Rez

I’m going to take today’s post to talk about one of my music tech epiphanies.  Back in 2002 I discovered a game called Rez for the Dreamcast.  It wasn’t a normal game.

I’ll spare the plotline; suffice to say it has a sci-fi theme.  The story isn’t why I liked the game – it was the amazing sound design.  Rez was based on the concept of synaesthesia; this is when one sense is experienced in combination with another.  Some people are born with this (a person might “hear colors” or “see noises”, etc.)

Rez is a shooting game, so you naturally aim for baddies and shoot.  Every time you shoot or score a hit, a slice of the music is played.  It’s not arbitrary – your gun might be the hi hat, the first enemies a synth stab, bigger enemies might be a bass/kick combo.  All the while a “four-on-the-floor” pulse is rocking the controller as if it were some sort of sub-bass generator.

More importantly, Rez doesn’t try to hide the fact that it’s a game, and the audio is being generated based on user input.  This is how all games work, but Rez doesn’t strive for realism.  It basically feels as if you’re remixing music by shooting bad guys.  It’s a pretty cool experience, and I recommend anyone with a Dreamcast, PS2 or Xbox 360 (live) give it a try.

Author: Will Kuhn

I teach music technology to high schoolers. I do some other stuff too. @willkuhn on Twitter.

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