Skip navigation


warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 33.

It starts as just another toy to play around with in a few minutes of distraction in your Web browser – as if the Web were short on distraction. But then, something amazing can happen. Like a musical Turing Test, you start to get a feeling for what’s happening on the other side. Someone’s stream of colored dots starts to jam with your stream of colored dots. You get a little rhythm, a little interplay going. And instead of being a barrier, the fact that you’re looking at simple animations and made-up names and playing a pretty little tune with complete strangers starts to feel oddly special. The absence of normal interpersonal cues makes you focus on communicating with someone, completely anonymously, using music alone.

Dinah Moe’s “Plink” is the latest glimpse of what Web browser music might be, and why it might be different than (and a compliment to) other music creation technology. You can now create private rooms to blow off steam with a faraway friend, or find new players online. It’s all powered with the Web Audio API, the browser-native, JavaScript-based tools championed by Mozilla. That means you’ll need a recent Chrome or Firefox (Chrome only at the moment; this is a Chrome Experiment), and mobile browsers won’t be able to keep up. But still, give it a try – I think you may be pleasantly surprised. (Actually, do it right now, as you’ll probably be doing it with other CDM readers. I expect greater things!)

Thanks to Robin Hunicke, who worked with multiplayer design and play at That Game Company’s Journey on PS3 and now on the browser MMO Glitch. I think her friends were more musical than most, because the place came alive after she linked from Facebook.

The browser is becoming a laboratory, a place to quickly try out ideas for music interaction, and for the code and structure that describe music in a language all their own. As in Plink, it can also benefit from being defined by the network and collaboration.

Dinah Moe’s experiments go in other directions, as well. In Tonecraft, inspired by the 3D construction metaphor of Minecraft, three-dimensional blocks become an alternative sequencer.

There are many reasons not to use Web tools. The Web Audio API still isn’t universal, and native options (like Google’s Native Client) have their own compatibility issues, stability concerns, and – because of security – they don’t do all the things a desktop application will. Desktop music tools are still more numerous, more powerful, and easier to use, so if you’re a reader out there finishing a thesis project, you might look elsewhere. (Actually, you’re probably in trouble, anyway, by any nation’s academic calendar, given it’s the First of May, but I digress.)

But think instead of this as another canvas, and the essential building blocks of interface design, code, and networking as shared across browsers and desktop apps. Somehow, in the light of the Internet, its new connectedness, and its new, more lightweight, more portable code and design options, software is changing. That transformation could happen everywhere.

If you need something to help you meditate on that and wait for a revelation to occur to you, I highly recommend watching a soothing stream of dots and some pleasing music as you jam with your mouse.

Of course, in the end, like a digital mirror, it might inspire you to go out to the park with a couple of glockenspiels and jam the old-fashioned way. But maybe that’s another reason to make software.

(Here’s a video, in case you’re not near a browser that supports the app!)

More, plus reflections on adaptive music:


Your rating: None

A third-person multiplayer action game, Omegalodon feels mildly like a tribute to the monster movies of yore. In this game, players can elect to play as representatives of the human species or as a 100-foot shark monster and his entourage of healers. Choose whatever you will. The objective of the game is pretty straightforward. To win as a member of the monstrous Green team (who comprise of the Omegalodon and his Enviros), you're going to help ensure that a certain nuclear containment facility explodes before the timer ends. As the humans, well, it's your job to stop the invasion. Simple, eh?

There are a fair number of vehicles to utilize, environments to obliterate and voice acting to relish. If you want to play the game, you're going to have to fork over about 10 USD. Not sure if you want to? Check out the demo over here first.

Official website here.

Your rating: None

Here’s a new trailer for Depth, a stealth-based multiplayer game that pits a team of divers against a team of man-eating sharks. Sharks are much more powerful but have limited vision – to catch their prey they have to rely on disturbances in the water and heartbeats. The goal of the divers is to sneak treasure out from the sea floor without being killed.

No release date has been announced.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Before Warcraft and before Dune 2, there was Technosoft’s Herzog Zwei (1989), a Genesis/Mega Drive game that laid the groundwork for real-time strategy games. Whereas the majority of RTS games that followed put you above the action, Herzog Zwei had you controlling a mech directly. This commander unit could fight, issue orders, and transport units.

Cut to today: Carbon Games is working on AirMech, an RTS game that is a more direct successor to Zwei. The small team comprises the core members of the now-defunct Titan Studios that developed Fat Princess for PS3.

If you want to join the alpha, sign up here and post in the forums here, letting Carbon know that you want to play.

Your rating: None

Clairyovance is what would happen if you were to throw Chess and Rock Paper Scissors into a blender, run it on high before seasoning it with robots and all things plasma. An upcoming 3D turn-based strategy game, Clairyovance is being developed by Eric Svedang, Johannes Gotlen, Niklas Akerblad and Oscar Rydelius.

Scheduled for the Mac and PC (iPad compatibility is apparently in the pipe lines as well), Clairyovance reminds me slightly of Frozen Synapse. Not that the comparison's a bad thing, of course.

Official (albeit barebones) page can be found here.

Your rating: None

Roadeo is a two-player racing game that presents a rather clever idea: one person can choose to control the car, while the other can decide how the road should be built for his or her friend to drive on. In the versus mode, the player controlling the car has to keep his or her vehicle on the road, while the other person needs to avoid building a track that ends up colliding with a tree or a tall structure.

Both players can collect power-up items and use them on their opponents - oil slicks, falling meteors, fogs, and predestrian crossings all make very interesting obstacles for the car and the road to overcome. There's even a co-operative mode that you and your friend could participate in and grab yellow stars for points. The only downer here is that you can't play Roadeo on your own since it doesn't include an online multiplayer or a versus AI mode.

Roadeo can be found hosted over at Kongregate.

Your rating: None

Minecraft ... in space? That's how Blockade Runner was billed as on Reddit and I can certainly see why. According to the FAQ segment of the website, Blockade Runner was inspired by the voxel engines behind Minecraft and Infiniminer, something that is rather obvious in the visuals. A Multiplayer First Person Adventure Space Simulation in the making, it looks like Blockade Runner will feature 'fully destructible, operational, crewable living starships' in a procedurally generated galaxy.

As always, I'm both skeptical and optimistic about the whole thing. No matter how you cut it, it's a tall order that the developers are promising. But I'm definitely not going to protest if it all works out. That said, it also helps that Blockade Runner comes with a 'lite' version that will be free and outfitted with most of the full version's features.

Currently available for pre-purchase, Release 1 is scheduled for 2012. You can check out the full details here at the official website. (There's also a free version that you can download right this instant too!)

There are a few other videos for your viewing pleasure below the cut.

Your rating: None

From what I gather, these are the two things you should know about the upcoming Krautscape: 1. the player in the lead builds the track, and 2. your vehicle can leave the track and glide through the air.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

In the autumn of 2004, I wrote a paper titled "Asynchronous Multiplay" for the Other Players Conference on Multiplayer Phenomena, which was held at IT University, Copenhagen in December of that year. To give you an idea about how long ago 2004 was on the timescale of game development and game research, consider a few facts:

Your rating: None