Auditorium is a fascinating free Flash game that turns interactive music arrangement into a series of puzzles. The center of the game is what the creators call “flow” – a visual stream of particles that can be directed to audio “containers” to create sound. The user places circles with icons signifying direction in the stream to redirect the particles where desired. As the stream hits the containers, it produces musical patterns. The results aren’t entirely open-ended – that is, there is a fairly fun puzzle game here, in that you can only “clear” a level by directing the flow of particles through all the objects. But the creators do claim that:

Auditorium is about the process of discovery and play. There are no right or wrong answers; there are many ways to solve every puzzle. To get started, fill up the first audio level.

playauditorium.com

The game so far is just a “demo”; the goal is to flesh out the game and deliver a more fully-functioning version. There’s a precedent for that: games like N+ (formerly N), Crayon Physics, World of Goo (formerly Tower of Goo), fl0w, and Da Blob – even the prototype for breakout hit Portal – began their life as free games or research prototypes before becoming officially-published titles, just to name a few. In fact, a significant chunk of what’s happening in game design these days is beginning its life in research and indie projects. That’s likely because hardcore and casual gamers alike are hungry for new concepts, and A-list developers are saddled with epic projects and bone-crunchingly huge ambitions and budgets. I’m not certain Auditorium will be the next big hit, but this kind of model could generate the interactive music games that future-minded music lovers have been anticipating.

My only criticism here, as with many similar games, is that the actual music content is fairly static. It’s a good prototype, but it’d be great if these particles had more influence on music. That creates a new problem for game designers: the music itself is really part of the game mechanics. Part of the fault here is Flash, whose sonic capabilities are fairly limited without a significant investment of effort. I’d love to see a game environment in which it’s easier to prototype musical ideas, with live-generated musical materials and synthesis.

The prototype here is promising, though. Found other interactive music games out there you like? Do let us know!

(Thanks, Brent!)

  • autoy

    Great, you just made me lose one hour on this. Addictive stuff.

  • Falchion

    Hi Peter,

    love the site, thanks for all the great work.

    I agree with how you find Auditorium, was hoping the music that followed the flow was less static.

    Other interactive music games that come to mind besides Audiosurf, would include <a>Synaesthete. I would call it a mix between a dungeon romp like Diablo and a music rhythm game like Tap Tap Revenge for the iPhone.

    Basically you control a sprite that runs around a virtual sci-fi landscape. When you get attacked, you have to follow the on screen drop downs to time key presses with musical elements that are part of the soundtrack currently playing. Do it right and you will fight off the attackers. Of course the whole time this is going on, you have to dodge & avoid attacks. There are even boss battles at the end of each level.

    The key part for me, is that as you move from scene to scene, the music builds up. Giving you more "notes" to keep track of during combat, when can help or hinder you depending on how well you keep up. And the music is very good, ranging from Trance to house to Darkcore. The game's sound designer even released the full soundtrack on the website.

    Would love to see them continue on to a full gaming project.

  • HalfLife

    Auditorium was simply intense. A highly recommended way to spend a hour (or two).

    Thanks Peter.

  • Chris

    Wildly fun right-brain food.

  • http://endquote.com/ Josh Santangelo

    Very cool, even though I can't seem to figure out level five.

    I was hoping this would be using the new audio-generation features of Flash Player 10 to do something interesting with the sound, but as you say, nope, everything is static.

    Great concept and execution though.

  • dead_red_eyes

    I was going to send this in, after seeing it on Kotaku yesterday. It's a really cool game. I wasted some time with it. I think Toshio Iwaii would get a kick out of it.

  • http://www.basementhum.com Basement Hum

    The game works very nicely, but at the moment the sound seems like an afterthought.

    I'm wondering if processing and supercollider, communicating via OSC, would be a good pairing for the creation of games where audio takes a more central role. But perhaps that kind of game would be prohibitively difficult to publish/share/distribute (?).

  • poorsod

    it was good, ish: the game is clearly a good idea that's been thought out well. however, it runs exceedingly slowly on my (Q6600) computer, and the music is rather rubbish and obviously looped.

    Something more musically dynamic (perhaps how exciting the music is could be controlled by the level in the particle collectors?) and faster-running would sit much better with me; I might even spend money on it.

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