Question: How did the idea for BeatBlox come about?
Aaron Ramsey: I’m a long-time fan of music/rhythm games; Konami’s various Bemani games (beatmania IIDX, DrumMania, etc) have been a major part of my gaming catalog for several years now. In addition to typical music-based games, I’ve also enjoyed seeing various games experiment with integrating music with core elements of gameplay — Lumines, Rez, and so forth. I knew that I wanted to develop a game that integrated music into the gameplay, but as my first XNA project I wasn’t sure that I wanted to tackle a full-scale standard rhythm game. Besides that, I wanted to try a fusion of concepts that I felt hadn’t really been done before. And so, after sketching out a few different concepts, what I felt to be my most workable idea ended up being a rough outline for BeatBlox.
Question: Could you describe BeatBlox for anyone who hasn’t seen it?
Aaron Ramsey: BeatBlox is a puzzle game that fuses simple puzzle concepts with rhythm-based gameplay. The play area consists of a grid of colored tiles that you can move around at will. As the background track plays, Beat Blocks will appear in time with the music, and after a short while, will explode in time with the music as well. The goal is to create chains of like-colored blocks and attach them to Beat Blocks before they explode, with longer chains earning more points and restoring more of your life meter. While the basic gameplay concept could have been realized without the music element at all, I feel that making the music central to the player’s sensory experience contributes to the game feeling more satisfying than a standard puzzle game played by itself — much like Rez made its music-oriented gameplay feel more satisfying and engrossing than a standard rail shooter.
Question: How large was the team that created BeatBlox and how long did it take to develop?
Aaron Ramsey: The game concept and programming was done entirely by myself; the only assistance I received on the project was for some of the artwork and the music tracks. In total, I received assistance from three different graphic artists and six musicians, all either friends or friends-of-friends. The project was started in mid-January, and was basically completed by mid-March. I worked on the project every free evening and weekend during that span of time.
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