Tag Archives: Electro

Cybermanga

Plenty of people have asked about my game project – what is it really about?

I’ve always let them know, that it’s a 2D shooting game set within a cyberpunk universe, with anime/manga influences.

Response has been mostly positive. After all, shooting stuff, cyberpunk worlds and big eyes with speed lines are things of great interest to game fans. Of course one could also add anime, manga and sci-fi enthusiasts in there too.

The beauty of anime and manga is the sheer amount steeped in cyberpunk lore. At a drop of a hat I can think of several titles: Akira, Angel Cop, Appleseed, Battle Angel Alita, Black Magic M-66, Bubblegum Crisis, Cyber City Oedo 808, Cybernetics Guardian, Dirty Pair, Genocyber, Ghost In the Shell, M.D. Geist, Megazone 23, Roujin Z, Serial Experiments Lain and Silent Möbius. And that’s just the short list.

cybercityodeo808
In the future, everyone has great hair

I would recommend, anyone who has even a passing interest in cyberpunk, anime and manga to check out some of the above. If you’ve been playing video games for the past 20+ years, it should not surprise you how much of an influence these have been on your favourite medium.

It’s quite harrowing to pick just one or two titles that have had the biggest influence on me, personally. However, the Appleseed manga just clicked with me two decades ago when I picked up my first copy. Likewise, Akira and Cyber City Oedo 808 both had a profound impact, visually stunning masterpieces that they were and still are.

When I commenced with development of my game, I opted for a cyberpunk theme. Due to the fact that there weren’t too many traditional shooting games based in such a universe. Most tend to be space shooters, which is perfectly fine but didn’t inspire me much to follow suit. It’s not that the concept of a cyberpunk shooting game is terribly original but far less common.

Nevertheless, still a window of opportunity to indulge and create a cyberpunk world with interesting characters that fit the bill. This presented a challenge on how to best depict all this within the boundaries of a two dimensional, top-down viewpoint. How the rich tapestry of manga-infused hyperreality would be brought to life as a shooting game, regardless of confines. 

Fortunately pixel art lends itself beautifully in helping formulate such a world within a retro game format. The tinny, metallic sound of FM synthesis provide the ideal, aural backdrop of a future make-believe dystopia. Cataclysmic electropunk, new wave, synthwave or industrial beats for ersatz cyborgs. All angles are covered.

Sticking feverishly to 80’s neon-noir and anime aesthetics. This was always meant to be a brightly coloured dystopia. The dour mood brought about by modern grey/brown first person shooters have no place in a 16-BIT Shock production. As cheesy and trite as this may sound – I wear shades because the future is bright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Introduction to FM Synthesis & Ocular Audio

As someone that grew up with arcade games and 80’s synthpop music, I cannot hide my fondness for FM Synthesis. This was the sound of the future and in a somewhat mystical way, still is.

It can sound tinny, aggravatingly metallic or warm and bass-heavy. Aural landscapes that are representative of both happy, fuzzy worlds and those that are dystopian. Light and darkness all produced in an embedded range of chips manufactured by Yamaha. These chips would find a home in Yamaha’s famous DX7 digital synthesizers, arcade boards and PC sound cards from AdLib and Creative Lab’s early Sound Blaster range.

Yamaha's DX7 - The Workhorse Of Many Hit Songs
Yamaha’s DX7 – The workhorse of many hit songs

Enough can’t be said about all the sounds that were coming out of all these synthesizers, arcade cabinets and sound cards. Sounding incredibly synthetic, plastic even. And somehow they became relevant in a sea of naysayers. Melodies were supposed to be the preserve of the musician who could actually play real instruments, not some midi punk.

In a sense, keyboard players and sound coders were in all likelihood working harder than the average traditional musician. Many electro/synthpop bands were notorious for spending hours on end, tweaking the settings on their synthesizers to get a unique sound- they could call their own.

At the other camp, programmers would often hand code sound routines in assembly in order to fit in the music. Given the memory limitations of home computers, consoles and arcade systems during that time period, this was not exactly an easy task to achieve. Not to mention that FM synthesis is known for it’s quirks and complexity.

Over the past few months I’ve come into contact with a composer that specializes in audio production for games and film. Joe Gilliver – BA Hons of Ocular Audio has been kind enough to write the next article for my blog, which will cover FM synthesis deeper. Joe is based in the UK and is currently working on a project called Black Shuck.

Apart from demystifying FM synthesis, Joe has also written this article which gives greater insight of his current project at Gamedev.net.