Audiosurf: What Have You Done to Whitenoise, Baby?

I miss some aspects of my desktop PC back home in Canada. The MacBook switch has been wonderful and I love it, but there are things that my PC had and could do that I have no access to anymore. I miss the other two thirds of my music library and the good speakers and headphones. I sorta miss being able to tinker around in Flash since the Mac version won’t let me use my PC serial (stupid. Lightroom 2 is platform independent) and I’m not about to pay again for software I already own. I miss being able to play through 95% of the games published on TIGSource, forced now to settle for the 5% that are OSX compatible (hey go play Smaze!) I miss gaming on the PC in general. It’s not something I did frequently, but it was always available and now that I’m playing Civiliation Revolutions I’m craving the real thing. And with all the music I’ve been listening to lately, I’m also craving for a bit of Audiosurf.

The great thing about Audiosurf is that it dynamically creates stages for you based on the music you feed it. As fun as it can be to play those tracks it’s sometimes interesting enough on its own to see how the game interprets whatever mp3 you provide. The ebbs and flows of the track and all the many coloured blocks that come your way do a good job of matching up with a song’s tempo, beat and general structure. Of course, being as I am, I started to play more and more esoteric “music” in Audiosurf, eventually reaching the point where the game “breaks”. Sunn o))) was my breaking point.

The game still worked, in a functional sense, but the music parser — which seems to look for beat and tempo and all those quantifiable things — didn’t know what the hell to do. What it visualized had very little to do with what the player was hearing. It generated one of the most insane, high speed levels in the game for a song, if you can call it that, that was super slooooow and droning. For a music game, this disconnect, wherein what is played exists without any connection to what is heard, amounts to the game being broken.

It’s the nature of user created content in videogames. If you allow random people to define the characteristics and challenges of your game, be prepared for a lot of white noise.

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