Your Path Is Built With Music In Callum Denmead’s Resonant

Your Path Is Built With Music In Callum Denmead’s Resonant

Don’t you just want to chill out? Listen to some lo-fi beats to chill and study to? What about a paint-like world where rhythm is the key to progression?

Resonant is the first game from budding Sydney-based developer Callum Denmead. It’s an open, rhythm-based experience where you explore a world that creates a path based on the musicality that you bring to it. Working solo on the game for the past 6 months, Denmead has plans to release the game on Steam in the next year.

To learn a little more about Resonant, I had a chat with Denmead about it.

What is Resonant all about?

It’s still in the works. It’s kind of a generative process, but at the moment I’d say it’s like an atmospheric game where you move through a picturesque world and influence the sound and music of the space to create your own journey. It’s very walking simulator vibes. It’ll also have elements of puzzle and discovery to fill the journey, and you explore the space and sounds and influence the world through that. The core mechanic will be this mixable audio-scape. So there’s like a mechanic I’m working on where you can push these different volume sliders up and down to make different sounds come in and out of the world, and they will move different parts of the landscape. That’ll be a puzzle element where you push different blocks and things around to move through the space and get to where you want to go.

What inspired the creation of it?

I’m very inspired by a lot of the other short experiential games that I’ve played, like A Short Hike and Firewatch. Journey is also a huge inspiration, just small games that you can move through in a couple of hours. It’s just beautiful, it’s quick and you don’t have to grind through. It’s just a nice relaxing experience. I’m really into audio-visual art and things like that. I’ve been playing around with making visual reactive art installations a little bit, and so I thought about how I could adapt that to a video game and move the rhythm genre in a new direction.

Image: Resonant / Callum Denmead.

How has your experience been developing your first game solo?

It’s been good so far. I think I’m falling into something I’ve read about, a lot of the traps that indie developers fall into and have just inevitably hit them myself. Especially with scope management, without having ever done it before, I just had no idea how long things would take. I’ve been able to just take it slow and learn as I go. Luckily I don’t have too much time pressure, as I’m working part-time and then doing this. It’s a nice little hobby but I’m also looking to make it my full-time thing eventually. Hopefully if it goes well!

Of course! And how has music had an influence on your game development?

I’m very passionate about music. I love going to DJ sets and shows, and it is a really big part of my life, I was never raised learning how to make music or anything like that, so it’s kind of something I’ve stumbled into later.  I’m very inspired by lots of different genres as well. I love ambient music, and the Minecraft soundtrack resonates with me super strongly. I was trying to make something that has that as a focus. I feel like a lot of games have music as an after fact. It’s a little piece on top that holds the experience together, but I wanted to make that the core thing that actually has an influence on the game.

Image: Resonant / Callum Denmead.

Have you faced any challenges in development so far?

I’ll find myself falling asleep at 3:00 AM just mulling over ideas and almost reworking the entire game in my head. It’s not conducive to actually finishing anything. Actually working out what’s important and what needs to really be in the game to make it work has been difficult for me. Also working out like the scale of things, particularly when designing an open sort of world. It’s hard to work out how big and small things should be, especially without being able to play test it. I wanna design the world early, but I have no idea if walking across this field would be enjoyable or not enough just with a visual component, especially when it’s my own creation.

Like I think it’s beautiful to look at, but it’s hard to tell what other players will think, so I guess that’s something that’ll be important down the line. Absolutely. Also I guess forcing myself to just make the fastest choice rather than getting too caught up in the details of development is a challenge. I try to use assets where I can to make things faster, but I can see myself trying to spend way too long on a certain little detail. Like I was playing around with dust particles and I spent all day just fiddling with the shape and stuff. I think I’ve just gotta teach myself to get it done and move on. We can come back to it. But yeah, not getting caught up in the details has been super tricky and making sure I actually finish something.

Last but not least, a big part of the games that you mentioned inspired Resonant is what players have felt coming out of playing them. In saying that, what do you want players to get out their experience with Resonant?

I’m hoping to show how audio and visual can pair and marry to create a unique sort of experience. I want the focus to be on this artistic sort of feel, something between a movie and a game that isn’t a hardcore grind out experience. Just a small snippet of something hopefully pretty that you can enjoy once and take some sort of artistic appreciation from.

Resonant will be releasing on Steam in 2022, but you can follow Denmead on Twitter for updates.

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