I spoke with Liam Craver, the developer behind Project Arrhythmia…
1) When and why did you start making games?
Before I was around 12 I was far more interested in physical things like electrical circuits and drawing then programming. I think the reason was because they offered me a degree of immediate gratification that I couldn’t find anywhere else. You put an LED to a battery you see light, you put pen to paper and you see what you’re drawing and so on. However, that all changed once I got my first laptop. I started to pivot more towards programming out of interest and because, I always make the joke, it was much cheaper then fueling my electronics hobby. From there the rest is history I quickly fell in love with programming and since I always saw games as a mix of programming and art I saw it as a natural progression of my past interests.
2) What inspired Project Arrhythmia?
Many many things inspired Project Arrhythmia. Games such as Super Hexagon, 140, and OSU are obvious inspirations, with a game called Battle Cube by Nifflas being the catalyst to the game as a whole. However, in general I’ve always loved the idea of visuals syncing up with music in a well-choreographed manner, I would think that was the main reason I started and have continued work on Project Arrhythmia up till this point.
3) You really emphasize making music a core part of the game. How hard was this to perfect in coding and what was the workflow like?
Since music was such a big focus for the game I really wanted to make sure the people I worked with on the game’s soundtrack were the best I could get. Let me tell you I’ve already gotten some amazing music! Upon receiving the music I try to really study it listening to it around a few dozen times. I try to think about what each sound would look like as an object in the game and I sketch up examples of them on some graph paper. Then I simply load the song into the editor and go to town trying to bring it to life. It always ends up a bit different, but this method of working has made some terrific levels so far, I really like it. Also I don’t want to spoil the game’s story (yeah it actually has one) but the explanation for the game’s music is an interesting one.
4) It’s awesome how rhythmic and beautiful the game looks and feels. How did you manage to get the shapes and colors right? Was the way it turned out in the end, the way you expected it in the beginning?
The core idea behind the game has mostly remained the same throughout development, the main thing that has changed is how I achieved it via programming. For example, one huge limitation of the original version of the game was that no event could have multiple things happen at once. Meaning you couldn’t rotate something and move it at the same time. That being said the game’s editor is basically “After Effects” at this point, allowing the creator to make anything they can think of. I think this is the key to making it perfectly match up to the song. Unlike games such as AudioSurf where only parts of the song are taken into consideration. From the beginning I quickly found out that a robust editor was the only way I could make the levels I wanted.
5) What was your experience like in becoming greenlit on Steam?
Greenlight was a mysterious beast. I won’t go into details, since I’m not sure I can, but getting traffic to my Greenlight was exceptionally hard. Definitely that was the hardest part of the whole ordeal. It also doesn’t help that only around 50% of the people that visit the steam Greenlight page will actually vote at all either against or for due to logging in and steam guard being a chore. Also I didn’t expect the amount of people that vote no for your game right before the game was Greenlit the ratio of No/Yes votes was around 45/55. That being said it’s not all bad! I received some great info and pointers from some really cool people and it put my game on the map for quite a few people!
6) What has been the biggest lesson you learned in your whole game dev journey?
Make your game as amazing as you possibly can but always be aware of scope creep. I honestly started with a far too ambitious project for my “first” publicly released game. It makes sense as really I’ve made Project Arrhythmia from scratch 3 times now cause each time I had learned so much from making the previous version I was able to remake it quicker and better. That being said the current version is the version that will be going up on steam for sure.