Posted by (Visited 22296 times)  Game talk
Jan 232006

I just checked out Audition, a dance-based MMO. I’m not sure which Asian country it comes from (I didn’t look too close), but it is, of course, heavily anime-styled. It also brings some clever stuff to the table.

As with many of the Asian games, there’s a nominally massively multiplayer lobby, which you enter minimally multiplayer games from. You play the game in order to earn virtual cash, plus you buy a different sort of virtual cash. You can then buy further accessories for your character (clothes, character customization, etc) and new stuff to play (in this case, songs) with that money.

What was cool about this particular game was that they found a way to make the DDR-style hitting of arrows work in a high-latency environment. Instead of having to hit every arrow exactly on the beat, you instead have to input strings of arrows, and hit the space bar to “enter” the line of moves. There’s actually three different strings of arrows you can choose to enter, but making a mistake on any of them will push you back to having to input the whole string again.

As you advance, more and more arrows need to be typed correctly in sequence; if you get all the way to 8, then you go into “freestyle” which lets you build your own strings of arrows — but they obey some sort of internal dance grammar — you can only do three down arrows in a row, for example. So as you learn the ways in which moves lead into one another, you’ll get better at building custom dances. Mess up on freestyling, and it’s back down to one arrow you go. And of course, if you fail to enter moves for a bar of music, your character stands around looking like a dork.

Arguably, you look like a dork anyway, since the boy moves at any rate are about the sappiest, least energetic dancing I can imagine.

There wasn’t anyone else on the server I was on, so I didn’t get to see how this played out with other playters, but I am guessing that only needing to send moves to the other players every bar instead of constantly makes for a more lag-tolerant experience. The addition of the freestyling and the dance grammar is very cool — it means advanced players can actually put together choreography out of the dance moves; there’s even a team mode, so presumably you can work up team routines.

So, kinda neat. The game part is challenging too — it’s a different skill than reading individual arrows coming at you as in DDR or O2Jam. It feels more like a typing game, albeit one where you’re typing only on the cursor keys. The inputting of sequences doesn’t feel like dancing, and it doesn’t feel like a cheat, like DDR on a controller does.

I have no idea why the rendering is as choppy as it is — there’s no excuse for the main screen being as low framerate as it is on my home machine. I also don’t think it’s particularly a good idea for the game to ask you for a social security number, passport number, or driver’s license number (mandatory to input a number!) — I know that in Korea, using your national ID is no big deal, but here in the States it of course conjures up all kinds of identity theft specters. Of course, it has no way to verify the number so you can put in anything.

All in all, if you haven’t ventured to try some of the wackier stuff coming out of the Asian MMOs, or if you thought that someone really should have made cantina dancing into a more complete game, it’s worth checking out.

  11 Responses to “Audition”

  1. [IMG Dance] Whilst doing my normal blog runs (say that to a non-computer type person and see what reaction you get) I came across a link to the dance-based MMO called Audition over at Raph’s . I haven’t played it yet, but I do plan to as it looks quite entertaining. Plus, I’m a sucker for rhythm games. Continuing on my run, I found Ubiq had also linked to Audition, where his main point seems to be “Hooray! An online game without fruity men

  2. can compete with other folks…you can also create dance routines with other folks too. The game is free and their business model is the “virtual items” model. You can see videos of the game here… Here is the wikipedia entry for the game… Here is Raph Koster’s good description of the Audition Game… They started out in Asia and recently (about a month ago)..released in the USA.

  3. Yeek, I sure wouldn’t want to enter my passport number into a game registration.

    I guess I’m a bit sensitive about my passport, since it is effectively my “papers,” in every old-movie-wintery-checkpoint-dogs-and-soldiers-in long-coats sense of the word. It is evidence of my right to return to the nation of my birth. My right to live and work in Australia lies within. It is the only legal ID I have here.

    The passport confiscation scene in “The Constant Gardener,” had me squirming in my seat. “Noooo! No!” said the voice inside my head. “Don’t give up your passport! It’s the most valuable thing you own!”

    On the matter of the game, I would loooooove to see more music-oriented online games out there, but the latency problem, as you know, is the killer. The one-bar-at-a-time solution is an interesting one. It hearkens back to thoughts of mine that you could get away, to a degree, with following the rules of traditional latency masking in a music game — that it wouldn’t matter if one player were experiencing a completely different time in the music from what another player was experiencing — as long as their performances were in-synch when observed (by a third-party observer, or in playback). It is only the points of intersection and interaction that matter.

    But, it would be like dancing with blinders on, or like playing in a band while wearing earplugs. You would be experiencing your own performance as a solo performance, and could in no way emotionally or artistically respond to the performance of your partner(s) in the now, as real performers might. There is no real-time interplay. That, in a sense, is saddening — and to me, takes away some of the joy of collaborative performance, in the first place.

    Being a musician, yourself, you can probably remember a time when you and other musicians hit that place in a performance (or even just a jam session in someone’s basement) where you were suddenly soaring a hundred miles above the earth. Everything just fell into place, and it was pure, golden, rapturous magic. People who have put aside their instruments always remember those times with wistful nostalgia — longing, and pained to realize how far their skills have faded. It can be a lonely ache to not know that you will have that moment again.

    Oh, but if only we could capture that sort of feeling in a game. It wouldn’t even have to be music. Perhaps we do it, already? Can the same feeling be achieved through superb martial operations?

    No, but there is something about music, isn’t there? That chord resolution that makes the hair stand on the back of your neck — there’s something to it that grabs us in an entirely different way.

  4. “I’m not sure which Asian country it comes from”

    Korea, I do believe.

  5. According to the governance of the user agreement, the game is Korean.

  6. The thing that has always turned me off when it comes to Asian games (most of the ones I’ve seen anyway) is their seeming fixation on ridiculous tokens/gifts that often don’t have anything whatsoever to do with the gameplay.

    The only game that I excused this in was Katamari Damacy (since that’s basically the whole POINT of the game). I don’t know … I just never “got” the concept of winning a pink hairbrush for successfully beheading an opponent with a finishing move.

  7. The thing that has always turned me off when it comes to Asian games (most of the ones I’ve seen anyway) is their seeming fixation on ridiculous tokens/gifts that often don’t have anything whatsoever to do with the gameplay.

    Whats the difference between a WoW player paying through the nose for one of the first Fiery Dragon Whelps available on their server and paying five minutes of wages for, I don’t know, a new hat for your character? Don’t restrict yourself to think that stats = gameplay = business model, or you’ll forever limit your business model to only those who care about stats. Some people actually like playing with dolls and have a lot of disposable income. Others like status markers. And there are a lot of games where you can micro-pay for services which are relevant to “the gameplay”, such as paying $3.50 to get double XP for a week. (The implications of this almost scare me as someone used to the US subscription model, as it suggests that the base grind is twice as painful as it needs to be, but if it works in funding games which otherwise wouldn’t exist more power to them.)

  8. Don’t restrict yourself to think that stats = gameplay = business model, or you’ll forever limit your business model to only those who care about stats.

    Heck, I bet people would pay extra money just to have a rare hairstyle. I am not joking.

  9. I bet people would pay extra money just to have a rare hairstyle. I am not joking.

    You don’t need to be joking — it’s already happened. Heck, Furcadia has sustained itself since 1997 or so solely off of the sales of character customization — specifically, stuff like wings for the furry avatars at $50 a pop.

  10. Plenty of single-player games already do cosmetic customization as part of the reward structure — all the “unlockables”.

    Audition is really a “minimally” multiplayer game, given its lobby-and-room structure. It performs fine on my machine, which is rather low-spec. It’s unfortunately very easy to get fixated upon jamming in arrows as quickly as possible, thereby losing a lot of the potential visual joy of watching other players.

    It is a nice example of the kind of things that online games can do if they’re not reliant on subscription fees, though. Audition falls into the ‘occasional fun’ category, I think. As such, I also wish that it didn’t require a lengthy download.

    To Tess’ point about rapture: Music performance is a particularly good way to enter Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow” state. In theory, games should foster flow, but it’s hard to achieve.

  11. […] Remember when I wrote about the dance game Audition? Word is that it has hit 50 million registered users in China, with peak concurrency of 400,000. […]

  12. […] Korean Online Dance Game Audition Hits 400,000 concurrent users, 50 Million Registered Users A Korean casual online dance game, Audition, has hit an impressive 400,000 concurrent users with 50 Million total registered users in China. It is an excellent example of the growing category of “virtual asset games” that are free to play, but you pay for “stuff”. This category is particularly popular in Asia, but has not really been explored in the US. The game is mostly “skill-based” – basically, a player enters a series of L, R, U, D arrow keys based on a pattern sent by the server (discovered and described at Raph Koster’s web site). This game seems a perfect target for cheating – after all, the “buttons” can easily be read automatically and the timing element is also a great candidate for attack. [Shameless Plug] I do like the concept and have been fiddling with some ways to protect against attack online as well as support peer-to-peer virtual assets. [End Shameless Plug] It does open an interesting game genre that might do well in the West. Continue reading “Korean Online Dance Game Audition Hits 400,000 concurrent users, 50 Million Registered Users” Posted by SecurePlay in Game Security, Game Industry, Game Demographics, Game Design at 12:12 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0) […]

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