I'm really feeling it!
I'm really feeling it!

Not all bullet hell games need to follow the trope of tiny ship vs. giant armada. Sometimes, they can be like a dance party!

At least, that's what it looks like to me in Studio Bean's indie game Soundodger. I emailed with Michael Molinari, Lead Choreographer, about his game that has players dodging to the music.


How would you describe Soundodger?

Soundodger is a game about moving through music. Each level is a song during which bullets are shot at the player in hand-choreographed patterns. All you have to do is dodge them. The soundtrack features original and licensed music by over a dozen musicians, including Disasterpeace, Danny Baranowsky, Lifeformed, Austin Wintory, and of course Bill Kiley.

From what sources did you draw inspiration during development?

The game started as a fan sequel to the Flash game Squares 2, but there are strong influences from Geometry Wars 2 (Pacifism Mode), Ikaruga, Super Hexagon, DDR/Pump It Up, Audio Surf, Music Catch, and many other shooters and music games. I also based the game on dance, in that you are a slave to the music and must move in accordance with the notes.

What sort of difficulties did you and your team face during development?

The hardest part of development was creating the editor, which is available for players in the Steam version to create their own levels from any mp3. It's also the same editor I used to make the levels that come with the game, so it was a worthwhile investment. I basically kept adding features to make my life easier when creating a new level. My first prototype levels were written in Notepad, so it's definitely come a long way in usability.


Were there any specific "Aha!" that set the game in a new direction?

At first the soundtrack was only going to feature dubstep, because I wanted to mess with the game to match with the stutters, rewinds, and freezes heard in that kind of music. While there are still fun dubstep levels in the final game, I realized that the game would be better off having a wide range of music, including levels that are straight-forward and don't have any trickery. So that's when I decided to contact a whole bunch of different artists in order to get a lot of variety in both genre and gameplay feel.

How did you know when Soundodger was done?

Once I got my final artist list and expected tracks, it was a matter of creating all of the levels to go with those songs. The Steam version has 23 tracks totaling more than an hour of music. And then most songs have a normal and an advanced level, so once those were all set the game was pretty much finalized. Once you get familiar with the editor, it's about one hour of work for every one minute of music, which is fairly fast for content creation.


What are you working on next?

I have a bunch of ideas for my next projects, so I'm slowly whittling them down to pick the one or two that make the most sense at this point. It's always too easy to dream big, so I need to make sure I pick something that can actually happen. Right now the big contenders are an adventure game about waking monsters, and an action game with a special kind of multiplayer.

Tell us what the back of the box for Soundodger would say.

Dodge through the music.

The rhythm's gonna get you.
Be one with the sound.

Try out Soundodger at Adult Swim here, or snag your copy on Steam here.


Try and dodge this Twitter account: @marshnaylor

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