Situated not far from the entrance to the expo hall is Current Circus' glittering booth for Muse, its gorgeous crack at combining calming exploration with music composition. In-between one of my many laps of the show floor, I spent some time chatting to the developers, getting familiar with the ins and outs of this quirky, yet fascinating title.
Current Circus is partially composed of ex-Tantalus people, including lead programmer Paul Seedy, who was kind enough to take a break from diagnosing the odd technical issue to show me what Muse is about.
Before we dive in, I have to give kudos to these guys for not holding back when it came to putting their booth together. Rather than toss a few notebooks onto a desk and let players have at it, Current Circus set up five beautiful 55-inch displays — two running individual instances of the game and three joined together for a single instance.
The image below doesn't quite do it justice, but it's the best I could manage with my strikingly insufficient pocket shooter.
But yes, the game! Seedy began navigating Muse's silky alien world using an Xbox 360 controller, so my assumption was that it's set for release on Microsoft's console — this, however, is not the case. Well, not exactly.
Seedy says that it's more than likely that the PC will be the first platform to receive the game and in demo form. That said, the game isn't locked onto a single device — it could be published almost anywhere.
Muse has the player floating peacefully through an underwater-like environment, though it's unfamiliar enough that you could easily be gliding inside the atmosphere of a far-away planet, or deep within the guts of some extraterrestrial creature. Current Circus has intentionally left the setting vague, so it's up to the player to decide exactly where they are, or what they're doing.
Regardless of your imagination though, there is one thing that will occupy your time in Muse: making sweet, groovy sound tracks by collecting orbs / particles / alien microbes — whatever you want to call them.
Under the hood of Muse is a software synthesiser from the Netherlands-based FabFilter, combined with some intelligent algorithms to make sure the tunes that are created don't sound completely mental. In fact, they sound great. I watched Seedy play three or so games and each time a new, unique melody was pumped out of the speakers.
Best of all, you don't have to keep your creations to yourself, with the game capable of exporting to MIDI and WAV so you can share your beats with friends.
Current Circus has been tinkering away at Muse for about 18 months and it's still getting all the details just right, including the possibility of multiplayer. While the developer is interested in having some form of interaction, it hasn't quite decided what shape it will take, but it has plenty of ideas it wants to pursue. Hopefully, PAX will give them the feedback they need and a guide on which direction to take.
Here are two more photos — you can see Seedy manipulating the controls in the one on the left.
Muse [Current Circus]