Zhiyin is a rhythm game that I created for my senior project at UCSD. The design idea was generated from well known note falling rhythm games like Guitar Hero and DJMax.

Role: Designer / Composer / Programmer
Team size: 1
Development Duration: 5 months

Design Challenges

I started thinking of my senior project with a question in my mind — what was the reason for me to choose a double major in music. I looked back my past and found out that there were two main factors that affected me the most — rhythm games and Chinese traditional instruments and songs. Then I came up with the idea of creating a rhythm game with full of Chinese traditional elements.

It was hard to build a rhythm game in Unity, I faced lots of bugs, mostly because of the 2D collider when the notes enter the interactable area. I spent two quarters on this project, and half of my first quarter was dealing with coding and debugging stuffs. It trained my logical thinking ability a lot as I need to make the order clear for the events to trigger correctly.

During the end of the first quarter and the first half of the second quarter, I was composing the tracks I wanted to use in my game. I came up with three tracks that are all composed with Chinese traditional instruments and Chinese pentatonic music scale. After finished doing these, I asked my artist friend to help me build the world from full of placeholders to this beautiful piece.

I researched many rhythm games on the market. Especially this kind of falling notes rhythm games. Most of them uses bars as the falling notes, which definitely makes the game looks more compelling. But I think it makes many of these games pretty hard for a novel player, as they need to spend a lot of time remembering the correct order for buttons. This can be solved by implementing the game on a touch screen smartphone as you can just touch the correct position. But as I was developing the game for PC, I need to consider the cost for my players to learn the game. Because of that, I designed the buttons to be just arrows and use corresponding arrow keys to interact. It is very straightforward and reduce the cost for new players to learn how to play the game.

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