Final Project: The Isle of Silver Waves

Music 256A: Music, Computing, Design

Alex Han



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Project Description

I present to you an interactive audiovisual sandbox: The Isle of Silver Waves!

This project was very challenging for me to design and build, and while I don't think I'm "done" with it, I am thrilled with the state of my created world so far. I hope to continue working on this and developing new functionality and makign the musical side of things more personal. That being said, the current iteration of the project serves as a first-person controlled explorable environment with tightly coupled audio and visual elements. I wanted to give high priority to immersion, and spent a lot of effort to create a fantastical world that is surreal, dreamlike, inviting, and beautiful. I also wanted to give life to the player's motion and interaction, and created custom animations for the player's hands that adapt to fit whatever object the player is interacting with. I designed the player's movements and modes of interaction based on my own personal inspirations--I drew from sources like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Pixar's The Incredibles, and Dragonball Z, creating telekinetic-like powers that I've always wanted to have (IRL and in-game). I wanted this to feel satisfying, granting players a sense of agency, power, and an ability to engage with their surroundings in a genuinely creative way.


Unlike my last two projects which relied on a fairly complicated system of input mappings in order to maintain a diverse set of functions, I wanted to keep the controls for this project very simple and familiar. As such, a lot of the variety in interaction is "smart" in that based on whatever object is in the player's reticle and is within their telekinetic range, the animations and actions are slightly different.

My simplification/streamlining of the interaction system meant I actually discarded several elements that I had initially included in my previous Milestones. For instance, I removed a lot of the UI and text/selection based interaction as I felt it detracted from the immersion.

Scene Objects

There are a couple of key interactive objects in the scene. There are the "beacons", which slowly rotate, hover, and respawn around the map, there is the "amoeba", a central morphing, glowing blob, and there are "nodes" that serve as editable points in a sequencer. There is also a silver reflecting pool out of which small light particles spawn and form conenctions with their neighbors.

Each of these can be interacted with in different ways. The Beacons can be telekinetically grabbed, pulled, and thrown. Upon colliding with any object, they start to fracture and erode. With enough collisions they will eventually dissolve altogether, although they will respawn at a random location later on. They also get zapped by an invisiable force field if they go too far out of range. The amoeba dictates high-level musical parameters. It can be locked-on and morphed by the player, which changes the underlying harmonic mode and tonic of the other musical objects in the scene. It smoothly transitions into different shapes and colors as the player "morphs" it. The nodes are summonable by a mysterious black console, and can be interacted with to produce different drum sounds. They change size and color to indicate activity/sound change. The reflecting pool hears all of this, and responds to the overall sonic scene. It "breathes" with the fluctuations in amplitude of the music, altering how the particles' speed and sensitivity to neighbors.


This was definitely the most ambitious and challenging project I've done this quarter, and I don't think I'll ever feel like it is "done". However, I learned a TON in making this, especially with 3d modeling, animation, input systems, particles, shader graphs, and lighting. This was not at all what I had originally intended to create, but I am happy with the way it incorporated several elements of the initial ideas I had: it has the impressionistic, visually striking elements from my first idea, and the gameplay and interaction style from my 3rd idea (pics below for reference).


I am incredibly grateful for the help I received while all of the projects in this class. I am indebted to my peers in the class especially for staying up late with me to work and debug. More than just having company and getting advice, I feel like I changed fundamentally as a creator and thinker as a result of the discussions, reading, and lectures from Ge and others through this quarter. To me, this was an incredibly rewarding experience that both rapidly developed my technical skills across so many areas AND gave me a ton of reflection and inspiration. Thank you, Ge and Julia, for this amazing (if painful) quarter!