A quick history
Empty Clip Studios is a tiny 3-person indie developer (with many part-time contributors) founded in 2007 by Matt Shores and Francois Bertrand. The developers work remotely and are located in San Diego, California and Quebec, Canada (“ECS Quebec”).
In its 8-year history, despite remaining very small it has shipped 14 titles on multiple platforms (including console, PC and mobile) for a total of 26 SKUs. Most of the company’s releases use its proprietary and cross-platform-focused RapidFire Engine. The studio has worked on many types of projects, from straight porting jobs to full original IP games.
Empty Clip Studios’ best-known original game is a music-based procedural shooter called Symphony, which was launched in 2012 on Steam and won multiple awards.
After Symphony, Matt and Francois decided to push music-generated procedural gameplay as far as they could and try things that had never been done before. In that game music would not just create a level, but a whole world, a procedurally generated and destructible planet complete with weather, vegetation and a day-night cycle. Another design goal was to have these elements not just window dressing, but have a direct impact on gameplay.
Symphony Worlds is a 3rd-person action-strategy game that incorporates procedural music-based gameplay into a unique blend of action, strategy and base-building elements. One of your songs has turned evil and has started corrupting your other music’s home worlds. It’s up to you to stop its advance and reclaim your music’s worlds!
The main design goal is to incorporate music-related procedural generation as tightly as possible with every game system, both gameplay and cosmetic. Each song’s unique personality is reflected in the landscapes it generates, and the abilities it provides you and your opponent.
The songs you pick really matter. First, you pick your opposing enemy song. The content of that song will dictate the type of enemies you face, which strategies be used, and how aggressive they are, meaning every opponent you face will be unique. Then, you are free to pick the songs you want to play on your side. Your music is your ally and will help you in a multitude of ways, uniquely driven by the personality of the song.
For example, calm moments in the song will give you a building discount, whereas intense moments will give your weapons double damage. Each song gives you a unique perk, and gives you weapon bursts at key moments in the music. Music controls the weather, which can be used by some powers and abilities. Also, music will generate terrain and vegetation you can harvest to build up your defenses.
The game is in full development and we are still discovering new ways of integrating music into the game, working to make best use of the unique personality of each song to make compelling gameplay. Although there is no release date yet for the game, it is expected to ship the first quarter of 2016. Given the huge potential benefit of honing the procedural generation algorithms with real user music among other things, we are seriously considering Kickstarter and Early Access periods before official launch, although plans have not been finalized yet.
fbertrand27 on Skype