The ludic experience “Orpheus Quest” is a music rhythm video game, which narrative axis is based on the myth of Orpheus.
Players use a lyre-shaped game controller with laser cords to simulate being the player character Orpheus shown on the Graphical Interface.
The player has to try to match the notes that will scroll on-screen by touching or strumming the laser strings of the lyre with his/her fingers (or with a star shaped guitar pick or plectrum) in order to score points. If the player succeeds, Orpheus’ll leave unharmed from Hell with his beloved Eurydice, by softening the heart of the evil beasts.
The screen is divided in two in horizontal axis. On the bottom half, the strings and notes are displayed. On the top half, Orpheus faces kawaii beasts of excessive proportions (and tenderly frightening).
The visual style of the experience combines elements of old Greek design with modern iconic forms. It incorporates curves and soft shapes with other straight and orthogonal forms to achieve (by disruptiveness) an updated modern and captivating vision of the myth. The aesthetic proposal is based on the glam of the ’80: is a bit punk, pop, cute and very colorful.
This is a really special game with alternative controls, because we designed and built an impressive antique instrument: the lyre, made by assembled wooden cuts and green laser strings.
According the Greek mythology, Apollo, as the god of music, gave Orpheus a golden lyre and taught him how to play it. He perfected the instrument at such at level that with his music and singing could charm all of the living things.
Orpheus Quest is implemented in the Unity 3D game engine, programmed in C#. The music sync is achieved by converting a MIDI file (containing all the notes per track of each song), to a more standard XML output, that can be easily parsed by the engine. Gameplay is then calibrated by testing delays and tweaking just a few parameters. The game is navigated through a series of screens and a Level Map, that shows Orpheus’ progress. Right now, we are working into expanding the game, by adding more songs (levels), animated characters and backgrounds.
The Music and Myth
During the opening cutting scene, Orpheus myths is briefly recounted.
All of the elements displayed in this game experience are inspired by different visions along the history about the Orpheus myth. The music belongs to Orphée aux enfers (“Orpheus in the Underworld”) an opéra bouffe, composed by Jacques Offenbach, in the 19th century. Its libretto belongs to Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévic. We really appreciated the version adapted in 1971 by Gunter Fleckenstein and Joachim Hess for TV (in fact, this version inspired the initial draft of Orpheus Quest).
Using fantasy to parody the conventional story of Orpheus, Offenbach created an operetta that satirized the bourgeois aspects of Western culture and the melodramatic love story behind the myth. We do not renounce to show the classic vision of the myth about the unconditional and supposedly sincere love of Orpheus. Actually what we are trying to show is the power of love expressed through music to all living beings even including the creatures of hell. But Offenbach’s vision is fantastic because it expresses the possibilities of recreation of the ancient myth, using humor, ironic and satirical elements displayed in a more contemporary art style. In our version of the myth, the narrative is enriched with the movement provided by the game dynamics and mechanics.
Work In Progress – Art Making Off