Puzzle Game Uses Spotify-playlists Instead of Music

Heartbeats

Using Spotify-playlists instead of traditional music was not only a money-saving measure for the developers behind the puzzle game Heartbeats.

 

The new book-inspired puzzle game Heartbeats from Danish developers Kong Orange, doesn’t use music in a traditional sense. No music has been composed or purchased to accompany the gameplay in creating just the right atmosphere. Instead, the game playlists from the streaming music service Spotify to create the musical background for the game.

Kong Orange CEO, Esben Kjær Ravn

Kong Orange CEO, Esben Kjær Ravn

And while using Spotify playlists instead of more traditional music for the game is cheaper than buying or producing it on their own, CEO of Kong Orange, Esben Kjær Ravn, says that there has been a lot of other thoughts behind the use of Spotify-playlists as well. In working with another one of their games, the upcoming death-dance puzzler The Reaper, Kong Orange realized how different the game felt when different music was used in the game. Something that happens a lot in The Reaper, since it features music from a number of different musicians.

“Music is such a flighty and powerful thing, but it’s still relatively easy to change it, even when accompanying other forms of aesthetic expression,” Esben Kjær Ravn tells Nordic Game Bits.

It’s technically easy to change the music, and if you dare, let it be up to the players themselves, so that they can also participate in creating the experience that they want, or will be surprised by.

 

heartbeats_gamescreen05Heartbeats comes with a number of curated playlists that select people have created for the game before it’s release. And already before the games releases, this has proved to create very different experiences depending on the playlist you choose.

There’s a pretty big difference between listening to Doom Metal-publisher Danny Kreutzfeldts thoroughly dark selection of tracks when playing the game, and then listening to the bookshop All You Read is Love‘s extended playlist, which begins with Lou Reed’s The Positive Power of Drinking.

And according to Ravn, they are planning to add even more playlists to the game with each update.

Part of the inspiration for using Spotify playlists also came from Esben Kjær Ravn’s own experiences. “A big part of my own teenage book reading-experiences was, that I would often be binge-listening to some CD while I was reading a book, and that made the two experiences coalescence into one for me,” Ravn explains. “Those experiences have always fascinated me, and I believe you can find some of that element in Heartbeats as well.

In addition to that, Ravn also mentions that he thinks the function also has a pure experimental value. Handing some of the power of creating the experience over to others can create something that almost feels like magic, according to Ravn.

The game itself is also pretty unique, with a graphical aesthetic that is far from the cartoony standard of most iOS releases. Dark, angular and gritty, it stands out in the genre of puzzle games. Another specific trait of the game is that it’s made to almost like a book, with each puzzle acting like a page in the book.

 

heartbeats_gamescreen01Ravn explains that the team had had three dogmas that they were observing as they developed the game.

  • Every page is a puzzle that opens the following page. 
  • Every puzzle must tell a part of the story.
  • Text and illustrations must be a part of the puzzles of the game.

Apart from that, the game is also a result of each of the ambitions of the three people who made it, Ravn explains.

I really wanted to do sci-fi, Kamilla wanted to draw something for adults, and Boris wanted to create a story that consisted of small episodes of a long life. And from that, the rest of the game kinda grew.

Heartbeats is available in the App Store in Denmark, Norway and Australia, with more to follow.

Jesper K. Kristiansen

Multi-passionate game developer and journalist. Has been writing about the Danish games industry for more than ten years, and creating audio design for both Danish and International games for almost as long.

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  • krane

    This is a similar concept to Veemix, which was presented at Unite 2013 and GDC 2014, which is a plugin that allows game developers to stream music into their games easily and at no cost, and was based on academic research that studied the way that gameplay attributes changed based on different music. If people are interested in the ideas presented in this article, they should check it out!

    • This sounds interesting. Have you used the tool? And if so, what have been your experiences with it?

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