Welcome to May everyone. It has been another busy month for the development team with a lot of progress being made towards a playable version of the game.
Music and Sound Effects Design
As promised, this month we would take a look at the music and sound effects that are being worked on for Nestables. For this, our sound and music designer Adam has put together a video showcasing the sound effects ingame. This is not necessarily how the sound effects will be implemented ingame, it is more to showcase the sounds! Check out our sound effects demo video:
Our sound designer Adam, has kindly written some notes on the composition of the main theme and gameplay music.
The Main Theme
What’s the first thing you see when you look at Nestables? For me it was colour, the cute Cubes, and most of all: an island. As such, I set out with a Caribbean flavour in mind, aiming to compose something bright, breezy and tropically-tinged for the game’s main theme.
The piece begins with what I’ll call the ‘A’ section. Off-beat staccato chords, characteristic of Carribean music styles like reggae and calypso, play an important part here in creating a lilting, laid-back groove. Those chords are provided by piano and marimba playing in unison. Matched closely in volume, that pairing of instruments results in an almost steel-drum like sound.
Combining instruments was a recurring activity throughout the writing of the piece: at any one time during the ‘A’ sections there are five separate instruments playing the melody (vibraphone, bells, toy piano, chimes, and a second marimba), to give the sound the desired depth and layers.
With the island theme established, it seemed a natural choice to forego drum sounds and assign rhythmic duties to hand-held percussion, mostly shakers with a few clicks and claps thrown in for good measure.
The ‘B’ section arrives with a change in time signature. To this point we’ve been hearing a steady 4 beats to each bar. Now, for a contrasting feel, we shift to a pattern of 3 bars of 3 beats followed by a bar of 5 beats. The combo of piano and marimba move to centre stage playing a busy, rhythmic figure while the other melody instruments float above with a simpler, complimentary line. The ‘B’ section builds tension by repeating the same figure three times before resolving it harmonically and melodically the fourth time around. As we jump back into the ‘A’ section you should (hopefully) sense a little boost in rhythmic momentum, due to the switch back to a steady four-to-the-bar feel.
The Gameplay Theme
Writing music to accompany the playing of the game required a different approach. This theme serves as a background accompaniment to a lot of the gameplay and so needed to be lower in energy and less demanding of attention (in fact, the version in this video is a more condensed arrangement than the in-game version and features the melody more prominently, with fewer interludes between sections). The instrumentation is a stripped down version of that used in the game’s title tune: marimba, vibraphone, chimes, piano and bass. No percussion.
Tonally the piece is different too: dynamically flatter and without much activity in the upper frequency range, since that space that will be taken up by many of the game’s sound effects. During the game, sounds of birdsong are always present during this track, to the point that I almost consider the birdsong a part of the theme. Initially, I added a third track to the background ambience which was a combination of breeze and insect noises. However, I later removed this as it made the soundscape too cluttered.
Nest Tools and UI Refinements
We are continuing to refine and improve the UI for Nestables.
In the image above, you can see the continued refinements for our ‘base’ UI for the game along with the introduction of new ‘Nest Tools’. These tools will allow players to control more aspects of their Nests. Starting from the top:
1. Farming tool — allows the player to select which base blocks are allocated for farming
2. Item Mover — allows the user to move items in their Nest such as a bath, campfire or other items
3. Nest Clearing — allows the user to clear areas of their Nest to put in new buildings or for farming. This process will take time, similar to the construction of a new building
4. Return to Inventory — allows the user to return the selected item to their Nest inventory for use at a later time.
We have also (greatly) improved the render of the Cube at the bottom of the player’s screen so that it no longer looks like they were taking an uncoordinated selfie!
Final work on serialisation has been completed! This is a major step forward as it means that more internal testing of the game can be completed seeing we are actually able to save our progress! Attention now will turn to real-time progress ingame while the user is offline.
Easter Wearables Distribution
A massive thank you to those who continue to support our development by purchasing our Easter 2020 wearables. Our Twitter competition giveaway was also a great success.
- 7 x Egg-cellent Backpacks
- 6 x Chickedee Hat
- 9 x Bunny Bifocals
Social Media and Community Engagement
Based on community feedback, we understand that you guys want to hear more from us between the development updates. We certainly aren’t the most active on Twitter! We are nearly always around in Telegram though to answer any questions or hear your feedback.
Starting shortly, we will be posting regular updates to our Twitter, using content from our development updates, interesting game facts / gameplay elements, behind the scenes screenshots and more!
We get more questions on this than anything else! So we thought it could be an idea to update the community each time we publish a development update. As you have seen above, we are continuing to get closer and closer to our closed alpha for Founder’s Token holders. Most critically this month, was the completion of the serialisation work for the game. This means that we can play the game and save progress, allowing us to start balancing the gameplay and providing more general feedback for areas of improvement and refinement. Once work has been completed on allowing for real-time progress between plays, this will give us a much more accurate ETA for the alpha as the focus will then turn to implementing final features, bug fixing and gameplay refinement.
We are excited to keep you as a community informed of our development progress. Until the next post, you can stay tuned with our progress via our Telegram & Twitter and don’t forget to clap if you have liked what you have read above!
~ Tribal Gaming