The term "music game" is usually used to refer to rhythm action games, in which you tap on-screen button prompts in time with music. But this is far from the only possible interpretation.
Thatgamecompany's Flower, for example, features a beautifully composed soundtrack that is supplemented by the sounds you make through your own actions. The rail shooter Rez features a soundtrack that builds in intensity as you delve deeper into each level, again supported by the musical sounds your own actions create. And the puzzle games Chime and Lumines integrate music into both their interface and gameplay, with the pieces you drop playing notes, and a sweeping sequencer-style "beat line" continually drifting across the play area, challenging you to complete your tasks before it cycles around for the next "bar."
In short, music games have a lot of untapped potential, and it's this potential that Unity expert and cross-disciplinary artist Samantha Kalman is hoping to explore in her Kickstarter-funded project Sentris, which she claims is "a brand new kind of music game -- a puzzle game about making music."
Sentris unfolds on a circular playfield. You drop colored blocks into the rotating circle, and these blocks stack up and combine to create a song. The aim of the game is to drop appropriately colored blocks into marked "target positions" on the circle, with the layout gradually growing in complexity as the song progresses by adding different instruments for you to switch between. In the current prototype seen in the video below, for example, you start with just synth, then add bass, drums and guitar as you complete each "phase" by filling in the targets.
Part of Kalman's aim with the project is, in her own words, to "help people feel good about the time they spend playing games." Kalman says she wants to "give everybody a tangible artifact as a result from their time with the game -- something to be proud of." As such, you'll be able to record, share and listen to the songs you produce as a result of playing the game -- and there'll even be a "freestyle" mode you can play either solo or with a friend in local multiplayer where you can just make music without having to worry about the "puzzle" side of things.
Kalman is seeking $50,000 in funding for the core version of Sentris, which will incorporate both puzzle and freestyle modes for one or two local players, a library of musical instruments to use in the game, the ability to save and share songs, and compatibility with the Mac OS X, Windows and Linux platforms. Stretch goals for the project include a puzzle creator for $76,000, and an instrument sample bank creator for $102,000, and thus far with 24 days to go on the crowdfunding campaign, Kalman has already raised over $22,000.
Kalman is keen not only for Sentris to help people explore their own creative process, but also to share her own. Those who back the Kickstarter for $50 or more will receive playable prototype and experimental versions of the game throughout its development, along with being able to participate in alpha and beta tests for the final game; for those who want to make a more modest donation, meanwhile, a $20 pledge will get you a copy of the game upon its estimated release date of November next year -- or, if you're quick, you can sneak in and take advantage of the limited "early bird" offer and effectively pre-order the game for $15.
You can find out more about Sentris and follow the game's development over on Kalman's blog.