When we think of games and virtual reality we often think about having great adventures and experiencing fantastic new worlds. At Little Chicken Game Company we’ve always loved those adventures but we’ve also had a passion for experiences that empower players to go beyond play and allow them to start creating.
When players become creators amazing things happen. And to allow players to create music simply by playing has been a cherished dream of our studio for over 20 years.
Back in 1995 one of our founders, Senne de Jong came up with an idea on how people could create music by placing simple blocks of sound in a grid.
We’ve carried the prototype for this mechanic with us for all that time. However, we’ve always felt something was lacking that made it truly universal and special. Then along came PlayStation VR.
As soon as the hardware became available a number of years ago, we started working on prototypes and versions of what later would become Track Lab.
Track Lab is a unique VR experience. It allows anyone to mount up and create original music. The player isn’t guided into replicating music, the goal is to create original beats and compositions and keep getting better through playing and having fun.
The first time you enter Track Lab you’ll realise this is unlike any musical instrument you have ever played, it doesn’t require notes or even a single bit of musical knowledge. Simply start picking up sounds as if they were building blocks and start building beats.
You pick up individual sounds and place them in the Track Lab grid where a light beam pulses along. Each time the beam hits a sound you get to hear it.
String along some blocks, and you’ve got the first outline of a beat. Then use what we call prisms to divert, split and reflect the light beam to create loops and ever more complex musical constructs. If this sounds a bit strange, you’re right. Track Lab is truly something unique and new.
That said we don’t drop players in without any guidance. We have two modes in Track Lab, creation mode where you’re free to go at it, and an evolver mode that lets you learn how to create awesome music patterns through puzzles and challenges. On top of that you can mix your creations and add live effects to create amazing performances.
We’ve intentionally tried to stay as far away as possible from normal musical instruments or the technology for creating electronic music.
We wanted to make sure players never felt like they couldn’t do something because they “don’t know anything about it”. Most people will look at DJ decks and mixers as an esoteric bit of technology that’s only for experts. In Track Lab everything is designed to be different and playful. If you “don’t know”, just bang it, hit it, pick it up, and figure out what it does. Most importantly, just listen!
We noticed that when players reached the point where they started dancing to their own beats, creating the music became easier! So we purposely crafted an experience that speaks to all the senses with visuals, interactions and music that stimulate you to create and move!
Many people imagine composers and musical creators as people who are geniuses who come up with music straight from their minds (there’s probably some of those as well). But in reality creating music, like any creative act, is a highly playful experience. It’s about trying things, listening, changing, failing and generally playing around. This is what we feel is truly unique about Track Lab: it’s about improvising and playing.
The most exciting thing for us as developers, is that we can’t even guess what’s possible with Track Lab. So we can’t wait to see what kind of intricate compositions people will create and share once Track Lab is available to all PS VR users.