Chime duo launch new music game developer Echo Peak
First project, a collaboration with a "major global music star", already underway
The duo behind acclaimed game Chime have launched a new studio focused on music games, Echo Peak.
Ciaran Walsh, game director, and Ste Curran, creative director, will run the team staffed with talent from Electronic Arts, FreeStyle Games and Doublesix, looking to collaborate and build content to suit individual musical artists.
"We are huge music fans and we've spent many years working at the intersection of music and games," said Walsh who told GamesIndustry.biz that he sees the two mediums converging.
"There's a growing sense that games are part of the convergent future of music - where artists no longer simply go into a studio every couple of years, write some songs, and perform them at venues and festivals, but where they express themselves across multiple media and develop direct and meaningful relationships with their fans."
Walsh cites recent interactive output from Lady Gaga, The Roots and Bjork as evidence of a trend for artists to explore new digital avenues with their music, and he sees Echo Peak helping them to reach fans in new ways.
"My belief is that the wider music industry knows that this is the way of the future, but doesn't know what the possibilities are, or how to go about it."
Echo Peak, so far a team of seven that hopes to double in the coming months, has one project in the bag with a "major global music star", built using Unity 3D. It also has a number of concepts and potential collaborations on the back burner. The studio is backed by investment firm Tenshi Ventures, and counts Tenshi's Ed Daly as a close advisor.
Although the music genre boomed in 2009 with titles like Guitar Hero and SingStar, Echo Peak isn't looking to return to a fad that milked the sale of expensive peripherals and constant releases. Instead, the team is looking to music video as inspiration - a jumping off point where music influences a different medium.
"The boom that centred around Guitar Hero, Rock Band and SingStar, all of which were brilliant innovations in their time, was short-lived for obvious reasons," said Walsh. "The same audience was sold the same games over and over again - seven Guitar Hero titles in 2009 alone - and the emphasis on peripherals meant fans were being asked to keep paying huge amounts for the same experience.
"The thing that was exhausted there was not the creative potential of music meshing with gameplay, but the appetite of an audience to keep buying the same products.
"Our vision for games with music at their core is very different - rather than licensing content into a play-along gameplay template, we set out to create unique game experiences inspired by the music and by the creativity of the artists themselves. Not necessarily anything you'd recognise as a music game. Think about music videos - the best ones aren't about performance, they're about layering music with visual and narrative components that take you deeper into the world of the artist and the song. Interactivity lets us go further still."