Candy for your brain
February 29, 2008 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Surf your music. Audio surfer is a new game that uses .mp3 files to create racetracks of musical goodness. If guitar hero and F-Zero had a love child, this would be it.
posted by JimmyJames (48 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
OMG. It's like Frequency and Amplitude, only with my choice of music? Just might have to buy this...
posted by limeonaire at 7:03 PM on February 29, 2008


I have it and it is really fun for about an hour and then it gets really stale.
posted by GavinR at 7:07 PM on February 29, 2008


I dig it. The camera shake respawn thing is a really graceless way to punish one enjoying a song, though. :/
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:22 PM on February 29, 2008


Audiosurf is a wonderful game; I've loved it ever since I beta-tested the first version. I'd say that all the characters other than the Mono characters are more like a crossbreed of Klax and F-Zero, with the Mono ones more like F-Zero. If you want to enjoy the visuals without gameplay, try the Freeride mode at the top of the screen; if you want a challenge switch on Iron Mode -- it's harder and you can actually fail a song. For a real challenge, play Iron Mode Free Ride, as the first gray block you hit will make you lose.

It's a great piece of work -- no other rhythm games can generate tracks based on music you own. Even the price is great - it's only $10 and it even comes with the full Orange Box soundtrack.
posted by flatluigi at 7:42 PM on February 29, 2008


It's "AudioSurf," and it is indeed pretty cool. You can make the game as hard or as easy you want, depending on if you want to chill out or really make a challenge out of it. The online leaderboards are great if you want to worry about your score. If you have a high score and then get dethroned, the game will send you an e-mail about it.

Cowbellemoo, there's a freeride mode where you never have to worry about "respawn," and that's what you should use if you don't want to deal with even the easiest form of the actual game. I don't think you even have to move the mouse in that mode. Otherwise, respawn is a straightforward way of telling you you need a better strategy for making block combinations. I'd suggest you try the Casual Mono mode if you want just a bit of challenge but without a great deal of thinking (and will generally never have to respawn unless you just give up and plow into every block).
posted by HarshLanguage at 7:47 PM on February 29, 2008


More or less a double.
posted by nzero at 7:59 PM on February 29, 2008


I liked it when it was free. The beta was very popular at 4chan's /v/.
posted by Memo at 8:01 PM on February 29, 2008


The mechanics and competitiveness don't phase me, I'd just appreciate a little less shaming when I screw up. Maybe I just need to turn the effects volume down.

But I really like it. I bought it sight unseen when I saw the steam popup ad. I've been waiting for a game like this since N2O.

I've got a question for those who might know more about it: What determines if the track twists? I don't mean bend, I mean crazy-straw twists. It's great, but I've only seen it rarely in tracks I've played.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:07 PM on February 29, 2008


nzero: More or less a double.

's why I didn't post it myself when it came out, but I think this is deserving of its own post.

Memo: I liked it when it was free. The beta was very popular at 4chan's /v/.

Yeah, the beta got shared around a lot, hacked to play even when it wasn't open to beta-testing. Unfortunately, many people are still playing it like that. I'd say drop the $10 on it and support the single developer, Dylan Fitterer.
posted by flatluigi at 8:08 PM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and while I'm here: Here's a topic on the official forum with free music made especially for the game, and here's AudioSurfBoard, a website with a bunch of videos of the game in action.
posted by flatluigi at 8:10 PM on February 29, 2008


Phase for the iPod classic does the same thing, and is by Harmonix, the Amplitude/Frequency/Guitar Hero folks. (Also, this game doesn't work on my G4 Mac Mini. *sad*)
posted by SansPoint at 8:20 PM on February 29, 2008


I wholeheartedly Approve of this game. It's your Guitar Hero or whatever with the console dumb removed, so most notably you play whatever song you want rather than what they tell you to play, and there's some gameplay besides pressing the green button when the green light lights up and so on. Naturally, from glancing at the forums, all the noob kids these days play the simplest mode (Mono - all the other modes have Tetris-style puzzle game aspects, but not Mono) so they can do the same song over and over again and memorize everything. They also think the top ten scoreboard is very meaningful when it is open to easy hacks and this cannot be fixed.

But there's two things I expected in the game before I played it. The first is that it would only be good on certain songs, but it's turned out to be fun on any song I've thrown at it. The signal processing is very well done - often enough the blocks correspond note for note. So, for example, both Radiohead's "Videotape" and Dragonforce's "My Spirit Will Go On" are fun, though of course only the latter leaves your face melted. Second, I expected that the gameplay would distract from the music, but for me this hasn't been the case.

I can't play it too close to bedtime, though, or I lie down and have blocks flying at me when I close my eyes.

Anyone playing should give out their name so we can add each other to the friends scoreboard.

What determines if the track twists? I don't mean bend, I mean crazy-straw twists.


One explanation I saw is when a new instrument starts playing. This seems to be true sometimes from my experience, but not always, so either there's multiple reasons or just an imperfection in the signal processing.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:00 PM on February 29, 2008


P.S.: My name is the same.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:03 PM on February 29, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim: Naturally, from glancing at the forums, all the noob kids these days play the simplest mode (Mono - all the other modes have Tetris-style puzzle game aspects, but not Mono) so they can do the same song over and over again and memorize everything. They also think the top ten scoreboard is very meaningful when it is open to easy hacks and this cannot be fixed.

To point one: I play Mono pretty much exclusively because I can't do puzzles at 180 mph -- the other modes require much more thinking compared to Mono's twitch gameplay.

To point two: The scoreboard is completely broken, but there are many things coming to fix it.
posted by flatluigi at 9:05 PM on February 29, 2008


Also, this is a free suite of music created especially to generate AS gameplay. It's wonderful.

Also also, I'm flatluigi in AS.
posted by flatluigi at 9:07 PM on February 29, 2008


Oh man, this is fantastic. I remember seeing this in a previous post but not being interested enough to investigate. Now, though, I'm just gonna have to spring for it. (Also, if this game's hook were somehow to be bridged over to the synaesthete gameplay style, I might never leave the house again.)

I WILL YET DEFEAT YOU, THE HARVEY GIRLS!
posted by cog_nate at 9:51 PM on February 29, 2008


It's a great piece of work -- no other rhythm games can generate tracks based on music you own. Even the price is great - it's only $10 and it even comes with the full Orange Box soundtrack.

Not exactly the only rhythm game that uses your own music.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:59 PM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


The scoreboard is completely broken, but there are many things coming to fix it.

Some of the problems can be fixed, but it's fundamentally broken by Trusting The Client. That is, your Audiosurf sends a score to the servers and there is no way to tell that you didn't fake that score and anything that's sent to verify it. You could probably make it enough of a pain that no one would bother, but the servers are barely keeping up as it is.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:59 PM on February 29, 2008


CrunchyFrog: Not exactly the only rhythm game that uses your own music.

I really thought I said "that I know of," but whatever. Thanks for the link, though!
posted by flatluigi at 10:19 PM on February 29, 2008


Do you have to install Steam to play it?
posted by straight at 10:33 PM on February 29, 2008


straight: Do you have to install Steam to play it?

Yes, it's currently only distributed through Steam. I was a bit worried about that, but Steam's actually pretty good of a service and has none of the problems I always heard it had.
posted by flatluigi at 10:38 PM on February 29, 2008


I think the course generated for Ophidian's Formshift is impossible unless you prebreak your fingers. Also, you can ~*FiLeZ*~ the game pretty easy at the Pirate Bay if you want to give it a shot before laying out the cash.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:08 PM on February 29, 2008


That looked really cool. Too bad about Steam.
posted by Naberius at 11:40 PM on February 29, 2008


If you don't feel like installing, it there are some screencasts on YouTube. Song 2 is pretty interesting, but this one is my personal favorite.
posted by grouse at 1:40 AM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mono also has the blocks change color with the pitch of the track, which is imho quite beautiful compared to the other modes. So that's the only way I play.
posted by marble at 1:54 AM on March 1, 2008


To people who fear steam:

It's actually a really good piece of software these days. Yes, it sucked about 2 years ago when it first came out, and I firmly believe it to be the future of digital distribution on PC, especially since Valve released the SteamWorks stuff for free. If you're still concerned about it, think of it this way: Would you prefer to have Microsoft become the defacto standard for PC game distribution (using the epic piece of shit Games for Windows Live), or Valve, a company that actually cares about the future of the platform and knows how to make money off it?

If you're on Mac or Linux, yeah, ignore what I said :) As for pirating a $10 game, as a member of the game development community I am sad :( Seriously. $10.
posted by JZig at 2:24 AM on March 1, 2008


I really wanted to play this, but got woozy and motion sick after just a little while. Still a very cool idea for a game. And worth 10$ just for playing the little while I did.

Steam had some issues when it first came out, but it's now a really, really good content distribution platform, just like JZig said.

Good one, grouse! :)
posted by gemmy at 2:35 AM on March 1, 2008


Overall, I like Steam pretty well these days. However, you should be aware that other publishers can include their own copy protection in games, so Bioshock, for instance, still downloads and installs its nasty, evil copy protection mechanism, even though you bought the game through Steam. Bioshock is the only copy-protected Steam game I know about, but you should be aware that it's possible on the platform.

Other than that -- it's pretty good. It's nice to have your full library easily available on different computers. You can only use it on one computer at a time: you can have it (and your games) INSTALLED on multiple computers, but you can only USE it on one at a time. It defaults to starting automatically when you log in, and advertising at you when it starts, but you can disable both behaviors easily.
posted by Malor at 3:19 AM on March 1, 2008


I'm going to pick this up once I finally get around to installing The Orange Box and Steam, but since I just got the Rock Band drums I'm going to be busy with those for awhile.

AudioSurf looks like it could be a hell of a lot of fun though.
posted by Talanvor at 5:22 AM on March 1, 2008


The videos I've seen show too much jiggling and twitching for a nice swoopy experience. I don't really understand the puzzle aspect, either. Maybe I'm just not watching the right videos, but from what I've seen it doesn't look like it's worth a $10 floater. I really like what Rez does for music/gameplay interaction, too. I'll keep my eye on it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:03 AM on March 1, 2008


I nthing everyone else to say: Steam rocks. So much better then dealing with those shady dickwads at GameStop or what have you.
posted by Mach5 at 6:48 AM on March 1, 2008


I am color blind, so thanks world for another slap in the face!!!!!!
posted by Senator at 7:12 AM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gave the demo a try last night.

I'd say that the youtube videos are shit. I thought the idea was great, but everytime I watched the youtube clips of the beta, it just looked dumb. That's because they're using the mono theme.

There are 3 levels, each has a set of "themes" that have different play styles. The demo has 4 variations, the one I liked the most allowed you to "bump" the blocks left or right so you have a more puzzle-element (almost like falling block games).

I'm pretty damn broke right now, but you can bet when I have money to spare, I'll be plopping down 10 bucks on this.

If anyone is thinking about pirating this, I'd urge you to drop the 10 bucks for the real deal, even if you can't do it now, because it's a labor of love and the guy deserves it (and I'm not saying this as someone who's trying to write his own game)...

I was worried about steam, but recently I downloaded it for portal and haven't had any problems (well one technical glitch, but not any stupid DRM things).

Speaking of indies and digital distribution, I'd like to also mention Manifesto Games, started up by Greg Costikyan (designer of Paranoia RPG, Star Wars RPG and Toon RPG, amongst many others

There's also Rampant Games who have a blog I often read. Support your indie devs and distributors!!! But also support small games on steam if they're not available at the smaller sites ;)
posted by symbioid at 8:00 AM on March 1, 2008


Senator: You can change the colors of the blocks to something more easily differentiable. There have been a few color-blind people who've asked the same thing and they're doing fine.
posted by flatluigi at 9:35 AM on March 1, 2008


I retract my anger. (What to focus my rage on now???) Ah, thank you Mefi, ask and you shall receive - Kevin Ray Underwood - welcome.
posted by Senator at 9:47 AM on March 1, 2008


I've been paying for a while and this is really fun. Personal favs include Motown, Nina Simone, Surfjan, Heart it races, and C-Murder. Its totally different than those you tube vids. It pulls you in real hard I can waste hours just checking out different parts of my music collection. Like now I'm gonna check out that last Clipse album
posted by Rubbstone at 11:02 AM on March 1, 2008


I've been paying for a while and this is really fun. Personal favs include Motown, Nina Simone, Surfjan, Heart it races, and C-Murder. Its totally different than those you tube vids. It pulls you in real hard I can waste hours just checking out different parts of my music collection. Like now I'm gonna check out that last Clipse album
posted by Rubbstone at 11:02 AM on March 1, 2008


I don't understand all the mono hate around here. Ninja mono really is like playing an f-zero track specifically designed to go along with your music. I can't really see myself capable of enjoying the puzzle modes (like pointman) at hard or elite difficulty (everything is moving far too fast, and I'm no supercomputer), and on easy, they are an exercise in tedium.

That said, I've noticed that audiosurf really likes guitar music. Like, music with real instruments, a drum kit, and a singer. The patterns usually match the music really well. That said, anything electronic and remotely uptempo will result in a nail-biting downhill ride (which I like), and hip-hop, with its strong and emphasized beats, usually results in a horrible waving twisting mess that's impossible to comprehend (which I like even more).
posted by tehloki at 11:38 AM on March 1, 2008


That said, that said, that said, that said, I seem to be stuck in an infinite loop today. That said, help me
posted by tehloki at 11:40 AM on March 1, 2008


(everything is moving far too fast, and I'm no supercomputer)

I like that - gets away from trying to be perfect and into just trying to do the best you can with all these blocks flying at you.

Like, music with real instruments, a drum kit, and a singer.


It does try to grab instruments, so perhaps it's better at picking out guitars and drums than the different loops or whatever in electronic music.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:03 PM on March 1, 2008


I'm still sticking mainly to the mono levels. I like the twitch gameplay, and like others have said, it's fun experimenting with your music library . As noted above, there is a 3-song demo, so give that a try if you aren't willing to throw down ten bucks.

I was listening to a podcast earlier this week and they mentioned that the Valve guys were saying that Audiosurf was their current top seller on Steam, so that's cool.
posted by graventy at 1:27 PM on March 1, 2008


Great Game but one major problem, at least for me, STEAM SUX. I don't want to install that stuff just to buy the game or to get updates.

So as of now I just have to get from a torrent site, I'll buy it when I can get it directly from the owner.
posted by zouhair at 5:06 AM on March 2, 2008


Besides Vib-Ribbon and Phase, Frets on Fire,, and at least one crappy DDR clone whose name escapes me right now, allow players to use their own music. I feel like Konami might've tried it with an actual DDR game, too, but I might be wrong about that. (There are other examples. Also, I'm a nerd.)
posted by box at 8:41 AM on March 2, 2008


Sorry, box, but Frets on Fire doesn't let you use your own music. If you put work into it you can make your songs into something playable, but that's a completely different thing.
posted by flatluigi at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2008


box, frets on fire and stepmania both allow users to make their own music, but they have to create the patterns themselves, which is a very, very time-consuming process. I'll admit there are some genuine artists making stepmania patterns out there, but the fact that audiosurf can whip up a decent pattern (by itself) in a matter of seconds is what really sets it apart.
posted by tehloki at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2008


Decent patterns would definitely set it apart from that crappy DDR clone (sometime today, I remembered its name: Dance Factory). Thanks for the clarification, flatluigi and tehloki.
posted by box at 5:08 PM on March 2, 2008


I'd definitely pay $10 for this, but I've got dial-up at home. I usually download games at work and sneakernet them home. Steam breaks that business model.
posted by straight at 12:28 PM on March 3, 2008


Straight, just bittorrent it and give 10 bucks to a homeless guy. I like to call it the "guilt-offset credits business model".
posted by tehloki at 2:08 PM on March 3, 2008


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