The Sound Shapers – Gezouten
After Sound Shapes was released there were many creators who put their creative stamp on the community. Some did this by utilizing the objects and sounds given in new and interesting ways. Some of them attached themselves to particular themes and ran wild. In the first initial months the “ESC” (escape) level theme devised from community favorite Daftbomb bubbled up to the surface. The ESC theme is one where the user has to find a way out of the level via some hidden exit. This week’s shaper was one of the first to really make his name by using the ESC theme to create awesome levels.
This week’s shaper is Gezouten or as I like to call him GEZOOOOTEN!
One of my favorite Gez levels has to be his Halloween themed “Unhappy Trees”. I’m always amazed at how quickly the shapers come up with levels and really good ones at that. I believe the HLWN theme was announced on a Wednesday and this level was up before the weekend. The brown and orange color palette mixed in with the spooky soundtrack really plays into the theme and carries you along the story of all the abused trees you find in the forest. It was great to see Gez get in touch with his storyteller side and pull off such a memorable level in such a short amount of time.
“Revenge of the Mad Faces” is a cool level to look at but even better to listen to. Once the drum loop hits it really gets excited to get to the next screen. I have a real affection for tight drum loops and funky kicks and “Mad Faces” totally has them. The reconstructed faces look really cool and the level can be surprisingly difficult in spots. It’s a great mix of art, music and platforming.
Lastly “Gezawesome” Vol1 takes you to this trancy kind of techno place. Its music feels like a Deus Ex level with its pulsating synth notes. Imagery of being miniaturized and placed within a music lovers dream is what makes this level so cool. The attention to detail with things so symmetrically placed must have taken him a long time to create and the payoff at the end is totally worth it.
We spoke with Gez about some of his favorite levels and how he makes them.
TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
GEZ: Playing Sound Shapes was a coincidence, I finished some games on the PS Vita and was searching In the PS store for something different. I remembered that I saw some games with music Involved. When I saw the description of Sound Shapes In the PSN-store I knew this could be THE game for me. Why? Because I create music and logos for fun since I was a kid.
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
GEZ: Most of the time when I start creating a level, I have a basic idea of what I would like to create, but mostly the finished level is something totally different. For example: “UFO – ESC,” I wanted to make a level where you entered a UFO and saved the world from the aliens. I got stuck in designing it and had some other idea’s for some levels so first I worked on the “Another Problem”- level. When I returned to “UFO – ESC”, the “ESC (escape)” idea was launched and suddenly I saw it in a totally different way. Other times I just create the sound and then the ideas for the graphics come “Revenge of the Mad Faces” was one of those levels.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
GEZ: I played the PS3 version a few times, but never created anything on it. And the feeling on the PSVita is really great. The only problem is that I get so addicted, when I get some spare time the Vita is in my hands.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
GEZ: “Another Problem” and all the other ESC-levels. Daftbomb came up with his brilliant “Problem” level theme and it inspired me so much! When I played his level I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. I needed a lot of time to finish his level and after all it wasn’t that hard. So I contacted Daftbomb to ask what he would think of making a series of ESC-levels, it would be a successor to the 1SL series. I used to play a lot of escape games some years ago and loved to make some of my own. I must say, most of my ESC levels, I start designing it as a normal level, but in the process I always get ESC ideas and in the end I created another ESC.
“Another Problem” was designed with the intention to make a level including optical illusions. The original level was bigger, but I deleted a part to keep the level small, to make sure the ESC part wasn’t too hard. After publishing the level, I added some hints in the level because in the first publication it was too hard to find the exit. Now when I make an ESC level I always try to give away the solution in hints or in the thumbnail. The thumbnail of “Another Problem” almost tells exactly what to do and in the level there are a few other hints. When you put those together, the answer is easy to find!
“AMIGA PP Hammer Tribute” was a level I made because I was wondering for years why no one republishes those fantastic AMIGA classics. Even after 20 years they are still great. (PP hammer, Push Over, Gods: perfect games for a handheld: c’mon SONY!) It’s a pretty hard level to get trough, but hey, it’s a game!!
“Revenge of the Mad Faces”. I made a soundtrack, the “Mad Faces” and “Revenge” came later. As the creators of Sound Shapes said, “You’d be angry, too, if someone was jumping all over your face.” It’s not an easy level, but not impossible. It starts off as an easy level, but when you are half way through the level, the mad faces are getting really mad!
“Unhappy Trees-HLWN” was my first story-based level. The Halloween theme-a-week was launched and I totally had no Idea what to do with it. I first made a Halloween soundtrack and wanted a forest as setting. While I was making the forest I got an Idea of what the story could be. So I made a sentence that told the basic story and worked on one screen without knowing what the next would be. It has a lot of humor in it, when you look at the details.
TSP: What are your favorite levels you’ve played and why?
GEZ: There are so many fantastic levels. I love all the levels from Daftbomb, TT, TheBeejAbides, Anoy337, jool2306, gassst and Earl-leegraves.
“Escape Suburbia” – ESC (TheBeejAbIdes) – When you first play this level, you get confused more than once. This is what an ESC level should be. It has great challenges and nice graphics. Beej knows how to make great graphical, musical, story-based levels.
“Fatal progress” (Anoy337) – Damn that was hard. My top time was 49 minutes, but it was worth my time. There was one screen almost at the end of the level that I had to replay so many times, but it was too good to stop. It’s sad that people give up so easy on harder levels, because there are many great levels not finished because of that.
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
-Look what others do, you learn a lot from them and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
-Make a nice thumbnail for your level. If you are looking for a random level, you will always pick the ones with a nice thumbnail.
-Make sure that your level is “boxed in.” It’s never nice to play someone’s level and fall into empty unedited places.
-Play Daftbomb’s tutorial levels; they are the way to success!
TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?
-Layers: put objects In front or background.
-Suicide button: When you get stuck, return to previous checkpoint. It’s frustrating when you are almost at the end of a level you get stuck and have to restart the level.
-Probably very expensive: Why not make an app for android/iPhone, where you can play (some) community levels? It could be good advertising.
-Multiplayer levels, it would be nice to play together, and could create a new wave of levels. And why not be able to pass levels to another user, so you can work together on one level, or make your own version of somebody’s creation.
I again want to thank Gez and EVERYONE who had decided to be a part of this project. People have been really excited to hear the stories and inspirations that have birthed all this great content.
If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, leave them below and if you have the game get out there and start creating.