Over time you learn new things, and find new ways to apply what you know. Or maybe there’s something you don’t yet know but want to learn, so you decide to look it up and play around with it.
That, in a nutshell, is how my post-primary school life went. I’d (infrequently) embark on new experiments, generally digital ones, and make something small over the course of a few days. Rarely did I ever create a large project which gave off a sense of completion, but nonetheless even the small projects were nice learning experiences.
Here I thought I’d share… quite a lot of these projects. Maybe you’ll find my journey amusing, and consider this a nice read. Or maybe I can somehow motivate you to try things you’ve never done before. Either way, enjoy.
(This is quite a long post, so feel free to skim the page and read the parts that look interesting. My heartfelt thanks goes to you if you end up reading it all though.)
About a month or so ago, Sega came out with “Puyo Puyo Quest”, a smartphone “Puzzle RPG” from the Puyo Puyo franchise. It has become my latest public transport timekiller.
On the bottom half of the screen, you clear away up to 5 puyos with a swipe (linked horizontally, vertically or diagonally). Gravity influences the remaining puyos, and any blocks of four or more puyos of the same colour (linked horizontally, vertically but not diagonally) are removed, and add to your characters’ attack. Gravity continues to take effect and more puyos fall to fill in the gaps. Repeat.
After playing this for a while, I’ve gotten to the stage where the bosses of each quest have an abnormally high HP (I wonder whether they’re just trying to make you fail in order to pay for “magic stones” that let you continue). Since it’s getting hard to pass normally, I thought I’d try to write a program for this problem.
Basically the program reads in the grid from a text file. It then goes through all possibilities of removing puyos, and simulates the outcome. The program reports back the move which gives the highest “score”, as well as the move with the largest combo.
You may notice that the input file on the left has a few extra lines before the grid. This is because clearing a certain colour only adds attack to characters of that colour. Since I had no purple or blue characters, linking four or more blue/purple puyos together would do nothing. The extra lines of input are meant to represent the attacking power of my party corresponding to each colour, and the “score” of each move is then calculated based on this, along with other factors such as how many puyos of each colour were removed.
There were also a few game-related quirks to be taken into consideration. The heart piece, for example, disappears when an adjacent group of puyos disappear (the heart heals characters). In addition, the row of small coloured circles above the board indicate the next colour to fall in that column. These weren’t particularly hard to deal with, but it did take some thinking.
Currently my program is not very efficient – you’re allowed to remove up to 5 puyos at once, but my program is only fast enough to calculate removing 3 in a reasonable time. On the bright side, that’s good enough for most practical purposes. Although, despite saying that, having to type out the game board into the text file each time is pretty painful.
Rhythm Heaven – making the weirdest minigames musically addictive. Rhythm Heaven MADs – making your favourite songs musically addictive. What could possibly go wrong.
About a month ago the Wii version of Rhythm Heaven came in my mail (I was a fan of the DS version and had been hoping to get my hands on the Wii version for a while now). Soon after that I decided to make a MAD for “crossing field”, the opening theme of Sword Art Online. I’d seen a few Rhythm Heaven MADs on Nico (like these two excellent ones), and wanted to try making my own. Unfortunately, the crossing field project only went halfway – the chorus had too many offbeats and I was at a loss about which minigames to utilise.
I once contemplated making one for “Evans” from Jubeat, thinking “Rhythm Evans” would make a great video title. Dotted quaver beats killed that plan though.
So then I went onto an easier song, and that became Guilty Crown’s OP, “The Everlasting Guilty Crown”. I think the project went pretty well overall, although there are a few parts which could have been better.
So now to document my procedure so that my future self can make another one of these again.
So the first of two steps was to add sound effects to the music using Audacity, and in order to do that I had to figure out how fast the song was. Everlasting had a BPM of 172.
Once I got that down, I made a click track (the track with grey lines above) in Audacity so that I could visually see where the beats were. This made it easier to know where to add the sound effects.
Next, get the sound effects! Luckily, a kind user on Nico had already ripped out the sound effects from the remixes via audio editing (if you have the song with and without SFX, you could do that yourself with Audacity and the Invert effect, then Mix and Render). So sound effects were obtained by ripping audio off these videos using Nicosound.
Then I worked out the BPM of the remixes so I could adjust the sound effects to the speed of Everlasting using Change Tempo. For reference, Remix 10 (which is a useful resource) is BPM 166.
Now that all the tools were ready, I just added the sound effects to the song however I wanted, being mindful of how the song progresses in order to make things sound good. It was interesting, trying to analyse parts of the song in order to decide which minigame to use where.
One note though – if you’re using the rocket minigame, the Change Pitch effect is useful for making the pitch of the rocket sounds follow the song.
Once you’ve got the sound effects mixed into the song, everything should sound pretty good already. But being able to see what happens makes it even more catchy!
First, obtain the video resources. Grab Rhythm Heaven perfect runs from somewhere – I just took some off Niconico.
Then just add the videos in! I make it sound easy, don’t I? But for the most part, it is. You’ll have to change some video speeds by working out the BPM of the video clip’s original songs though. Also, add some dip-to-black transitions between each clip to make the transitions smoother, and everything should be pretty much fine.
There’s a few times where things might get tricky though. One situation is if you can’t find any video clip which has the exact same beats you have, and another is if the video fits your beat, but the video itself isn’t very good (or your video cutting is obvious because, for example, a butterfly just teleported). You might have to change your beats in those situations to make things simpler, or use After Effects to alter the videos. Also, if you’re having trouble making your video be on the beat, you can add the click track into the project as audio and use it as a visual reference again.
And that’s about all there is to it. It isn’t very hard – all you need to do is add sound effects and video and if you can get your hands on both then the rest is mostly straightforward. It might take a bit of messing about, but isn’t exactly a difficult project. For the record, Everlasting took about 3 or 4 days.