Tapping into your mobile self
To say that iOS music series Tap Tap is a success is an understatement: the series has been downloaded more than 80 million times since it launched alongside Apple's App Store in 2007 and this month, the Disney-owned game development studio released Tap Tap Revenge: Tour (iOs, Android), adding motion and a world-tour mode to the mix.
Think of the Tap Tap series as Guitar Hero or Rockband but for your mobile device. You have to tap notes that appear on the device's touchscreen in time to the music. Ed Baraf, from mobile developer Tapulous, says the Tap Tap series has always been centred around the music.
"We spent a lot of time thinking about the music and developing relationships with artists. We've seen our audience: we have the indie, alternative music, non-mainstream, but a growing part of our audience is the Top 40 mainstream music lovers - people that follow Katy Perry and the mainstream. For us it has been all about supporting both sides with our product.
"With Revenge Tour, we really wanted to have that music front and centre and have the biggest library we've ever had. We have a huge library of free music and always had free track of the week, but now we've got Track of the Day.
We really want to make it so that people want to grab their phone, check out new artists and use it as their destination for their mix of listening to music and playing games. It's really unique in that way.
Baraf believes that part of the appeal of Tap Tap is its "make it easy" approach. "When you're playing, the experience is forgiving. We never really knock you out of the song: you can just enjoy playing to the music. It's really the difference between mobile games and console games. People just enjoy listening to the music, playing the game. You lose yourself for a little bit, you start tapping, you're in that state of Zen where you're just playing and enjoying yourself. And I really think that's been part of the massive appeal for us."
The biggest differences in Revenge: Tour, says Baraf, is the introduction of shake - you have to shake the device in different directions. "What we did was make it a singular moment, where a large bar comes down and you give it one shake. It seems fairly minor but it creates a much better experience for it and really makes a big difference in bringing out the punch in the song. And give you this rewarding moment.
"The other thing we added was slices. The easiest way to describe it is the motion that you use playing Fruit Ninja - the swipe. But it feels incredibly natural. It's not a huge change, but when you play it and the way we've integrated it, it really creates a new and refreshing experience. It feels like you're playing a Tap Tap game but there are some refinements that make it feel like you're playing a new experience."
Baraf feels that the Tap Tap series has helped introduce video games to people who wouldn't normally see themselves playing video games.
"One of the things that Tap Tap does, which isn't unique but is in a very small category of games, is that we take the game and connect it to this real-world thing. Music is a universal experience and by keeping it lightweight, by keeping it non-penalising, we're really able to open up the play space to people who are interested in music first, and maybe play games - or have never played games before.
"Part of the overhaul of that look and feel was to make it more accessible and easier to use. We really excited about the reach potential of Tap Tap Tour.
"We see the audience growing and what you're seeing with mobile devices now is that these are things that little kids use. I have a 2-year old and a 4- year-old and their first screen is an iPod Touch or an iPad. Mobile usage is broadening in age and range."
- © Fairfax NZ News