Figment 2, our surreal and musical adventure into the human mind, is something we wanted to make as impactful as possible regarding the sound design and music. One approach is to incorporate it into the game’s environment. We do this by having light bulbs blinking to the beat of the music, bridges made of piano keys that play when you walk on them, bosses that sing their own theme songs to you during fights, and music that changes depending where you are and reflects your surroundings. This sequel follows the same protagonist, Dusty, the Courage of the mind as we follow his journey into deep corners of the subconscious.
To make the surroundings feel more in tune with the universe, we analysed the background music by finding where the loudest parts of the audio track are. We then use that data from that audio clip in various ways, like animating objects or when to play sound effects. In the picture above you can see two trees with lights hanging from them called Cocobulbs. These Cocobulbs blink whenever a certain loudness of the background track is reached, exemplified by the green triangles in the image below, which are called peaks. This makes the world dance and move to the beat of the music.
Another part of Figment’s design where we found room for further experimentation in the musical department was general combat encounters. Specific enemies have their own layer of music that gets added to the already-playing (base) combat music. They also attack on different beats and on different bars.
Figment 2 has an entirely new cast of enemies. One light attacker that charges often, one that has a larger wind up with periods of invulnerability, a ranged and immobile turret, and a heavy slammer with high-damage attacks.
This is where the combat choreographer came to life, a tool that could take all enemies from a particular location and tell them when to attack. This tool takes into account how many of each type there are, what happens when that number goes lower or higher, and can also change their attacking “rhythm” when those values change.
Then the enemies will sync up to the track that’s playing and attack. Lighter enemies can attack more often, while larger ones can attack on more significant beats like the first beat of each bar to give more impact to their role in the fight.
This tool allowed us to more efficiently sync up enemies to fights and give a sense of flow when the player found themselves in combat. We can make a new enemy attack Dusty, or have the same one chase you again and again if it fits the song better.
These new tools and overarching game design implementations gave way to a few new concepts regarding boss fights. We wanted these encounters to be grandiose, a David vs Goliath scenario. Nightmares take center stage, presenting themselves through a change of scenery and music.
Nightmares physically manifest in the mind, and since you’re the courage defending it, you must face them through fights and puzzles to understand why they’ve appeared. In this case The Jester symbolises the fear of responsibilities piling up and being unable to let loose anymore. In fights against them, they have Oddballs, these little spheres that protect them from attacks, but can also be used to attack Dusty.
We had run into situations where enemies or levels influenced how the music would shape up. However, here, music and game design coerced each other mutually. In your first fight against The Jester, the Oddballs slowly move around them, and spread out at key moments of their song so you can attack. Like everything in Figment 2, they also move and bounce in sync with the world’s rhythm. In another encounter further down the line, the Jester has a new song with a different rhythm with further evolution of the story – and the old design of the Oddballs didn’t work anymore. This new song had a much quicker pace, was angrier, and we had to come up with a mechanic that reflected that.
In the encounter below, the design team came up with the idea that The Jester could “shoot” the Oddballs that used to protect him. He’s angrier, looser in fighting style. So we had to come up with a different way of expressing that. Thus, like six rounds of a revolver, The Jester shoots the Oddballs away.
Every piece of Figment 2’s universe is musically attuned with its surroundings. We hope that players will enjoy Figment 2: Creed Valley when it arrives on Game Pass July 20th, best of luck on saving The Mind from the nightmares wreaking havoc.
Figment 2: Creed Valley
Bedtime Digital Games
Nightmares have shattered the Moral Compass, making The Mind unable to function properly. Dusty and his ever-optimistic sidekick, Piper, must travel to Creed Valley, where The Mind’s ideals are formed to restore peace. A journey filled with musical showdowns and mind-bending puzzles awaits.