Beat Jumper: A Multiplayer Melodic Platformer

April 3, 2012

Beat Jumper is an online multiplayer game that allows users to interactively create melodic compositions through play. The bass and soprano tones generated by players blend together to produce a unique melody accompanying the background music — notes can sound random and dissonant, or rhythmic and harmonic, changing from playthrough to playthrough.

Beat Jumper takes visual cues from old-school 8-bit games. The two player characters and their respective environments have contrasting colour schematics, signifying their contrary roles in the soundscape (the blue character produces higher-pitched sounds, whereas the orange character produces lower-pitched sounds).

Our main focus for this networked piece was to bring attention to audio in a game that would otherwise rely on more traditional game conventions (such as focusing on a narrative-driven goal). Users can choose to collect points by collecting “note objects,” or can try to compose a piece by jumping on the beats. The game experience is brief, timed at one-minute-long play sessions, and users are free to interact with the piece however they wish during this short time span.

Beat Jumper Screenshot

A still from game play. I plan on sprucing up the visuals for a future release.

How It Works
The game begins with a simple lobby system that invites both players to press any key to begin the game. The game won’t start until both players (stationed at different computers) have pressed a key, and players are notified when their opponent is ready to begin.

After both players are ready to play, they are immediately thrown into the game world. Similar to any classic platformer, the player’s main objective is to progress and jump to avoid obstacles. By hitting the space bar, players signal for their character to jump. As characters collide with “note objects,” players will accumulate points (displayed on their score to the top right), while collisions with obstructions will decrease the player’s total score and fire off an unpleasant sound.

Each character is able to produce one of three selected pitches upon collecting a note object. These sounds are hand-picked to compliment the game’s energetic background music. One of these pitches is randomly selected and generated upon collision.

After one minute, the game ends and both player’s final scores are displayed on screen!