Welcome to the official site of independent game developer/music producer Julian Kantor, alias Funkmasonry Industries. Stay tuned for weekly updates about the upcoming musical action-adventure The Groov CosmosEmail me with questions, comments, suggestions or criticisms!

Entries in Groov (12)


Funky Friday Ep. V

Greetings, my brothers and sisters in the Order of the Funk...

What an exciting time it must be to be a visitor to this website! Two updates in as many weeks -- an unprecendented development in the history of a "weekly" feature! While I focused last week on graphics, I am going to talk a bit this week about Funk, and how it powers the game engine behind The Groov Cosmos.

Much like my first game Groov, The Groov Cosmos is driven by an internal musical timing system I call the conductor. The conductor triggers audio samples, game events, and is used to generate discrete and continuous graphical effects. In fact, while it shares the basic principles of the system behind Groov, I've completely re-written a new musical system for The Groov Cosmos that is able to do so many more things, like dynamic key changes, tempo changes, improvised patterns (a particulary cool feature), pulse shaping, and more.

Some of this stuff was implemented in a rather half-baked form in Groov, but a lot of the content was hard-coded into the game itself. Now, it's all abstract, and I've built tools for importing MIDI files and editing, or creating songs from scratch, within my new music engine. If I make a pattern in my toolset but don't think the instrument it's playing on quite suits it, I can record some new sounds, plug it into the sampler library and put it into the game; reverb, delay, filters and all.

One thing I'm particularly excited about is how I'm going to handle dialog. The Groov Cosmos takes place in a musical world, and you will encounter other characters throughout your journey. Since they live in a funk-powered universe, they naturally will sing and rap. And the cool part is, while the dialog lines will be pre-written, they will be rapped and/or sung dynamically so that it matches up with whatever part of whatever song happens to be playing at the moment.

The video above shows a very basic implementation of this idea. It's a real-time capture of a demo I put together for the systems I've been talking about -- the dialog lines and beat drops are triggered by me fiddling around with an Xbox 360 controller, and I didn't edit the captured video, just uploaded it straight to Vimeo. Neurotic disclaimers for unfinished work incoming:

  1. The speech synthesizer just has a plain old sample bank of me saying a bunch of phonemes in my regular voice. The characters in the game will sound much cooler.
  2. Hopefully I'll be able to get the dialog sound a bit more naturalistic by tweaking how emphasized syllables are handled
  3. I was capturing footage of this real-time demo at the same time as I was playing it, so the beat isn't very smooth and for some reason the voice drops a few phonemes here and there. It sounds better when it's running without video capture software, but hopefully I'll be able to optimize the time keeping a little more anyway.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and watching the video. If you have any questions or suggestions about what you'd like me to focus on, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!


Inside Gaming Awards Nomination!

Groov has been nominated for the "Best Indie Game" category of the first ever Inside Gaming Awards! We here at Funkmasonry Industries would like to extend our thanks to the people at Inside Gaming for this great honor. And, we need the help of all the people who have played Groov and enjoyed it to support the game in the Gamers' Choice category -- more details coming soon!


Groov Price Drop!

We here at Funkmasonry Industries are pleased to announce that our award-winning debut into the trade of videogame-makery, Groov, is now only $1 (80 MS Points)!!

Groov has received positive coverage from outlets like 1UP.com, Gamasutra, Edge Magazine, and Official Xbox Magazine. See why Groov's addictive blend of interactive music and dual-stick shooting has earned its #7 rank in user ratings (out of over 500 Indie Games) on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and download it for only 80 MS Points!


Edge Magazine Issue 202

The latest issue of Edge Magazine has a great article about the successes and challenges of Xbox Live Community Games. Along with other XNA creators, Funkmasonry Industries' own Julian Kantor was interviewed for the piece. Groov was described as "a neat spin on Geometry Wars with a nasty habit of stealing half an hour here and there," and even given its own sidebar (the only such sidebar in the article, I might add):

Julian Kantor's Groov, a dual-stick shooter with a musical bent, is one of the service's early highlights. You fly around a rectangle's interior as normal, but each of your shots produces a synth sound effect, and each enemy has their own instrumental effect that plays when they die. Visually it's functional rather than exceptional, but it uses its limited palette cleverly to differentiate live enemies from dead ones (which stick around before exploding on certain beats) and has a neat 'slowdown' special weapon rather than yet another smartbomb. There's a wonderful moment about 45 seconds into your first game - but we won't spoil it, because you're going to try it out, right?

To read the rest of the article, along with tons of other interesting features, check out Edge Magazine Issue 202 on newsstands.


Cinema Blend's "5 Actually Good XNA Games"

Cinema Blend included Groov on their list of 5 Actually Good XNA Games For $2.50 Apiece! Along with NextWar: The Quest for Earth, Johnny Platform's Biscuit RompPhilip Muwanga's Hexy Trench, and Miner Dig Deep, Groov was deemed a game "you should know about, unless you hate fun." Here's their whole write-up on Groov, awesome part emphasized by myself.

What at first appears to be a more-affordable version of Geometry Wars quickly distinguishes itself as some sort of music/rhythm/shooter type-thing-game. If that description made no sense, I'll clarify; every enemy in the game moves to a certain beat, and your bullets fire at that same beat. Once you hit an enemy and "kill" it, it will turn into a harmless, white version of itself. That white enemy will then die out at a time that is appropriate for the beat of the song. Each different type of enemy makes a different musical sound when it dies, and your bullets make piano... 

You know what? Just download the trial. It's like Geometry Wars mixed with Beethoven and Jesus. That's all you need to know.