Doesn’t it make you happy? Happy to know a indie developer has taken the time to produce a little game and that ‘little’ thing has exploded in both popularity and success thanks to Steam? Doesn’t it warm your gamer heart to know that games like this can play with the bigger names in gaming, and that it could only happen on the PC?

I wasn’t.

Well, not quite. You see, I didn’t believe the game was being used to it’s fullest potential. People, why are you thinking so narrow mindedly? The game is called AudioSurf. Not MusicSurf. To that end, I set myself a mission. I was determined, using a precise and unquestionable scientific method – or in the absence of such, myself – to try and find the best non music track to attempt to play in the current craze sweeping the nation, AudioSurf. So, armed with six different MP3s taken from various sources, I extracted snippets to use as levels, and played them using the Pointman Pro character. It wasn’t about how well I could do, or about me not screwing up. It was about which non-music based audio would be the best track for you to maximize your enjoyment of this rough gem, and polish it from a rough stone to a beautiful diamond.

And a little because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything better with my time this weekend. Anyway…

1) Dead Ringers – Simon Bates Tea Sketch
So, I started with some comedy in the form of the radio version of the BBC impressionist show, Dead Ringers. Would a humorous impression of a celebrity generate a course more worthy than anything Jonathan Coulton could write or sing? I already knew the answer, but that wouldn’t stop me giving it a go anyway.

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And it turned out surprisingly well, in fact. In the section played, one of the cast rings up a supermarket posing as Simon Bates and goes on to give the bemused person on the other end a heartwarming account of when he realised he was out of tea bags. This amazingly gave a number of peaks and troughs, and I’m not sure if it was the bed that helped, but I can definitely say I had a great time towards the end of the sketch, whereupon the victim of the prank proclaimed ELO’s Mr Blue Sky to be ‘The Greatest Song Ever’

AudioSurf Score: 15,378
Verdict: Impressionable

2) Zero Punctuation Reviews: The Orange Box

For my second piece of hot surfin’ action, I turned to the one man word spoutin’ game reviewin’ machine, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. His Zero Punctuation reviews over on The Escapist make for entertaining viewing, stating everything a lot of us want to say about popular games, but were too lazy to bother opening up Windows Movie Maker. Would his no nonsense reviews and lack of breathing manage to pull out a cube laden surprise for this plucky guinea pig?

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The wave generated was rather steeply uphill, with a jut at either end – expected really, as that’s usually where the music kicks in. I chose The Orange Box review, feeling it was apt for two reasons, those being Steam and The Orange Box already having close ties with the game. That and I really like the ‘I’m being nice to a game so fuck you’ comment. Croshaw’s voice actually manages to open your eyes up somewhat to how drastic a change the removal of breaths from a voice can do – but at the same time it makes for a rather sedate course. Once you’re into the rhythm, it rarely changes, and you can almost up to a point predict where the blocks are going to appear. I suppose in some respects, this makes you concentrate more on the audio itself rather than the obstacles being fired your way.

AudioSurf Score 24,325
Verdict: Zero Fluctuation

3) BBC News – 17th Feb 2008

Next up, was that old bastion of information and…errr…news. The News. Surely the world’s current events would go some way into helping fulfil my quest to find the ultimate non musical track to play with AudioSurf? As for the content, well – paedophiles, suicide bombers and the abolition of oral exams in GCSEs because they’re proving too stressful. Surely a depressing bag will provide an equally depressive ride of downhill proportions, no?

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Again, this track was surprisingly complex in form, the news seems to provide a fairly varied track with many peaks and troughs. However, the difference between the newsreader’s voice compared with that of the interviewees and reporters was noticeable in the blocks, and it threw at me an impressively high number, more than I could keep up with at one point. However, it did seem the most challenging of all the courses, and the score reflects this somewhat.

AudioSurf Score: 9279
Verdict: A-news-ing

4) The Shipping Forecast – 17th Feb 2008

Avast ye landlubbers! What better way to explore the seas of audio files than with an audiophile? But before ye do, ye’d better know the waves like the back of ye scarred hand. Or stop talking like a pirate, and start listening to the Shipping Forecast. Of course I couldn’t go without this staple of British radio. So how did it fare when put through the Surfinator?

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It amazes me. Comedy – emotion in voices, pretty bloody good track. Zero Punc gives very funny reviews, seems very human – not so good track. Woman with the most monotone, boring voice ever – pretty bloody rubbish track. I wasn’t sure what astounded me more by this. The fact that it always looked like it was getting better, yet it never really did, or the fact that the voice almost made me want to fall asleep, despite the blocks coming your way. I know this wasn’t meant to be that much of an audio review, but blimey. Still, I suppose this might be a good one for people just getting used to AudioSurfing for the first time. Oh, and Iceland does give a funny bump in the track, interestingly. Maybe it’s the influence of Bjork or something.

AudioSurf Score: 17,162
Verdict: Off the Star-bored now…

5) PCGamer (UK) Podcast Episode 11 Excerpt

And so finally, after a long hard slog of a stupid amount of messing around in various programs for what little pay-off there is in this, I reach the final entry in this bid for non musical AudioSurf Nirvana. Can the dulcet tones of four games journalists from Britain’s best selling PC Games magazine possibly provide the track I have been looking for? Come on guys, don’t fail me now…

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I had taken a snippet of the PCG team talking about their upcoming Team Fortress 2 match they were about to have against the writers of PCG US, and featured such interesting points as the winners being able to play Valve, and Ross sharing his mental images of John ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel teabagging Tim. Or Tom, I forget. To be fair – the course itself was actually a bit more enjoyable in terms of blocks. Ross’ voice seemed to affect the blocks the most, although he seemed to provide a lot of blues, whereas Tim’s laughing seemed to attract the pink blocks more. And Tom provided a fair few bonus whites, whereas Craig had a yellow fetish. And in the game. The PCG Podcast seemed to be very efficient at making patterns, I probably found this course the easiest to score highly on, while not feeling as mind crushed as I did listening to the Shipping Forecast. Most notable were the abundance of notes on “we’re going to win them up the bum”. Read into that what you will. But not that. Filthy reader.

AudioSurf Score: 13,272
Verdict: It’s All Over…

So what have we learned from this vital, life changing bit of research? Well, other than that I am quite possibly the world’s worst liar and punner, the most important part of this research I have discovered that if you want a high octane, difficult AudioSurf challenge, then the news and comedy is where you should be most inclined to look, but games reviewers – well…

Remember: I did this, so you don’t have to. I sacrificed any dignity I had left, and have come out the other side a broken, bitter shell. Don’t have nightmares.

Feel free to click the thumbnails for larger images.

This piece was inspired by this entry on Richard Cobbert’s blog, so credit where it’s due there. The videos are only small snippets, so hopefully if the copyright police are reading: leave me alone. But if you truly have a problem, let me know and I’ll remove the videos.

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3 Responses to Because The Voices Told Me To…

  1. yxxxx says:

    Intresting read the first video seems to have broken.

  2. The_B says:

    That it does, I have no idea why – I shall try and fix at some point later today.

  3. The_B says:

    Aha, fixed – seemed I’d used the uk url, which this plugin I’m using doesn’t seem to like.

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