Developer Kurt Bieg, whose new app Circadia is out on the App Store right now, is a former New York City musician.
That scene didn’t appeal to him, however, so he decided to try building games. “The way that I write music is arranging things for an experience,” Bieg told me at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this week, “and I do that in all my games.”
Circadia is quite an experience. After making a physical card game featuring then almost-president Obama, Bieg got a degree in design and technology, and Circadia is his first release as a professional developer. The basic idea of the game is built around the ripples that appear when you toss a stone into a pond, for example. “What if you tried to do multiple ripples at the same time to try and converge on one spot?” Bieg asked himself. In the game, you’re presented with a series of colored dots on the screen, and the goal is to tap the dots in such a way that the musical rings that emanate from them all cross a certain point at the same moment. It’s a system that, as Bieg says, shows off “simple things that create a larger pattern.”
The game is quite beautiful. I’s very minimalistic, and the sparse music and graphics really bring the music that you create while playing the game to the forefront. As you play along and touch the various dots to send out their musical ripples, you eventually start to get a sense of Bieg’s musical composition, and then you get to hear the real thing when all of the touches and dots finally line up.
The title wasn’t always so quiet, says Bieg — the game started out with what he calls “atrocious skin that was all about cheering someone up. The dots were faces, and everyone was smiling except for the one dot which was frowning.” But he eventually went with something much more simple and clear. He describes one level he created that had two dots moving back and forth with a target dot in the center, and once he finally solved that puzzle for himself, that’s when he “sat up in my desk,” he remembers, “and just freaked out because I was like, I could do 100 levels of this.”
The full game is 99 cents, and it’s definitely worth a download to play through those 100 puzzles. In the future, Bieg is planning to add 25-50 new levels in an update, along with a zen mode, which would allow for an infinite number of generated levels to play with. He’s also thinking of adding more features, like possible some background music, which he first saw as an accident in a trailer for the game. “I felt like it didn’t interfere with the game,” says Bieg. “It just gave context to the notes. I was kind of a fan of that.”