both. However we’re fairly positive it’s one thing that may be significant in any decade.
Be taught extra about A Musical Story
Obtain A Musical Story from the App Retailer
Behind the Design is a weekly sequence that explores design practices and philosophies from every of the 12 winners of the 2022 Apple Design Awards. In every story, we go behind the screens with the builders and designers of those award-winning apps and video games to find how they introduced their exceptional creations to life.