may you live in interesting times

A quick news update: Toshiba gives up on HD-DVD, Castro resigns, Pakistan’s Musharraf gets hammered, Kosovo declares independence, B.C. Finance Diva Carole Taylor drops a real carbon tax, Obama keeps winning by 15 point margins…and a man with acute body dismorphisim amputates his own hand. It’s been a busy week.

Now, with that out of the way, I’m going to talk about video games! Wooo! Specifically, a wonderfully indie bit of code called Audio Surf. The best way I can describe it is Rez plus F-Zero X plus Dr. Mario. Here’s a video, which might begin to do it justice. It generates levels from whatever audio files you give it, with what seems to be a suspiciously simple and very, very effective algorithm. I’ve tried it with everything from Shiloh to Stravinsky, and it deals with them all in stride.

Let me say that again, just in case it didn’t register: Audio Surf will procedurally generate an overwhelmingly synaesthetic level for you from your favorite piece of music. It’s all a little Tron looking, as you can see from the screenshot, but no description can do the experience justice – the game is a total mindfuck, in the best possible way.

On the more game designy side, Audio Surf has the fastest ‘zero to flow’ time of any game I’ve played since maybe Moonbase Commander, which is a very different beast. And it is by far faster than Lumines or any other music game I can think of. There is a demo here. I can’t recommend it enough.