Rhythm Quest Devlog 53 — Level 6–1

DDRKirby(ISQ)
5 min readMay 6

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I’m continuing to just roll ahead with levels! It’s funny, I feel like there was a long period of time when working on new levels and thinking about the mechanics felt intimidating, so I would just procrastinate on it and work on other miscellaneous things. But now I think it’s the opposite (probably partly because all of my mechanics are known now), where I’ve gotten into the habit of just working on only levels. It’s good though, the levels are something that need to be done 100%.

Anyways, I went straight ahead and finished up the first level in world 6, level 6–1!

Speed Zones

World 6 introduces one new mechanic, the red “speed zones” that increase scroll speed and change up the rhythmic meter into triplet patterns (quarter note triplets) temporarily:

As with some of my other mechanics, this might get mixed initial reactions from players (or at least, that’s the expectation I’m setting up for myself…). For people who don’t “get” triplet meter, it might seem sort of like an arbitrary changeup/speedup that’s hard to react to. I experimented with having a sort of 2-beat “lead-in” to prep you for the new meter, but I was pretty unhappy with how that sounded (messy…) so I took it out. (Maybe that’ll be an optional toggle someday?)

For now I’m just trying to give the player some easy speed zones at first so that they can listen to and get used to the rhythm, before I throw actual quarter-note triplets at them:

You might not have noticed it until I pointed it out (now it’ll stick out like a sore thumb…), but none of the speed zones have any height ramps — they’re all completely flat. I couldn’t really get the “conveyor belt” graphic to look reasonably good at an angle, so I just decided to add that as a restriction (the level generator will probably be really confused if you try to add ramps in the middle of it). I’m totally ok with that though, it makes them simple to read…and I actually have the same restriction for spike enemies (they can travel across ramps, but the actual jump needs to be on flat ground), so it’s not really a new thing. I guess technically I can support height changes in the form of air jump combos and flight paths, but those haven’t come up yet.

Visual Identity

This one was easy since I had already been thinking for a long time to do an outer space theme for world 6 (maybe sort of a trope to have the final area be space-themed?). One of the worries here is that all of the level backdrops are just going to look similar since they’ll all just be dark skies with stars, but hopefully I can make them a little bit distinct by experimenting with different foreground elements and such.

For this level I went with sort of a “spiral galaxy”-type drawing with a bright orb in the middle. In hindsight, I probably could have drawn it bigger…but I guess this way it’s more of a single element rather than filling most of the screen, which works too. It looks like there’s all sorts of colors in there, but it’s really just the 8-color palette, but with a bunch of translucent layers. It was actually quite fun to draw, as it felt like more of a painterly (impressionistic?) approach throwing blobs and dots of colors everywhere rather than the geometric shapes from world 5. You can also see that I’m making heavy use of the spraypaint tool for the first time here, particularly in the soft “nebula”-like patterns in the background.

As usual, I tried to add in some amount of variation in the color palette depending on the different sections of music. Here I switch to a completely black background color for the first “main” section of the song to up the contrast level a little bit:

I’m hopeful about this art style for world 6! Hopefully I’ll be able to draw some nice backdrops by experimenting with this general direction. I was a bit worried at first since I feel like “space” art tends to not do well with such limited color palettes, but it’s turning out fine with clever use of dithering-like effects and translucency.

Musical Identity

Unlike with world 5, I didn’t do a whole ton of musical exploration before starting off on this level…I sort of just “winged it” and went with some rough ideas, seeing what came out of them. I knew I wanted to try playing around with whole-tone scale melodies, but I was also interested in exploring more varied bass sounds (maybe even dubstep-esque), as well as featuring prominent use of arpeggios and low-pass/high-pass filter automation.

Here’s a snippet showcasing the “wub” bass featured in this track, as well as a triangle wave synth that plays a whole tone scale pattern. I dunno, somehow wobbly basses and triplet rhythms almost seems like a bit of a musical trope…

https://rhythmquestgame.com/devlog/53-wholetoneandbass.mp3

Here’s another snippet, showing off some low-pass filter automation on gated chords, as well as an arpeggio that has some long reverb on it (spacey!).

https://rhythmquestgame.com/devlog/53-arpfilter.mp3

And here’s a longer snippet of the main buildup in the song. I use a different (but still-prominent) bass here, and slowly open up the filter as it builds. As with world 5, I’m making heavy use of triangle-wave tom fills to accentuate the rhythmic changeups.

https://rhythmquestgame.com/devlog/53-buildup.mp3

Level Select

A new world also means a new level select theme! Here’s a short video where you can hear that in action:

I had a few false starts on this one before I landed on the idea, but it sounds great! I love how the major IV -> minor iv progression works here. You can hopefully hear the low-pass filter automation on the chorded synth, as well as the reverbed short arpeggio pattern — same ideas as in the level.

There’s still a bunch more to explore with speed zones and how they combine with the other mechanics, which should be interesting to figure out over the course of these next 4 levels! I might have to tread a tricky balance since fast rhythms (e.g. double-hit enemies) are =really= fast in speed zones, so those will only be feasible if I take the overall tempo down a notch…

Wishlist Rhythm Quest on Steam today at https://store.steampowered.com/app/1635640/Rhythm_Quest/

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