Auditorium Backstory

It seems like just about everyone asks, “How did you come up with the idea for Auditorium?” Well, the truth is, like any good idea, it started small and evolved into what you see today.

Now the question is, how small did this idea start? Surprisingly, Auditorium was meant to only be a mere widget at the top of Cipher Prime to engage visitors for a few minutes as they visited our site. In fact, the game was not even supposed to be a puzzle game. The first ideas that were thrown around were ideas of shooters and reaction games. We weren’t sure what sort of direction to take or where to start. So, Dain set off on a small personal journey of recreating an explosion effect he had made in 3D early this year. Meanwhile, I starting working on the game design and ideas.

Dain's Fun Sound Explosion

I was really pulling a blank for quite a few days, but that explosion experiment proved very useful. Sadly, Dain had little luck in recreating that explosion effect. But the project had struck a chord in both of us, fueling the original concept for Auditorium. We were going to make a game with light and sound, where audio would be interpreted as light. A spec sheet was made, designs were drafted, and we set out on creating an alpha version to see if our idea was any good.

Coding this little guy was not exactly the easiest task; Flash really wasn’t meant to do this kind of particle math or rendering. So as you could imagine, we made all kinds of little tests to see what we could produce. Lucky for you, we decided it would be fun to show you a few of them.

Basic Particle Test

Around one month after our eye-opening idea, we decided we were finally ready to show the game to a test group. I rounded up some friends and we presented to them a 3 level alpha, no level transitions, no end level state, and no directions. The response was pretty good, but really not the response we were looking for. Everyone saw the potential for the idea, but the execution just wasn’t there yet. But after many hours of testing, how could we not go completely overboard with our game? How exactly, could we not make Auditorium everything we wanted it to be?

So, we went back to the drawing board and completely re-designed the game a few times until we were satisfied. New ideas came about and new ways of interacting with the flow were born. It was time to take our idea to a new level. In order to do this we were really going to need a good development framework. We had looked around for awhile, but there just wasn’t anything that fit the bill. So naturally, we created our own MVC-based framework called Tricycle. This big fella allowed us to create Auditorium from scratch 4 times over our 3 month development cycle.

theGXL is a great organization and we can't thank them enough!

On the 24th of October, Dain and I were still hacking away at code, trying our very best to get Auditorium ready for a public beta at theGXL 400 Man LAN event. However, we had both fallen sick the week before and have been running on practically no sleep for days. Somehow, we were able to get the game engine done by 12AM. However, we still had no levels and very little audio. Dain started on the tracks and I went ahead hacking away at levels. At around 3AM in the morning we were finally ready. Luckily, many gamers were still awake on the gaming floor.

Our idea was to throw some foam grenades out into the crowd. Two of these grenades had little hearts on the bottom. The two players who found these hearts would get ten minutes with Auditorium going head-to-head for a beautiful video card. As you would expect, gamers left the floor as soon as they realized they could not win anything. However, after the game started a curious thing started to happen — half of the night-walking gaming audience came back up to the booth and proceeded to watch in awe as the two competitors battled it out in our arena. We announced the ten-minute end of competition, but the two men didn’t even hesitate. One could tell, these men were not getting up until they had finished. This was the fuel we desperately needed, the clue that we might be doing something right. Only a week later we released the demo that is online today.

If anyone has any questions or comments please let us know, we’ll try our best to answer them.

70 replies
  1. Carterhawk says:

    Will the final version be playable on the PC? I remember when I first played flOw how awesome it was, then it got moved to a console shop where all future improvements were made, cutting out the very crowd that first made it popular.

    Reply
  2. Mike Bailey says:

    This is a really cool idea. I like it a lot. I just wanted to share that with you. I’ve already shared it with a bunch of people who also liked it. I did the same as you, and just opened the demo and sat them down. They would ask, what do I do, but I just let them figure it out. Everyone was really impressed. I can’t wait to see the game beyond the demo. If you need help with BETA I’d love to help out… I’m planning on sending you an email later tonight. Anyways, great work…

    Reply
  3. FadedEchos says:

    Head to head eh? So were they trying to get through the most levels the fastest or how did it work?

    Also: Awesome, awesome game! Can’t wait for the final version~

    Reply
  4. Schupin says:

    It’s really a pleasure to see how imaginative people are 🙂
    The sound explosion is really nice. You’re doing really fine design work !
    The basic particle test is fun too. Though I played with the header for 5 minutes, it takes me 1 minute to realise that in this test particles were following my mouse (I thought that was a video …. :p)

    See you soon for even more news !! 😀

    Reply
  5. german says:

    Hi, i´m from uruguay, so i don´t speak or write english very well, but i´ll try it. I like to say to you that I really liked the auditorium, and some thing was in my head this days, probably its a unusles idea, any way, when you pass an ace of withe ligth trow a diamond the ligth it´s convert to an ace of rainbow colors ligth or, some thing like that its what i´m tring too say, so, I don´t know how could that work in the auditorium but, gives other options to the game, i don´t know it´s just some things i was thinking about. Thats all, saludos!
    german

    Reply
  6. Hector Delgado says:

    Thank you for ‘Auditorium’ .. What a fantastic game full of great potential and fun. I love killing time with the game building interesting new solutions to the levels you’ve crafted. Now I need more. Keep up the great work!

    Hector

    Reply
  7. Jeremy says:

    I honestly think the game is one of the more fantastic games I have played recently. It is a very basic concept, easy to play and navigate, has no annoying 50 minute back story movies to show, and is overall the exact game I am looking for. I look forward to the release of the full version. All I can say is the idea is perfect at the moment, and simply having the game longer with all the additional (unseen portions) of the game will make it phenomenal and complete.

    Reply
  8. robbie says:

    wow, its great to know that the indie gamer is still a powerful source of quality games. the backstory makes it that much more endearing, thanks CP

    Reply
  9. Jovet says:

    All great ideas start small and require perseverance and determination! The background is great reading. I’d definitely say you’ve got a fantastic hit on your hands. The game really appeals to me for sure!

    I’ve also no clue how you hacked-out such nice and un-annoying-even-though-it-loops-3000-times-while-you’re-trying-to–solve-the-level music at at early in the morning!! heheh

    Reply
  10. Seth says:

    really wonderful article. i’d love to be a beta tester for you guys. i really love the concept of the game and how the visuals and the audio mesh so well. good luck with the future designing!

    Reply
  11. Chris says:

    Just out of curiosity, can you elaborate more on what is Cipher Prime? I read the informational “about” on the website, but it is always good to know more.

    Reply
  12. JL says:

    This game is awesome 🙂
    1. Where do you expect to take it? How different will the finished product be from the demo?

    2. The score is fantastic, what were you aiming for?

    3. The music from 4:1 is a lot different (but equally beautiful) as the other acts. Do you expect to do more drum and alternative instruments for later acts?

    4. Have you considered providing simple tools for users to build & distribute their own levels online, a la Little Big Planet?

    5. An in-game, automatic screen-shot function that takes & saves a picture when you solve a puzzle would be really handy.

    Reply
  13. Seika says:

    You guys have gone a long way to get this far, I love the Design of the game (and this blog) and how everything is like eye candy to our eyes.

    As for me, I currently have no questions at the moment, Just wanna drop by and say what a wonderful job you are all doing.

    Reply
  14. matt says:

    Hey guys!.
    awesome job so far! I find this article very inspiring, especially as a backyard designer/coder and an engineering student. keep up the good work and hopefully you get more levels soon, as i have beaten the current game a couple of times now :D.

    Reply
  15. Sawyer says:

    Wow, I was unaware of all the hard work that has gone into Auditorium. It’s a very inspiring story, and I look forward to seeing Auditorium grow. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  16. iczman says:

    I must say this is not only a game, but more of a art! You guys have pulled off something amazingly beautiful, and I can’t wait for the full version of the game. Kudos too both of you Dain & William!

    Reply
  17. M@r(o says:

    I have some ideas: What about using deflectors as well? And, as I mentioned in my other post, a few musical styles to choose from like R&B, hiphop, Jazz, Blues or Disco? I would gladly assist you guys on making some loops in those styles. Keep on g(r)o(w)ing, because you have a follower 😉

    Reply
  18. Zirus says:

    Hi,
    I found your website yesterday, and tried it out. It was awesome! It’s one of the most addictive games I’ve ever seen…
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  19. WiredWorm says:

    That’s a really interesting insight into how Auditorium came about – and i’m sure it’ll stand as good publicity as you continue your development.

    Auditorium was one of the few games that made me come back time and time again until I managed to complete it so i’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product. There’s a lot of scope for the concept; I could imagine it working particularly well on the Nintendo DS platform where it could also take advantage of the dual screens.

    I realise, of course, that porting a Flash Application onto a platform such as the DS wouldn’t be a simple proposition but perhaps the concept of the title could be licensed to a suitable developer?

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

    Pete

    Reply
  20. Lennaert says:

    Excellent stuff!

    nice to read how it all came about.
    must have been a lot of work and a lot of headaches.
    i cant wait for the final version, even my 7 year old son is hooked!

    keep it up!!

    Reply
  21. Nikki says:

    I’m curious about the music. I know I read somewhere, mention of whom wrote it, but. It’s just. Absolutely beautiful. Are the rest of the tracks gonna be that epic? ^^ Also. Blog was an awesome idea. Love hearing about this kind of stuff.

    Reply
  22. Justin Armstrong says:

    Truly still, this “game” is more than just a game. It is a work of art, with life behind it. It is great to know the background on the idealism of Auditorium, whereas this knowledge gives me greater joy of being a part of all that is to come. Thank you for doing what many of us do: become distracted, entranced, obsessed, and drawn into a small part of the big picture. Because it is all of the little things that make up the big things.

    Reply
  23. Varun says:

    I’m glad you guys didn’t give up.Auditorium is a very original concept,I enjoyed it totally and have recommended it to my friends.All i can say is keep up the work and hope you guys get the recognition and credit for your hard work.
    Looking forward to new edition.

    Reply
  24. Ponza says:

    Well, I must admit, Auditorium is one of those games where the player is compelled to complete the objective. You guys are getting a lot of incredible coverage on the blog sites and web comic communities. I came by from the namedrop at VG Cats, then more people came by when Penny-Arcade linked you, then some more people came by when Desert Bus Driver Cam chat started talking about it.

    I compare this game to the musical puzzle equivalent of flOw. Minus the whole “eat your enemies” thing though.

    Reply
  25. kruucks says:

    First and foremost: fantastic game!

    The only thing I’d really comment on at this stage of development is that the music is really come-and-go. Sometimes I’ll fill up a sound bar or two and still hear nothing. Also, when I’m fiddling around and don’t happen to have any of the bars filled it’s eerily quiet. If that’s what you’re going for, that’s great. Personally I’d like to hear a bass line or something low the entire time, then add the melodies and harmonies as already implemented.

    Hope this helps and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  26. Ian says:

    You guys are the reason I still love games. Years of stagnation and increasingly mundane “casual” shovel-ware have taken it’s toll, but you guys keep the hope alive. Best of luck.

    Reply
  27. Gugu-Bear says:

    I am extremely impressed by Auditorium.
    Music and graphic are very wonderful.
    I expect your Auditorium continuously.
    (I’m sorry. I can’t speak English well.)

    Reply
  28. dain
    dain says:

    Well this was a welcome surprise when I came in this morning! I’m glad to know so many of you took the time to both read the backstory and comment — thanks for all the support!

    @francisco and anyone else that cares to follow — if you scroll aaaalll the way to the bottom of the site, we have a big shiny RSS button for all your feeding needs. Bon apetit? I’ll go with bon apetit.

    Reply
  29. will
    will says:

    @Kelly
    They were competing based on time. Who ever could get further in ten minutes was the winner. So, basically a race.

    @Chris
    Look out for another article on that one.

    @Carterhawk
    We are working on a full version for the web right now. But, we are also very interested in a console version.

    @Francisco
    Look for the RSS Feed icon at the bottom of the page.

    @JL
    The finished product will be enormously more in-depth. As you can tell from the documentation on the site, things go much further with two color containers etc. We are planning on making the levels slightly easier and then creating a separate challenge mode. We also have a level editor built and are currently looking into the best way to present it. Hope that helps.

    @Once
    We are currently flooded with beta tester requests and will be removing the beta tester section from the Auditorium site soon. But, feedback will make all the difference so keep those comments and emails flowing.

    @Nikki
    All the audio will be just the same quality as we’ve presented in the demo!

    @Kruucks
    We are thinking about other options to have music playing subtly even when containers are not completely filled, however we are only just testing that now. It may never make it to the final version if we don’t like it.

    @Everyone
    Thank you so much for all the lovely responses and support!

    Reply
  30. The Chad says:

    Beautiful, imaginative game. This is the reason the internet was invented.

    One suggestion I would like to make is to make the user click a button after they complete a level to advance to the next one. Sometimes I want to hear the music for more than 2 seconds when I put all the parts together. 🙂

    Keep up the good work! I’ll be putting a donation in later today. I am also casting my vote for an iPhone version, pretty please!

    Reply
  31. Colin Holgate says:

    One thought about the continuous subtle music, maybe it could be what becomes the crescendo at the end? Right now the ending comes out of nowhere, it might be nice if a mellow background ambiance became the ending when you complete the level.

    Reply
  32. Sarah says:

    Even as short as it is now, I can come back and play this game over and over again. Does that make me obsessed?

    It’s a very beautiful and intuitive game. I’m really looking forward to seeing the full version.

    Reply
  33. will
    will says:

    @Sarah
    I don’t think it makes you obsessed. In fact, we’d like to think that makes you awesome! Thanks!

    @Colin Holgate
    That’s not a bad idea at all. We have even been toying around with the idea of a general ambient sound at all times. Almost a low hum, that could be cross faded in and out to set the mood.

    Reply
  34. Nate says:

    Excellent concept guys! I hope you are able to turn the great design into profit.

    Also, I’d like to second the request for an iPhone version.

    Reply
  35. Matt says:

    Hey Guys,

    Love the game, and look forward to buying it when it comes out. The demo was a really enjoyable experience for the reasons everyone has mentioned. The only problem I had with the game was that being colourblind, I had difficulty telling some of the colours apart. I know this is probably not an easy issue to solve (maybe making the colours more vibrant/different), but from what I have seen indie games that do support colourblind options are greatly appreciated for it (seem to be the only games that pay attention to these details these days).

    Other than that, I think its pretty much perfect. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  36. will
    will says:

    @Matt

    Surprisingly, that colorblind request comes in a lot and we are looking into a way to resolve it. We’ll keep you posted!

    Reply
  37. abcb says:

    Thank you so much for this godsend game during the time of finals.

    Please please make the full version for PC even if you guys decided to release it on console.

    Also is there a track listing or a purposed track list for the full game? I be very interested just to have the music to listen to while studying!

    Reply
  38. Kate says:

    I love the game. I, like some people who have already commented, would love if the music was downloadable – or even if it played a little longer after solving the puzzles. You know, just to get a little taste of the fruits of my labor. 🙂

    Reply
  39. Kia says:

    This game is simply amazing. I’ve played it a dozen times since I first found it on JayIsGames, and I plan on playing it a dozen more. I love finding new ways to solve the puzzles, and I just love listening to the music that’s created while playing. Will there ever be an option to download the songs from the game? I would love to have the songs available to listen to while I’m not playing the game, since sometimes life just needs a beautiful soundtrack 😛

    Reply
  40. Tammy says:

    Wonderful game 🙂 I showed it to a few of my friends and we’re all hooked. Too bad it’s finals week. If you need any help with marketing/anything in the future, please let me know.

    Reply
  41. Jovet says:

    I just hope you make a “Click to Proceed” feature only at the end of each Act…because it’s the same music through the whole Act, but the parts don’t all really come together until the last Movement. 🙂 Or, the option to turn such a feature off. Same for an “ambient music” feature…I would turn it off on mine. Perhaps monochrome mode as an easier skill level? hmmm I guess I like the game the way it is, but I can see how others would want a few differences.

    I think the fantastic thing about the game IS the audio feedback… such as while tinkering with a Force, you can tell if you mess up the existing Flow to other meters because their parts drop out. That kind of feedback is just simply sublime, and I wouldn’t want any persistent music to de-emphasize that.

    Reply
  42. Meg says:

    I think I already left this comment, but this really gives me hope for the tired, repetitive state of the games industry, which seems to get bogged down in corporate-driven copycatting, and being unwilling to risk anything new, such that novelty and replayability are hard to find. This reminds me of the innovations and risk-taking, and pure creative force, behind the best games of the ASCII-graphic era and the early DOS era. Those games lacked graphics but brought intense playability, challenge, and variety. This has all that, plus amazing sensual components! Wow!

    Reply
  43. Erik says:

    I love the game. I, like some people who have already commented, would love if the music was downloadable – or even if it played a little longer after solving the puzzles. You know, just to get a little taste of the fruits of my labor…

    Reply
  44. alizee says:

    Wonderful game I showed it to a few of my friends and we’re all hooked. Too bad it’s finals week. If you need any help with marketing/anything in the future, please let me know..

    Reply

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