Making this a double interview Monday we've also got Steve from Cold Beam Games about the recently released Beat Hazard.This game has me intrigued because you use your own music library to determine the levels you play.
Question: How did the idea for Beat Hazard come about?
Well I’ve always been mesmerized by music visualizers, and I thought how cool it would be to turn one into a game. That was about 2 years ago. I saw AudioSurf on YouTube and how popular that was, so I knew there were plenty of players that would like the idea too. Then I discovered XNA and Beat Hazard was born.
Question: Could you describe Beat Hazard for anyone who hasn’t seen it?
Yeah, it’s a crazy Geometry Wars style shooter combined with an insane visualizer, that is completely music driven. Your music drives the gameplay. The more intense the music, the more powerful your become. It’s a unique fusion of music, gameplay.
Question: How large was the team that created Beat Hazard and how long did it take to develop?
Just me, myself and I! It took about 6 months to develop from scratch. I’d not used XNA or programmed in C# before, so there was a slight learning curve to climb.
Question: When you first set out to make Beat Hazard did you plan to allow gamers to use their own music to play?
Absolutely, that was the whole point of the game. I wanted players to think how all their different albums and tracks might play. Maybe to go on a quest to conquer their music library! Or to think of Beat Hazard when they buy new music and want to play the game with it.
Question: How difficult was it to create game that can work with any song?
Very tricky actually. I spent many hours playing the game to a wide variety of music, testing and tweaking the visual feedback, weapon power response and difficulty levels. I remember putting some Katherine Jenkins opera tracks on thinking it might not work, but her powerful voice really made the game kick ass! (I did this purely for testing reasons of course!)
Question: Looking back on Beat Hazard what are the things that you are most proud of?
Well I’m proud of the whole thing really. From getting what it quite an unusual idea (which some people said couldn’t be done) and turning it into a game. The thing that gives me the greatest pleasure though is when I receive emails off players who like the game. I’ve had quite a few and the idea seems to have resonated with a lot of people. You just can’t beat that!
Question: Was there anything you were hoping to get into Beat Hazard that did not make it?
Yep, lots of stuff. The biggest was that I wanted the boss ships to be formed by the music. I got some way to doing this, but I didn’t have time in the end. How cool would it be if the huge boss ships were always different and somehow looked like your music?
Question: Now that Beat Hazard has released are you planning another Indie game?
Definitely! I want to do Beat Hazard 2 next year. I’ll look at adding the ideas that didn’t make it in last time. Now I have the feedback and music system sorted, I’d love to do a suite of music driven games, maybe Beat Hazard: Space Invaders, or Beat Hazard: Boss Battles. You know, give some other classic games and Beat Hazard treatment. Does that sound cool? Maybe your readers have some suggestions?
Question: Can you give us some tips or strategies for Beat Hazard?
If you want to kill a boss quickly, fly right over him and use a super bomb. This can take him out in one shot! If you want to level up quickly, it’s best to player longer tracks than lots of shorter ones. When you go for a pickup near the edge of the screen, fire off screen in that direction, it can save your ass if some bad guys come flying in.
Question: If you could change one thing about Xbox Live Indie Games as a platform what would it be?
In my case, I'd want streaming data from the PC to be a lot quicker. At the moment it can take 5 - 10 seconds just to get an album name, and that's a real pain with a music based game. Oh, and add support for streaming music from USB sticks. (I'm sure that was just one thing, no?)