Fran├žois Hautier

Gameplay Programmer

Bubble Symphonia

Bubble Symphonia is a rhythm game available on Android. I developed it alone and it was published in March 2016.

The aim of the game is to touch the screen to explode the lines of bubbles, in rhythm with the greatest songs of classical music! The best the rhythm is, the better will be the score. Two leaderboards and many achievements challenge the player!

Get the game by clicking here, or below on the Google Play badge!

Generalities

The Novice Mode is perfect to start.

18 songs are available, among which: For Elise, Wedding March, Toccata and Fugue, Swan Lake or then Hungarian Dance No. 5. The player who wants to get all high scores will play for hours!

The game offers to the players two modes: Novice and Virtuoso. In the first one, you only play with one hand, that makes easier the gameplay to understand. In the second one, the difficulty is increased because it’s necessary to play with two hands. A good control of the game is required to succeed in the most difficult musics in the Virtuoso Mode!

For each game mode, a Google Play leaderboard is available to compare your global score with your friends. 47 achievements to unlock are also available. The game is completely translated in 3 languages: English, French and German. Finally, the progression of the player is saved online with the Saved Games service of Google Play.

Birth of the concept

The development of Bubble Symphonia started in March 2015 and has progressively continued during the year.

One of the abandoned prototypes.

At the beginning, I was playing calmly to Rayman Legends on Wii U while my game partner had fun to explode the bubbles which appeared on the gamepad when it wasn’t used. This is how we discovered that explode a bubble played a note, and exploding many bubbles successively, we heard the main theme of Rayman Legends. The basic idea appeared.

So I began the creation of the game, based on this principle of bubbles which generate a music. I quickly got a prototype where a lot of bubbles were displayed on the screen, which we can touch and inflate to play longer or shorter notes. Unfortunately, this concept was certainly funny, but completely useless for a good game.

After several attempts, I finally fixed the gameplay with the principle of the lines of bubbles which go down on the screen. After the release of the game, some players asked me why I have kept the bubbles which are not very useful, because we interact with the lines and not the bubbles themselves. But it would deny the origin of the project: a game with bubbles. Today, the project could be named Line Symphonia, because the concept would be the same!

Classical Music

The Virtuoso Mode increase significantly the difficulty of the game.

It’s important to keep in mind that I had no knowledge in the Classical Music before the development of Bubble Symphonia. So it was a personal challenge to create a musical game from scratch. I have learned all kinds of things in this field and just for that, the project was interesting to develop.

To use classical musics was an early choice in the development of the game, for copyright reasons (the works falling into the public domain 70 years after the death of their author). Not an expert in this field, I have discovered some themes that I knew, and others completely new that I appreciate a lot today. Some players had the same experience, and I’m proud that Bubble Symphonia can be instructive!

MIDI format

To avoid that the musics don’t explode the weight of the game, I have chosen to use only musics in MIDI format. The other advantage: it’s easy to find copyright free MIDI files on the internet. So the content of the game has in theory no limit.

Thanks to the NAudio library,  I developed a tool which collect the sheet music included in a MIDI file to format it in a specific format for Bubble Symphonia. This way, I can control the quality of the sheet musics, which can be read by the game without additional calculation.

Road to the Fiesta!

This project deserves a lifting!

After the release of the game, the feedbacks of players were very positives and have brought a lot of new ideas. When I started the development of an update, I noticed that it will be more relevant to develop a whole new game to avoid that the new ideas alter too much the original game. Bubble Symphonia is technically a very interesting project and its concept needs to be improved.

Today named Bubble Fiesta, this new game will respond to the main demand of the players: to play musics from original score of games and movies. To add the highest number of musics, I have already created a Windows Presentation Foundation program. It allows to import any MIDI file, to convert it in the Bubble Symphonia Data Sheet file format (BSDS), and send it on a server. This way, the player will just have to open Bubble Fiesta to see the latest available musics without upgrading the game.

But what is this BSDS file format? It’s a file format created and optimised specifically for the game. It allows to store in a file all the music datas needed by the game in the smallest possible size. For example, the MIDI file which contains the complete music sheet of the Turkish March weighs 26 KiB, and it is reduced to 5 KiB in the BSDS file format, so 5 times less! In Bubble Symphonia, the related data structure weighs 77 KiB when serialized, although it contains only a part of the complete music sheet!

File format Music sheet duration Approximative file size
MIDI 1.0 3 minutes 26 KiB
BinaryFormatter C# 2.0 serialisation (Bubble Symphonia) 1 minute 30 seconds 77 KiB
BSDS (Bubble Fiesta) 3 minutes 5 KiB

For the moment, only this part has been developed. But this project isn’t only this optimisation alone! Many improvements are planned and the aim is that the players take part in the development of the game. With their feedbacks, the purpose will be to create the best possible game!