Behind the colourful music wheel of Wandersong


Just a few weeks in the past, the common-or-garden little music journey Wandersong snuck out onto Steam and the Nintendo Swap. It caught our consideration not solely due to its vibrant tone, but in addition as a result of its major mechanic caught out as a genuinely ingenious concept that fueled some actually fascinating gameplay. 

So a pair weeks in the past we invited Wandersong lead developer Greg Lobanov onto our Twitch channel for a chat in regards to the nuts-and-bolts growth strategy of this melodious sport.

To your comfort, we have excised and edited collectively some colourful highlights from that dialog to your perusal beneath. 

Making an interactive feel-good singing coloration wheel

The rainbow wheel was really the very very very very first thing that I did for this sport; it was form of the place to begin.

It form of got here… I used to be simply form of questioning if there was a technique to make a sport controller right into a musical instrument. And I believed like, utilizing this… I actually like the way in which the sticks really feel and I believed that there was one thing there, like some enjoyable to make them really feel actually like expressive and flowy. 

And that wheel was my first little thought. And so the very very first thing for this sport was similar to a circle, a rainbow circle, and a grey display screen. And I simply might use the controller to play like little GarageBand flute sounds out of it. And instantly it was tremendous enjoyable, I believed. The remainder of the sport form of grew from there.

As soon as I noticed “okay like taking part in music with this little wheel is actually enjoyable” I kinda began to marvel what would occur if I constructed… How far might I’m going with this? What would a sport that was constructed round this appear like? And I began to have all these character concepts, and story concepts, and I simply form of like constructed and constructed and constructed on it. 


“We actually emphasised the music wheel. We made that basically enjoyable and juicy and reactive, and have all these little animations and tunes and stuff and it simply appears like actually gooey and reactive to play with.”

Why does it really feel so good? I feel one factor that distinguishes Wandersong from numerous different video games that I take a look at is that the animation and the form of the character of the sport is actually particular and directed, so that you don’t have like a silent protagonist; the protagonist has a extremely robust persona. And the way in which that they transfer and the way in which they animate in response to the participant’s controls is like actually evocative of their persona so I feel it doesn’t matter what you do with it or the way you play with it, you all the time really feel actually in character and that offers the sport a very nice cohesive feeling. Such as you’re all the time actually entering into the footwear of that character.

I positively assume that we actually emphasised the music wheel. We made that basically enjoyable and juicy and reactive, and have all these little animations and tunes and stuff and it simply appears like actually gooey and reactive to play with. And the whole lot on this planet reacts to the music. The whole lot is simply form of like related with one another and reacting to one another, and whe ever you do something you’re feeling actually like…you might have a huge impact on the sport I assume. Your decisions are actually legitimate and you actually form the way in which the sport appears and the way in which the display screen strikes. 

So numerous that stuff form of all got here collectively. There was like, I feel proper at the beginning, even earlier than I had that music wheel thought, I used to be actually eager about exploring… like i wished to make a sport that was about like positivity and optimism and I wished to unfold like actually good values and messages. That was one thing I used to be getting actually eager about making an attempt to  discover a technique to do.

That was only a massive thought floating in my head however I didn’t like have any particular thought for, however then as soon as I got here up with the music wheel I form of was like “Oh, I actually really feel like this massive factor that I wish to do can actually match into this little factor I simply discovered.” And that gave me a extremely robust path early on. Lots of these early selections about design and artwork and format and no matter all got here via that filter, which was a extremely actually like clear filter. It was like “okay that is what I need the sport to really feel like, that is what I need the sport to be about, how do I try this?” And this was the very best I might give you 

Making puzzles and props that work together with the participant’s singing

Usually pondering, your complete sport is kinda this museum of various props and issues that work together together with your singing in several methods. So everytime you see one thing new you simply kinda of sing at it, and also you see the way it reacts to your music and the whole lot works a bit bit totally different.

You’re all the time singing to one thing, however various things go in several methods. It is a good instance the place there’s the fowl the place you repeat its sequence and it offers you an enormous soar after which there’s the vine, while you sing to it it grows within the path you sing. 

I hadn’t really seen any sport like this earlier than both, so I kinda was like determining as I went. I’ll say that like after I had that first thought with the little rainbow wheel on the display screen simply taking part in with it I felt like simply making up songs is actually enjoyable so I wished to attempt to discover methods to emphasise that facet of it and encourage the participant to make stuff up and play with it. 

That did create numerous restrictions for puzzle design stuff as a result of we didn’t wish to create conditions that have been actually difficult or particular. Lots of it we tried to consider methods to make it really feel actually cool and allow you to sing and play with the sport and see how issues reacts to your music after which the puzzles might be issues the place like you are able to do numerous issues with this factor and there’s form of like one factor that it needs you to do, and also you form of play with it till it does the factor that you really want it to do if that form of… It’s very broad, but it surely’s presupposed to really feel actually playful. 

And generally it’s not similar to you stroll in a straight line till the top, but it surely form of offers you this actually enjoyable little like factor to do to get to the top if that is sensible? It’s a extremely effective line that we stroll, as a result of we wish it to be actually fascinating however we don’t need it to be punishing.

Crafting an aesthetic that is “a rainbow of sound”

The rainbow really is often the very last thing we do for each coloration palette. In order that very first check I used to be doing, I knew there was going to be that rainbow wheel to it however for each space of the sport, like… That is really most likely the primary sport that I really feel actually proud about the way it appears and I didn’t do pixel artwork or something, I actually tried to take coloration critically.

We’ve got a stage editor for this sport the place I can of like simply draw shapes and that’s the place all of the shapes and the platforms within the sport come from. After which colours are constructed into that as properly. So each stage within the sport there’s like a small listing of colours that the whole lot picks from, like indexes, so there’s like coloration 1 2 3 4 5, and each form is both a kind of 5 colours. 

The explanation we did that’s as a result of I might make ranges and I might go in and work on the colours and all the degrees would change coloration with no matter I made a decision the colours could be. So I might form of iterate on the colour palette as a separate venture from doing the design and the artwork and I might repair and work on colours and enhance colours with out shedding any artwork asset work in different areas. 

I’m not a extremely assured artist however I do really feel assured in my capacity to actually hone in on colours that look very nice. Simply out of my iterative course of, I do know this may be higher I do know this may be higher and hold engaged on it. So by form of letting that drive the visuals of the sport I used to be capable of work on the colours rather a lot principally. How I picked them is a hard-to-answer query as a result of it’s actually like “oh I wished this a part of the sport to really feel like this and I actually felt like yellow and purple was what did it.”

I’ve been slowly rising on [color in game design.] It wasn’t like a ardour that I used to be actually into after I got here into video games. Like I like Nintendo video games, I recognize coloration in video games, however I didn’t take it critically as a side of my artwork or sport design till most likely 2 or 3 years in the past.


“If you can also make actually good colours and make actually good coloration decisions then even form of a crappy drawing can look wonderful.”

I met different artists who I actually revered and I actually like their work and I discovered persistently that coloration was an enormous factor that excited me. I’ve this concept that like principally any piece of artwork is simply colours which are organized in a sure means. And like studying tips on how to make a extremely good drawing or composition or render one thing in a extremely fascinating means, that takes numerous time and observe and energy. That could be a lifetime of research. 

But when you can also make actually good colours and make actually good coloration decisions then even form of a crappy drawing can look wonderful. So I form of figured like perhaps coloration is my technique to form of cheat via the method and take something I do and make it extra fascinating. I took it actually critically as only a factor to study after which research. I learn some books on coloration concept that helped me study rather a lot in regards to the fundamentals of how issues work. I realized rather a lot. Even should you take a look at early screenshots of this sport, I feel even perhaps our Kickstarter trailer had some ones, however even earlier than then it didn’t look good at first. 

I realized rather a lot whereas engaged on this sport. Particularly as a result of I gave myself that flexibility, that coloration palette editor that tied to the sport I used to be capable of put an thought down, I noticed how the sport regarded and went “hey this appears okay, I ponder if I can enhance it.” And simply work on the colours, see the way it will get higher, work on them extra see the way it will get higher, and I simply realized rather a lot. Principally, trial and error, observe makes excellent, that form of stuff. That is the primary sport the place I actually really feel assured about my work on the colour and I actually like put effort in on it and it was all my work.

Studying classes from a cross-country bike trip

Dwelling on my bike for a couple of months and driving throughout the nation was a extremely life-changing large journey and expertise. And I feel positively nearly proper after I did it I wished to make a sport that was about that indirectly, simply trigger I used to be feeling actually impressed by that entire journey.

A number of the first video games that I form of tried, like concepts that I feel are cool however I wasn’t tremendous pleased with, I had numerous concepts that have been primarily based on the journey in a way more literal means. I used to be gonna make this sport about bikers, and ike an apocalyptic desert and it was about biking and survival and all these form of literal issues that

What I actually really feel like I received from the journey was rather a lot deeper than that I feel. I felt after the journey much more optimistic usually and optimistic. I felt actually reassured in myself.

Like I had left… I’ve been a sport developer my entire life, I’m not like a athlete or a biker or something. And after I left to do this massive bike journey I didn’t do it with the expectation I used to be gonna get all the way in which throughout the nation. I used to be kinda like properly right here’s an inconceivable factor, I’m going to strive it and discover out “ how far can I’m going?” and after I cease what’s that going to be like you understand? Simply to see, only for the problem.

And so after I really completed it I used to be like “wow, I can do far more than I believed.” And that was a extremely highly effective factor to understand. And alongside the way in which I met so many strangers and was the benefactor of so many various individuals’s generosity. I made so many buddies and stayed with so many individuals, and simply had so many optimistic experiences with different people that I used to be similar to feeling actually optimistic about simply feeling good about people usually. I used to be like yeah, strangers are to be trusted, and the world is an effective place in any case. 

It was simply this sense about the whole lot being related and fantastic and I actually wished… I feel what attracted me to Wandersong when I discovered that concept was that it felt prefer it actually had the chance to talk to that message extra so. Although it’s not about biking or actually any particular issues of what my bike journey was, it is vitally a lot about that deeper that means that I received from it. And that made it really feel actually highly effective to me. It actually felt prefer it was expressing one thing I actually wished to precise. 

It’s actually wonderful to consider, should you speak about that, on the time when… In order that was in 2015 after I did that GDC discuss and later that 12 months or round that very same time was when Gamergate was taking place. And like after I was beginning Wandersong, Gamergate was at its tail finish, it was dying down. And there was this sense of like wow that was loopy, glad that’s over, that’s by no means going to occur once more. And Wandersong I feel got here not less than partially from reacting to that. 

That very detrimental occasion in… Within the gaming business it was this omnipresent factor. It actually felt like there was this cloud of negativity round all people. Individuals didn’t belief one another any extra.

So I wished to form of take into consideration that and take into consideration discovering a technique to form of like convey everybody again to being in a cheerful and hopeful and trustful place. And it’s wonderful to me like, I had no technique to know since then simply how a lot the world was going to alter after I began this sport. On the time I used to be like “that is form of related proper now, I’m actually enthusiastic about this, perhaps somebody will join with it.” 

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