A few months back Jon started playing around with The Echo Nest API, which is an amazing set of tools for analysing musical data. Among many other things, it can works out time signatures, tonal patterns, rhythms, beats, structures, and all sorts of amazing things from songs. We though it would be really amazing to make a system for instantly remixing youtube videos – letting you be a sort of DJ and VJ at the same time.
We hatched a plan to prototype (using Max/MSP) a proof of concept of this idea, and we came up with a few different directions that turned out to be super fun.
Other projects got in the way, but the other day I was helping out at the Edinburgh Music Hack Days, and a representative from the Echo Nest was in attendance. It reminded me of our youtube remixer, so I decided to pull it out and polish it up. To make it work better I’ve cut it way down to the bare essentials:
1. Take two instances of a single video
2. Loop a segment of that video, using the Echo Nest to pick out a musical loop of one bar
3. Cut up that loop using a grid interface, again using the Echo Nest to allow you to cut it up musically
4. Change the pitch/speed, looping area, etc etc
5. Layer the two instances on top of each other in different ways
Of course there are many many other features that we could add (ability to mix different videos, record your output, share to youtube, etc) but for now I think that it’s enough to show that this is a really cool musical interface…have a look at the video of me playing around:
If you have a Mac you are welcome to download the app and have a play for yourself! No guarantees it will work on your machine, I think it probably won’t work on OS 10.5, but it appears to work on 10.6 and 10.7.
Download the ToobChopper 1.0 for Mac
Let us know how you get on! Oh, and let us know if you want to fund an iPad version. We’re all ears.
Bad Hotel, our eagerly awaited new game, is now available on the App Store. Touch Arcade says it’s “challenging, engaging, and defies genre boundaries” and Gamezebo says it’s “completely awesome”.
Here’s an iTunes link, go go go! Or, go to the Bad Hotel website for video, pictures, pretty things.
Bad Hotel is an insane hybrid of a tower defense game and a procedural music toy, with beautiful art and tons of bullets. You are a budding entrepreneur, whose hotel is rather unfortunately located within the territory of Tarnation Tadstock, the Texas Tyrant. Your only defense against Tadstock’s army of seagulls, rats, yetis, and more is to build your hotel as quickly and intelligently as possible, using an array of increasingly sophisticated weapons. The beautiful artwork, quirky storyline, and frantic gameplay all work seamlessly together with a generative music system, which creates original music depending on the player’s actions and decisions. The player becomes a composer, creating complex musical structures to defend their hotel. A vast variety of music can be generated, from delicate beach chillout to country banjo techno.
This game began as a 48 hour project by Jon, who asked the question “what if you had a tower defense game in which you needed to literally defend a tower?” This simple question led to a number of different solutions, which led to an unusually frantic, exciting, and quirky gameplay. Additionally, you probably know Lucky Frame is hugely interested in music. With Bad Hotel we wanted to combine music and gameplay in a new and exciting way, by making the game design generate music through the player’s actions and decisions. Rather than being a traditional music game, where the user is playing along with or competing against music, the music is created by the player.
This new release follows on the heels on the critically acclaimed Pugs Luv Beats, which was selected as a finalist in the prestigious IGF Awards and was described as “the strangest game on iOS” and “2011’s most adorable – and best sounding game”.
If you would llike a promo copy for review, please visit our Presskit page, or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bad Hotel, our latest music-defence-construction game, will be coming to the iTunes App Store on August 14th!
You can read our previous blog post about it and visit our swanky dedicated Bad Hotel website.
If you are interested in reviewing the game for a reputable news outlet, blog, or similar, please visit our press page to learn more and request an advance promo copy.
Hello folks! We are very proud to announce our next game for iPhone and iPad – Bad Hotel. Coming soon to the App Store.
Bad Hotel is an insane hybrid of a tower defense game and a procedural music toy, with beautiful art and tons of bullets. You can watch a teaser video at the Bad Hotel website.
We’ve received some really lovely preview coverage around the internet, including on Gamezebo, PocketGamer, and Touch Arcade, who did a really in-depth look at our work, inspiration, and motivation, and had this to say about Bad Hotel:
The resulting game is much less of a toy than Lucky Frame’s earlier apps. It’s challenging, engaging, and defies genre boundaries. And it retains the studio’s apparent love of the absurd.
In Bad Hotel you are a budding entrepreneur, whose hotel is rather unfortunately located within the territory of Tarnation Tadstock, the Texas Tyrant. Your only defense against Tadstock’s army of seagulls, rats, yetis, and more is to build your hotel as quickly and intelligently as possible, using an array of increasingly sophisticated weapons.
The beautiful artwork, quirky storyline, and frantic gameplay all work seamlessly together with a generative music system, which creates original music depending on the player’s actions and decisions. The player becomes a composer, creating complex musical structures to defend their hotel. A vast variety of music can be generated, from delicate beach chillout to country banjo techno.
We have submitted the game to Apple we are just waiting for approval before announcing a launch date. Give us a shout if you’d like an advance copy for review, or if you have any questions.
image from LF favourite “Rejected“
All three of us here at Lucky Frame are first and foremost artists. We each come from different artistic backgrounds (design, music, printmaking) but we prioritize creation, meaning, and experience above all else.
We also like fun and beautiful things. That’s why when we saw Ian Snyder’s unVerse, a Flash-based music generation system, we got in touch with him right away.
Ian makes some really amazing art and games (check out Star Swing for a really interesting and pretty one-button game), and unVerse is a super beautiful little generative music system. It uses a minimalist system of white points floating on a black screen. When two points approach they will connect and push each other away, generating a musical tone. Dragging your finger across the screen pushes the points, creating stunning patterns reminiscent of shooting stars.
When we played with his Flash version we quickly realized that it would work really well on iPad/iPhone, since clicking and dragging is a bit clunky but glass screens are really quite conducive to gliding your finger. We contacted Ian about making an iOS version, and he very graciously agreed.
So in our spare time (well, Jon’s spare time) we made a pretty little app version of unVerse. We eventually submitted it to the iTunes store and we were very excited to release it to the world. And then Apple rejected it.
Yes, that’s right, we were rejected on the grounds that unVerse is “not very useful”. Hmm. Strangely, an app that plays a sound of an airplane appears to have more use than our generative music system. Anyway.
To continue with my narrative, I decided to respond to our rejection:
We strongly believe that our app unVerse provides significant entertainment and artistic value. It is a beautiful application of a complex generative system, offering an accessible way to explore procedural music creation. Far more than a simple soundmaker, it fits in with our company philosophy by introducing powerful musical concepts through an aesthetically interesting and understandable interface.
unVerse looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, and is fun to use and play with. That makes it a worthwhile app to have on the store.
Director, Lucky Frame
Their response was rather unhelpful.
Thank you for the feedback. However, it would be appropriate to incorporate additional features and functionality to resolve this issue. If you wish to appeal your review, you can submit a request to the App Review Board.
I took them up on their offer, and submitted a request to the App Review Board. A few days later I got a call from an Apple representative in California. I should say at this point that the representative was very nice and respectful throughout the conversation, and I enjoyed speaking to them.
In a nutshell, they told me, the app needed more ‘features’. “I love this app, I really do,” they said, “it’s beautiful. It just needs…more.” They explained that this could take any number of different forms – different sounds, different colors, different movements, anything. It just needed more.
This is infuriating. There seemed to be no comprehension of the inherent contradiction between “this is great” and “but it needs more”. The whole reason unVerse is great is precisely because it does so little. It is a study, a little glimpse into a musical and physical interaction. If the app had more options and things to change, it would artistically break down and lose its way. “Oh Mondrian, your paintings are great, but they could just use a couple of curves”.
This line of reasoning is essentially “if it’s not right, add something”. This really goes against any design philosophy that Apple has, not to mention standard design or user experience practice.
While other developers (I strongly dislike using that word, but that’s a different story) might go ahead and add some extra features and re-submit, we have chosen not to do so. It is against our artistic and creative philosophy to arbitrarily add features, and it would not make sense from a company standpoint to invest more time in an app that could very well be rejected once again for not conforming to some random reviewer’s idea of what constitutes “useful”.
As a post-script, I should add that I don’t mean this to be a giant condemnation of the App Store, or Apple, or anything like that. Without the App Store we would not even be in a position to complain about how we can’t distribute one app to millions of users worldwide – our previous apps have been installed on thousands of devices, and of course that is absolutely amazing. My criticism in this case is more to do with how we evaluate creative output, and it’s a problem that could be applied to any number of situations, from apps to music interfaces. An unfortunate byproduct of consumer-focused digital media is that perhaps more than ever it prioritises adding “stuff” rather than trying to really explore and experiment with specific interactions, reactions, and interfaces.
We are very pleased to be taking part in the Because We May group sale that is going on at the moment – it’s a whole bunch of amazing indie app developers who have joined together to put their games on sale. So we have put Pugs Luv Beats, our IGF-nominated adorable canine musical game, on sale for just $.99 through Friday! To celebrate, here’s a little video showing some behind the scenes footage of our promo video shoot. Say hello to our friends Jake, Frankie, Esther, Zelda, and Paddy…
Be sure to pick up Pugs Luv Beats on the App Store today!
Today we released Pug Synth on the iTunes App Store. It’s free! Go download it now!. Here’s a video to watch while you download:
There, did you download it? Good. It’s loads of fun. As you can see, it’s a super hilarious synthesizer and drum machine featuring the same pugs from Pugs Luv Beats. You dress them up in hats and costumes to change the sounds. And it’s free! What more do you want from an iPhone/iPad app?!
It’s already gotten a great review from Evolver.fm, who called us “Wacky Scottish Developers“, which is certainly a description we will wear with pride. The review is lovely:
With its newly-released Pug Synth, Lucky Frame’s animated pugs are quickly cementing themselves as the most musical virtual dog breed on iOS… Like its predecessor, Pug Synth sounds surprisingly good for a cutesy, animated iPhone game starring costumed dogs. It expands on one of my favorite features from the original Pugs Luv Beats: a touch synthesizer that lets you solo over the planet menu in that game, while rifling through compositions… With this simple app, Lucky Frame expands on what it did best in Pugs Luv Beats: repackaging an intuitive synthesizer in an unintimidating, charming, user-friendly interface.
Awwww, that makes our little pug tails wag. Enjoy the Pug Synth and spread the word!
Oh man oh man oh man oh man. We are very excited here at the Lucky Frame offices, because we learned yesterday that Pugs Luv Beats is a finalist in the prestigious 2012 Independent Games Festival Awards. We are one of only five finalists in the “Excellence in Audio” category.
The judging notes say:
“This one took me by surprise. It’s super charming and the music integration into the gameplay is really creative here. I was enjoying the audio until I realized that the planet selection screen basically allows you to play two monosynths and…at that point I was sold!”
Awwwwwwww, that just warms our little pug hearts.
So that means that some contingent from Lucky Frame will be headed to San Francisco for GDC and of course the awards ceremony. We are extremely honored and proud to be amongst such an amazing selection of games.
We’ve gotten some pretty great feedback on Pugs Luv Beats so far…here are a few samples!
The Next Web calls us “The Strangest Game on iOS” and says:
Pugs Luv Beats, created by Lucky Frame, is one of the weirdest iOS games I’ve ever encountered. But despite my confusion, I keep coming back for more. The interactive soundtrack goes hand in hand with the gameplay, and the bird’s-eye perspective feels very fresh. With this is mind, I actually recommend it.
Slide to Play has some nice things to say too:
Pugs Luv Beats is a unique, adorable, and music-infused game…The building soundtrack as you gather more beats makes Pugs Luv Beats a mesmerizing experience.
Meanwhile, Brian at Scottish Games declares us “2011’s most adorable – and best sounding game…We defy you not to gurgle with joy.”
For those geeks amongst you, there is an in-depth look at the audio engine in Pugs Luv Beats at Create Digital Music which mentions “some seriously addictive gameplay and adorable pugs”.
Finally, the people buying the game seem to like it too! Our average rating is hovering around 4.6 stars, and people have left some really nice comments…
Great to see a game that uses sound in this way – most original game on the iPod I’ve played in ages. Its very addictive once you get to grips with the game play. If you fancy something different and not another boring rehash I highly recommend these cute little critters. Congrats to Lucky Frame – great work folks. (Katatype, UK)
Fantastically cute game, very well made. (djdigitalfx, UK)
The pugs are so adorable, rocking out to their beats! (pinkpanthro, UK)
I have to admit, this game is super fun and a little addicting. It starts off a little slow but eventually collecting more beats and unlocking more planets is awesome! Plus the pugs are cute and hilarious, especially when you make one sing along in the planet menu. (bboyhavoc, USA)
Happy New Year to everyone, we’ll have some new musical pug treats for you soon!
Lucky Frame is proud to announce that Pugs Luv Beats is now available for purchase on the App Store. Go now!
You can also now watch our amazing promo video, featuring real live pugs in costumes!
Thanks to everyone who helped get this game out the door, you know who you are. Please spread the word as much you can!